New parents can make extra cash while getting in some exercise by picking up an active side gig like dog walking. Not only can you make money while burning calories, but also you also get the emotional and psychological benefits of being around dogs and spending time outdoors.
Among the many things, parents wish they knew about before raising kids includes the unexpected costs and the weight gain. As Lifehacker contributor Melanie Pinola observes, even the dads have to struggle with their bodies growing larger after having kids.
And while you may have known that having children is expensive, (recent estimates show parents spend an average $233,610 on child costs from birth until the age of 17) many parents are unprepared for the costs of things like diapers and daycare.
Lately the term “side hustle” has grown in popularity as people young and old alike utilize the gig economy to connect them with freelance work. These side gigs allow workers to build a sizeable nest egg on top of what they make from their 9-to-5 jobs. Parents, in particular, may be interested in these jobs as they come with flexible hours that can accommodate a busy schedule. One side gig, in particular, can have the double bonus of helping new parents get back in shape while making extra money for the household: Dog Walking.
The Benefits of a Dog Walking Side Gig
- Walking dogs is great exercise. A person can burn 200-250 calories per hour, depending on their weight and speed.
- A dog walker living in an urban area can make $12 to $15 for a 30-minute walk and $20 to $25 for a 60-minute walk. One dog walker estimates she makes an average of $600 a month by walking two or three dogs a day for about an hour and a half total each day.
- When you work as a dog walker, you get to know people in your area and build trust with them as you care for their precious pooch. The increased socialization is a welcome change for new parents who spend most of their time communicating in baby talk.
- Dog walking gets you up and away from the screens and outside where you can enjoy all the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.
- Walking dogs is also good for you psychologically. It helps manage stress and reduces feelings of anxiety and loneliness.
Starting a Dog Walking Business
Funding is a crucial part of starting your own business. You’ll need money to establish a web presence, market costs and insurance. Fundera offers a step-by-step guide that details what you need to consider such as the amount of funding needed, the best small business lending options for your circumstances and more. Thanks to technology, tapping into financing will put you and your future canine customers on solid ground.
As an owner, you’ll also need to network. There are currently multiple apps with the express purpose of connecting dog owners to walkers and caretakers. These apps are convenient for people just getting started because they do their own advertising to establish a built-in clientele. However, these companies also take a generous slice of your earnings.
If you have the connections and motivation, it is totally possible to start your own dog walking business without the help of an app. With your own company, you are responsible for your own promotion. The good thing is you don’t have to reach out to people nationally — just to dog owners in your immediate area. Instagram is a great platform you can use to reach nearby dog lovers — people love scrolling through photos of cute, snuggly pups. However, it’s important to choose the right hashtags so your exposure is effective. You can learn more about using Instagram hashtags and gaining Instagram followers with this guide.
About the author: Tamara Gilmore is a professional dog walker and author of the upcoming book, Bow Wow Business: All the Stuff You Need to Know to Become a Successful Dog Walker. It features a comprehensive overview of what’s needed to start a dog walking business along with feedback from my interviews with successful dog walkers.