Dog Walking Side Hustles For 2021: A Guide

Published: 7/22/2021

Due to COVID-19 and the rise of remote work, side hustles are more "pawpular" than ever before. Over 31% of Americans started a side hustle in 2020, with an additional 24% planning to start one this year.

Why should you start a side hustle in 2021? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Pay off debt

  • Boost your savings

  • Control your work schedule

  • Test the waters before switching to full-time self-employment

  • Get paid to do what you love!

Sure, the extra cash is great, but 38% of side hustlers said they started their side gig because it was something they already enjoyed. (Like spending time with adorable doggos!)

Thinking of starting your own dog walking side hustle this year? Keep reading for some tips, plus some info on how to become a dog walker with Wag!.


Is dog walking a good side hustle?

If you love spending time outdoors with cute dogs, then yes, dog walking is a "grrreat" side hustle. (But we’ll admit we’re a little biased — Wag! is a dog walking platform, after all!)

However, starting a dog walking side hustle isn't always, well, a walk in the park. Becoming a dog walker means running a business. From setting your rates to communicating with clients, you'll need some basic business skills to be a successful and trustworthy walker.

If you're considering starting your own dog walking business, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How much time do I realistically have to dedicate to my dog walking business each week?

  • What is my current knowledge of best dog walking practices?

  • How far am I willing to travel to accept a walk?

  • Am I willing to invest time in learning more about canine psychology and behavior?

  • How will I differentiate myself from other dog walkers in my area?

Once you're sure you're capable of running a successful dog walking business, it's time to start building! But should you go 100% private, use a dog walking app, or combine the two? (You can probably guess our answer.)

Wag! makes it easy to stay safe and secure payments from pet parents. We've read our fair share of horror stories about private dog walkers who got ghosted and weren't paid for their hard work. The Wag! app ensures a walk completed is a walk paid. Wag! also provides pet care resources as well as a dedicated support team to protect all the Pet Caregivers (and Pet Parents!) on our platform.


Tips for starting your dog walking side hustle

Keep these tips from Pet Caregivers with Wag! in mind when launching your new dog walking business:

  • Bring your own doggy waste bags. Cleaning up after the dog you're walking isn't just basic courtesy — it's also required by law in most American cities. Busy pet parents who book a walk with you might forget to supply their own waste bags, so it's best to have your own just in case.

  • Ask the pet parent before giving the dog any treats. Some dogs are on special diets or have food allergies.

  • Provide detailed reports of your walk. Let the pet parent know how the dog behaved, where you went, how far you walked, and whether they went for a potty break. (Intuitive reporting is just one convenient feature of the Wag! app!)


How do I become a dog walker with Wag!?

Considering becoming a dog walker with Wag!? Hurray! We’re excited to get to know you, and we’re sure you’ll be a “furrific” dog walker. Signing up is super easy — but we’ll get to that in just a minute. Before applying to become a Pet Caregiver with Wag!, watch this short video to see what walkers on our platform have to say about their experience.

Now that you've done your homework and you're ready to take the plunge, it's time to get started. First, fill out this form with some basic information, including your:

  • legal name

  • email address

  • phone number

Once Wag! has received your application, you'll also need to:

  • pass a background check

  • prove your knowledge of dog walking best practices and what to do in real-life pet care situations

  • provide at least 5 endorsements from friends, family members, colleagues, and anyone else who can attest to your ability to care for pets

The application approval process typically takes up to 3 days. Once your application is approved and your Pet Caregiver profile is active, you'll need to complete a test "walk". This mock walk lets you familiarize yourself with the app's features and how they work. It will be available for 30 days after you download the app.


Starting your own dog walking side hustle in 2021: wrapping up

This post only scratches the surface of what it takes to start your own dog walking business. Every walker is unique and will experience different successes and challenges along the way. As long as you’re willing to invest time and effort in your business, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful dog walking business owner.

Right now is the "pawfect" time to become a dog walker! Apply to join our network of 350,000+ Pet Caregivers today, and get ready to spend some quality time with cuddly canines in your area.

Additional resources: