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10 Tips to Become a Professional Dog Walker
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10 Tips to Become a Professional Dog Walker

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Jan 17, 2023

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Thinking of becoming a dog walker? It's one of the best jobs in the world. You're outside and get plenty of exercise, which is excellent for your health. The sun isn't always shining, but you get to work with the best type of clients — dogs. If you're looking to become a dog walker, you won't need formal qualifications, but you should consider a few things before you start.

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1. Try it out first

woman walking dog in park outdoors in Summer SeventyFour/ Getty Images

Dog walking isn't just all fun and fur. It takes a certain level of responsibility, patience, and physical fitness. But the only way to know if it's right for you is to give it a trial run. Ask your friends and family if you can take their dogs for walks. Take a few at a time, and see if it's something you can see yourself doing professionally. 

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2. Do your research

 dogs outdoors on a sunny summer day. Bigandt_Photography/ Getty Images

Although most dogs need plenty of exercise and love to play, each breed is different, so it would help if you spent time doing some research. Each breed has distinctive temperaments and needs regarding duration and intensity of exercise, and understanding their body language will help you become a much better dog walker.

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3. Stock up on supplies

woman with little dog in hands standing in salesroom of pet shop and choosing dog food. JackF/ Getty Images

A professional dog walker is like a parent to a toddler; you need to be prepared. You'll want to invest in several items to perform your duties properly. These include:

  • Treats
  • Poop bags
  • First aid kit
  • Water bottle and portable dish
  • Dog wipes

A dog leash or two will also be helpful if one of your client's leashes has gone missing, and you might want a leash designed for multiple dogs. Don't forget a fanny pack or backpack to carry everything.

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4. Consider getting training

Jack Russell Terrier dog during obedience training alexei_tm/ Getty Images

Although anyone can start dog walking, getting some training or certification is a good idea. It can boost your confidence and prepare you for difficult situations that may arise. It's beneficial if you aren't familiar with different breeds or have yet to spend much time around dogs other than your own. And anyone who seeks out your services will be put at ease when they learn you've had formal training.

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5. Get insured

A woman sits on her chair in the living room of her home and checks a bill that she has received with her dog behind her sturti/ Getty Images

Accidents can happen when you're responsible for a pack of dogs, no matter how much control you think you have. Some dogs are unpredictable — and so are humans. You can get dog walkers' insurance to give you peace of mind. While it isn't mandatory, protecting yourself and your clients is highly recommended.

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6. Research the market

Professional dog walker or pet sitter walking a pack of cute different breed and rescue dogs on leash at city street. SB Arts Media/ Getty Images

The next step is to check out the competition and set your hourly rate. Pricing your rates too low could give potential customers the impression that your services need to meet the local standard. But pricing too high can discourage prospects. As a newcomer to the dog-walking world, start with slightly lower rates. But once you've proven capable, raise your rate to align with your competition.

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7. Build trust

dog training: corgi puppy on a leash from a woman fotografixx/ Getty Images

Imagine letting a stranger into your home to take your dog on a joyride, trusting they'll bring them back in one piece. For dog owners, their pooch is an important family member, so it's up to you to put them at ease. One way is to stay near their home until they're comfortable enough to let you venture out further and take their dog to different locations. Another way is to send them pics during each walk. 

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8. Define your services

young male dog walker walking dogs along public Park Phynart Studio/ Getty Images

Dog walking services vary, including individual, group, or breed walks. If you're inexperienced or have clients with antisocial canines, offer individual walks for certain dogs. Consider the size and number of dogs you can control for group walks. You might even want to specialize in specific breeds or sizes. Although it's not necessary, defining your services and becoming a specialist can boost customer interest.

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9. Prepare for your meeting

Woman with schnauzer dog checking in at dog daycare Hero Images/ Getty Images

Be prepared with questions when you first meet your prospects. Understanding a client's needs helps you give their dog the best experience possible and determines if you're a good fit.

Some questions include:

  • How old are they?
  • How often do they need to walk?
  • Do they get along with other dogs?
  • Can they have treats?
  • Any health problems?
  • What do they love doing most?
  • What time of day is best for walks?
  • What commands do they understand?
  • Can they handle car rides?
  • Can they be let off the leash in a dog park?
  • Is there anything else I should know?

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10. Find customers and get reviews

Man walking multiple dogs Big Cheese/ Getty Images

As a new business owner, you'll need to promote your services and find customers. There are many ways to get noticed. Joining Facebook and community groups online and in person is one way. You can cross-promote your services with related businesses, such as dog groomers and pet stores. You can also set up your website. Reviews on search engines, social media, or your website are one of the easiest and best ways to promote your business. An excellent way to leverage this is to offer your existing customers incentives, like discounted walks, for writing you a review. This is one way to ensure your dog walking business is a success.

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