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How to make money dog walking
Dog walking is one of the fastest growing money-makers in the UK and it's not hard to see why. It's fun, simple, well paid and even good for your health.
We love our dogs but there's a lot you have to do to keep them happy and of course, regular exercise is part of it. If you work, or you've got other commitments, you have to pay someone to help - and that costs. This is where you, as a dog walker, come in.
Pretty simple eh?
I think this is one of the best ways to make money on the side - but only if you like walking, and you like dogs! The way I see it is it's a win-win job.
You make really good money (£10-15 per dog per hour or part of the hour)
- It's fantastic exercise
- It's pretty flexible
- I'm also told it's a great way to meet a new partner. Imagine - you make money and you meet the love of your life while getting fit!
I even know people who have done so well dog walking that they have given up their full-time jobs to do it. It's because of the flexibility and, let's face it, the amounts of money you could make through it.
In London and the south in particular people are willing to pay £10-15 per dog, per hour or part of an hour. Now, if you walk one dog, that's decent money in itself but the ones that really know what they're doing walk at least two, maybe three or four. Can you imagine how much they're making in an hour?
Now, admittedly, there are other aspects to it. It's not just the walking, you have to go round picking up the dogs from their homes, possibly load them up into a car or van and then take them all home, individually, after the walk.
But still, even if that takes another hour or so, imagine the cash you're making!
Not only that but if you've got your own dog, you can take them out together and get paid for doing something you were already going to do.
The health benefits are numerous too. No more excuses about being too tired to exercise after a long day's work and just think what all that fresh air can do for your complexion.
How do I get involved?
Firstly, you will have to decide whether you want to work for an agency or go at it alone. Both methods have their advantages.
You're more likely to get initial work if you're registered with an agency but they may charge for taking you on their books and take a cut of your earnings. Try typing dog walking and the name of your local area into a search engine to see what is on offer or you could register with the national agency Animal Aunts.
A good reputation is often key to getting work so if you want to be professionally vetted then sign up with the National Association of Registered Petsitters. Be warned, however, that membership doesn't come cheap, so if you're just looking for the odd job, I wouldn't recommend it.
If you choose to be self-employed, you'll need to think about how you can promote your business. Putting an advert in a pet shop, vet surgery or on Gumtree.com is a great first step, or why not do some trial dog-walking sessions for friends and ask them to spread the word.
If you're feeling confident, speak to people walking their dogs in the park. Again, if you walk your own dog already they will trust you more. Another good starting point is to get business cards printed, be sure to log on to Vistaprint where they offer a set of 250 for free!
What should I charge?
One of the joys of working for yourself is that you can set your own rates. As I've already said, rates for dog walkers tend to range from £10-£15 an hour (or part of an hour) per dog, so you could make a tidy sum if you have a steady stream of work.
It's important, however, not to price yourself out of business and equally not to undercharge and end up making very little profit. Find out what others are charging in your area and undercut them slightly to attract new clients.
Also, think carefully about what you will need to provide or to buy in order to do the job. For example a supply of pooper scoopers, and the cost of getting to and from the dog owner's home. You could offer special rates for clients who have more than one dog or set a weekly rate if customers need to use you every day.
Then there's the insurance. It's pretty important to get public liability insurance. Who knows what could happen to the dog, or other people in the park while you are out. It may not be your fault at all but you need to be covered. See below for more info.
Important things to remember
- Be sensible. National guidelines suggest that six is the maximum number of dogs you should take out at one time and councils have even introduced rules restricting locals to four. Make sure you stick to the rules in your area or you could face a fine.
- Know the law. There are also a number of legislative measures which you will need to familiarise yourself with. For example, under the terms of the Dangerous Dogs Act, if you lose control of a dog in your care, it is your legal responsibility not that of the owner.
- Insurance is essential. Speak to the dog owners first to see if they have the necessary cover. If not, I recommend you invest in Pet Business Insurance (yes it does exist!), which covers Public Liability and Care, Custody and Control. Even if you don't go for the full thing, at least get public liability insurance, particularly if you are walking expensive, pure-bred dogs.