Can you earn extra income from dog walking?

Once Mr Fire and I had set the wheels in motion for purchasing our countryside home, I set about daydreaming planning all the possible income streams I could create. We’ve been in our new home a few months now and things are hopefully starting to settle down. This means its now time for me to get serious about creating an income stream and I will be researching / experimenting on (hopefully) many of these ideas.

The most obvious one that came to me was dog walking. We live in a very affluent area now and people are happy to pay for all kinds of “everyday” services.

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What is it?
Dog walking involves taking someone else’s dog from their home and walking them. They then return the dog after the walk. Some dog walkers take many dogs at once but some only take one dog at a time. The walker also must pick up any doggy messes and ensure the dog is hydrated.

In extreme cases dog walkers may have to break up dog fights or deal with doggy runaways.

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Skills/Qualifications required
Skills
Animal/dog lover
Previous experience of working with dogs helps
Enjoy the outdoors in any weather
Communication Skills
Physically fit

Qualifications – these aren’t compulsory but every little helps
Animal first aid
Animal behavior
Animal care

The legalities
If your going into peoples houses whilst they are at work to fetch dogs then you will need a Criminal Record Check which costs £25. will also need to check out NarpsUK (National Association of pet sitters and dog walkers) so you can get to grips with all the rules and regulations. Some of these rules include:

  • Meeting owners prior to the first booking
  • Restricting the number of dogs walked to no more than four at a time
  • Keeping records of all work undertaken
  • Protecting clients’ personal information
  • Making sure all dogs in public are wearing a collar with the owners name and address on it
  • Cleaning up faeces (if you don’t do this last one, you could be fined up to £1,000).

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Start Up Costs 
Aside from the £65 CRC check, it seems prudent to also get business insurance. Public Liability insurance springs to mind instantly incase a member of the public gets injured due to the business.  There is also dog walking insurance to consider.

Other start up costs would be creating/printing/giving out flyers
Any Advertising

If your like me and currently don’t work then you don’t have to pay tax until you reach the limit of the standard personal allowance which is currently £11,850.

Running/ongoing costs
How you collect the dogs and drop them off will be a factor on the running costs. If you chose to drive to collect the dogs then you will need a car big enough for the dogs and there will be ongoing petrol costs.

Where we live, it would most likely mean buying a new car since the houses are very far apart and walking to collect each dog might mean that once you’ve collected the third dog, its time for the first dog to go home. Where we lived previously, all the houses were close together so walking would be the best way to collect the dogs.

Work out how much you will charge
A quick internet search says a dog walker can expect to earn between £6 – 10 per dog for walks that last 30 mins – 1 hour.

How to promote
Making flyers – especially in vets and at parks that have notice boards.
Social Media – Easy one to put a few picks up of the walks you take the dogs on
Word of mouth – If your doing a good job people will talk about it to their friends.

Market Research.
Possibly the most important step is to see if others are already doing it before you jump right in! Where I live right now there are twenty dog walkers currently actively being promoted.
One offers GPS tracking, real time photo updates, free insurance and accepts online payments. They charge £6 per dog. You can also inform them of your dogs favorite walks and they will take them there! They also do overnight stays and they also care for cats.

The Math:

Here are the start up and annual running costs:

Item Cost Recurring Total Cost per year
Certificate in animal behaviour £399.00 N
Certificate in animal Care £369.00 N
Certificate in animal first aid £10.99 N
Criminal Records Check £69.00 N
New Car lease £460.00 y £5,520.00
Subscription to Narpsuk £25.00 £300.00
Promotional £10.00 y £120.00
Business Insurance £125.00 £125.00
Petrol £40.00 £480.00
Doggy Poop bags £2.49 £29.88
Total start up cost £1,510.48    
Annual Running cost £6,574.88    

Here’s the income:

Items Income
1 dog £6.00
2 dogs £12.00
3 dogs £18.00
4 dogs £24.00
Income per month for 4 dogs at one hour £288.00

After reviewing the above, I don’t think its something worth trying for me. It would have to fit in with the school drop offs and pick ups and I struggle in very cold weather. I also don’t fancy getting £6 an hour to navigate the snow and ice when winter comes!

Is it worth it?
I think it wholly depends on a few factors:

Where you live – If you live somewhere like me, then the affluent members of my village expect a premium service (GPS tracking, real time photos) which means it would be more suited to setting it up as a full time business. Plus most already have dog walkers and the area seems surprisingly over saturated.

Who would it work for – if you have neighbors who your already walking dogs for without charging then it would be a really good side hustle to just start charging. It means its less of a business to begin with and they are already happy with the service you provide. It would also benefit areas that also don’t have such huge competition locally.  Also if you already have a big car suitable for dogs (or wouldn’t need a car at all) then the expenses automatically go right down ( £1,010.48 start up and £574.88 annually)

Also if you can do several walks a day then you make more money, so if you can do three walks a day with different dogs you earn £864.00 a month giving you a profit of £289.12 per month. This isn’t bad especially if you are already walking your own dog, or you usually go on this many walks a day.

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Have you ever tried dog walking or pet sitting in general? I’d love to know your experiences!

12 thoughts on “Can you earn extra income from dog walking?

  1. Hey LMF, I find this interesting but some of your sums don’t make sense to me. The dog walkers I met in the affluent area I grew up did it as side-lines and gradually built up on word of mouth. I’m not sure any of them had qualifications, and they all used old battered cars or vans not new ones on lease. Why pay all that money to fill a new car with dog hair! Once you take those factors out it suddenly makes a lot more sense as side income I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am often surprised that people in general don’t make more of the barter economy when providing services like this and keep the taxman etc out of it. A decent bottle of wine in exchange for walking someone’s mutt a couple of times a week might be more useful than a tenner and the extra aggro. I’m guessing the posh areas keep decent wine cellars too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comment on this. I must admit I hadn’t thought of that but your right. Bartering is rather dwindling and yet it can mean more (and be more useful) than money in some ways.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  3. Hannah

    Hi LMF! As someone who has a few years of experience as a dog walker (which evolved into dog and cat sitting while people are on holidays), I really enjoyed your article. I did dog walking as a hustle during university, and it worked really well. I could walk dogs when I didn’t have class on, so it fit around my schedule. I went through a pre-existing business (so they did all the admin and covered the overhead) and I already had a car so I didn’t have to worry about costs beyond Petrol and plastic bags for cleaning up.
    The money wasn’t fabulous, but as a student it was enough to get by with and when combined with money from babysitting, it was decent enough. The time spent exercising outdoors with the dogs is what made it really worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

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