Dog Walkers Probably Make More Than You Think

In New York City, established ones pull in 6 figures
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2023 3:45 PM CST
In NYC, Dog Walkers Can Make 6 Figures
Stock photo.   (Getty/LuckyBusiness)

The most lucrative side hustle in the nation is dog walking, according to the online tutoring service Preply. It pegs the average hourly wage for the task at $43, ahead of freelance design ($32) and freelance writing ($29). If that rate sounds high, a story in the New York Times suggests it might actually be low—at least for established dog walkers in cities like New York. The piece interviews multiple dog walkers who are pulling in at least $100,000 a year, generally by catering to the wealthy. Another big factor: Demand is high, given that an estimated 23 million households adopted a dog or cat during the pandemic, per the ASPCA, when people had all the time in the world to take care of them. Now, not so much.

"Pre-pandemic I used to get a call maybe one or two times a month from a potential new client," says Bethany Lane, founder of Whistle & Wag. "I get multiple calls a week now. It is a lot of puppies." Even after raising rates—think $35 a walk—she's struggling to keep up with demand. CNBC also talks to Ryan Stewart of Ryan for Dogs, who pulls in $120,000 a year in New York City (the outlet verified the income). He works about 36 hours a week over six days, and walks three to five dogs at a time.

Not everyone is going to pull in such a nice income, of course, and especially not at first. Even in New York City, ZipRecruiter has the average annual salary for a dog walker at about $36,000, or $17 an hour. Dog walkers also will typically have to pay their own insurance, take unpaid vacations, and get used to picking up a lot of poop. But the rewards are there for those who make it: "The biggest thing for us is we now have financial security for our son," Clarissa Soto of Parkside Pups tells the Times of the business she runs with her husband. "We have a savings fund set up for him, we have a college fund." (More dogs stories.)

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