Teens and Pets: A Perfect Match for Work and Business
This is the fourth of a 12-week series on kids and earning money, focusing on teens. The tips presented can also be used with younger children if needed.
Teens and pets generally go hand in hand. Most teens like pets of any kind. Some teens, like my eldest nephew, like exotic pets such as snakes and ferrets. However, when a teenager is looking for extra income, a dog is truly a his best friend.
Most families today are two-income families, which often means that no one is home during the day to care for the family's pets. Very often these same families get home late because of the kids' extracurricular activities. Because of this, some families need someone to walk their pet on a weekly or even daily basis. In addition, when families go on vacation, they often need to leave the pets at home, which means that once again, they will need someone to come in to care for their pets.
How to Get Started
Really, the best way for a teen to get started in the dog-walking business is by word of mouth and by advertising. Of course, you don't want your teen taking out a full-page ad anywhere, but with a little bit of technology savvy and a little leg work, he can be in business in no time.
A great idea, also, is to have a happy pet owner write up a referral or a positive comment and a contact email so that potential pet owners can inquire about reliability and references. We had a brother and sister who lived up the street from us who would come and take care of our dog and guinea pig when we went on vacation. We knew them from soccer, and approached them to see if they would be willing to watch our pets. It worked out well for them and for us, and if they had asked for references from us, we would have been happy to give them.
Volunteering at a pet shelter will make a pet owner feel even more comfortable about hiring your teen, as your child will demonstrate prior experience. Volunteering not only shows experience, however, it also shows a genuine love for animals.
Your teenager should start out by seeking the advice of others who have been dog walkers before and ask them how much they charged. Another great idea is to call an ad for a dog walker in your local paper and ask them how much they would charge for one dog, two dogs, etc. This is also a great way to find out what is expected of your teen. By making a few phone calls to ads for dog walkers, your child can gather a good bit of information.
If your child is setting his own rates, it is a good idea to put that information up front on his flyer, email, or post. That way there is no cause for confusion later on down the road. Decide whether it is per hour, per day, or per week, and what is included in the service. For example, if the dog needs to be taken to the groomer, will that be an extra charge or will it be included? If the dog needs to be fed and let out several times a day, how will your child account for that?
Responsibility and Reliability
Walking, cleaning up, feeding, and playing with a pet owner’s dog are all things that are vital to the health and wellbeing of the owner's beloved pet. Remind your teen to let a potential client know up front that he will have the owner's pet’s best interest at heart. After all, the client is entrusting you with one of his family members.
Once your teen shows responsibility and reliability, he will get more repeat business from satisfied pet owners, and very often, he will also get referrals to other potential clients.
These tips can be used with younger children if desired. To read the first post in the series, click here.
About the Author
Suzanne is a 14-year homeschooling veteran, whose older daughter was accepted into every university she applied to. She is passionate about supporting moms through every stage of homeschooling, and also works with them to find ways of generating an income while they homeschool.