How To Become A Dog Walker

Michael Grenier
Michael Grenier April 26, 2024

How to Become a Professional Dog Walker


Do you love pets? Are you passionate about their care and well-being? Do you love spending time outdoors and getting lots of exercise? If you said “yes” to the previous questions, then a career in the world of professional dog walking might be the perfect fit for you!

As former pet care professionals, we can safely say that very few things in life give us as much joy and satisfaction as spending quality time with a sweet and loving pup. The fact that you can make spending every day with them into something you get paid for is an incredible feeling that we’ll never forget, and if that’s something you’re interested in pursuing, please keep reading on!

In this blog post, we will arm you with all of the information you will ever need to know on how you can become a professional dog walker, including tips on how to get a job working at an existing pet care business as well as guidance on how you can jump into the deep end and start your own dog walking company.


Why Become A Dog Walker?

There are plenty of reasons to become a professional dog walker! As we have already touched on, if you are somebody who enjoys being active and likes to spend your time with animals, then there’s no better job to be doing day after day! However, there are plenty of other reasons that make dog walking and pet sitting a rewarding career path.

Many people have pets - that much is obvious! And inevitably, those pet parents will need to leave town to go on a business trip or vacation, or perhaps they work out of their home for long shifts, and their pets need care and attention while they are away. While many rely on family, friends, or neighbors to look after their pets, more and more people are turning to professional pet care businesses for their dog walking and pet sitting needs. This is because pet care professionals often have much more experience than someone’s friend who can look after pets with more demanding care. For example, if a pet requires insulin shots or is leash-reactive, the professional dog walker or pet sitter assigned to you most likely has relevant prior experience with this type of care, which can put both the pet and the client at much more ease than someone untrained or unfamiliar with such situations.

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Pet care businesses are also most likely to be bonded and insured, which can protect clients in the event something is stolen, their property is damaged, or something happens to their pet while under the company’s care.

With so many potential clients, professional dog walking can also be quite lucrative! On top of having the opportunity to do something you have a real passion for, you could also make some good money. Check out our blog on How Much Do Dog Walkers Make? to learn more!

Become a professional dog walker will also mean a lot of independence when it comes to completing your route, and a lot of your communication with your clients will be limited to texts, in-app communications, or phone calls, which can be a great choice if frequent interactions with customers aren’t your strong suit.

Whatever your reasons, if you have the passion and the drive to commit to delivering the best experience to the pets under your care and their parents, the life of a professional dog walker could be just what you have been waiting for!


Requirements for Becoming a Dog Walker

While there are no formal education requirements for becoming a professional dog walker, there are certain skills and qualities that are necessary to have in order to succeed in this field. Some of these include:

  • Love Of Dogs: You should genuinely love dogs (and all animals, really) and enjoy spending time with them before deciding to become a professional dog walker.
  • Love Of The Outdoors: Dog walking can be a challenging and physically demanding job. You will spend a lot of time outside and will have to withstand inclement weather conditions like rain and snow. You should ensure that this is something you would be willing and comfortable doing and that being outdoors is something you really enjoy.
  • Time Management: As a dog walker, you must efficiently manage your time. Between walking your dog clients within their prescribed timeframes, traveling between different residences, and handling the backend aspects of your business, there’s a lot you’ll be juggling on a daily basis. Luckily, some great tools (like dog walking software) are out there to help you!
  • Attention To Detail: Pet parents can have very specific requests or requirements regarding the care of their pets. Depending on a pet’s medical history and current health, they may also have special needs or instructions that must be met. Therefore, you must be able to read and follow directions to provide a safe, secure environment for the pets in your care. Dog walkers can often be the first ones to notice any issues or changes in behavior regarding their furry charges. Identifying any physical changes or health issues is a fundamental skill that can be reported to your clients.
  • Communication Skills: You will need to communicate effectively with both the pets in your care and their owners, so having good communication skills is a must! The bonds you forge with your clients and how you connect with them and their pets will set the tone of your relationship and determine whether they keep returning to book further services with you. While all interactions between you and your clients are important, an excellent post-visit update is integral to building the relationship between you and a client. Be sure to include photos and be specific in your notes!
  • Patience: Dogs can be unpredictable, so it's essential to have patience and be able to handle unexpected situations calmly. Especially with dogs that are leash-reactive or have higher levels of anxiety, being able to keep yourself steady and put them at ease to keep them, yourself, and others safe is crucial.
  • Reliable Transportation: Depending on where you live, it may be important to have a dependable car (or a bike) so that you can efficiently travel from one client to the next.

How To Get A Job Working At A Dog Walking Business

If you're interested in becoming a dog walker but don't want to start your own business, you can instead look for a job at an existing dog walking business. Here are some steps you can take to increase your chances of getting hired:

  1. Gain Experience: If you need to gain experience working with dogs, consider volunteering at a local animal shelter or offering to walk the dogs of your family, friends, or neighbors. This will give you some experience and help you build up some of the skills you need in the field (see the section above for more information).
  2. Get Certified: While certification is not required to become a dog walker, it can help you stand out from other applicants. Look for education and certification programs offered by organizations such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International. You can check out our guide to Understanding Pet Sitting Certifications for more information to help you decide if getting certified is the right choice for you.
  3. Create A Resume: Put together a professional resume highlighting your experience and skills. Be sure to include any relevant certifications or training that you have completed. Ensuring your resume reflects the job you are applying for is essential. If the job posting references transportation as a requirement, be sure to include that on your resume. Additionally, always include a cover letter. While they may seem outdated, if you can write one, it’s usually worth doing so, as it’s a great way to highlight your strengths and make a memorable impression on potential employers.
  4. Apply For Jobs: Look for job openings at local dog walking businesses and apply for any that match your qualifications. You can also reach out to companies directly to inquire about job opportunities. Local Pet Care is a great place to find pet care businesses in your area!


How to Start Your Own Dog Walking Business

If you are interested in starting your own dog walking business from the ground up, there are several steps you will need to take in order to do so. We have an extensive guide on How To Start A Dog Walking Business that is a great place to start, but we have highlighted a few of the most important steps here:

  1. Learn What A Dog Walker Or Pet Sitter Does Before you decide to jump into the pet care industry, it's crucial to understand everything that goes into owning and operating a pet care business.
  2. Determine What Services You Will Offer: You may want your business to focus solely on dog walking, but you can also consider branching out to cat sitting, pet sitting, hiking, and many other types of pet care services.
  3. Review The Costs To Start A Pet Care Business: While starting a dog walking business is not overly expensive, there are some costs you should be aware of to prepare yourself. Check out our blog, linked above, for a great breakdown of some of these costs.
  4. Develop A Business Plan: A business plan will help you to define your goals and create a roadmap for your business. It should include information on your business name, logo, website, agreements, your target market, pricing, and marketing strategies.
  5. Get Insured: As a dog walker, you'll need liability insurance to protect yourself, your business, and your clients in case of accidents or injuries. We also recommend looking into getting your business bonded, as well, as being bonded and insured can bring your clients a lot of reassurance and can do a lot to boost your company’s reputation.
  6. Review Tools To Help: Nobody starts a dog walking business because they love invoicing or scheduling. Check out software like Time To Pet, which contains different tools and features that can help you automate the administration of your company so that you can spend more time focusing on the part of the job you do love – walking your dogs!
  7. Build A Client Base: Getting your first client can be tough. Some ideas for getting your business off the ground are advertising your services through social media, flyers, and word-of-mouth referrals. Consider offering discounts to new clients to encourage them to try your services.

Becoming a professional dog walker can be an exceptional and fulfilling career. If you have a deep love of animals and the drive and perseverance to weather the elements to see and care for them, you should absolutely consider pursuing it. Whether you work for an existing dog walking business or start your own, as long as you heed our advice and follow the tips and suggestions outlined in this post and the others we have linked to, you should be well on your way to becoming a successful dog walker. Welcome to the pet care industry!


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