So you’ve decided to turn your love for dogs into a career. Puptastic! Walking dogs can be a fun and fulfilling job, whether you pursue it as a side hustle or a full-time gig. Dog walkers are in high demand too. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent ruffly $9.7 billion on dog walking and other services outside of veterinary care in 2021.
Ready to take on your first client? Here are seven tips for a successful first walk, from actual Pet Caregivers on Wag!
Prepare for your walk by reading the dog’s bio and the notes left by the Pet Parents and other walkers. This will allow you to learn about your four-legged client before you even meet them. During the walk, pay attention to their body language and quirks. Each dog is different, and making an effort to understand their personality helps ensure a pawsitive experience for both of you, not just on the first walk, but on the subsequent ones as well.
“I like to let the dog dictate a lot of how our walk is going to go. Some dogs love to stop and smell the roses, others benefit from a little quicker pace to stretch their legs, and some just want to be loved on, and a belly rub satisfies that need.” — Kevin, Columbus, OH
Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Pet Parents if the instructions aren’t clear or if you have additional questions. Asking questions shows that you care about their pup and is essential to creating a woofderful walking experience. It’s also a good idea to get to know the Pet Parents and build a relationship with them over time. Have open communication and let them know your availability so that they can continue booking you.
Don’t leave home without pet waste bags. Some parents may provide bags or live in a complex with pet waste stations, but it’s never a bad idea to have extra bags on your person. Other items that you may want to carry with you are backup leashes and collars (you never know when you’ll need them) and treats (check with the Pet Parent first if their dog can have them).
Pet Parents like to know what their furbaby is up to, so be sure to share photos and videos while you’re with their pup, even if it’s just for a quick walk. It’s good to send another update when you’ve completed the walk as well to let them know that their dog is safely back at home.
You’ve read up on your client, reviewed the Pet Parent’s notes, and filled your dog walking bag with treats and pet waste bags. Now it’s time for the meet and greet! It’s normal to feel nervous, especially if it’s your first job, but keep in mind that dogs can sense your emotions, and what you feel can rub off on them. You’ve done your homework, so go into that meet and greet with confidence!
“When you go to a meet and greet, make sure you tell them you’re happy you have met them and you cannot wait to take care of the dog.” — Julie, Charleston, SC
There’s more to dog walking than just walking dogs. You have to follow the pet parent’s instructions, send photo and video updates, make sure your client gets back home safely, and fill out a report card. But don’t forget to have fun while you’re at it—you need to love what you do if you plan to walk dogs for a long time.
It can be difficult to get bookings for dog walks when you’re just starting out, but it’s important to not get discouraged. Stay with it and you’ll eventually land your first client!
Ready to start walking dogs in your area? Sign up to become a dog walker with Wag!
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