This article was updated on May 2, 2022
How Much Do Dog Walkers Make: 8 Tips you Should Know
Whether you're manifesting your pup-loving dreams as a side hustle or as a full-time gig, there's one thing you'll want to keep on a tight leash: your finances.
In order to thoroughly understand what a dog walker's salary looks like, it's essential to answer a few key questions. How much should you be charging for your dog walking services? What business expenses do you need to factor into your budget? What do competitors offer in your area?
Before starting a dog walking business, you might be curious how lucrative this career can be. To answer " how much do dog walkers make ?" read on to find out everything you need to know about dog walking rates and how to set up a viable financial plan for your budding business.
How much do dog walkers make?
To give you a general idea of a dog walker's earnings, HomeGuide reports the following national average rates for low, medium, and high-end dog walkers:
- Low-end dog walking services: $10 per 30-minute walk
- Mid-range dog walking services: $20 per 30-minute walk
- High-end dog walking services: $35 or more per 30-minute walk
However, where you live, the additional services you provide (for example, if you are also a pet sitter or provide other pet care), and even the kind of dog you're walking could all affect those prices.
While walking dogs is the primary revenue source for a professional dog walker, a dog owner may need additional services such as house sitting, boarding, or even grooming.
The chart below provides common average rates for add-ons from a dog walking service.
Walking an Additional Dog
8 Tips you should consider to be a standout dog walker
If you are a pet owner or dog lover, becoming a professional walker may be a great career for you.
You get to build your own schedule, spend plenty of time outdoors and on your feet — not to mention the abundance of canine cuddles that inherently come with the territory.
But it is a business, after all, and not one that you can jump into without careful consideration and planning. Follow these steps to ensure your dog walking business is not only fun but also fruitful.
#1 Decide on your service offerings
Before you start charging for your dog walking service, you'll first need to be clear on what exactly those services are. Depending on how much time you have available and whether or not you plan to work with a partner or a small team, you can shape your service offerings accordingly. You can also make extra money if you are a dog trainer or offer additional pet care services.
If you decide to stick strictly to dog walking, consider the range of time you can be available, whether it's 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour or more.
Planning to cover more than just neighborhood strolls? Consider adding the following services to your repertoire:
- Dog sitting - Decide if you want to provide overnight care or if you are available to keep an eye on pups while their paw parents are away. This added service could be an attractive perk for new clients but may also place demands on your time that you'll want to sort out before offering it to the public.
- House checks - Some clients may not need to hire you for hour-long walks but they would be interested in having you stop by the house just for a quick check-up. Whether you offer mealtime services or check for household disturbances that could alarm an anxiety-prone pup, make it clear on your website that you can be available for more than just a walk.
- Dog grooming - Become the one-stop shop for all of your clients' pet needs. From hair trimming to nail filing, if you're trained as a dog groomer, consider adding it to your list of services. This will not only open the door for more client interest but also could give you a competitive edge in the market.
Once you're clear about the extent to which your dog walking services will reach, post them in a place where customers can easily find them such as a website or a Business Page.
Need some real-life inspiration? Peruse the offerings at Tails and Trails, a local dog-walking company located in Portland, Maine. On their website, you'll find a few ideas about how to expand your business beyond dog walking and how to clearly display your services on a user-friendly website.
#2 Don't sell yourself short-do some market research
Don't just arbitrarily charge for your services. Make sure your prices are consistent with the going rates in your area. Costs for dog walking services will vary from state to state, so be sure to focus your research on your city or town. Take a look at some city-specific numbers as reported by Thumbtack to see how average dog walker rates compare in different cities across the country:
- Mohegan Lake, New York: $20 per 30-minute walk
- Seattle, Washington: $23 per 30-minute walk
- Clayton, North Carolina: $19 per 30-minute walk
- Hollywood, Florida: $20 per 30-minute walk
Take a look at the average cost of professional pet sitters and dog walkers in your area. From there, you can determine how many clients you'll need to book in order to meet your weekly or monthly revenue goals.
#3 Calculate your upfront expenses to make the most out of each step
Starting a dog walking business is not just about bringing in tons of hard-earned revenue. You might not need to lease office space or pay several staff members, but there are some initial expenses you'll want to be privy to. Consider some of the standard supplies you'll need to be equipped with before bolting down the block with a handful of hounds:
- Dog treats
- Dog waste bags
- Collapsible water bowls
- Rain gear
- Walking shoes
Aside from the day-to-day materials, you'll need in order for your company to function properly, there are a number of business-related costs to factor into your initial budget, too:
- Business cards
- Website domain and hosting
- Website design
- Branding coach
- Business registration
- Dog walking insurance
- Fuel costs/public transportation expenses
Some of these professional walker expenses may be flexible. Instead of hiring a web developer, for example, you can build a website yourself or with the help of a tech-savvy friend. You may also decide to take advantage of some free branding courses to get you started instead of paying out of pocket for professional coaching. Other expenses, such as dog walking insurance, are unavoidable and should be factored in as a set cost when preparing your budget.
Once you've tallied up the numbers, set rates that are competitive, fair, and adjusted to your budgetary needs.
#4 Create reward programs to keep dog owners coming back
As a first-time dog walker, you might choose to get your business off the ground by fostering long-term relationships from the start. Acquire new customers and keep them around for longer by offering enticing incentives such as a discounted rate on multiple dogs.
- 20 walks (15 minutes each) are priced at $306
- 20 walks (30 minutes each) are priced at $342
- 20 walks (45 minutes each) are priced at $396
- 20 walks (1 hour each) are priced at $432
In this system, clients receive a discount of 10 percent off of the normal rates by bundling their walks. This is not only a perk for customers but it also provides financial security for business owners who have earned a guaranteed number of walks for the foreseeable future.
#5 Go digital
Build brand loyalty by maintaining an active online presence on your social media accounts and website. Over two-thirds of millennials believe that businesses who share digital content online are more likely to have success sustaining long-term customer relationships.
Take a look at Steve Watson, a long-time dog walker in Boston, Massachusetts. Although he's been in the industry for several years, it's his recent virality on social media that has helped to boost his client base. One particular group photo of perfectly posed pups was taken by a passerby pedestrian and uploaded to the internet, quickly grabbing the attention of social media users across the United States. "It got a lot of traction on Twitter and pretty soon my Instagram was blowing up," Watson said.
The next time you're out on a walk, remember to snap a few pictures at the dog park. Share them on your Nextdoor Business Page or to the social media platform of choice with a clever caption and you might just see a spike in bookings.
#6 Get the word out
Lean into word-of-mouth marketing. Three-quarters of consumers say that a personal referral is likely to influence their decision about supporting an unfamiliar brand. Get your community talking about your business both in-person and online to expand your network.
Not sure how to generate a buzz around your business? Consider offering an incentive for customers who leave a review on your Nextdoor Business Page, social media, or Google My Business. Compile a list of reviewer names and pick one at random to win a week's worth of daily walks for their pup. This will not only start up a conversation about your company but might also be the kind of word-of-mouth marketing a prospective customer needs to convince them to book your services.
#7 Know your audience (and speak directly to them)
Target your small business marketing efforts in the right direction. Connect with pet owners in your ZIP code by running a targeted ad campaign that allows you to reach the right people in the right area.
Start by deciding on the primary goal of your campaign. Are you planning to promote a seasonal deal? Do you want to get the word out about an upcoming event? Are you simply trying to increase brand awareness by putting your business in front of more online users?
From there, you can set up a budget, pay for your ads based on your target demographics and the duration of your campaign, and pay close attention to campaign analytics in order to track its performance.
#8 Create a unique brand
Be clear about your values and what your brand stands for. An astounding 94% of consumers say they relate more with businesses that choose to lead with transparency and honesty. Become actively involved in your community to show how much you care and dedicate a page of your website to outline the specifics of your company mission statement.
Follow the lead of Top Dog, a pet care company in Concord, New Hampshire. While they offer an array of standard services such as dog walking and pet sitting, they set themselves apart from other industry competitors by sharing a personal history of how their business came to be as well as a one-of-a-kind mobile adventure day camp for pets.
What makes your business unique? Whether it's exceptional customer service, expertise in exotic pet care, or an enticing rewards program, share it clearly on your website and use it to leverage your company's success.
Connect with new clients on Nextdoor
Reading through this salary guide is already a great first step in starting your dog walking business. By now, you should have a better understanding of how to value your time and how to adjust your rates in accordance with business expenses. The next step? Connecting with new dog walking clients through Nextdoor.
It's free and easy to create a Business Page and you can use it to display your services, rates, and even encourage satisfied customers to leave a recommendation. Share Business Posts that feature adorable dog photos or offer exclusive deals that your clients will love.
Word-of-mouth marketing and community-based networking are what make Nextdoor a trusted neighborhood hub for both personal and business relationships. Claim your free Business Page to get started.
HomeGuide. How Much Do Dog Walkers Charge? https://homeguide.com/costs/dog-walking-prices
Thumbtack. How much does a dog walker cost? https://www.thumbtack.com/p/dog-walking-prices
Kettle Fire. Branding Stats: 20 Facts about the Power of Brand & Marketing. https://kettlefirecreative.com/branding-stats/