5 Reasons Why Dog Walking is Not a Gig

Dog walking is regularly suggested as a side gig to make some extra cash. It's common to see flyers posted by neighborhood kids papering telephone poles advertising dog walks and articles on ways to make extra income that include dog walking (do a search for "dog walker side gig", you'll find plenty of articles touting this). 

But the truth is, dog walking done right isn't a gig. That's not to say you can't start dog walking on the side or part time to make extra income. What I mean when I say dog walking is not a gig is that it's not a job that takes little skill or education. Here are 5 of the many reasons why dog walking is not a gig. 

#1 Dog Walking Takes Skill

Good dog walkers are skilled professionals, and these skills keep them and the dogs they walk safe. Dog walkers need to:

  • Recognize early signs of fear or aggression and know how to respond.
  • Be aware of hazards like foxtails, toxic plants and other health threats to dogs.
  • Have management techniques to navigate...
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6 Ways to Promote Your Dog Walking Business with Instagram

If your ideal dog walking clients are using Instagram (if they're under 50 they likely are), harness the power of this image driven app to build brand awareness for your business! It's a great way to let people in your community know you exist and start networking. Get started with these 6 ways you can use Instagram to promote your dog walking service. 

#1 Post Regularly

To see consistent results, your posts need to be consistent, so aim to post at least 3 times per week. You want your followers to get to know you and build trust, and that takes time & repetition too.

#2 Use & Follow Local Hashtags

Using local hashtags can increase your reach and get your post seen by other users in your area. You can also follow local hashtags making it easy to engage with prospective clients. Look for local dog specific hashtags, these are often used by potential clients (i.e. #dogsofyourcity #yourcitydogs, etc.). 

#3 Engage With Prospective Clients

Follow possible...

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3 Ways to Increase Your Dog Walking Profit (without new clients or rate increases)

Need to make more money in your dog walking business? Getting new clients or raising rates aren't the only ways. Here are some other practices you can implement to increase your profits.

#1 Change Your Cancellation Policy

Losing income to cancellations can add up, especially if you consider how many cancellations you have each year. If this is an issue for you, create a cancellation policy to minimize lost income. 

For example, you could set a limit on the number of cancellations clients can make each year. After clients hit the maximum, they can cancel, but they still have to pay for the walk.

Alternatively, you could charge a flat rate for clients to reserve their dog's walk days and not offer any credits or refunds for cancellations. 

I also recommend asking for at least 24 hours advance notice of cancellations (or even 48 hours or more) from clients to be eligible for a refund or credit. Let clients know cancellations...

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How to Get More Dog Walking Clients

Posting flyers, handing out business cards and relying on word of mouth referrals used to be enough to get clients in the door. Unless you're the only walker in town, that's not the case anymore. 

Add the recent coronavirus pandemic into the mix, and getting new clients has become even more challenging. Your instinct might be to stop marketing for the time being since people are working from home or have been financially impacted by COVID-19, but if your business is still able to operate, you need to keep marketing. 

People need dog walkers despite the pandemic. My clients have expressed to me how difficult it is to juggle working from home and caring for kids, so remember that there are people who need your help, even if they are working from home. Plus, many people have returned to work or have essential jobs, leaving their dogs cooped up at home. You need to get on their radar and show them that you are the best walker to meet...

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Crafting Your Dog Walking Marketing Message to Reflect Client Needs

When's the last time you took a look at the marketing message for your dog walking business, or thought about what your marketing message is at all?

What is a Marketing Message?

Your marketing message is what you tell the public about your services. It sells prospective clients on who you are and what you do. It's not a list of the services you offer, but a message to convey to your customer how your service can meet their needs while encapsulating what you can offer them. Your marketing message also conveys the value you offer to prospective clients rather than your services and pricing alone. 

Why It's Important

It lets potential clients know immediately who you are, what you do, and how you're different from other dog walkers. This sets you apart from competitors, weeds out clients that aren't a good fit and attracts clients who are ideal customers for your business. 

Tell Clients How you can Help Them

The basis for your marketing message is how your...

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Are You Making These Dog Walking Financial Blunders?

I wrote this post several months ago, pre-COVID. While many walkers have had to shut down services completely (myself included) or continue below normal capacity, I still wanted to share some common financial mistakes dog walkers make. This situation has demonstrated just how important it is to financially prepare for the unexpected. If you're not in a position to take these steps now, that's OK. Prioritize them as soon as you can. 

#1 Not Having an Emergency Fund

As a business owner, you need to be able to handle ups and downs with your income. Even when you have a steady client base with consistent income, you can be hit with unexpected:

  • Loss of clients
  • Injuries
  • Bills
  • Emergencies
  • Natural disasters

Having an emergency fund acts as a cushion should any of these, or other unplanned expenses or drops of income happen. Make sure you have at minimum, a 6 month emergency fund, and work toward a 9+ month emergency fund. 

#2 Not Putting Aside...

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COVID-19: Pivot Your Dog Walking Meet & Greets to Comply with Social Distancing Protocols

Amidst a global coronavirus pandemic dog walkers have had to implement new safety measures. Part of that includes how to manage new client meet and greets as we navigate living with COVID-19. 

Some type of social distancing will likely be recommended for an extended period of time. While it's pretty easy to follow distancing protocols while on walks, what's the best way to handle meet and greets with new clients?

First, make sure you stay on top of your local Orders and comply with guidelines for businesses in your area. I've put together some suggestions, but make sure to do your due diligence to ensure they will work locally.

Now let's jump in and explore some options!

Screen Clients Over the Phone or on a Zoom Call

You probably already do some client screening prior to scheduling a meet & greet, either by email, phone or an online form submission. A lot of the questions you ask during a meet and greet can be addressed over the phone or via a Zoom...

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3 Mindset Blocks Dog Walkers Need to Overcome During the Coronavirus Crisis

Professional dog walkers are going back to work as regulations relax despite the coronavirus crisis. While getting back to a new type of normal feels good, it may not be smooth sailing for a lot of us. Many dog walkers have had a massive loss of clientele and are now dealing with the stress of working amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

Understandably, this can leave you feeling defeated, frustrated and unsure of what to do next. One thing I want you to be mindful of as you navigate this challenging time is overcoming mindset blocks that may be hindering your business. At a time when you're facing many obstacles, you don't want to make things even harder on yourself by giving in to mindset blocks. Let's dive in to 3 mindset blocks I've heard dog walkers discussing and break them down.

Mindset Block #1: It's a Bad Time to Market Dog Walking

You might feel like people don't need to hire dog walkers right now. Coronavirus has turned our lifestyles upside down. So it...

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COVID-19: 10 Safety Measures for Professional Dog Walkers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

If you're in an area where professional dog walking is allowed, you're probably wondering how you can keep yourself, your staff and your clients as safe as possible during the coronavirus Pandemic.

I came up with a list of suggestions with the help of the dog walkers in the School for Dog Walkers Facebook Community. Here's what we came up with! Let your clients know what steps you're taking so they can see what you're doing to keep them safe. Check out the free graphics I created for that purpose at the end of this post.

#1 Wear a Face Mask

Wear a mask (or other face covering) over your mouth and nose while working. 

#2 Curbside Pick Up

Avoid entering client homes if possible. Pick dogs up from the yard or arrange an alternative depending on the logistics for each client. 

#3 Use Your Own Gear

Bring and use your own collars and leashes so you don't have to handle equipment from multiple homes. Biothane leashes are easier to wipe down than...

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How to Market Your Dog Walking Business During the COVID-19 Crisis: 6 Tasteful Ways to Attract New Clients

The coronavirus outbreak has hit the dog walking industry hard. Shelter in place orders prohibit commercial dog walking in some areas or only allow dog walkers to service essential workers. Clients working from home have put dog walking on hold, causing massive cancellations for dog walking companies. While you might feel that marketing during this time isn't a good idea, it's actually a great time to ramp up your marketing efforts so you'll be positioned for success when you return to business as usual. 

The Good News

First I want to share some promising news for dog walkers. Spurred by stay at home orders, many shelters, rescues and breeders have reported an increased demand for dogs and an uptick in adoptions. So we can certainly hope that once the stay at home orders end and new dog owners head back to work, the demand for dog walking may also increase. 

So continuing to market during this time is essential if you want to be ready for the potential surge in demand. If...

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