Diary of a Dog Walker

Is it a real job? I think so! Let's explore.
  1. β€’
    Well hi there!
  2. β€’
    I'm Chris, a 22 year old college grad working as a dog walker in Washington, DC.
    I primarily work in AdMo and Logan Circle. I used to have dogs in Mt Pleasant and Columbia Heights as well.
  3. β€’
    I walk anywhere from 10-18 dogs a day.
    Some individual and some in groups. Depends on dog and location.
  4. β€’
    It started out as a fun side job to do when my post-grad internship wasn't giving me enough hours, and I now do it full-time because I overall work less hours and make more money.
  5. β€’
    That is, I actually support myself by working ~25 hours a week. πŸ™ŒπŸ»
    I work for a slightly 'higher end' pet service company and receive a 60% cut of the revenue from my clients. Not including tips. A lot of companies offer just 50%, not sure about individual walkers who go out on their own.
  6. β€’
    To be fair, this does mean I work without salary or benefits. So this week, for example, I'm making 1/5 less because of the holiday on Monday.
    I also have to do quarterly IRS forms to pay self-employment tax, since I technically work as an individual contractor for my company. It's a big chunk of my pay, since my employer isn't taking any of it out of my paychecks.
  7. β€’
    I don't have a fitness tracker, but I'd guess I average anywhere from 6-8 miles a day.
  8. β€’
    It may seem like a menial job, but I actually take a lot of pride in it! I appreciate that people are letting me into their homes and trusting me to care for their pets.
  9. β€’
    There are some clients who treat me like part of the family, and some who I've never met or talked to.
    As part of our service, walkers in my company send a message to owners after each walk, often with a picture :) some people reply every time, some never have.
  10. β€’
    I typically work from 10:30am-3pm
    That is, I start at 10:30 and work til I'm done. On a heavy day like today (I had 16), I finished a little before 3:30.
  11. β€’
    Some people are really picky about what time we come, some are super flexible.
    For walkers like me, whose routes span several miles and across neighborhoods, I reallllly appreciate the flexible people.
  12. β€’
    Little things that dog walkers appreciate:
  13. β€’
    Sunny weather!!! DC just had 17 straight days of rain in the beginning of May and it was miserable πŸ˜₯
    Now it's been in the 80s and I'm getting a great tan 😎
  14. β€’
    When your dog poops right by a trash can!
    Self explanatory. Also when you leave a good supply of bags so we don't risk running out. We try to be good doggy citizens!
  15. β€’
    When you communicate with us and don't cancel at the last minute.
    Our policy is that you cancel by at least 9am day of, otherwise you get charged regardless. For dogs that are out of the way of the main route it makes a big difference in planning our day!
  16. β€’
    When you're honest about your dog!
    It's okay if he or she doesn't like other dogs or people- tell us that! It's for their safety and ours that we're informed. We're happy to learn your dogs quirks and preferences, even if that means an individual walk when it would be quicker to do pair them or walk a group.
  17. β€’
    When you appreciate us!
    About a quarter of my clients tip, either weekly or monthly, but that's really not even what I mean here. When you leave out umbrellas or water for us, or think ahead and have a towel for us to dry your dog off with on a rainy day, it really helps us out.
  18. β€’
    Things about the dog/pet service industry
    At least in DC
  19. β€’
    Holy moly, so many dogs.
    DC is a super dog friendly city! As someone who owns a 100lb pit mix this is something I think I took for granted when I lived in DC. I recently moved to Arlington, VA and had a really hard time finding a place that would take us, due to breed and weight restrictions. That's Brody. Very friendly!
  20. β€’
    And therefore, so many dog walkers!
    I could not believe how many options there were when I started looking for a job. Not all serve all neighborhoods, and many offer different services (like doggy daycare) so we're all a little different
  21. β€’
    My company offers 15 and 25 minute visits, 20 minute "paw cardio" (we take your dog for an individual run) and 20 minute puppy visits (individual visits for puppies who aren't ready to walk with others yet, and may need feedings and stuff). We also offer a discount for people who have visits mon-fri.
    The majority of my clients are Monday through Friday 15 or 25 min visits.
  22. β€’
    A reason I chose my company is that we're strong on social media. Instagram pics of our dogs and walkers with dogs really often, and every now and then document our day on snapchat too.
    Owners really appreciate this. (Preference about showing their dog on social media is noted on their info)
  23. β€’
    I'm sure I'll think of more πŸ€” but that's the deal on dog walking, from me at least!
  24. β€’
    Any questions? πŸΆπŸ€—πŸΆ