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Why Being a Dog Walker Isn't "Easy Money"

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

Hello and good afternoon!

Yes, it's 2.30pm on a Monday and I'm at home eating biscuits and drinking coffee, but being a dog walker isn't always so easy! I'm here because I still have no bookings on a Monday after Covid. I don't mind too much because the rest of my week is busy so it does even out. I make enough money to pay my bills and it gives me time to spend with Cob and the pets; but for dog walkers, recovering your business after Covid has been HARD.

This is why, after I came across an article on the '21 Super Easy Jobs That Pay More Than $50K' (American clickbait), my first thought was '$50k?!' quickly followed by 'EASY?!'

I absolutely love my job and can't imagine doing anything else now but it's by no means easy, and when you work with animals you will love what you do but never be rich. I'm good with that! I go to work everyday and laugh, play, get wet, fall over, get muddy paw prints all over me, get my gloves stolen (Ebony!), get stuck in traffic, get grumpy, get licked and cuddled, feel happy and warm, feel tired and cold, and so much more; and I'm very lucky to be able to do what I do but it's not just 'playing with puppies all day' :D

Before I set up my business, I did quite a lot of market research, drew up a business plan, did lots of budgeting, got insured, got canine first aid trained, quit my job, and then I was pretty much ready to go. But, I didn't just jump into walking 12 dogs a day. There was a pretty scary period in the first few months where I wasn't making much money at all and was wondering whether I'd made the right decision. I was only operating for five months and then lockdown hit and I (along with every other dog walker I know) was out of business for ten whole weeks, with absolutely zero financial help from the government. I wouldn't have been able to continue with my dream of running All Creatures if it wasn't for Cob! He has supported me throughout the whole thing and I'm so grateful to him for that. Things are going well now and I'm busier than ever so it was worth sticking with it through the scary nail-biting/no-income part to get to where I am now, but there have been plenty of tears and grumpiness before now.

Now that winter is fully upon us, things get a bit harder. I've got some good gear so I manage to stay dry 90% of the time but there are the odd days where I come home with sopping wet feet, or I forgot my gloves and have blue fingers! It's essential to have a decent pair of padded waterproof pants, a waterproof jacket, tough walking boots or wellies, a woolly hat and some ski gloves. I also have a fleecy Buff to keep the drafts out (especially useful up on Penistone this time of year)! The van is eternally muddy and I'm washing towels like nobody's business but winter isn't as bad as the middle of summer. When it's very hot, I have to reschedule my whole day to try and get all the dogs walked and home before midday; or, if this isn't possible, to only walk them in cooler, shady places with water. The last properly hot day I remember this year was 28 degrees, and our dogs in this country are simply not used to that heat. For my solo walks that I have earlier in the day I limited them to 30 minutes so I could fit them all in before the hottest part of the day, and for the group doggos, we went to the woods at Harden Moor. It's very sheltered there with a big stream running through the middle so we hid from the sun in the woods splashing around and keeping cool.

Solo walks are fairly straightforward, but there's a bit more to group walks than just driving a load of dogs up to the moors and letting them all off. You have to take the time to really get to know each dog in your care and understand their likes and dislikes, their triggers (if any), their personal boundaries with other dogs and so much more. I have two group walks: The Bonkers Lot and The Calm Lot. The Bonkers Lot is mainly younger dogs or pups that love being boisterous and playing rough, and The Calm Lot is dogs who are a bit older and prefer their personal space not to be invaded too much (Badger being one of them). Each dog has their own individual quirks and it takes time to learn these. For example, Monty likes joggers and cyclists so he needs to go back on his lead until they have disappeared otherwise he might go on a little chasing spree! Henry loves to chase his pals and get a bit rowdy so he needs another dog who will enjoy that; enter Ebony who loves a good chase and will play bow at him and run off with her cheeky 'come catch me' face. Ronnie has great recall, which is unusual for a beagle, so he is fine to be let off his lead for most of the walk but his brother Reggie is a classic beagle who lives for sniffing. Reggie stays on his long training line for safety and probably always will but that's hardwired into his genetics, like Carla. Patch and Badger are very similar in personality; they like to do their own thing and if it involves mud and water then so much the better (Patch's mum is kind enough to leave me towels)! Taking time to understand your dogs is part of being a responsible dog walker and it helps to create a strong bond between you and them which is priceless.

None of the hard times or stressful, soggy, muddy times compare to how much joy I get from just watching dogs be dogs, though. I'm so lucky to be entrusted with all the fantastic and special dogs that I look after! Here's some of my favourite photos of the loonies <3

Thank you for reading my ramblings, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Molly x

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I think I might owe you some gloves 😁🐶

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