5 min read

Is Dog Walking a Good Side Hustle? [Updated 2023]


Written by Mel Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 08/03/2022, edited: 07/05/2023

Dog walking, tutoring, ridesharing — these are just a few of the fun side hustles that 45% of Americans are using to make extra cash in 2023. And you're here because you also want to start a side hustle that lets you get paid to do what you love most: hang out with adorable doggos!

But you're not sure if dog walking is the right side hustle for you. You're probably wondering if you can really make good money from a dog walking side hustle and how to tell if you're cut out for this line of work.

Don't fret — we've sniffed out answers to all your dog walking side hustle questions! Read on to learn why dog walking is a terrific side hustle, plus some tips for starting and growing your pet care biz from real Pet Caregivers on the Wag! app.

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!)

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 dog walking rates to communicating with clients, you'll need some business savvy to be a successful and trustworthy walker.

If you're considering starting your own dog walking business, ask yourself these 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?
  • Am I willing to invest time in learning more about canine psychology and behavior?
  • How far am I willing to travel to accept a walk?
  • 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. 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.

chihuahua dog sitting on an ottoman in front of dollar bills

How much money can you make walking dogs?

We know you're looking for a specific dollar amount or a ballpark range of weekly earnings. While it is pawssible to make a living walking dogs, we also don't want to mislead anyone by promising they'll make a certain amount per week or month. The truth is, all sorts of variables will influence how much you can earn, like:

  • costs of living in your area
  • demand for dog walkers in your area
  • the amount of time you can devote to walking dogs each week
  • your business expenses, like mileage, insurance, and income taxes
  • the number of repeat vs. one-off clients you work with

And that's just the business side of things. It doesn't include your personal preferences, like which dog breeds you're uncomfortable walking or which neighborhoods you choose to serve — both of which can affect your earnings.

We understand that may not be what you want to hear, but it's something that every dog walker should know when starting their side hustle. For a personalized estimate of your earning potential, do a little research on the demand for and cost of dog walks in your area.

dog walker wearing green shirt kneeling by golden retriever dog on leash

Tips from real Pet Caregivers with Wag!

Hopefully by now, you've got an idea of whether dog walking is the right side hustle for you. Ready to get your paws wet? To help you on your journey, we dug up 5 nuggets of wisdom from successful dog walkers on our app!

BYOB (Bring your own bags)

Poop bags, that is! You may find that some Pet Parents forget to provide them. Keep a roll or two not just in your dog walking bag, but also in your car (if you drive) just in case.

Related: Biodegradable vs. Compostable Dog Poop Bags

Focus on crafting the "pawfect" profile

Your profile is where you can let your personality and pet care experience shine. A strong profile is key for making money from your new side hustle. Here are a few things you might want to include:

Need some inspo? Check out our related guide, 7 Wag! Profile Examples to Boost Your Pet Care Biz.

Get a dog walking bag

From poop bags and dog treats to a spare leash and drinking water, you'll need to bring a few supplies along to each walk. Many dog walkers on the Wag! app swear by the fanny pack to store their essentials.

We recommend choosing a bag that will keep both your hands free, like a fanny pack, shoulder bag, or backpack. This ensures you can quickly grab what you need without compromising control over the dog you're walking.

Some walkers go the extra mile (see what we did there?) and purchase fanny packs that are made especially for dog walking. These often include handy extras like collapsible water bowls and waterproof lining for those rainy-day adventures.

Need a new bag? Check out the shoulder bag and fanny pack over at the Wag! Essentials Store!

screenshot of a dog walker report card on wag

Write good report cards

This tip is super important. Pet Parents love detailed report cards that include good-quality pictures of their dog. You don't need to write an essay, but you should be as thorough as you can. You'll want to cover:

  • the dog's behavior before, during, and after the walk
  • details about potty breaks
  • any cute or funny things that happened during the walk
  • whether you gave the dog any treats during the service
  • what time you locked up and where you left the key

For more tips, check out our guide to writing the pawfect report card.

Be prepared to solve problems on your own

As a dog walker, you'll encounter unexpected situations that you may not be sure how to respond to. For example, the Pet Parent might forget to leave out the leash for you, or the dog you're walking might refuse to walk when you arrive.

What should you do in these situations? Try to solve problems on your own before panicking or calling the Pet Parent. See if you can find the leash yourself — while still respecting your client's privacy and belongings, of course. Or, if the dog is reluctant to walk, try encouraging them with a tasty treat (as long as you've confirmed it's okay with the Pet Parent beforehand).

Solving problems on your own proves that you're a competent and trustworthy dog walker. Remember, many Pet Parents book walks because they're busy doing other things at that time. While some Pet Parents may want constant updates, others may not be available to receive messages or calls during the walk, so being able to think on your feet is key.

Need more guidance? Check out our guide on how often you should send Pet Parents updates!

Starting a dog walking side hustle in 2023: wrapping up

This post only scratches the surface of what it takes to start your own dog walking side hustle. 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!

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