How Does "Dog Walking" Work?

I mean how does a Dog Worker work?

Inspired by this thread

I never thought about it before, but I thought the purpose of a dog walker was that he/she came over and got your dog while you were at work so the dog could use the “restroom,” so to speak and to get a bit of exercise in the process.

Then I read that the dog walker doesn’t come every day. I also recall shows like “King Of Queens,” where the dog walker comes three days a week?

So my question is what exactly does a dog walker do? Just take the dog out? How many dogs do they take at once?

How long is a session? Any information you want to throw in I’d appreciate.

As soon as I saw this thread on the list of new posts, I knew it was inspired by the thread you linked to.


I’m not intimately familiar with how it works but in some larger cities I’ve seen people roving around with what looks like a dozen dogs of various breeds all pulling at the leash: Dog walkers.

I don’t know how long sessions last but I know that it sounds like lucrative work. They’re raking in money for each of those dozen animals! And they might have several sessions in a day!

I hope to be in Seattle by this time next year and I’m seriously considering looking into doing this. I might even try to do it with a friend- split the pay fifty fifty and we can team up to help with particularly excitable animals. Even splitting the pay in half we’d still be looking at fat daily checks!

A few hundred bucks a day to walk around getting exercise with some dogs, all the while spending time with a friend? Yes, please.

My dog walker comes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which are the days both my husband and I are at work all day - so without her our dog would be stuck in the house all day. When he was a puppy she would come twice a day, for around about half an hour each time. Once he got a bit more able to control his bladder and behaviour we switched her to one walk a day. She picks him up and takes him to a variety of locations round here, along with (usually) one or two other dogs. I get the impression some of her dogs need walking at set times, whereas we’re very flexible, so his company varies. He’s out for an hour or more, depending on her schedule. When she gets back she feeds him lunch, make sure he has done his business before she shuts him back in the kitchen.

She also boards him if we’re away for a couple of days and feeds our cat in the same circumstances - so that neither one of them have ever had to go to a boarding kennels so far. She charges about £9 per walk, which to be honest is about twice what I was expecting to pay when we started, but apparently is normal. She’s reliable, flexible and Henry (the dog) absolutely adores her - she’s a real friend of his, as are some of the other dogs she takes.

My one big reservation with her is that she’s a dog walker, very definitely NOT a dog trainer. She had some real problems with disciplining him at first, and we were on the point of finding another walker until we gave her some coaching about handling him. He’s a chocolate lab, very sweet but big and strong, and completely without a brain as far as I can see, and he was messing about when he was with her in ways he wouldn’t dare try with us - chewing his lead, barking at strangers, jumping up at her and people they met when out. She just needed us to tell her to be strict with him when she needed to, and he seems to have calmed down with her now - although I don’t think he respects her particularly. I was quite surprised by her lack of skills there, but talking to a friend who is a dog trainer, he seems to think this is not abnormal for dog walkers.

I’ll explain how mine works, but keep in mind there are various types of dog walkers.

Mine comes to the house and picks up my dog around noon. My dog stays in the back yard so she just opens the gate. She loads him into the covered box of a big pickup truck with four or five other dogs. She drives them to one of the many local off-leash parks, opens the truck, and the dogs run around for about an hour and a half. I assume she is kept busy keeping an eye on them and walking up and down the off-leash park (most are rather large).

When we first signed up with her, she came over for a visit to meet the dog. We had to demonstrate that he was well trained (sit, lay, come, stay close, etc.) so he was able to go off-leash, and also show documents showing he was licensed and his shots were up to date. So far (two+ years), she has never lost our dog/he has never run away.

If problems are occurring, she lets us know. We also have another dog who is older and has cancer. When she first started getting sick, the dog walker noticed that she was irritable and would snap at other dogs. We stopped sending her on walks because of her bad behavior (due to illness).

There are other dog walkers that only do on-leash walks for 30 or 60 minutes. There are others who come to let the dog out to pee (ours are outdoor dogs so this is not an issue). Our dog goes for these walks (he is walked daily for 30 - 60 minutes minimum) because he is very high energy (both dogs are Huskies) and needs it or he will misbehave.

I’ll just copy and paste what I typed on the other thread.
I charged $15 for one hour walk. I’d go around with my van and pick up all my dogs, I’d usually have between 7 and 10 dogs. Then we’d drive to the area where we walked, I had a few different spots. They’d all pile out and run around for an hour, then back in and drop them off at home. Between the picking up and driving, it was longer than one hour in total. I had a morning group and an afternoon group so I’d do the same thing, with different dogs, twice a day.

It was the best job I ever had. I spent the whole day laughing.

Our dog goes out for about two hours each day, if you include travel. The dog walking service has a van (we call it “the school bus”) and IIRC they have leash loops for all passengers so no one can get unruly while the driver is driving. They get driven to the off-leash doggy area of the beach and get to run around for an hour and a half. Then they get back on the school bus.

The maximum dog to human ratio for medium to large dogs 4:1, for kickables 6:1. The dog walkers we use are bonded and insured and all walkers are trained in basic pet first aid. Your dog must be neutered or spayed, be up to date on its shots, have a valid dog licence, and understand the commands “come” and “stay”. Aggressive dogs are not generally allowed, but if they are only cranky with other dogs, they can come but will be muzzled.

There are group discounts if you have more than one pooch. The only downside is our dog comes home with beach sand between his toes and it gets everywhere.

Do you mean you’d just let the dogs run around, off the leash? How did you not have some of the dogs run away, maybe to find their own way home?

Meh. Dogs run around all the time safely in areas that aren’t fenced in. I went to a dog run when I was a kid, where I became friends with several dogwalkers who’d do exactly that, and there was never a problem.

This brown patch has zero inches of fence separating it from the rest of the park or the street a few dozen feet down the trail. and this entire lawn only has fencing along the paths, presumbly to create a little barrier for those walking to the children’s play area at the top of the park. There’s not even fencing along the sidewalk, which is immediately parallel to the light rail tracks. Every once in a while, one of the dogs would escape eyesight and we’d fan out and look, but they’d never be gone more than three or four minutes. Dogs like the dog run.

And even if they could find their way home, there’s way more butts to sniff at the park. It’d probably be a bad idea the first time you bring a dog out, but once they learn that the nice lady will bring them out, let them play with other dogs, toss them scoobie snacks, then bring them home, they figure out it’s a pretty sweet deal.

They were all off-leash. I’d take them to a piece of private property that had woods and fields and a creek in it and we’d follow the various paths and then head down for a swim in the creek. Nobody ever tried to run away, they all knew the routine.

When I would get a new dog, I’d keep them on the leash and see what they tried to do. If they were straining to get to the other dogs I’d let them off and just keep an eye on them. I only accepted socialized, well behaved dogs who would come when called. With a group as large as I’d have a pack mentality takes over and they all just sort of move as one. I also always had pockets stuffed full of cookies for bribery.

The only tricky part was getting them all back to the van. I’d start hooking them up to leashes and try not to fall on my face as they made their way back to the gate. Then I’d get them all clipped onto the fence, towel them off and stick them back in the van one by one.

Try to picture one 5 foot 3 woman with a golden retriever, two border collies, two rottweilers, a Rhodesian ridgeback, a standard poodle, a yellow lab and a chocolate lab, all on leashes. :slight_smile: That was my average afternoon group.

Just wanted to add that the fence just went along the road for a bit, the area wasn’t fenced off. Nobody was interested in running away, the fun was with the group.


As said, well trained dogs don’t just run away, and if you have a couple of really well trained dogs in your group, the pack mentality takes over and the really well trained dogs keep them in line. We foster rescues and take them to an off-leash after a month or so of training. They stick with us or our other two dogs and I’ve never had one run away.

Our dogs will roam pretty far, but as soon as we yell for them, they come running. They listen to the dog walker in this manner as well.

Very interesting how this works. I feel bad for all the bad doggies (not that there is such a thing, really, just bad owners :)) that don’t get to go along because they can’t behave.

And they’re probably bad because they don’t get enough exercise and/or aren’t socialized enough! Which could be fixed with regular dog walks! Vicious circle, it is.

When we had a walker, he’d come over mid day, and take our dog, and just our dog, out on leash for a half hour walk (we have a nice park by us for this). We had him on days we weren’t home (the house is occupied weekdays a little less than half time, between myself, my husband and my mother. My husband and I both work for home sometimes (me reliably, him less so, my mother has decided to be my housekeeper in her retirement - I do pay her).