How to Become a Freelance Dog Walker
If you love dogs and have that amazing capability to induce positive behavioral traits in a dog, then you are a potential dog walker and trainer. So, why not make it an option to earn money? Yes, we are talking about freelancing, and there are ample opportunities for you to become a freelance dog walker.
This might sound crazy since many consider dog walking and training, not a profitable job option (and some that it is not even a job), but if you explore possibilities thoroughly, there are plenty especially in the freelance universe. It is a matter of finding the right client at a reasonable pay rate.
Dog walking has now become a trending occupation, particularly in India due to the rising interests in dogs as pets. In India, the urban and semi-urban population has taken a fancy to the idea of a pet dog, and this has resulted in the imports of foreign dog breeds as well as domestic breeding of foreign breeds.
So, more dogs people have, more chances of you earning out of dog walking and training. What could be a better freelance occupation for a dog lover than dog walking, which is not time-consuming and does not place academic qualifications on an unbelievably high threshold?
In this article, we shall explore key aspects of dog walking, which, if you study and practice well, will land you to handsome opportunities. So, here are the four key considerations to be kept in mind while pursuing a career as a freelance dog walker:
1. Job Requirements
The question of job requirements may surprise some because of the prevalent misinformation that there is no necessary job requirement to handle dogs but love. This is not entirely true since handling an entirely different species takes more than love, and we are going to know about them today. Under this head, we shall explore the formal requirements of becoming a freelance dog walker.
- Dog training courses are available across the country and beyond. These courses are specially designed to cater to the basics and advanced aspects of dog training such as the type of dogs foods, ways to establish a friendly chord with the dog, regularity of training and walking sessions, and other theoretical aspects such as biological understanding of dogs and their behavior among many other things. Thus, a holistic approach is undertaken in these courses, which augment understanding through the incorporation of practical implementations.
There are a number of courses such as the Professional Dog Walker Certificate Course provided by the British College of Canine Studies, Workshops organized by Dog , certification courses by Dog Training Thornhill& Richmond Hill, etc. The Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour & Training organizes a certificate course in Pet Home Sitting and Dog walking. The aforesaid courses are essentially international courses but can be availed online as well.
In India, dog walking courses are not really prominent, but you may find some in metropolitan cities.
- If you have no certification and do not want to take one, then you will have to rely on experience and self-acquired knowledge. Possession of certifications does not serve as an absolute indicator of a capable dog walker. If one is unable to incorporate his knowledge in practical situations, then there is no purpose served at all. Even in the absence of certifications, you can still become a well-established dog walker. How to gather experience? Well, read the following.
There are many ways to gather experience, and one such way is to become a dog walker for your friend’s or acquaintance’s dog. Take similar jobs more frequently, and this will build up experience and skills. If you yourself have a dog, engage more in his training. So, if your dog has a trainer, you can seek his assistance in the learning process. Once you have enough confidence, prepare a portfolio of skills and publicize it among potential clients.
Remember this: a person will only entrust you with his dog—his favouritecompanion— when he is certain cent percent that you are capable of meeting its everyday needs and treating him with due care. Your attention towards the dog will determine your prospects, and it is, therefore, recommended that you take your job really seriously.
2. Skills imperative in a dog walker
The dog is man’s best companion—he is trustworthy, loyal and lovable. As a dog walker and trainer, you should endeavor to create a bond between you and the dog, and this is something that can only happen when you develop and hone certain skills. For this purpose, this sub-head is essential. Read each and every skill carefully, and work on it regularly and thoroughly.
So, here are a few skills you, as a freelance dog walker, must have:
- Love: This is the most fundamental quality in a dog walker. When he is working, he is supposed to take along into consideration the emotional needs of the dog. Love feeds the emotional want of a dog. When you are outdoors with the dog on a walk, you should be able to handle the needs of a dog such as eagerness to walk on a grassy platform, or playing with a ball. One must not be imposing on the dog but exhibit utmost love and care. For example, if the dog resists your command, you need not apply too much physical force on it, instead, utilize a mix of both love and strictness.
- Communication skills: When I say communication skills, I mean that you should be able to understand the gestures and other signals of the dog. For example, you should be able to understand from the gestures that the dog wants to relieve itself. If you can strike a communication chord, the dog will become your friend.
- Accountability: You are entrusted with a dog—the most loved creature on earth. You are required to take due note of his health and safety. Do not have him walk through dangerous roads such as crowded areas or amid street dogs. If you have taken a certain decision in respect of the dog, you should be ready to take responsibility for that.
- Organization: Dog walking is a form of training, and to incorporate it well, do make sure of organization. Without organization, the dog would not learn anything, and you will fail as a freelance dog walker.
- Patience: Dogs can be trained, but this does not imply that they are always amenable to training. Dogs have their own moods, and, thus, you are expected to maintain calm and patience throughout. When walking the dog, it might behave unruly but you should be able to patiently tackle the situation. An impatient walker will make dog cranky and undisciplined.
3. Where to work?
As a freelance dog walker, you will have ample options and you may not need to exercise much labor for that. Read the following to know where you can work:
- Pet shops: Pet shops house many dogs, and each of them has to be taken care of. A pet shop owner cannot single handily manage all of them, and that is where your role comes in. Apply to regional or national pet shops, and when you secure a job there, act according to their instructions. You will earn a good chunk working in pet shops.
- Friends/Relatives/others: Well, you must be knowing someone with a dog and in dire need of a dog walker, then you go to and work for them. Working with people you know or have an idea about will help immensely since the atmosphere will be friendly and adjustable. What more, there is a better balance as far as negotiations are concerned between you and the other party.
- Freelance portals: There are a number of online portals which provide opportunities to people like you to find freelancing opportunities easily. All you need to do is to create an account and upload a portfolio of skills. Whenever job opportunities are published, you can apply to them with a well-drafted proposal. Some of the websites include worknhire.com, upwork.com, freelance.com etc.
4. Pay rate
You can earn much as $12 per hour if you are a wonderful dog walker. Thus, much of the pay rate will depend on your present standing. This will include skills, experience, and overall performance.
- In case you have outstanding academic qualifications and experience, you can ask for a pay rate beyond $12 per hour. Those who have stayed the longest in the field generally earn maximum credibility.
- Where it is the experience being relied upon, then you have the option to demand a pay rate commensurate with the years of experience. For a substantial number of years, you can go for $10-12 per hour. The rate will usually fall with the less experience.
- With no qualifications and experience, you will have no other option but to start slowly. Do not be hasty about the pay rate as they may destroy the very beginning of the career.
- Those with extraordinary qualifications but zero experience may go for high pay rate, but, remember this, dog walking is not just about what books tell you.