If you are trying to achieve and financial independence faster, you have likely thought about giving a side hustle or two a try. I wanted to write a post to tell my readers all about one such side income source that I found worked really well for me, dog walking on the Wag app.
Dog walking was always something that intrigued me, but I finally decided to make the plunge when I decided to head off to business school and realized that I would want as much saved up as humanly possible to get through those two years. I ended up saving thousands of dollars purely from this side hustle alone.
If you are a fan of the outdoors, incredible amounts of flexibility, and of course dogs, you should really consider becoming a Wag walker. I found the freedom, and the fact that I was being paid to be outside in the beautiful weather with a pup to be an unbelievable feeling!
If you are unfamiliar, you can think of Wag as an Uber for dog walking platform.
There are however a few things that caught me off guard when I became a Wag walker, that I wish I would have known before starting. You should be aware of several key points before deciding to give Wag walking a try. Read on to see my fully transparent and fully detailed account of what it was like for me as a Wag walker.
If this already sounds to good to pass up, you can sign up here!
7 Things You Need to Know Before Becoming a Wag Walker
1. How Much do Wag Walkers Really Make?
I know this is probably the question that many people came here for, so let’s get this out of the way.
Here is the payment structure (as it was when I was a Wag walker)
|30 Minute Walk||1-Hour Walk|
In addition to the above, every so often when the Wag app is unable to fill a walk, they would offer walk bonuses to make sure they were able to fill each and every walk. Occasionally, Wag will even offer so called “full fare” walks, where the walker keeps all the money that the dog owner pays for the walk (i.e Wag doesn’t even take a cut, they just want to fill the walk).
For 30 minute walks full fare was $20, and for hour long walks full fare was $30. I found that somewhere between 60-75% of my Wag dog walks resulted in a tip.
Overall, there is quite a wide range in the amount you can expect to be paid for a Wag walk. I once was paid only $9 for a base fare 20 minute walk with no tip, and I have also been paid $39 for an hour long full fare full tip walk. Your strategy as a Wag walker should be predicated on getting as many of these $30+ dollar walks as possible. There really is not much difference between how much effort you are going to put into a short walk and a long walk, in terms of the time you ultimately will be required to commit to the walk, but more on this later!
2. Is Wag Walking Safe?
My answer overall is yes, with some caveats.
If you are the type of person thinking of becoming a Wag walker, I imagine you are generally comfortable around animals and dogs. To some extent, you should know what to expect if you’ve been around dogs enough.
However what might be new even for folks who love dogs is the experience of encroaching on the dogs territory as a complete stranger when their owner is not home. This can cause certain dogs to get defensive and skeptical. After all they don’t know who the heck this stranger is in their house!
Some dogs will be super happy to see you and know exactly what you are there for. These experiences are great! Other dogs just need a little more reassurance and time with you before they will let you put the leash on. In these cases you will have to be gentle and approachable, and skilled at calming them down.
I can only think of 2 or 3 instances where I felt like I was in a situation that could potentially get dangerous. In these cases I would usually simply sit on the ground and let the dog become comfortable with my presence. Once they seemed more approachable and recognized I posed no threat, I never had any problems.
3. How Much of a Time Commitment is Being a Wag Walker?
There are two sides to this. One distinctly positive, and one distinctly negative.
First, being a Wag walker is extremely flexible. Frankly, by the end of my time as a Wag walker I would usually only do walks when they were bonus walks, it was really nice weather outside, and I had nothing else to do. At the end of the day, if you don’t do scheduled Wag walks you will be able to completely control your own schedule.
Secondly, and unfortunately, Wag walks take much longer than you would expect. When you hear me say that you could make $30 for an hour walk, this does NOT equate to a $30 per hour pay rate.
When you take into account leaving your home, getting in your car, driving (biking, walking etc.) to the walk location, figuring out how to get into the apartment or house, and getting the dog leashed up and out the door, an hour long walk can easily take up two hours of your time.
Wag will try and present your pay rate as better than it truly is by only taking into account the time you are actually out the door with your dog, but you should see through this.
4. What Did you Wish You Knew Before Becoming a Wag Walker?
Here are some miscellaneous lessons that I wish I learned earlier!
- Literally the hardest part about being a Wag walker is actually getting into the residences. It seemed like every place I went had a different set of instructions for how to ultimately get in and see the dog. Lock boxes are common and usually frustratingly finicky, sometimes they tell you to see the attendant at the front desk who is on his lunch break etc. All these are time wasters.
- You are required to take a picture and submit a “report card” for every walk, which is reasonable, but again takes time and if you forget to take a picture of the dog it can spell trouble for you.
- You will need to try your best to avoid other dogs while on the walk.
- Depending on your location, finding consistent walks can be a challenge. Sometimes only one or two reasonable walks for you to accept could appear on a given day. This is highly dependent on your location.
5. Is the Wag App Easy to Use?
I have found that the functionality of the Wag app is quite intuitive and user friendly. I have also found that the walker support teams are actually surprisingly responsive and helpful compared to almost any other service such as this. I have regularly been able to get on the phone with (gasp!) a real human in five minutes or less.
Personally, I have found that the Wag app does unfortunately freeze up quite a bit, and sometimes this can cause a lot of frustration when trying to start a walk and get credit for your time.
The app also tends to get software updates very frequently for some reason, which can be a bit frustrating.
6. Tips For Treating Dog Walking for Wag as a Business
There are a couple of pro tips that I wasn’t aware of when I first started walking dogs on Wag.
Run your Wag walks like a business:
- Expenses you incur in order to walk dogs with Wag can be deducted from your taxable income. These mainly include gas for miles driven to walks, and parking fees.
- Referring other walkers and dog owners to the platform can be a great way to scale your income from Wag quickly! If you are interested in becoming a Wag walker by the way, be sure to use this link!
- Part of Wag’s terms and conditions of being a walker require not going “around the middle man” so to speak and going off the Wag app to book walks. So, if you think you might be able to pocket more of the cash from your walks directly by connecting with dog owners on your own, that is a viable option as well which may result in higher profits for you.
7. Overall, Should You Become a Wag Walker?
Here is my verdict, if the following is true for your situation:
- You like the outdoors
- You love dogs (obviously)
- You have a reliable means of transportation
- The weather in your area is reasonably nice
- There is a sufficient volume of Wag dog owners in your area
Then, you should give walking dogs on Wag a try. Overall, I found that I genuinely enjoyed my time with the dogs and getting outside. For me, this was a very rare opportunity to be able to do something that I genuinely would have done even if I wasn’t getting paid to do it.
When you get the chance to get paid to do something you would happily do for free, jump on it!
If the above holds true for you, go ahead and sign up here!