Nice work if you can get it: Dogwalker

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This is part of our series of interviews with people who have interesting/envy inducing jobs. And what could be more envy inducing that hanging out with pooches all day?! Making your own hours and avoiding a life of desk-sitting are bonuses as well. Susan is actually the friend of a friend who is living one version of my dream life, owning her own dog-walking business.

 

So what’s the deal? What do you do?
I provide a pet service; I’m a dog walker and I board dogs in our house.Tell us about an average day in life of your job.
The average day starts around 11:00 and ends around 2:30. I have seven dogs to walk three times a week and three dogs two days a week. Each walk averages 20 minutes, but with the way the temperatures have been,the dogs can’t last more than 5-10 min. Poor pups!

I also board dogs in our home. This is where the real pleasure is. Having a pet or three in our home is a blast and especially for our youngest daughter.

Did you go to school for this? Or get any special training?
No school or training. Actually, I never even grew up with dogs but I married into one and she was the best trainer I could have ever had.

How did you get into this line of work?
I lived in Illinois, worked in the golf industry for 12 years (it’s warm weather business) and winters being cold and somewhat snowy in Illinois I started to board dogs while the snow Bbrds made their way to warmer destinations.

I met my husband, who lived here, moved up, and got married…blah blah blah. I attempted to start the business here but it was slow moving, so I got a job at the Edina County Club thinking I’ll befriend some people and get the word out. It didn’t take, so I put flyers up at vet clinics and in the local newspaper. It finally took off in about a year – even with an unfriendly phone call form some woman trying to discourage me from stating it. She said, “she covers all the Edina area and I shouldn’t think of budding into her territory.” I took that as a pleasant Minnesota-nice ‘Hello.’

What are the misconceptions about being a dog-walker?
There aren’t any misconceptions, the title says it all, but my business name Susan’s Pet Services always brings the question of what do I do in my service. This allows people to ask more questions and really get to know me. In this business, your personality and love for animals needs to shine, otherwise the client will go to the next person.

What suggestions would you give to people interested in becoming a professional dog walker?
Make sure it’s what you want to do because once you get involved there is no turning back.

When I vacation, I can’t wait to get back home and see all my dogs. They bring such an awe inspiring drive in me. I could never think of ending this business, even when it’s -20 or 90+, my love for each and everyone of them is overwhelming.

Are any of you guys a bit envious of all this doggy love? Any questions for Susan?

6 Comments

NataParata

How much does Susan charge for her services? Also how did she establish these rates.
I thought about doing this but being super practical I never did know how much to charge…and so the desk is still my ball and chain

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Meg

Just today I was actually saying to my boyfriend that I should become a dog walker! I too would like to know what she charges; is it per walk, per week, per hour? Thanks for the info, and awesome post! đŸ™‚

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Kitty

You said you tried several different ways of getting your business noticed before it kicked off…What, in your experience, is the most successful way to attract new customers?

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J.D. Antell

Great article! I was a dog walker for over 7 years and it is indeed a great job. I actually wrote a whole book about how to start a dog walking business, set rates, and get clients. The Dog Walker’s Startup Guide. Check out my website if you want to learn more about dog walking http://www.dogzanny.com.

Best,

J.D. Antell

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Sarah Von Bargen

Hey guys! I just wanted to give you the heads up that Susan is away on holiday until the 25th, but she´ll surely be stopping by to answer your questions then!

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Anonymous

Hi Everyone, thanks for your intrest, sorry it’s taken me so long to respond, I actually was hired to relocate a dog to CA. Fun trip and beautiful scenery.
I started low at first $10 for 1/2 hour walk, then with a good clientele I raised the rate to $13 and lessen the time of walk to new customers. I did this after 3 years.
I charge per walk.
Advertising within your neighborhood or with a local vets was the best for me.
Good luck to all.
Susan

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