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 the unexpected, like being rushed by unleashed, aggressive dogs.
- Know how to prevent and safely break up a dog fight.
- Identify health issues and be able to determine if veterinary care is required and if immediate emergency care is necessary.
- Have knowledge of dog breeds and any restrictions/concerns with the breed.
- Understand how dogs learn so they can problem solve in situations where a dog is pulling on leash or won't walk and handle other issues that may arise.
- Know how to correctly put on, fit, and use equipment to prevent dogs from slipping out of equipment and to prevent injuries.
- Remain calm and respond appropriately if something goes wrong.
If you're walking dogs for other people, insurance is a must. Dogs can bite, sustain injuries or escape no matter how careful you are. If you accidentally damage a client's belongings repairs can be costly too. Working for an app? You may be surprised to find that you still need to get your own insurance to make sure you have proper general liability coverage. Don't assume you're covered. Need insurance? Check out this post.
#3 Licensing & Permits
You might be required to to have a business license depending on where you live, and some areas also require permits for commercial dog walking. The latter can cost several hundred dollars.
#4 Pet First Aid & CPR
As I mentioned before, walkers need to be able to recognize and respond to health issues, so taking a class in pet first aid & CPR is a must. A dog could die in your care if you fail to notice or address signs of things like bloat or heat stroke for example.
#5 Liability Waivers
A signed contract sets expectations and protects both you and your clients, so it prevents misunderstandings between you. They are also legally binding and can help minimize your risk should you end up with a litigious customer.