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How to be a Dog Walker in College

As we all know, balancing a full class schedule, extracurriculars, and a job can be very difficult. Especially with bosses who aren’t flexible on scheduling. After a lot of research and trying different things, I’ve gotten the most success from being a dog walker. Specifically, I walk through the app Rover, which I’ll be discussing in this article. However, from what I hear, the app Wag is very similar and works just as well.

The reason Rover works for me is the Rover Now program, which functions similar to Uber. Owners can post requests either scheduled for a specific time and day or simply request a walk ASAP and the first walker to book it gets the job. This allows me to tailor my work schedule exactly how I want. With the ASAP walks, you arrive within 30 minutes of booking, complete the job, and go right back to your life. It’s a simple way to earn money if you end up with an hour or two of free time here and there rather than large blocks of time that could be used to pick up a full shift at a typical job.

Walks are generally either 30 minutes (which pays an average of $12) or 60 minutes (which pays an average of $18), which means, if you play your cards right, you can be making up to $24/hour. However, Rover offers services besides dog walking. You can book jobs that involve just checking up on pets (including cats as well as dogs) while their owners are out of town or even house sitting overnight. If you have your own (pet-friendly) residence, you can even board animals in your space via overnight care or a daycare program. Due to living in a dorm I typically stick with walking and checking up on dogs nearby. 

If you’re interested in getting involved, there is a bit of process involved to ensure you are the expert you say you are. After paying a background check fee, you take an online exam about basic dog care facts. Once you pass that, you will be invited to an in-person harness test that ensures you can safely place a variety of harnesses and collars on the dogs you would be walking. As of right now, Wag does not require the in-person test.

Another benefit of dog walking is, of course, the dogs! If you’re missing your pets back home, dog walking is an amazing way to get some furry comfort back in your life. It also helps with learning about where you live. I’ve gotten to know my city a lot better just by walking dogs in various different areas.

If you’re interested in dog walking, here are some tips once you get started!

  1. Think about when dogs typically need to be cared for. Breakfast and a walk in the morning, going outside in the afternoon, dinner and a walk in the evening, going outside at night, etc. These are going to be your peak times for finding walks. Also keep in mind, a lot of owners request walks in the middle of the workday since they are home in the mornings and evenings but need someone to let the dog out while they are at work.

  2. Bring your own doggy bags! Some owners provide them, some dog parks have them, but you never want to be caught without one, so it’s best to carry your own and eliminate the risk.

  3. If you’re walking in a cold place, bring hand sanitizer. Sometimes lockboxes can freeze with keys shut inside. Hand sanitizer can be used to melt the ice and help you open the box and retrieve the key.

  4. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with. If an owner asks you to do something that doesn’t seem safe, stick with your gut. Safety first, always!

Now you’ve got all the information you need to start your dog walking side hustle, stay safe and enjoy the time with your city’s amazing dogs!