Any child who loves pets and wants to make some pocket money might be excited to take on a dog-walking job, and it's a great option to consider since children under 14 have limited employment opportunities.
That dog-walking youngster may one day become a veterinarian, open up a grooming business, run an animal shelter, or take on some other related business or career. But just as pet-sitting jobs have their pros and cons, so do dog-walking jobs.
Dog walking often pays more money than pet sitting and can become a regular job for your child if she bonds with the right four-legged client. Because dogs are very common household pets, your child may easily find families in need of a dog walker.
Another advantage is that dog walking makes a great job both in the summer and as an after-school job. It's a fun way for kids and dogs to stay fit, plus it won't take up a large part of the day either, leaving time for kids to do their schoolwork or extracurricular activities.
Dog walking is also attractive because it doesn't require a lot of money to get started, though it would be wise to purchase a spare leash or harness, a good supply of plastic poop bags, and a water bottle and portable bowl to keep the pups hydrated.
Finally, dog walking is available to kids of various ages—and older kids can take on two different clients at once, doubling their income.
In addition to these benefits, the job itself offers valuable lessons and helps develop skills such as reliability (by showing up every day), maintaining a schedule, organization (managing clients), responsibility, learning to negotiate pay rates with clients, budgeting, and buying supplies.
It's not all fun and play, however, and there are some downsides—and even dangers—worth considering.
Children should walk dogs in well-lit and well-populated areas that they know well, keeping an eye out for aggressive dogs, fast-moving bicycles, and cars.
When your child lands a new client, check to see whether the dog's size works for your child. A strong or heavy dog that can pull harder than your child can handle might create a problem when a squirrel, scooter, or skateboarder whizzes by.
A child who walks dogs daily can't just call in sick. Fido will still need to get his walk in. Make sure your child has a friend or sibling lined up for emergencies, or you might be stuck walking the dog.
You'll also need to make sure your child knows that cleaning up after the dog is part of the job. Your child should always carry plastic bags to pick up dog poop and walk routes where there's at least one trash can in which to deposit the waste.
Children should also understand how to keep dogs cool to prevent overheating in hot weather, prevent dogs from running into the street, and give other dogs and their owners a wide berth until they know both dogs are friendly.
Dogs may also need to be walked in when it's cold, snowing, or raining. It's therefore a good idea for kids to know some basic first aid for dogs, such as how to treat a dog that gets a cut on its paw.
You can help your child start researching by directing them to the website Care.com, which can give them the going rate for dog walkers by zip code.
They'll likely earn less than professional or certified dog walkers though, who charge anywhere from $15 or $30 an hour up to $50 an hour. Your child can also call around and get quotes from others who offer the service to determine the going rate in your area.