Can I be a term time only dog walker?

term time only written in chalk on a blackboard

With a few plans in place and with the right clients, it’s perfectly possible to be a dog walker around school hours, in fact, most professional dog walkers are at their busiest between 11 am and 2 pm. Can I be a term time only dog walker? Absolutely!

The Hours

Most clients want their dogs walked at lunchtime, and this leads to most dog walkers needing to turn clients away once they’ve filled 2 or 3 group walks each day. Full-timers might add to their workloads by doing puppy pop-ins or solo walks away from their lunchtime rush, but the bulk of their work and income will come between 10 am and 2 pm which is exactly what you’re looking for.

Depending on your vehicle, your experience with walking groups and locations, it’s possible to fit two group walks during lunchtime hours.

For example:

  • 10:30 to 11 am collect dogs
  • 11 am until midday walk group one
  • Midday until 12:30 drop off dogs
  • 12:30 til 1 pm collect next group
  • 1 pm til 2 pm walk group 2
  • 2 pm til 2:30 drop off dogs

Depending on your school drop off and pick up times you could even fit some 30-minute solo walks in around your schedule.

Dog walking prices vary widely depending on your location but where I live a group walk is currently £12 (2022, South Wales). Walking 4 dogs in 2 groups would give me an income of £96 before expenses daily. 

Can I be a term time only dog walker?

The Holidays

During the school holidays, you have 2 options regarding your business.

Option 1 – Get cover

Even if you choose to continue working through the school holidays it’s still a great idea to network with other local walkers so that they can cover your work in case of emergencies, illness/injury or annual holidays for yourself.

Demand for dog walking naturally takes a dip during holidays, especially the summer break, as people kennel their dogs and go away, or are off work staycationing at home. You may find some of your clients don’t need you. 

Because all dog walkers are in the same position with fewer dogs to walk it should be easy for someone to incorporate your bookings into their own. Getting to know other dog walkers, walking with them occasionally and having your client’s dogs familiar with their client’s dogs benefits everyone. 

You get to keep your clients for when you return to work, the cover dog walker maintains their income during a quiet period and your clients continue to get their dogs walked. Win/Win/Win.


Option 2 – Take the children

Obviously, this is age dependant, dog dependent and vehicle dependent.

If this is going to be the plan during the school holidays then ensuring you’re walking child-friendly dogs is essential. At the initial meet and greet with the clients ask if the dogs are used to children and explain your plans for the holiday periods.

Don’t forget to check with your business insurer that it’s okay to bring your children to work.

The Children

However well behaved and used to dogs your children are, it never hurts to make sure everyone is as informed as possible, especially as you’re likely to come across dogs who aren’t yours or your clients.

Half of all dog bites are children aged 5 to 9 years old, and they’re bitten by dogs that aren’t theirs.

The Dogs’ trust has a factsheet aimed at children which may help. (Did you know the tummy tickle fact?)

row of coat hooks made to look like dog's tails

The Dogs

In addition to making sure your client’s dogs are child friendly during the meet and greet, ask yourself if they show any behaviours you might find challenging once your children are with you.

Do they jump up and could potentially knock a child over? Do they get possessive over toys or balls? 

The Clients

Regardless of how you decide to manage your business during the school holidays, make sure your clients know your intentions right from the outset during the meet and greet.

Set clear boundaries during the meeting, explaining that you won’t be available in the evenings and weekends. Never worry about losing a client because it’s not a good fit for you both, there are plenty of dogs needing walkers.

If you decide not to work the school holidays (providing cover instead) try and network with other walkers. Having a term time only client for them might be a pain regarding lost income, but for you it’s ideal. Passing on a full-time client to them, in return for them introducing you to their teacher, term time only client would be mutually beneficial.

outline of a car painted onto asphalt road

The Vehicle

As a ‘part timer’ you’re probably not going to want to run two vehicles. Using your car can have its own challenges, keeping it clean is close to impossible but there are some tips here.

As you can see, it’s perfectly possible to make this job work around your life with school age children.

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