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Dog Walking: The Coolest of Jobs

Being a dog walker makes social events interesting. Answer the inevitable “What do you do for a living?” question and you hear all sorts of interesting responses.

For example, “Wow! That’s so cool! So you just, like, walk dogs all day? That must be so Zen.” Some people see you as the luckiest person at the party, assuming you make bank with little to no effort. You’ve sidestepped the man, avoided the cubicle. You can see the wistfulness and jealousy in their eyes.

And then there are those whose faces pass judgment, assuming you must not be smart or skilled enough for the privilege of professional life. They lump dog walking in with non-skilled trades, not realizing just how much skill—and knowledge—it takes to do the job well.

Another type of response always reminds me back a lifetime ago when I taught high school. It goes something like, “Whoa. I could never do that. I don’t know how you do it. I can’t even control my own dog (kid).” If you’re a group dog walker, you’ve probably encountered this kind of reaction.

So who’s right? Is dog walking the cushiest of all jobs, or one of the most challenging?

Some of the cushy respondents have one thing right: As a dog walker, you probably are the luckiest person at the party. Most dog walkers have a very high job or career satisfaction rate. Walking dogs is most definitely more enjoyable, less stressful, and more physically and mentally healthy than most other ways to make a living.

At the Dog Walking Academy, we’ve seen students seeking a career change from just about every conceivable corner, from the service and retail sectors, the corporate sector, and the professional, including doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, accountants, computer programmers, and on and on. These grads report back a huge spike in career enjoyment and quality of life.

But it’s not at all easy. Taking others’ beloved four-legged family members into the world carries enormous responsibility and requires a great deal of knowledge and skill. Dogs are, after all, dogs—they are animals with large teeth and fast reflexes who do not understand English.

Keeping dogs safe, along with other park, sidewalk, trail, or beach users, demands an understanding of canine behavior and body language, along with training and walk management skills. And that’s only the beginning.

Professional dog walkers must also know canine first aid & CPR, have fully developed emergency protocols for both avoiding and responding to a wide variety of situations, know what to do when strange dogs approach or a child appears suddenly around a corner, and on and on. And all that doesn’t even include the business skills a walker must master if she’s to run her own company.

Dog walking is a challenging career requiring a professional knowledge and skill set. It’s definitely not cushy by any stretch. But it’s also without doubt the coolest job a dog lover can have.

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