Who Is a Dog Walker and How To Become One?

March 21, 2024

Dog Walker

A dog walker is someone who takes dogs for walks, giving them exercise and fresh air. As busy as the world is today, they play a crucial role. They help keep the furry friends healthy and happy, especially when their owners are busy with work or other responsibilities. 

Many people have very little free time nowadays. A survey by OnePoll found that the average person has less than half an hour of free time per week. That's not a lot of time to spend with their pets. 

This is where dog walkers come in. They ensure that dogs get the exercise they need, even when their owners are busy. In short, a dog walker is essential to today's society as they provide a valuable service that benefits both pets and their owners.

Dog Walker Job Responsibilities and Duties

What dog walkers do.
What dog walkers do. Source: Liveabout

A dog walker does a lot to make sure dogs are happy and healthy. Here's what they do:

  • They walk dogs. The main job of a dog walker is to take dogs for walks. They put a leash on the dog and go for a stroll around the neighborhood. This helps dogs get exercise and explore new smells and sights.
  • They provide fresh air. Dogs love being outside, and dog walkers make sure they get plenty of fresh air. They take dogs to parks or trails where they can run and play freely.
  • They clean up. Yes, they're on poop patrol, picking up after the pups and getting rid of the waste responsibly.
  • They give bathroom breaks. These animals need to go to the bathroom regularly. Walkers make sure the furry pals have opportunities to relieve themselves during walks.
  • They provide water. Keeping the furry friends hydrated is essential, especially during walks. Walkers bring water along to make sure dogs stay refreshed.
  • They monitor health. Walkers keep an eye on the health of the dogs they walk. They watch for any signs of discomfort or illness and report back to the owner if they notice anything unusual.
  • They offer socialization. These animals are social ones and enjoy meeting other dogs. Walkers arrange group walks so dogs can socialize and make new friends.
  • They follow the owner's instructions. Walkers pay attention to any special instructions given by the owner. This can include dietary restrictions, behavior training, or medical needs.
  • They ensure safety. Safety is a top priority for dog walkers. They make sure the furry friends are secure on their leash and avoid dangerous situations. These situations can be busy roads or aggressive animals.
  • They update the owners. They keep the owners in the loop, sharing photos and videos and letting them know where the pups have been.
  • They check health. If a pup seems sick or injured, they tell the owner right away. This applies whether it's before, during, or after the walk.
  • They provide love and affection. Walkers show love and affection to the dogs they walk. They give pets scratches behind the ears and lots of positive attention to make the furry pal feel happy and loved.

Dog Walker Skills & Competencies

Below are some of the skills and competencies needed to excel as a dog walker:

Attention to Detail

Dog walkers need to pay close attention to the pets they're walking. They must notice any changes in behavior, health, or surroundings. This skill helps them spot potential hazards like dangerous objects or aggressive animals. It ensures the safety and well-being of the dogs under their care.

Communication

Good communication skills are essential for walkers to interact effectively with the pets and owners. They need to understand and follow the owners' instructions, provide updates on the dogs' activities and behavior, and communicate any concerns or issues promptly and clearly.

Organization

Walkers juggle many responsibilities, from scheduling walks to keeping track of each dog's needs and preferences. Being organized helps them manage their time efficiently. It also helps ensure they don't miss appointments and provide consistent and reliable service to their clients.

Compassion

Meaning of compassion.‍
Meaning of compassion. Source: Cambridge dictionary

Compassion is at the heart of being a good pup walker. It means genuinely caring about the well-being and happiness of the pets they walk. It means treating them with kindness, patience, and empathy. Dogs can sense when someone cares about them. This makes them more comfortable and trusting during walks.

Patience

Dogs have their own personalities and quirks, and not every walk will go smoothly. Patience is crucial for handling challenging situations, such as stubborn behavior or nervousness. A patient walker remains calm and positive. They use gentle encouragement and reassurance to help the dogs feel more relaxed and confident.

Interpersonal Skills

Walkers often interact with various people, from dog owners to passersby in the neighborhood. Strong interpersonal skills enable them to build rapport with clients, communicate effectively with strangers, and handle conflicts or concerns diplomatically.

Animal Care

Understanding the basics of animal care is essential for ensuring the health and well-being of the dogs under their care. This includes knowing how to handle emergencies, administer basic first aid, and recognize signs of illness or distress. Walkers with animal care knowledge can respond appropriately to any situation that arises during walks. It helps keep the dogs safe and healthy.

Experience 

It helps if they've spent time with pups before. This experience shows that they know how to handle the pets and make sure they're happy and safe. Dogs do not speak human language. This means that having the ability to read their body language and understand what they're trying to tell them is super crucial.

Types of Dog Walkers

Dog walkers, most of the time, take care of all the responsibilities that come with being one. However, some walkers may choose a few responsibilities and leave the others. Some of the types of dog walkers people may choose are:

Dog Care Providers

These people take care of dogs while their owners are away. They feed and play with them. They also ensure these pets are comfortable and happy until their owners return.

House Sitter with Dogs

What dog/pet sitters do.
What dog/pet sitters do. Source: LiveAbout

These are like temporary guardians for both homes and pups. They stay in the owner's house, look after the pups, and take care of household chores while the owners are away.

Individual Dog Walkers

These dog lovers focus on one-on-one attention. They tailor walks to suit the specific needs and preferences of each dog. They also provide personalized care and undivided attention, ensuring a fulfilling experience for both the pet and the owner.

Group Dog Walkers

These social butterflies lead packs of pups on adventures. They promote socialization and camaraderie among furry friends. They also supervise group dynamics, encourage positive interactions, and provide a lively walking experience for sociable dogs.

Specialized Dog Walkers

These experts cater to dogs with unique needs, such as those with medical conditions. They have specialized training and experience to provide tailored care. This ensures the comfort, safety, and well-being of dogs with specific requirements.

Training Walkers

These professionals combine exercise with education. They incorporate training techniques during walks to reinforce good behavior and obedience. They also use positive reinforcement methods like clicker and target training to teach dogs commands, manners, and leash etiquette. All these happen while providing mental stimulation and physical exercise.

What Is the Workplace of a Dog Walker Like?

A dog walker's workplace is mainly outdoors. Here they stroll around neighborhoods, parks, and trails. They enjoy fresh air and sunshine while spending time with furry pals. Their "office" changes daily, providing variety and adventure. 

They interact with different pups and their owners, creating a lively and dynamic work environment. Safety is crucial, so they stay alert for potential hazards like traffic or aggressive animals. Overall, it's a rewarding workplace filled with wagging tails and lots of puppy love.

How Much Does a Dog Walker Make?

 Dog walker salary.
Dog walker salary. Source: ZipRecruiter

A dog walker can earn decent money, with different sources providing varying figures. According to Indeed, they typically make around $18.30 per hour, totaling about $780 per week and roughly $42,629 a year. ZipRecruiter reports an average monthly income of $2,980, or roughly $17 per hour. 

Salary.com suggests a yearly income range between $27,384 and $41,840, with an average of $33,526. These figures may vary depending on factors like location, experience, and the number of dogs walked. However, being a dog walker can be a paw-some way to earn a living.

How to Become a Dog Walker

To become a dog walker, you can start by getting experience with pups, whether through volunteering at animal shelters or caring for dogs in their community. You should learn basic dog care and behavior, like leash training and handling different personalities. 

Getting certified in pet first aid and CPR will boost your credibility. Building a network and getting recommendations from satisfied clients will help kickstart your dog-walking business. It's essential to be reliable, trustworthy, and compassionate toward dogs. Creating a professional image with a catchy business name and a simple website will attract more clients. You can also search for gigs on websites like Rover.com, Wag!, Care.com, etc.

Finally, staying updated on industry trends and continuing to improve skills through workshops or online courses like this or this can help you stay ahead of the pack. With dedication and a love for dogs, anyone can leash up and hit the pavement as a successful dog walker.

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