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Dog Walker Career Profile

How do I become a dog walker?

READ: This page helps you to read about the career and the info you need to decide on whether this is indeed the career you want to follow.

RESEARCH: ​Learn about the skills required and minimum subjects to enter this career, as well as the places where you can study further after school.

PREPARE: If you want to plan and prepare for the career, then join the OZT Community! Members have access to tools, while chatting with other students and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!

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UPDATED:

4 January 2024

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What is a Dog Walker?

A dog walker is a person walking with a dog or a group of dogs, usually from the dog’s home and then returning the dog back to its home.

​A dog walker can either be an individual or be part of a business. He or she will be paid by the dog owner to walk their dog or dogs for them as a part of their daily exercise routine to keep it healthy.

Dog 2

Alternative Names

There are several alternative names for a Dog Walker, and the choice often depends on personal preference, branding, or the specific services offered. Here are some alternative names for a Dog Walker:

  • Canine Exercise Specialist
  • Dog Fitness Trainer
  • Pet Exercise Provider
  • Pooch Pacer
  • Canine Companion Walker
  • Doggie Exercise Coach
  • Pet Fitness Enthusiast
  • Bark Buddy Walker
  • Tail Wagging Walker
  • Furry Friend Exercise Partner
  • Canine Activity Facilitator
  • Dog Stroll Specialist
  • Paws and Pavement Explorer
  • Four-Legged Fitness Guide
  • Pet Exercise Concierge
  • Doggy Ramble Escort
  • Tail Trail Trekker
  • Pup Pace Pal
  • Canine Cardio Coach
  • Walk and Wag Specialist

When choosing a name, it’s essential to consider the target audience, the tone you want to convey, and whether you want a more professional or playful image. Additionally, ensuring the name is easy to remember and reflects the core service of walking dogs is important for effective branding.

Career Categories

The Dog Walker career can be found within the following career categories:

  • Animal Care
  • Business

What does a Dog Walker do?

With which Groups of animals does a Dog Walker work with?

Dogs List Icon OZT
Dogs

What is the level of Interaction with the Animals?

With whom does a Dog Walker work?

A Dog Walker may work with various individuals and entities, depending on their specific business model and the nature of their services. Here are some key stakeholders with whom a Dog Walker may collaborate or interact:

Pet Owners:

The primary clients are pet owners who hire Dog Walkers to ensure that their dogs get regular exercise and outdoor time when the owners are busy or unable to do so themselves.

Pet Sitting Services:

Dog Walkers may collaborate with pet sitting services to provide a comprehensive care package for pets when owners are away. This could involve daily walks, feeding, and general check-ins.

Veterinarians:

In some cases, Dog Walkers may have professional relationships with veterinarians. They may be required to follow specific health guidelines or inform the veterinarian if they notice any health issues during their interactions with the dogs.

Animal behaviourists or Trainers:

Depending on the services offered, a Dog Walker may coordinate with animal behaviourists or trainers to address specific behavioural issues or provide additional training during walks.

Pet Care Businesses:

Dog Walkers might be employed by or collaborate with pet care businesses that offer a range of services, such as pet grooming, boarding, or training.

Local Authorities:

Some Dog Walkers may need to comply with local regulations regarding pet services. They might need permits or licences, and they may interact with local animal control or other relevant authorities.

Dog Parks and Recreational Facilities:

Dog Walkers often take dogs to parks or recreational areas for exercise. They may interact with staff at these locations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for the dogs.

Pet Product Suppliers:

Depending on their business model, Dog Walkers may collaborate with suppliers of pet products, such as leash and harness manufacturers, to ensure they have the necessary equipment for their walks.

Insurance Providers:

Dog Walkers may need to work with insurance providers to ensure they have appropriate liability insurance coverage in case of accidents or incidents during walks.

Professional Networks:

Dog Walkers may join professional networks or associations related to pet care to stay informed about industry trends, attend workshops, and connect with other professionals.

Clients’ Neighbours or Community:

Depending on the location, Dog Walkers may interact with clients’ neighbours or the local community. Building positive relationships with the community can contribute to the success of their business.

It’s important for Dog Walkers to establish clear communication and expectations with all parties involved to provide the best possible care for the dogs and maintain a successful and reputable business.

What are the different specialisations or career directions that a Dog Walker can venture into?

Dog walkers have the opportunity to explore various specialisations and career directions within the pet care industry. Here are different paths that a dog walker can venture into:

Professional Dog Walker:

Specialise in providing daily walks and exercise sessions for dogs. Professional dog walkers may work independently, for a dog walking company, or as part of a pet care service. They focus on ensuring the physical exercise, mental stimulation, and socialisation needs of dogs are met during walks.

Pet Sitter:

Expand services to include pet sitting for dogs and other pets while owners are away. Pet sitters visit clients’ homes to care for pets, including feeding, providing companionship, administering medications, and maintaining routines. Some pet sitters may offer overnight stays or live-in pet sitting services.

Dog Trainer:

Develop skills in dog training and behaviour modification. Dog trainers teach obedience commands, address behaviour issues such as leash pulling, jumping, barking, or aggression, and provide training for basic manners or specialised tasks. They may offer group classes, private sessions, or in-home training programmes.

Canine Behaviour Consultant:

Specialise in understanding and addressing complex behaviour issues in dogs. Behaviour consultants assess behaviour problems such as fear, anxiety, aggression, or compulsive behaviours, develop behaviour modification plans, provide training sessions, and offer guidance to dog owners on how to improve their relationship with their pets.

Pet Taxi or Transport Service:

Offer pet transportation services for dogs and other animals. Pet taxi services may include transporting pets to veterinary appointments, grooming salons, dog parks, or daycare facilities. Dog walkers can expand their services to include transportation as an additional convenience for pet owners.

Dog Daycare or Boarding Facility Staff:

Work in a dog daycare or boarding facility, supervising dogs during playtime, providing exercise, monitoring behaviour, and ensuring a safe and stimulating environment for dogs. Dog daycare staff may also assist with feeding, administering medications, and basic grooming tasks.

Animal Welfare Volunteer:

Volunteer at animal shelters, rescue organisations, or humane societies. Dog walkers can volunteer to walk shelter dogs, provide socialisation and enrichment activities, assist with adoption events, and contribute to the care and well-being of dogs awaiting forever homes.

Pet Photographer or Videographer:

Combine a passion for dogs with photography or videography skills. Pet photographers/videographers specialise in capturing moments, creating portraits, or producing videos of dogs for pet owners, businesses, or pet-related media content.

Canine Fitness Trainer:

Focus on promoting physical fitness and wellness for dogs. Canine fitness trainers design exercise routines, agility courses, and fitness programmes tailored to dogs’ needs, helping improve strength, flexibility, and overall health through structured workouts and activities.

Pet Entrepreneur:

Explore entrepreneurial opportunities within the pet care industry. Dog walkers can start their own dog walking business, pet care service, or boutique specialising in pet products, accessories, or grooming services. Entrepreneurs can also develop innovative pet-related products, apps, or online platforms to cater to pet owners’ needs.

These specialisations and career directions offer dog walkers diverse opportunities to expand their skills, pursue areas of interest, and make a positive impact on the well-being and happiness of dogs and their owners.

What does a Dog Walker focus on?

A Dog Walker focuses on several key aspects to ensure the well-being and safety of the dogs they care for, as well as to provide reliable and professional service to their clients.

What are the daily tasks of a Dog Walker?

The daily tasks of a Dog Walker can vary based on the number of clients, the specific needs of the dogs, and the services offered. However, here is a general overview of the typical daily tasks for a Dog Walker:

Schedule Management:

Review and organise the day’s schedule, including the timing and location of each dog walk.

Pre-Walk Preparation:

Gather necessary supplies, such as leashes, waste bags, and any special equipment required for specific dogs.

Travel to Client Locations:

Travel to the homes of clients to pick up the dogs for their scheduled walks.

Dog Pickup and Introduction:

Greet the dogs and ensure a positive and calm introduction. Confirm any specific instructions or special requirements from the pet owners.

Walking Routes:

Follow planned walking routes, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for the dogs. Adjust routes based on weather conditions or other considerations.

Exercise and Play:

Engage the dogs in physical activities, play, and mental stimulation during the walk.

Behaviour Monitoring:

Observe the behaviour of each dog, ensuring positive interactions with other dogs, people, and the environment. Address any behavioural issues as needed.

Potty Breaks:

Allow time for bathroom breaks, and provide opportunities for dogs to relieve themselves.

Hydration:

Ensure that the dogs have access to water, especially on warm days, to keep them hydrated.

Return to Client Homes:

Safely return the dogs to their homes, ensuring a smooth transition from the walk.

Post-Walk Updates:

Communicate with pet owners, providing updates on the walk, the dog’s behaviour, and any relevant information. Report any concerns or incidents.

Refill Water and Refresh Supplies:

Refill water bowls, if necessary, and refresh any supplies used during the walk.

Documentation:

Record details of each walk, including the time, route taken, any incidents, and notes about the dog’s behaviour.

Emergency Preparedness:

Be prepared for emergencies by carrying a first aid kit and knowing the location of nearby veterinary facilities.

Drop-Off and Farewell:

Ensure a positive and calm drop-off experience, saying farewell to the dogs until the next scheduled walk.

Scheduling Future Appointments:

Confirm future appointments with pet owners and discuss any changes in the schedule or specific requests.

Client Communication:

Respond promptly to client inquiries, messages, and requests for additional services.

Professional Development:

Allocate time for professional development, staying informed about industry trends, attending workshops, or pursuing additional certifications.

By effectively managing these daily tasks, a Dog Walker can provide a reliable and professional service that meets the physical and emotional needs of the dogs and satisfies the expectations of their owners.

With what kind of tools and technology (if any) does a Dog Walker work?

Dog walkers typically rely on a combination of tools, equipment, and technology to perform their jobs efficiently and provide quality care for the dogs they walk. While the profession primarily involves hands-on interaction with dogs, there are several tools and technologies that can enhance the dog walking experience. Here are some examples:

Basic Tools and Equipment:

Leashes and Collars:

Essential for safely controlling and guiding dogs during walks. Dog walkers may use various types of leashes and collars depending on the dog’s size and behavior.

Harnesses:

Some dog walkers prefer using harnesses, especially for dogs that pull on the leash or have neck sensitivities.

Waste Bags:

To clean up after dogs during walks and maintain cleanliness in public spaces.

Water Bottles and Portable Bowls:

For providing hydration to dogs, especially during longer walks on hot days.

Treats and Toys:

Used for training purposes, rewarding good behavior, and keeping dogs engaged during walks.

Communication and Scheduling Tools:

Smartphones:

Dog walkers often use smartphones for communication with clients, scheduling walks, and accessing maps or GPS for navigation.

Dog Walking Apps:

There are apps designed specifically for dog walkers to manage schedules, communicate with clients, and track walking routes and activities.

Safety and Health Monitoring:

Pet First Aid Kit:

Essential for addressing minor injuries or emergencies during walks. Dog walkers should carry a basic first aid kit with supplies like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and tweezers.

GPS Trackers:

Some dog walking services use GPS tracking devices attached to the dog’s collar to monitor their location and ensure their safety during walks.

Training and Behavior Management:

Clickers and Training Aids:

Used for positive reinforcement training techniques to reinforce desired behaviors in dogs.

Training Treat Pouch:

Convenient pouches worn by dog walkers to carry treats for training and rewards.

Business Management Tools:

Accounting Software:

For managing finances, tracking expenses, and invoicing clients if the dog walker operates as an independent contractor or business owner.

Client Management Platforms:

Tools for organizing client information, scheduling appointments, and sending reminders.

Safety Equipment:

Reflective Gear:

Reflective vests or clothing for dog walkers to enhance visibility, especially during walks in low-light conditions.

Whistles or Personal Alarms:

Used as safety tools to attract attention or deter aggressive animals if necessary.

While technology can streamline processes and enhance safety, the most important tools for a dog walker are their knowledge of canine behavior, their ability to communicate effectively with both dogs and clients, and their dedication to providing excellent care and companionship to the dogs in their charge.

The Working environment of a Dog Walker

Where does a Dog Walker work?

A dog walker typically experiences a combination of indoor and outdoor working environments, depending on various factors such as the nature of their services, weather conditions, and the preferences of their clients. Here’s an overview of both environments:

Outdoor Working Environment:

Parks and Trails:

Dog walkers often take dogs to local parks, nature trails, or designated dog-friendly areas for walks and exercise.

Residential Neighborhoods:

Walking dogs in residential neighbourhoods is common, providing a familiar and comfortable setting for the dogs.

Urban Areas:

In urban settings, dog walkers may navigate sidewalks and city streets, adapting to the surroundings while ensuring the safety of the dogs.

Dog Parks:

Some dog walkers may include visits to dog parks, allowing the dogs to socialise and play off-leash in a secure environment.

Beaches or Waterfronts:

Depending on the location, dog walkers may have access to beaches or waterfront areas where dogs can enjoy different environments and activities.

Varied Terrains:

Walks may involve various terrains, such as grassy fields, wooded trails, or hilly landscapes, providing dogs with diverse sensory experiences.

Indoor Working Environment:

Client Homes:

Dog walkers often begin and end their workday at the homes of their clients, where they pick up and drop off the dogs.

Dog-Friendly Indoor Spaces:

In inclement weather, or if specified by the client, dog walkers may spend time indoors engaging dogs in play or providing mental stimulation.

Pet Care Facilities:

Some dog walkers may work in conjunction with pet care facilities, where dogs are dropped off for walks or other services.

Weather Considerations:

Rain or Snow:

Dog walkers work outdoors in various weather conditions, including rain or snow. They may need to adapt their routines and use weather-appropriate gear.

Extreme Temperatures:

During very hot or cold weather, dog walkers must take precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of their dogs. This may include adjusting the duration of walks or choosing shaded routes.

Seasonal Changes:

The working environment can change with the seasons, with different considerations for spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Additional Considerations:

Client Preferences:

Dog walkers tailor their services to meet the preferences of pet owners, including the choice of walking locations and the inclusion of indoor activities.

Dog Behaviour and Preferences:

Understanding each dog’s behaviour and preferences is crucial. Some dogs may enjoy socialising in dog parks, while others may prefer quiet walks in nature.

Flexibility:

Dog walkers need to be adaptable and flexible, adjusting their plans based on the needs of the dogs, clients, and environmental conditions.

In summary, a dog walker’s working environment is dynamic, involving a mix of outdoor and indoor settings. Adaptability, a love for animals, and a commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of the dogs are essential qualities for success in this profession.

What is the average annual salary of a Dog Walker?

It’s important to note that salaries for dog walkers can vary widely based on factors such as location, experience, demand for services, and whether the individual is employed by a pet care company or operates their own business. Additionally, these figures are rough estimates and may change over time. Here are the approximate average yearly salaries for dog walkers in the specified countries and regions:

Country-Specific Estimates:

USA: $30,000 to $40,000 USD

Canada: $25,000 to $35,000 CAD

UK: £20,000 to £25,000 GBP

India: ₹2,00,000 to ₹3,00,000 INR

Australia: $40,000 to $50,000 AUD

New Zealand: $35,000 to $45,000 NZD

Nigeria: ₦1,500,000 to ₦2,500,000 NGN

Kenya:KSh 600,000 to KSh 900,000 KES

South Africa: R150,000 to R250,000 ZAR

Region-Specific Estimates:

South America: Salaries can vary widely, but on average, they might fall within the range of $15,000 to $30,000 USD.

Europe: Salaries in European countries may range from €18,000 to €25,000 EUR on average.

South East Asia: Salaries may range from $8,000 to $15,000 USD on average.

Keep in mind that these figures are general estimates, and actual salaries can be influenced by factors such as the cost of living in specific regions, the level of demand for pet care services, and the individual dog walker’s experience and reputation. Additionally, dog walkers who operate their own businesses may have varying income levels based on the success and size of their ventures. It’s always advisable to research specific local conditions and market demands for more accurate salary expectations

Can a Dog Walker be promoted?

The promotion levels for a dog walker can vary based on factors such as education, responsibilities, and certifications. While the dog walking profession may not have a traditional corporate hierarchy, there are ways for dog walkers to advance and take on more responsibilities within their roles. Here’s a breakdown based on the specified headings:

1. Education:

Entry Level:

  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • Basic understanding of dog behaviour and care.

Intermediate Level:

  • Additional courses or workshops in animal behaviour, dog training, or pet first aid.
  • Certifications in professional dog walking.

Advanced Level:

  • Further education in areas like animal science, veterinary studies, or business management.
  • Specialised certifications in advanced dog training or behaviour modification.

2. Responsibilities:

Entry Level:

  • Walking dogs on scheduled routes.
  • Following basic safety protocols.
  • Providing updates to pet owners.

Intermediate Level:

  • Managing a larger number of clients and dogs.
  • Handling more complex or challenging dog behaviours.
  • Offering additional pet care services (e.g., pet sitting, basic training).

Advanced Level:

  • Taking on leadership roles within a dog-walking business.
  • Managing a team of dog walkers.
  • Handling client relations and business operations.

3. Certification:

Entry Level:

  • Entry-level certifications in professional dog walking or pet care.
  • Basic pet first aid and CPR certification.

Intermediate Level:

  • Advanced certifications in dog training or behaviour modification.
  • Specialised certifications in handling specific breeds or types of dogs.

Advanced Level:

  • Obtaining instructor-level certifications to teach dog walking or pet care courses.
  • Pursuing certifications in business management or entrepreneurship.

Note:

Experience Matters:

In the dog-walking profession, hands-on experience is often just as important, if not more so, than formal education. Advancement often comes through gaining experience with a variety of dogs, handling different situations, and building a positive reputation.

Business Ownership:

Some dog walkers may choose to advance by starting their own dog walking business. In this case, progression involves taking on the responsibilities of business ownership, including client acquisition, marketing, hiring staff, and managing finances.

Continuous Learning:

Advancement in the dog-walking profession is often tied to continuous learning. Staying updated on the latest trends, attending workshops, and pursuing additional certifications can contribute to professional growth.

Promotion in the dog walking field is often more about expanding skills, taking on leadership roles, and potentially growing a personal brand or business than climbing a traditional corporate ladder. Individuals who demonstrate a commitment to professional development, client satisfaction, and the well-being of the dogs they care for are likely to find opportunities for advancement in various forms.

What kinds of difficulties does a Dog Walker face?

Dog walkers face a variety of challenges in their profession, ranging from physical demands to business management and emotional challenges. Here’s a comprehensive list of potential challenges for dog walkers:

Physical Demands:

Weather Conditions: Exposure to extreme temperatures, rain, snow, or other adverse weather conditions can be physically demanding.

Walking and Endurance: Walking multiple dogs daily can be physically tiring, requiring good endurance and fitness.

Handling Larger or Energetic Dogs: Dealing with larger or highly energetic dogs may pose physical challenges, especially if they pull on the leash.

Safety Concerns:

Dog Aggression: Handling aggressive behaviour or interactions between dogs requires skill and the potential for safety concerns.

Injuries: Dog walkers may be at risk of injuries, such as falls or bites, especially when dealing with unfamiliar or anxious dogs.

Variability in Working Conditions:

Unpredictable Dog behaviour: Dogs can exhibit unpredictable behaviour, and dog walkers must be prepared to manage various personalities.

Changing Environments: Working in diverse locations, from parks to urban areas, requires adaptability to different environments.

Emotional Challenges:

Bonding and Attachment: Developing bonds with dogs and then parting ways can be emotionally challenging, especially in the case of long-term clients.

Dealing with Sick or Aging Dogs: Witnessing the decline of a dog’s health or dealing with sick or ageing dogs can be emotionally taxing.

Business Management:

Client Acquisition and Retention: Attracting and retaining clients can be competitive, requiring effective marketing and customer service skills.

Scheduling Challenges: Managing a flexible and sometimes unpredictable schedule can be challenging, especially during peak demand times.

Business Finances: Handling financial aspects, such as invoicing, pricing, and managing expenses, is crucial for business success.

Regulatory Compliance:

Licencing and Permits:

Navigating local regulations and obtaining necessary licences or permits may be required, adding complexity to the business.

Insurance Requirements: Securing appropriate insurance coverage to protect against liability is essential but can be challenging.

Continuing Education:

Staying Updated on Pet Care Practices: Continuing education in pet care, behaviour, and first aid is essential for providing high-quality services.

Unpredictable Work Hours:

Inconsistent Work Hours: Work hours may vary based on client needs, making it challenging to maintain a consistent routine.

Availability for Last-Minute Requests: Clients may have last-minute requests, requiring flexibility in the dog walker’s schedule.

Other Challenges:

Competition in the Industry: The pet care industry can be competitive, and dog walkers may face challenges distinguishing themselves from others.

Transportation Issues: Dependence on reliable transportation is crucial, and vehicle breakdowns or traffic can disrupt schedules.

Client Communication: Effective communication with clients is crucial, and misunderstandings or miscommunications can pose challenges.

Being aware of these challenges allows dog walkers to proactively address and manage them, contributing to a successful and fulfilling career in the pet care profession.

Future Growth and Possibilities

Some general trends and possibilities that were influencing the industry:

Trends and Possibilities in the Dog Walker Industry:

Increasing Pet Ownership:

The trend of increasing pet ownership, particularly dogs, has been observed globally. As more people welcome pets into their homes, the demand for pet care services, including dog walking, tends to grow.

Humanization of Pets:

The humanization of pets has led to a greater emphasis on their well-being and quality of life. Pet owners are more willing to invest in services that enhance their pets’ experiences, including regular exercise through professional dog walking.

Technology Integration:

Technology plays a significant role in the pet care industry, with the emergence of apps and platforms that connect pet owners with dog walking services. These technologies streamline scheduling, communication, and payment processes.

Specialised Services:

The demand for specialised dog walking services, such as solo walks, group walks, or specific training-oriented walks, has been on the rise. Dog walkers who offer unique and tailored services may find increased opportunities.

Health and Wellness Focus:

Pet owners are increasingly recognising the importance of regular exercise for their dogs’ physical and mental health. Dog-walking services align with this focus on overall pet well-being.

Professionalisation of the Industry:

The dog walking industry is becoming more professional, with a growing number of individuals obtaining certifications in dog training, pet first aid, and other relevant areas. This professionalisation enhances the credibility of dog-walking services.

COVID-19 Impact:

The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced pet ownership trends, with more people seeking companionship during periods of lockdown. This increased demand for pets may have indirect effects on the demand for pet care services.

Flexible Work Arrangements:

The rise of flexible work arrangements for pet owners, such as remote work, has implications for dog walking services. Owners working from home may still require assistance in ensuring their dogs receive regular exercise.

For the most accurate and current information on the projected annual growth and trends in the Dog Walker career market, it’s advisable to consult industry reports, labour market analyses, and relevant professional organisations. These sources can provide insights into the factors shaping the future of the industry.

Availability of Jobs

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Which Skills do a Dog Walker need?

The skills required for a career as a dog walker can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills and personality traits, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.

Life Skills and Personality Traits

Dog walkers play a vital role in providing exercise, stimulation, and companionship to dogs while their owners are away. Here are some specific personality traits commonly found in successful dog walkers:

Love for Dogs:

Dog walkers should have a genuine love and affection for dogs. This passion drives their commitment to providing the best possible care and companionship to the dogs under their supervision.

Patience:

Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments, and some may require extra patience and understanding. Dog walkers should be patient when dealing with dogs that may be anxious, excitable, or untrained.

Physical Fitness:

Walking multiple dogs for extended periods of time requires good physical fitness and stamina. Dog walkers should be capable of walking, running, and handling dogs of various sizes and energy levels.

Responsibility:

Dog walkers are entrusted with the safety and well-being of their clients’ beloved pets. They must demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility and reliability, ensuring that dogs are well cared for and returned safely to their owners.

Adaptability:

Dogs have different needs and preferences when it comes to walking routes, pace, and interaction with other dogs and people. Dog walkers should be adaptable, able to tailor their approach to meet the individual needs of each dog they walk.

Communication Skills:

Effective communication with dog owners is essential for understanding their expectations, preferences, and any specific instructions for their dogs. Dog walkers should also be able to communicate with other dog owners they may encounter during walks.

Confidence:

Dogs can sense confidence in their handlers, which helps them feel secure and relaxed during walks. Dog walkers should exhibit confidence and assertiveness, especially when dealing with challenging situations or dogs with behavioural issues.

Observation Skills:

Dog walkers must be attentive to the behaviour and body language of the dogs they walk, as well as their surroundings. This allows them to anticipate potential hazards, prevent conflicts with other dogs or people, and ensure the safety of the dogs in their care.

Time Management:

Dog walkers often have multiple appointments scheduled throughout the day, requiring effective time management skills to ensure that each dog receives the appropriate amount of exercise and attention.

Compassion:

Dog walkers should demonstrate empathy and compassion for dogs, recognising their individual needs and providing comfort and reassurance when necessary.

Overall, successful dog walkers possess a combination of love for dogs, patience, physical fitness, responsibility, adaptability, communication skills, confidence, observation skills, time management, and compassion, enabling them to provide safe, enjoyable, and enriching experiences for the dogs they walk.

Life Skills
40%

Career Skills

  • Basic animal handling and care techniques
  • Basic customer service skills
  • Good health and physical fitness
  • Basic computer literacy
  • Business skills (when starting a business)
Career Skills
60%

Which Subjects must I have at School to help prepare for the Career?

The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.

OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!

What will I need to Study to become a Dog Walker?

Minimum educational requirement

While there are no strict educational requirements to become a dog walker, having a high school diploma or equivalent is typically sufficient. A basic level of education is important for communication skills and understanding instructions.

Study Focus

Subjects for which further study is required:

Animal Behaviour:

Consider taking courses in animal behaviour to understand the psychology of dogs, their communication cues, and how to handle different behaviours.

Communication Skills:

Enhance your communication skills through courses in public speaking, interpersonal communication, or written communication. This is important for interacting with pet owners.

First Aid and CPR:

Obtain certification in pet first aid and CPR. This is crucial in cases of emergencies or accidents during walks.

Business Studies:

If you plan to start your own dog walking business, consider courses in business studies to learn about entrepreneurship, marketing, and basic business management.

Advanced Studies (If Necessary):

Animal Science or Veterinary Studies:

While not mandatory, advanced studies in animal science or veterinary studies can provide in-depth knowledge about animal health and well-being.

Pet Care Management:

Advanced studies in pet care management can be beneficial if you plan to expand your services or manage a team of dog walkers.

Optional Short Courses:

Dog training basics:

Short courses in basic dog training can enhance your ability to handle and control dogs during walks.

Pet Nutrition:

A short course in pet nutrition can be valuable for understanding the dietary needs of dogs and providing advice to pet owners.

Professional Dog Walking Certification:

Consider obtaining certification specifically in professional dog walking. There are organisations that offer courses covering the safety, behaviour, and business aspects of dog walking.

Pet First Aid Workshop:

Attend a pet first aid workshop to refresh and enhance your skills in handling medical emergencies involving animals.

Canine Behaviour and Body Language Workshop:

Workshops focusing on canine behaviour and body language can deepen your understanding of dogs’ communication cues.

Study Duration

The duration of most College Diplomas are between 2 and 3 years, and the duration of short courses differ, but can range from a few days to a few months.

FREE Career Path Plan

If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.

Why is planning important?

​To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A preparation path is like a road map to where you want to be.

Possible Paths:

Here’s a possible career preparation path for a high school student who wants to pursue a dog-walking career:

  1.  Attend Career Guidance Sessions:

Attend career guidance sessions to understand the various career options related to working with animals, specifically dog walking.

2.  Research Possible Careers:

Conduct thorough research on careers related to animal care, pet services, and specifically dog walking. Understand the requirements, responsibilities, and potential growth in the field.

3.  Explore Educational Paths:

Identify educational paths that can enhance your knowledge and skills in animal care. Consider programmes related to veterinary studies, animal science, or dog training.

4.  Align High School Subjects:

Choose high school subjects that align with your chosen educational path. Science courses may be particularly relevant, but also consider business or communication courses to enhance your overall skill set.

5.  Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent:

Focus on academic excellence and graduate with a high school diploma or equivalent.

6.  Learn About Animals:

Gain knowledge about different dog breeds, their behaviour, and specific needs. This understanding will be crucial in your role as a dog walker.

7.  Align Post-School Path:

Decide whether you want to enter the workforce directly after high school, pursue further studies in a related field, or potentially start your own dog-walking business.

8.  Gain Experience:

Seek opportunities to gain hands-on experience through volunteering at animal shelters, interning with local pet care services, or finding a mentor in the field.

9.  Pursue Extracurricular Activities:

Participate in extracurricular activities that demonstrate responsibility, teamwork, and leadership, which are valuable skills in any career.

10. Join Professional Associations:

Join professional associations related to animal care or pet services. Networking with professionals in the industry can provide valuable insights and opportunities.

11. Gain specialised Skills:

Take courses or certifications in dog behaviour, first aid, or training. These specialised skills can set you apart as a qualified dog walker.

12. Network with Professionals:

Attend industry events, conferences, or workshops to network with professionals. Establishing connections can open doors for job opportunities or collaborations.

13. Enter the Job Market or Further Studies:

Depending on your chosen path, enter the job market by applying for positions with established dog walking services, or pursue further studies if you decide to specialise in a particular aspect of animal care.

14. Stay Updated and Pursue Continuing Education:

Stay informed about industry trends, new technologies, and advancements in animal care. Pursue continuing education to stay relevant and enhance your skills throughout your career.

By following this comprehensive path, a high school student can build a solid foundation for a successful career as a Dog Walker.

Possible Combined Career Paths

It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you studied and you are already working in a specific career, but the knowledge and experience gained can also help you to have a second paying job or secondary income career.

Possible Alternative(s):

Stepping Stone Career

A stepping-stone career refers to a job or position that serves as a transitional or intermediate step towards a long-term career goal. Individuals may take on a stepping-stone job as it requires minimum education or finances to enter, or to gain relevant experience and develop skills, or to make professional connections that will ultimately help them progress towards their desired career path.

These interim positions may not be the ultimate or dream job, but they provide valuable learning opportunities and contribute to the individual’s overall career development. Stepping-stone careers are often seen as a strategic approach to building a successful and fulfilling professional trajectory, allowing individuals to gradually move closer to their desired roles or industries.

A career as a dog walker can provide individuals with valuable skills and experiences that can be transferable to various other fields. While it may not be immediately apparent, the skills developed in a dog walker career can be relevant to several other professions.

Here are some potential career paths that individuals with a background in dog walking could explore in the future:

Training and Apprenticeship

Becoming a successful dog walker often involves a combination of practical experience, on-the-job training, and a good understanding of canine behaviour. Here are key elements of in-house training or on-the-job experiences that can help someone become a competent dog walker:

Hands-On Experience:

  • Volunteering at Animal Shelters: Spending time at animal shelters allows individuals to work with various dogs, understand different breeds, and learn how to handle dogs with diverse personalities.
  • Internship with Experienced Dog Walkers: Shadowing or interning with experienced dog walkers provides valuable insights into their day-to-day responsibilities, handling techniques, and client interactions.

On-the-Job Training:

  • Training Period with a Mentor: Working under the guidance of an experienced dog walker allows newcomers to learn the ropes, understand safety protocols, and gain practical skills.
  • Supervised Walks: Beginning with supervised walks, where an experienced professional oversees and provides feedback, helps new dog walkers gain confidence and improve their handling skills.

Canine Behaviour Training:

  • Behavioural Observation: Learning to observe and understand canine behaviour is crucial. Training should include recognising signs of stress, anxiety, or aggression and implementing appropriate responses.
  • Canine Body Language Workshops: Workshops or courses focused on canine body language and communication help dog walkers interpret signals and prevent potential conflicts during walks.

Safety Protocols:

  • Emergency Preparedness Training: Understanding and practicing emergency procedures, including pet first aid and CPR, is essential for the safety of both the dogs and the dog walker.
  • Traffic and Outdoor Safety Training: Training on navigating traffic, using crosswalks, and ensuring the safety of dogs in outdoor environments is crucial for preventing accidents.

Business Management:

  • Scheduling and Time Management: Training in organising schedules, managing time effectively, and handling last-minute requests or changes.
  • Record-Keeping: training on maintaining accurate records of each walk, including the route taken, any incidents, and special notes about the dog’s behaviour.

Optional Certifications:

  • Professional Dog Walking Certification Programmes: Some organisations offer professional certification programmes specifically designed for dog walkers, covering safety, canine behaviour, and business aspects.
  • Pet First Aid and CPR Certification: Obtaining certification in pet first aid and CPR ensures that dog walkers can respond effectively in emergencies.

In-house training and on-the-job experiences should be comprehensive, covering not only the practical aspects of handling dogs but also the business and client communication aspects of the profession. Continuous learning and staying informed about industry best practices contribute to the professional growth of a Dog Walker.

Average level of education of those entering the career:

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

Licenses, Certificates, Registration and Professional Associations

The licenses, certificates, and legal requirements needed to become a dog walker can vary depending on the location and local regulations. Here are some general considerations, but it’s important to check specific requirements in your city, state, or country:

Business Licences:

Local Business Licence: In many areas, you may need a general business licence to operate legally. Check with your local city or county government to determine the specific requirements.

Insurance:

Liability Insurance: It’s highly recommended to have liability insurance to protect yourself in case of accidents or injuries involving the dogs you walk. This insurance can cover veterinary bills or legal expenses if a dog is injured or causes harm to others.

Certifications and Training:

Professional Dog Walking Certification: While not always required, obtaining a certification in professional dog walking can enhance your credibility and demonstrate your commitment to industry best practices.

Pet First Aid and CPR Certification: Having certification in pet first aid and CPR is valuable for handling emergencies and demonstrating your commitment to the safety of the dogs in your care.

Legal Agreements:

Client Contracts: Having a clear and comprehensive contract with your clients is important. This document should outline the services you provide, fees, terms of payment, and any disclaimers or waivers.

Permits and Permissions:

Use of Public Spaces: If you plan to walk dogs in public parks or other communal spaces, check if there are any permits or permissions required. Some areas may have specific rules or restrictions for dog walkers.

Transportation Considerations:

Dog Transportation Licence: If you plan to transport dogs in a vehicle, there may be specific regulations regarding pet transportation. Ensure that your vehicle complies with safety standards, and if needed, obtain the necessary permits.

Local Regulations:

Zoning Regulations: Check local zoning regulations to ensure that operating a dog-walking business is allowed in your chosen location.

Noise Regulations: Be mindful of noise regulations, especially if you plan to walk dogs in residential areas. Some places may have restrictions on noise levels.

Health and Safety:

Vaccination Requirements: Ensure that the dogs you walk are up-to-date on vaccinations. Some areas may have regulations regarding vaccinations for animals in public spaces.

Emergency Preparedness: Develop and adhere to emergency preparedness plans, including protocols for handling injuries, lost dogs, or other emergencies.

Local Authorities and Organisations:

Check with Animal Control: Local animal control offices may provide guidance on regulations and requirements for dog walkers in your area.

Join Professional Organisations: Consider joining professional pet care associations or organisations in your region. These groups may offer resources, networking opportunities, and insights into industry standards.

Always check with local authorities, such as city hall, animal control offices, or small business regulatory agencies, to ensure that you are in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. Requirements can vary significantly, so it’s crucial to research the specific legal landscape in your location.

Professional Associations

Specific professional associations or societies exclusively for dog walkers may not be as prevalent as those for broader pet care professionals. However, there are organisations and associations in the pet care industry that offer resources, education, and networking opportunities for individuals involved in various aspects of pet care, including dog walking. Please note that the availability of specific associations may vary by region. Here are some notable organisations:

International and National Pet Care Associations:

  • Pet Sitters International (PSI):

Website: Pet Sitters International

Description: PSI is a global membership organisation for professional pet sitters and dog walkers. While it encompasses various pet care services, it provides resources and education relevant to dog walkers.

  • National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS):

Website: National Association of Professional Pet Sitters

Description: NAPPS is an American organisation that supports pet care professionals, including pet sitters and dog walkers. It offers resources, certifications, and networking opportunities.

Regional or Country-Specific Associations:

  • United Kingdom:

The National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers (NARPS UK):

Website: NARPS UK

Description: NARPS UK provides support, resources, and networking opportunities for pet sitters and dog walkers in the United Kingdom.

  • Australia:

Association of Pet Boarding and Grooming (APBG):

Website: APBG

Description: APBG is an Australian association that includes professionals in pet care services, including dog walking, pet boarding, and grooming.

Online Platforms and Communities:

  • Rover:

Website: Rover

Description: While not an association, Rover is an online platform that connects pet owners with dog walkers, sitters, and other pet care providers. It serves as a community for pet care professionals.

  • Pet Care Community (Reddit):

Subreddit: r/petcarecommunity

Description: Reddit’s Pet Care Community provides a platform for individuals in the pet care industry, including dog walkers, to share experiences, ask questions, and engage in discussions.

Where can I study further?

All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.

See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards animal care.

How do I start to prepare for this Career?

If you do decide on following this career, then OZT can assist you in figuring out a path to prepare, as well as help you to gain further knowledge about the career and the animals you will be working with. We do this by offering you FREE career development tools. There are almost a dozen free tools, but these are the three primary ones:

CAREER PATH PLAN

Use the career path plan above on this profile as an example to follow, or to work out your own path.

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ACCESS: Open to visitors and Members 

SHORT COURSES

Access easy-to-use short courses to make your career preparation easier! The basic information in each course is free, but the rewards can only be unlocked as an OZT member!

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STUDY GUIDE

Get a supercharged study guide that fits into the career path plan! Now that's really upping your preparation game! Join us for free to gain access!

COST; Free

ACCESS: Members Only

But, if you are still uncertain about choosing this specific career, and even where to start, then have a look at our special series of WHAT NEXT courses (link below). They take you through all of the questions you might have on how to choose the right career, what to do while at and after school, and even how to start your own business.

OR

Join the OZT online community for special access to more tools!

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a dog walker.

Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
  • Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
  • Make friends around the world and share knowledge
  • Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!

If you have decided on being a dog walker, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, and non-Members will be assisted to register first.

If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu to start a new search and learn about a different career.

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A few pictures about the Career:

Rover:

Website: Rover

Description: Rover is a popular platform that connects pet owners with dog walkers, pet sitters, and other pet care services. Dog walkers can create profiles, set their own rates, and offer their services to pet owners in their local area.

Wag!:

Website: Wag!

Description: Wag! is a mobile app and website that connects dog owners with vetted and insured dog walkers. Dog walkers can apply to become “Wag! Walkers” and provide on-demand or scheduled walks for clients in their area.

PetSitter.com:

Website: PetSitter.com

Description: While not exclusively focused on dog walking, PetSitter.com is a platform that connects pet owners with pet care providers, including dog walkers. Dog walkers can create profiles, showcase their services, and connect with pet owners seeking dog walking services.

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