One of the most common questions we hear from new pet care pros is "How much can I expect to make with my pet sitting and dog walking business?" The short answer is it depends on a ton of factors like your location, whether or not you are full-time, what services you will offer, how quickly you can grow your business, etc. The long answer? Well, keep reading to learn more!
First off, if you love dogs and enjoy spending time outdoors, becoming a dog walker might be the perfect job for you. Not only is it a great way to stay active and earn some extra income, but it can also be a lucrative career for those who are passionate about animals and looking to do this full-time.
In this blog post, we'll explore the average hourly and yearly earnings for dog walkers and other pet care pros, as well as provide tips on how to start your own dog walking business and maximize your earnings. We've also got lots of additional content for new pet care business owners to help take your business to the next level!
Hourly Earnings for Dog Walkers & Pet Sitters
Dog walkers and pet sitters typically charge "per event" for their pet care services. Being very thoughtful on how you set your rates is an incredibly important aspect of owning a successful pet care business. In fact, one of our most popular blogs is the Ultimate Guide to Setting Your Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Rates. We highly recommend reviewing this if you have any questions on how to set rates for your business.
To determine what your hourly earnings may be for your business, let's first take a look at some of the average rates dog walking companies charge. Time To Pet has a great Dog Walking Rate Calculator where you can find average rates in your area. The national average for a 30-minute dog walk is $26.
Does that mean most dog walkers make $52 an hour? Not quite. When thinking about your typical hourly earnings, you have to factor in all of your time. Each event normally takes about 15 minutes or so for travel. You also may not have a completely full schedule with 8 hours worth of services per day. As a business owner, you will also have some expenses (marketing, gas, tools, etc.) you should factor in. It is not uncommon for professional dog walkers to earn between $15 and $25 per hour when factoring in all of the time and expense it takes. As a caveat, there are lots of factors that can factor in to this number including your location, your experience, and how busy you are.
As your business and reputation grow, you can absolutely expect to charge more for your services and keep your schedule full. If you are finding it hard to get that first client, check out our Academy article on Getting Your First Pet Sitting or Dog Walking Client.
Yearly Earnings for Dog Walkers & Pet Sitters
Now that you've figured out what to expect for your hourly rate, let's talk about what to expect for the whole year. You may think it's as easy as multiplying the hourly rate by 40 hours in a week and 52 weeks in a year. Not quite. There can be some dramatic seasonality for your pet care business. That means that certain times of the year you can expect to be much busier than others. If your business is heavy on pet sitting, you can expect normal "travel" times to be really busy (like the summer months and major holidays). If your business is really focused on dog walking, you may see a slowdown during those times (when your human clients are not working and in need of a mid-day dog walk).
For many of our customers, they try and blend both dog walking and pet sitting services into their business. That helps keep them (and their team) busy for the full year.
To give some rough numbers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median pay for Animal Care and Service Workers at $28,730 per year. It is worth noting that this figure includes a wide range of animal-related jobs, from kennel attendants to pet groomers. As a dog walker, you may be able to earn more than the median salary if you work full-time, have a busy schedule, and charge higher rates for your services.
How to Start a Dog Walking Business
If you're interested in starting your own dog walking business, there are several steps you'll need to take to get started. Here are some tips to help you launch your new venture:
1. Research Your Local Market
Before you start advertising your services as a dog walker, it's important to research your local market to see what other dog walkers and pet care providers are already operating in your area. This will give you an idea of what services are in demand, what rates other professionals are charging, and how you can differentiate yourself from the competition.
2. Get Certified
While certification isn't required to become a dog walker, it can help you stand out from the crowd and demonstrate your commitment to providing high-quality care to your clients' pets. There are several organizations that offer certification programs for dog walkers, including the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) and the Pet Sitters International (PSI).
3. Create a Business Plan
Once you've done your research and obtained any necessary certifications, it's time to create a business plan for your dog walking business. This should include details such as your target market, pricing strategy, marketing plan, and financial projections.
4. Build Your Brand
To attract clients to your new dog walking business, you'll need to build a strong brand that resonates with pet owners in your area. This might include creating a logo, developing a website, and establishing a social media presence.
5. Advertise Your Services
Finally, it's time to start advertising your dog walking services to potential clients. This might include placing ads in local newspapers or on community bulletin boards, distributing flyers in your neighborhood, or leveraging social media to reach a wider audience.
By following these steps and providing excellent care to your clients' pets, you can build a successful dog walking business that allows you to earn a living doing something you love!