As with any service-based business, price is a key factor when customers seek out a provider. The acceptable price to charge can vary based on geography, experience and several other factors. When it comes to answering the question for yourself of how much should a dog walker charge, here are a few things to consider.
Cost of Living
Prices for services such as dog walking can vary quite a bit based on where you are located and the local cost of living. Just as food and drink are often cheaper in more affordable cities, so are other services and goods, and dog walking is no exception. You must match your price with the approximate amount that your clientele can afford, especially since this will be a recurring service for most of them.
As an example, here in Washington, DC the average is between $20-25 for a 30 minute walk, while in a city like St. Louis, the cost falls between $15-20.
Similar to almost all contracted services, experience makes a big difference in what one can charge. The more experience you have with walking dogs, and positive referrals from customers, the more you can expect to receive in return. Pet owners think of their dogs as part of the family and are willing to pay a premium to ensure their comfort and safety. If you have a long track record of those things as a walker, you can expect to be able to charge towards the higher end of the range in your area.
Having the experience to fall back on in case something does go wrong can be the difference between a happy and unhappy client and dog. When building your business with little to no experience, be honest! Pet owners are willing to work with relative newcomers if they trust the person and understand that although they don’t have 10 years of experience, they are dedicated to treating their dogs properly and ensuring a positive relationship.
Training and Certifications
Several organisations offer training and certification courses around the country. This will help give your clients peace of mind while giving you the confidence to handle many different scenarios that may happen during your walks.
- National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) provides a certified pet sitter at-home study course. Topics covered include animal behavior, pet care, health and nutrition for pets, first aid skills and business know-how. The cost is $245 for NAPPS members and $395 for non-members. After becoming certified, business owners can offer the certification course to their employees at a discounted rate. Certification lasts for three years and earning continuing education credits is necessary for re-certification.
- Pet Sitters International (PSI) offers a pet sitter certification program, which covers general pet care, animal health and nutrition, additional pet-related services and important business strategies. This program is open only to PSI members. The cost of the course is $315, but there’s a $75 discount if you register for the course at the same time that you pay your membership dues. Certification lasts for three years.
Determining how much should a dog walker charge can be somewhat complicated and depends on many factors as discussed above. However, as you continue your journey as a business owner, you will learn the price points, get feedback from clients, and narrow down the range that makes sense for you and your customers.
The most important thing is to get out there and get some experience! To find out more about being a dog walker with Barkly, click here to begin your application!