One of the reasons I like the gig economy is because it lets me try out weird jobs that I might not otherwise get to do in a normal setting. I’m sure you’ve had times where you thought it’d be fun to do a certain type of job for a day (I know I’ve always thought it’d be interesting to be a postman for a day). Unfortunately, with the way jobs work, you can’t just sign up and go do a job randomly just to see what it’s like.
These gig economy apps, on the other hand, allow you to do just that. It’s opened up a whole new world for experimenters like me.
The latest gig that I’ve been trying out is working as an on-demand dog walker with an app called Wag. Like a lot of these types of apps, I first learned about the Wag app from my brother, who signed up for it back when it first launched. He lives out on the East Coast, so he tends to get these apps before they make their way over to me in the Midwest.
So what is Wag? The easiest way to describe it is like an Uber for dog walking. If someone needs their dog walked, they can open up the Wag app, order a dog walker, and someone will show up at their house to walk their dog. Pretty nifty.
Home sharing with Airbnb and ridesharing with Uber has already become pretty commonplace. It makes sense that pets are the next frontier. I didn’t realize it, but the pet industry is gigantic – worth $44 billion in the US alone.
I’ve been taking part in this pet revolution by starting up my own dog sitting business using Rover. For people like me who already own a dog, dog sitting makes a lot of sense. It’s not a lot of work to take care of a second dog if you’re already taking care of one dog anyway.
Dog walking on the other hand – that’s a whole different thing that I thought would be fun to try out.
The Signup Process
Like with a lot of these gig economy apps, signing up to be a Wag Walker doesn’t take much time. When I initially signed up, Wag asked me to have a few friends give me a recommendation before I could proceed. I gave them some email addresses and Wag sent my recommenders a form to fill out. Wag moved me on to the next step a day or two later.
Once I got through that step, I had to answer a few questions, watch a few training videos, and take a few quizzes related to walking dogs. The questions mainly have to do with how to put on a leash properly and how to walk a dog correctly. I thought most of the questions were pretty common sense. It also doesn’t take long – I watched the videos and took the quizzes during a bus ride to work.
With those steps done, I then had to complete a background check and set up my Wag profile. You write up a short bio and upload a picture of yourself. I wrote a little thing about how I’m a lawyer, I’m super responsible, and I like dogs. For my photo, I uploaded a picture of myself from my old law firm bio. Very professional if I do say so myself.
One thing to know – to be a Wag walker, you have to pay a $25 fee so that Wag can conduct a background check. In contrast, every other sharing/gig economy app I’ve signed up for in the past hasn’t required me to pay anything. This upfront cost is something to consider mainly because no one else has ever asked me to pay for a background check. I ended up paying it mainly because I wanted to see what Wag was all about.
My First Wag Walk
Since Wag was new in my area, it took me a while before I got my first request. If a walk request comes, you get a notification telling you how far away the client lives. The app will also show you a picture of the dog and the general neighborhood that the request is coming from. For a while, my screen just looked like this.
There must also be a huge supply of Wag walkers out there because the first few requests I received were booked literally within seconds of me trying to accept it. This was pretty frustrating since I’d like to at least have a second to be able to see if the dog is one I’d like to walk.
I eventually snagged a walk request on a random weekday for a house located about 4 miles away from me. The owner wanted a 60-minute walk for their dog (Wag lets you pick between a 20-minute walk, a 30-minute walk, or a 60-minute walk). I probably wouldn’t travel that far normally just to walk a dog, but since I wanted to try out the Wag app, I figured I’d take the time to bike over there.
There are directions in the app about how to get into whatever house you’re going to. In this case, the key was kept in a lockbox that Wag sends to dog owners. That’s how you’ll typically get into a house when the owner isn’t home.
When I arrived, I grabbed the key from the lockbox, let myself in, and was greeted by the friendly, older pup you see below.
I put the leash on this pup, indicated that I was starting the walk, and then I was off.
Like Uber, Wag tracks you based on your GPS, so dog owners can see where you’re walking their dog. There are also these funny pins that you can click to show where during your walk the pup that you’re walking uses the bathroom.
After a pleasant hour-long walk, I brought the pup back to her house, locked the door, and secured the key back in the lockbox. I then clicked a button in the app to end the walk and filled out a report card to tell the owner how the pup did on the walk.
That was it – my first official Wag walk was in the books.
How Much Can You Make With Wag?
So the question that I wanted to see was whether this was a worthwhile side gig for a busy professional to have in their side hustle toolkit. You get paid three base amounts:
- $9 for a 20-minute walk
- $12 for a 30-minute walk
- $18 for a 60-minute walk
In addition, you get to keep all of your tips (and from the walks I’ve done so far, it seems like every customer tips). My first customer tipped me $3, so I ended up getting paid $21 for a 60-minute walk. That’s not terrible if you consider that you’re also outside getting paid to exercise while walking a cute pup. You still need to count travel time to consider whether it’s worth your time. The farther you have to travel, the less worthwhile this would be.
Wag charges the customer $14 for a 20-minute walk, $20 for a 30-minute walk, and $30 for a 60-minute walk, so it looks like Wag gives the walker about 60% of whatever it charges the customer. That seems like a pretty high take from Wag, in my opinion – at least when compared to other sharing/gig economy apps.
So what have I made as a Wag walker? Here’s what it looks like in the few weeks that I’ve been walking pups on Wag:
You might notice that I earned $25 in referrals during my first month. If you sign-up to be a Wag Walker, Wag gives you a referral code to refer new customers, so when I signed up to be a Wag Walker, I referred my buddy to snag the referral bonus.
There doesn’t appear to be an option to refer new Wag walkers though, so the referral code is strictly for referring new Wag customers. My guess is that Wag isn’t having any trouble finding people that like walking pups, so their goal is probably to get more customers using the app.
I think a savvy person could make some significant money by referring new customers. If you give a new customer your referral code, they get $20 towards their first walk, which is good enough for a free 30-minute walk. You get paid a $25 referral bonus once the new customer uses your code for the first time. It wouldn’t be too hard to just give your Wag Walker promo code to a bunch of your friends and have them use Wag once. They’d get a free walk and you’d snag yourself a $25 bonus. If you were the one walking their dog, you could make even more.
Even better would be if you could leave out your referral code in an apartment building or some other place with a ton of dogs. Wag recently sent me a bunch of Wag business cards where I can write down my referral code on them. Since Wag is pretty new, I’m planning to just drop these cards in random, dog-friendly apartment buildings to see if it does anything.
If you’re interested in trying out Wag on the customer side, consider downloading Wag from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and using my referral code: KEVIN9516. You’ll find a place to enter the promo code in the payments section, where you enter your credit card information. It’s pretty much a win-win if you own a dog – you get a free walk and I earn a referral bonus.
How Can You Use Wag?
Ideally, Wag is something you could do if you happen to be out and about and get a request nearby. Here’s a video from Wag that sort of shows the ideal situation.
I’m not sure how realistic that video is, but if you could use it like that, it could be a useful and fun thing to have in your pocket.
The other way to use Wag is just as a way to interact with dogs that you wouldn’t interact with regularly. I have a small dog, so I rarely interact with big dogs in my regular life.
So far, all of my Wag walks have been with big dogs, and these dogs, while big, are all well-behaved sweethearts. It’s fun to walk a dog that I would probably never see regularly – like this huge white German Shepard that I’ve walked a few times:
Let me just say, when you’re walking around with a giant dog like that, you can walk around with no fear. No one is going to mess with you.
Walking dogs using the Wag app is interesting. If you’re in a large city and like dogs, I think it’s at least worth trying out to see if it’s for you. At most, it’ll cost you $25 and a little bit of time. If you can refer just one friend as a customer (or even refer your spouse or another family member), that should cover your sign-up costs.
At a minimum, I do think that, if you’re a dog owner, you might as well use my referral code (KEVIN9516) and snag yourself a free walk.
An Update – Walking Dogs During My Lunch Break
As a quick update, Wag has found itself as a permanent part of my side hustle toolkit, mainly because of its ability to earn me money during my lunch break. Instead of spending money on lunch, on a lot of days, I can get outside, get a little exercise, and earn money during my lunch break!
Just take a look at some of my recent earnings:
There’s a luxury apartment building just down the street from my office that’s filled with dogs, and almost every day, I can grab a walk from someone in that building. I think a lot of people could do the same thing.
My goal for the next year is to try to get the word out, with the ultimate end goal of having a walk every day at lunch.
What’s great about this is how it’s essentially a reverse latte factor going on here. Instead of spending money on lunch each day, I’m out, stretching my legs during lunch, and making a couple of bucks every day! If you work somewhere that has apartment buildings nearby, Wag can be a perfect lunchtime side hustle for you.
If you’re interested in other side hustles, be sure to check out some of the other posts I’ve written about my side hustle experiences:
- DoorDash Dasher: What It’s Like Delivering For DoorDash
- Uber Eats Driver: Delivering For Uber Eats
- Grubhub Delivery Driver – What It’s Like Delivering For Grubhub
- Shipt Shopper App: My Grocery Delivery Side Hustle
- Bird Charger and Lime Juicer – Side Hustling As An Electric Scooter Charger
- Lime Juicer – How I’ve Made Over $5,000 Charging Electric Scooters for Lime
My thought is that this would be useful for retirees who are a) available to walk dogs during the weekday and b) frequently rely on a walking to be there primary exercise. They would likely be walking anyway.
You made $21 in July which implies they charge $7 for 10 minutes? Is that correct? Are the walks all preset time amounts or can the owner select any time amount: 90 minutes 45 minutes, 12 minutes, etc.
My primary concern would be the dog. Some dogs don’t react well to strangers. Big dogs are usually more well behaved around strangers but they cause more damage if they bite and are able knock you down. Is there insurance coverage if you are injured while walking a dog for Wag?
Financial Panther says
Didn’t think about that, but this would be great for a retiree. I could see gangs of old people walking around with dogs.
The walks are only 20, 30, or 60 minutes long and they charge the customer 14, 20, and 30 bucks respectively. The 21 I made in July comes from two practice walks I did for my friends, one for 20 minutes and one for 30 minutes. I was paid $9 and $12 respectively and told them not to tip me, hence the $21 in pay. In August, I did 3 real walks for people I didn’t know.
Wag does provide insurance, although to be honest, I haven’t gone into detail to see how it works exactly.
Suzanne Parker says
Kevin I think being an Attorney that looking at the insurance and liability issues and information would be the first and most prudent thing you would do. May I suggest you dealve down this rabbit hole and write a blog on the coverages for both the Pet Owner and the Dog Walker. It seems murky to me when I read it from both sides. You are trained to look at this and understand this. Clarity and a blog would be amazing. Thank you!
I donlt agree, Wag in Philadelphia features a handful of walkers who always get first dibs at every walk. They often ask me to do walks 8-10 miles away, but I live in Center City Philadelphia. There are tons of big apartment buildings near my day job, but the Wag “regulars” have them on lock-down. Sorry, but Wag sucks.
Also, I would never trust a walker to just come in my home and take my dog without ever meeting them first.
This is my number one huge issue with WAG. No meet and greet with the walker who gets in your house and takes your dog. Although I understand if it’s a regularly scheduled walk, that is the only time a meet and greet is planned. I’m half way through the application process and on the fence about continuing for this SOLE reason.
You are allowed to eet the walker before they walk ur dog if ur home and they do have a sit and greet option also
DMK Walker says
I live in Oakland and have been doing WAG for a few months now, and I agree. One of my customers wanted to keep me and switched to using me on Rover. They appreciate that the platform encourages meet and greets. They like Rover better also, because I actually get more of a cut of the walk (the $!2 I got vs the $25 they were charged by Rover they considered insane). Two because Wag customer service just treated them horrible . Another dog owner just decided to pay me off app. In a perfect world, I can eventually move entirely off-app. Or just take Rover dogs. Unfortunatly, Wag has a majority of the people looking for walks hooked in the California Bay Area.
Working Optional says
This is a pretty exhaustive review, FP! I can see how the weekday aspect may be tricky but as you mention that’s also when folks would need it the most. Would be curious to see how ‘professional’ dog walkers view this. I assume they could pick one gig at a time but not multiple (in a given area?
Financial Panther says
Professional dog walkers would hate this. It might just be me, but from the interactions I’ve had with “real” dog care providers, they hate people like me.
Do taxi drivers appreciate Uber? Do hoteliers appreciate AirBnb? I would imagine professional dog walker feel that way towards Wag…assuming they are charging more than Wag rates. I wonder if Wag rates are nationwide or more localized to reflect supply & demand and the prevailing wages of a specific city or region. I would also expect peak pricing from them.
Exactly what qualifications do “professional” dog walkers need? Anyone who can walk can call themselves a dog walker. These low-skilled jobs are the one that will be decimated by this kind of app or automation. Rather than rely on word-of-mouth referrals, dog owners bid out their dog walking tasks to the lowest bidder. I will say that I would be uncomfortable with a stranger having access to my house. The first time there is a burglary committed by a Wag dog walker, the company will have to scramble. If they are truly using the $25 to do a background check & then actually rejecting applicants which don’t meet their criteria, burglaries and other property crimes should be kept to a minimum (but not zero).
Gary Westwood says
Property damage and burglaries are the least of the Wag customer’s worries. Far more important is the fact that they hire walkers with relatively little oversight and don’t supervise or train them. The risk is to the lives of the dogs, not so much the property.
Financial Panther says
Do you have similar views on Uber/Lyft as well? Both are using drivers with little oversight that have no training. Much more risk to human lives I’d imagine considering you’re moving at high speeds in a 2-ton vehicle, carrying risk not only to the passenger but also to everyone else on the road.
And this, my friends, is the difference between the mass quantity of walkers on the WAG app, and a locally owned real dog walking company. A local company trains, thoroughly background checks and personally interviews (with a human) to see what your experience and dog handling abilities are. Not to mention you are bonded and insured by the local business, AND they look out for the safety of the walker as well as the dog and his/her owner by ALWAYS doing a meet and greet to make sure everyone gets along. Very very skeptical about WAG services and the basis for the company. Its a tech company not an animal care company.
Dog walker says
I had my reservations about joining as well (as a walker) because the idea of walking a random dog that might be aggressive or not used to leash training can be a bit daunting. However I’ve now done my fourth walk and it’s my second day on the app, I live in a big city by the way. All of the owners have actually been home when I went to pick up the dog for various reasons (recovering from illness, new baby etc). They gave me a heads up about certain things that their dog might do such as trying to get food off the ground or not liking other dogs. Also after you agreed to walk a dog you can see all the tips from previous walkers of that particular dog. I wish that you could see it before you selected to walk the dog but that would be too easy I guess . I’ll roll with this for a while but to be honest it’s a lot of physical activity just to make a small wage. You really have to bust your butt and from my personal experience nobody tips. I believe that since they are paying $30 for an hour they think that’s a fair amount and don’t realize that we walkers are only taking Home $18 .
Dog walker says
Oh I also meant to add that I feel that a dog owner knows if their dog is suitable to be walked by a Novice walker or not. When I was growing up I had the most aggressive dog ever who pulled on the leash and was the terror on the leash. I would never in 1 million years sign her up for an app like WAG ?. When I was growing up I had the most aggressive dog ever who pulled on the leash and was the terror on the leash. I would never in 1 million years sign her up for an app like WAG ?. You can definitely make more money if you go into business for yourself. Then you get to keep the full $30 or whatever you charge. I try to do that but I didn’t get any hits from craigslist so this is just something I’m going to try for a while. I have a full-time job that actually pays well so it’s kind of just a fun thing for grocery money. And also well it seems that most people would need walks in the middle of the day while they’re at work you’d be surprised how many people need walks all the time in the city. The last ditch attempt to get walks come rolling in between 10 PM and midnight and those walks end up going for more money they get a bonus attached so you can make $18 for 30 minute walk . If you’re a night owl and wanna make some extra cash it Can definitely pay off to snatch up those late night walks.
Suzanne Parker says
I am a Professional Dog walker and Sitter with 20+ years of experience, and I don’t hate Wag or Rover. The clients that utilize this type of app are not my people. My clients value the relationship that they have with me, that i have with them and their pets. They don’t look at me as an Uber driver for pets, a dial a walker, they look at me as family. I am in their house, caring for the “fur children” and I am trusted. People that use these apps seem to not have that same requirement, so I think it is a “to each his own” kind of an option.
Not a dog walker says
” Anyone who can walk can call themselves a dog walker. These low-skilled jobs”
So if you’re not a doctor or lawyer I guess to you that is “low-skilled” or maybe you just have no idea how skilled a professional dog walker needs to be. You can always assume the training and education of a job based on what the job sounds like or seems to be, right? Let us not consider understanding animal behavior and interactions as well as being physically able to not only just “walk” but to control an animal that in some cases could weigh close to or more than the walker. Also the walker needs to keep themselves, the dog and everyone else safe while on the walk. They need to know what to do in an emergency. They need to be insured and they have to also be honest – they will sometimes be walking dogs worth thousands of dollars. They need to be trained to deal with many breeds with varying temperaments and triggers.
Sure anyone with working legs can walk and call themselves a dog walker but an actual professional dog walker is NOT a “low-skilled” job.
Disclosure: I own a dog but am not a professional dog walker and do not enjoy dog walking but I certainly appreciate people who have the skill, yes SKILL, to deal with dogs on their walks. My dog is a bit of a high strung jerk so he does need someone with skill to handle him.
Very well-stated! Also, your description of your dog is hilarious.
Cool story bro.
No but really this is really cool if it’s in your area and you have the freedom of schedule.
Not in my area yet just tried to apply. I’ll keep wagging my tail in hopes of an email notifying they swing into my city.
ZJ Thorne says
This could be great for students (in law school or otherwise) or folks who are not able to get the hours they want. I love dogs, but am not available in the middle of the day to help folks unless I took a long break from work.
This App is actually pretty useful. Especially if you live in Los Angeles. I do it whenever i have free time and actually make a pretty significant income. I’ve had around 30 walks in just under 3 weeks. So i guess, it just depends where you live.
Financial Panther says
That’s awesome! It’s still too small here in Minneapolis to get consistent gigs, but I’ve been able to a snag a few that were nearby that I could do during lunch or after work. On Friday, I snagged a walk that was just a few blocks from my office over the lunch hour. Got to play with a pup, got a little exercise, and got myself a nice walk on a Friday afternoon. That is what Wag is made for!
Gary Westwood says
Wag is not a great company, to be honest. I appreciate that there may be some people who have good experiences using the app to make some extra money in their spare time, but from a dog owner’s point of view they are an absolute no-no.
Dog walking is not a trivial or unskilled occupation, regardless of what anyone might tell you. It’s one thing walking your own dog every day, quite another when you spend the whole day walking a wide variety of dogs of all kinds of sizes and temperaments. You have to deal with everything from a snarling chihuahua who hides in the closet and attacks anyone who gets close, all the way to 180lb Great Danes who rear up like a horse when something spooks them in the street. The potential for disaster is very high if you’re not experienced or have had no training. You really have to be a dog person and have a close affinity with them. You also have to be mature and responsible enough to know what to do in an emergency.
Traditional dog walking companies hire proper employees, train them, supervise them and enforce a responsible set of safety regulations and rules to ensure that dogs are taken out with the minimal of risk and with their welfare considered first and foremost. Wag, in contrast, uses independent contractors whom they’re not allowed to train according to IRS regulations. There is little oversight of walkers and no supervision. They send walkers to addresses without giving them information about the dog, which may or may not be the kind of pooch that the walker is comfortable with. Regular dog walking companies will schedule meet and greets with the walker and the owner so that they can get a good idea of the dog’s personality, discuss any potential issues, and of course so the owner can evaluate the walker and decide whether she or he is a good fit. They rarely send walkers to walk dogs that they haven’t met with the owner first.
The upshot is that Wag has a LOT of complaints from owners. But worst of all, they lose dogs in their care, and then they don’t do enough to find them. They have a cap of $5000 on trying to find dogs that they lost, and once they’ve spent that money you’re on your own. They recently lost a lady’s dog, made a very half hearted attempt to find him, tried to bribe her with cash to stay silent about it, and then threatened the lady with financial ruination because she spoke out about it on social media. This week, they lost a dog in Brooklyn and then set up a Facebook page called “Help Find Teddy” in which they posted a photo of the dog wearing her Wag bandana, on which they had Photoshopped out the Wag logo to disassociate themselves from the dog.
It’s sad because there are some experienced local independent walkers who made a good living out of this for years, then Wag came along, put them out of business and they ended up having to sign up as Wag walkers. Now, not only are they giving a cut of their earnings to Wag, but they also suffer because of the bad name the amateur walkers on Wag give to the app.
Wag have always marketed themselves as the “Uber for dog walkers” because they know Uber is popular and because they know that people, especially Millennials, are attracted to the idea of hiring a dog walker from an app. How convenient! And they are given a false sense of security because of Wag’s corporate branding and because they’ve managed to get a couple of money-grubbing celebs to endorse them. But really, hiring a Wag walker is not that much less risky than hiring some random guy off Craigslist.
Financial Panther says
I’ve found that the professional dog sitter/dog walker community is a lot like the hotel industry or the taxi industry – they’re wildly against anyone coming in who isn’t a “professional.” I’m not a professional by any means – I don’t watch problem dogs because I know I can’t handle that (and honestly, I wouldn’t want to deal with that crap since this isn’t my job). But I think I do a fine job of putting a leash on a dog and walking them.
If I had to guess, I’d assume you’re also against other sharing economy platforms as well? Uber/Lyft – you’re getting into a car of a random stranger who could crash and kill you or someone else. Airbnb – going into some random person’s house that isn’t properly inspected and you could easily have a piece of the roof fall on you or fall through a floor; Postmates – some random person with no training is holding your food, food poisoning galore!
Obviously, if you are against Wag, then obviously, don’t use it. It’s still an opportunity for folks like me who are just using it for fun, exercise, and supplemental income.
I agree. I just quit walking for Wag! yesterday due to all their issues. They are all nice at first but give it time and if you have app issues or dog/owner issues, they chew you out. Since moving from the West Coast to the Midwest, I have had a completely different experience. My app never worked right anymore and I noticed a few of my customers did not have the correct dog walking tools, a collar and a leash. Yesterday the dog I walked was not anything like the description. The dog tried to bite someone and on my early return, for which I was in deep trouble w in the phone, I hung up, the front desk guy at the complex said that dog was known to be aggressive and unwalkable. If the dog had bitten someone, Wag! would have put all liability on me, which is discussed in the training. In training, Wag! makes a point to repeatedly say, “if you feel uncomfortable with the dog’s behavior or show up and the place is uncomfortable, we do not want you walking the dog. If you are walking the dog and the dog has behavioral issues, take the dog back and end the walk. We care about our walkers far more than our clients.” What a load of BS in reality!
Financial Panther says
Who are all of these dog owners that are having people walk their bad dogs? Aren’t they afraid that they’ll get sued or that their dog will get labeled as a dangerous dog by the city or destroyed due to being a bad dog? It’s nuts – if you have a bad dog and it bites someone, you (the dog owner) can be held liable and animal control can come take your dog away.
So far, I’ve only experienced good dogs and people who seem to be great dog owners, and really, I’ll only walk great dogs. Maybe it’s a product of me not doing this full time, so since I’m selective, I only see the small sample size of good dogs.
So yes, I agree – if you walk in and the dog acts or seems like a bad dog, simply say you’re not comfortable walking that dog and walk out. Anyone with a bad dog has no business using a service like Wag – they need to spend their money on dog training and teaching themselves how to properly raise a dog.
Linda Summer says
Does the app let you walk more than one dog at a time if they are in the same vicinity?
Financial Panther says
I actually haven’t encountered that situation yet, but I’d imagine you’d be able to.
They don’t; you can only be on one walk at a time (unfortunately.)
DMK Walker says
You can walk multiple dogs from the same household, but not the same vicinity. Like I litterally got a ping for a dog two doors down from a dog I returned once. But couldn’t take it, because I had already accepted a dog 3 miles away.
Which makes sense, you have to be careful introducing dogs to one another. Some dogs are amazing one on one dogs, but could only ever be walked alone.
Allie Brown says
This is great, but please be aware that Wag offers NO PROTECTIONS for you if you get bit by a dog you are walking. I was attacked last year before I even got inside the door (an 80 pound dog to my 120 pound person and yes I have scars) and had multiple issues with Wag after this.
1. No one would answer the emergency phone line for about 30 minutes. I left multiple freaked out messages and was finally called back when I was talking with the nurse in the hospital. What is the point of an emergency phone line if no one answers and it is always busy???
2. It appeared that Wag had to ASK the owner for the dog’s rabies vaccination. I say this because I asked for the info and they said they would ask the owner…meaning that they did not already have this vital information. How many of these dogs do not have their vaccines or are not up to date on them?
3. They will not pay for my over $600 in hospital bills (after insurance). I did not even make close to $600 total on the app. I am a graduate student, this is not easy for me to pay.
4. They had the nerve to tell me to feel free to take a few days off to rest up before taking any more walks. This is not a salaried position, there is no sick pay. Taking days off means no money for me.
I have a scar on my wrist and one on my thigh and I count myself very lucky that I was not inside the door and was able to slam it and that the dog did not get out and trap me in the hallway. All in all, if you are recommending Wag, please also tell potential walkers that there is a huge risk.
Financial Panther says
Good point. I’ve personally never dealt with any aggressive dogs myself, but its good to consider and that sucks that you’ve had to go through this situation. Makes no sense to me why someone would ask someone to walk their dog when they have an aggressive dog.
A good thing to remember – and this is really true for all of these gig economy gigs – is that we’re all independent contractors. In other words, you’re basically your own little business. Don’t think like an employee – think like a business owner. Wag is just a platform to get walks without having to do the marketing ourselves.
This isn’t legal advice by any means, but personally, if that happened to me and Wag wasn’t responsive, I’d probably ask the dog owner to reimburse me for my hospital fees. The way I see it, it’s no different than anyone asking me to walk their dog and then their dog attacks me and injures me. Isn’t that what’d you do if you had your own dog walking business? That’s what you have when you’re walking on Wag – your own dog walking business.
Other option is blast Wag on social media and/or see if you can get your story out to traditional media.
And there in rests the difference between WAG! and a true dog walking/pet sitting company.
Any dog can bite, not just aggressive dogs, when put in unfamiliar situations with an inexperienced dog walker or dog handler.
That being the case, what dog owner wants to get a call from ‘the dog walker’ looking for them to cover their hospital bills? Dog walking companies that employ people as employees have Worker Compensation and that compensation covers those dog bites, slips on ice because a dog pulls to chase a squirrel or any host of accidents that happen.
To further answer your question, “Who are all of these dog owners that are having people walk their bad dogs?” Truth is most midday dogs that have dog walkers actually have behavior issues or owners who can afford a daily dog walker would prefer to put them in doggy daycare. So yes, dealing with behavior issues while dog walking is more common than you would think.
PS… I’d also add that one might consider ‘why’ most WC for dog walking/pet sitting companies is so high. At least in my state it is considered a ‘high risk’ occupation.
Financial Panther says
Aren’t these dog owners with bad dogs afraid of being sued, being held personally liable, or worse yet, having their dog put down by the city as a dangerous dog? I totally understand what you’re talking about from the dog walker side. But I’m thinking from the side of the dog owner and why they seem to think they can put their dangerous dog out there with no consequences.
I’m confused – if you have a dangerous dog or a dog that even has an inkling of aggressiveness, I wouldn’t risk putting it in any situation that could risk my own personal liability. You can’t just have your dog going around biting people with no consequences? At least that’s what I think about with my own dog.
Even with a dog sitting company, after your dog bites someone and insurance gets paid out to cover injuries for the walker, wouldn’t the insurance company then seek to recoup those costs from the dog owner, who is ultimately responsible for the actions of their dog?
Maybe that’s just the lawyer in me thinking about that, but nothing is without legal consequences, and any damage that happens to someone because of someone else has to be paid by someone…right?
Worker Compensation pays for the medical bills etc. Then the company gets penalized with higher rates. Owner? Pays nothing other than being dropped as a client. Then they start hiring Rover/Wag unsuspecting, uncovered gig walkers. Here in Ohio if the IC doesn’t have coverage…it falls to the homeowner who can get in trouble legally with the state. Most homeowners think it will never happen to them.
It isn’t just about biting either. I have had dog walkers trip and fall, hold on to the leash and end up with front teeth knocked out because the dogs pull so hard. Last week I had a bad incident with another dog walker whose equipment failed and their dog attacked us! https://finickyfeline-fido.blogspot.com/2018/02/never-in-mixed-company.html
By having liability and WC, we relieve the homeowner and pet owner of financial risk. Wag/Rover do background checks, but there is no bond for theft/loss of property to the consumer. There’s no protections for the consumer against being sued for injury…bites or otherwise should they happen in the course of the IC doing the job. And truly, truly who wants the hassle of dealing with a lawsuit?
A person who will allow a stranger to walk their dog isn’t a loving dog owner.
I seriously believe they don’t want to be bothered with the task.
A dog can hold it in while a person is at work. I own a dog. I walk the dog before work, when they pooh and pee. I walk the dog first thing when I get home, when they poop and pee again. Then, I walk the dog before bed, when they usually just pee.
A routine is cyclic if you do it everyday. A dog learns quickly.
Always know that a person who needs a stranger to walk their dog is a person with issues and because of that, the dog might have issues too.
Then, there are amazing, loving dogs that a pet owner should cherish a lot more than I believe they actually do.
Wow that’s judgmental. Some people work a little late and this is a way for their pet to get out for a little bit.
Dog owners bite walkers more than a dog does. Many of them are downright scabby people.
Allie Brown says
I’ve tried blasting them on social media and have asked them for the owner’s information (this happened in September last year) and the person they put on my case didn’t respond to my email, so I have to email again. At this point I think I am screwed unless I can find a way into the apartment complex (through two locked doors) to get the apartment address. My phone broke and I lost the owner’s cell number (I thought it was a auto generated number by the Wag app and not his actual number).
Sounds more like you need to take advantage of a consult with an injury attorney. Most initial consultation are free and since you are an individual sole prop, you may still have legal recourse. But need an attorney to add some gravitas to your case
First, I’d like to say that I’m sorry that this happened to you.
However, after reading the comments on this thread I wanted to add a few things as someone who has both worked with a professional company and now with Wag! part-time. I don’t know if the app has changed in the year since this happened to you, but on the request screen it allows you to see (sometimes) a picture of the dog and usually the breed. I’m a tiny girl—only 4’11 and about 130 lbs. I try to stay away from larger/stronger breeds for this reason specifically (especially since you don’t get to see any notes on the dog until after you accept the walk) and I’d rather not get dragged down the block if the dog sees a squirrel or something.
As for workman’s comp that you would normally get with a company as Liz mentioned—when you get hired with Wag! you are being hired as an independent contractor, which means you’re not covered by workman’s comp— you’re responsible for your own care if anything happens. While I do think they could’ve been a little more sensitive about the whole situation, if you look at the contract you sign when you agree to work with them, it says they are not liable for it. This was also covered in my initial orientation where they said the company would not be responsible for anything like this.
Also if by consumer you mean the client—they are covered (I forgot up to how much) for any lost/stolen/damaged property.
Having previously worked with a company I will say that I wish there were more training for potential walkers as I feel there is a certain etiquette that should be followed since you’re entering people’s homes and working with their fur babies and of course also help walkers in dealing with potential situations like this one. And as she mentioned in her comment the walker support line is terrible. No one ever answers or if they do it’s hours later.
While unfortunate, if you read the contract—it clearly states they aren’t responsible and you can be upset with the company but I look at Wag! just as a way to connect me with potential clients without having to do the work myself or having the commitment of a traditional or individual company where you can never get away because you are responsible for these walks.
Some dog owners are downright pitiful. Trying to communicate concerns over issues, like “where is the harness at” or “your leash is ready to snap” are always difficult to get across and often met with disregard or an owner that gives you one star. Been there. They become angry for letting them know they are not proactive enough.
Some dog owners want you come in, hunt for the supplies and just walk the dog. They are not concerned with making the job easy on a walker or safer for their dog. They don’t want to know you or anything about what’s going on with their dog, I guess.
Why are some dog owners like this? I do not know. I cannot process it. They just …are.
Sounds great. I’m considering signing up with them and enjoyed reading about your experiences. Great tips, too. I think it’s BS, though, that they make you pay to do your own security check. What nonsense. If they want to do a security check, they should pay for that themselves. Who says they are even doing it? Great way for them to pocket some extra profit. That may actually keep me from signing up based on principal. What job have you ever had where they charge you for a background check? I realize in the broad scheme, it’s not that much. But it’s ridiculous.
I get that it’s a little weird that you have to pay for your own background check, but the way I look at it is that we’re hired as independent contractors–we’re responsible for our own taxes at the end of the year, and with how many new employees they hire almost every day, it would be kind of stupid for them to foot the bill. From a business stand point alone–they can’t guarantee that the person they just paid a background check for is going to make them any money at all. I will also say that whether or not you can make any money off this depends heavily on where you live. Peak walking hours are between 11-4, M-F, so if you aren’t available during these times and are in an area where there aren’t a lot of walks to begin with, it might not be worth it at all. I’m not trying to put you off or be negative, but this is one of the top complaints from a lot of new walkers–that there aren’t enough walks to go around. Walks aren’t guaranteed when you’re free so do some research and see if this could work out for you in your area.
Financial Panther says
The way I see it, $25 to essentially start your own dog walking business isn’t a bad deal. You do two walks and you break even – then the rest is profit. Is there any other business you can start for less?
Allison Jackson says
I recently started using wag. The first walker who showed up was a polite college kid who is home for the summer. I added him to my preferred list and now, once per week, I send out a request for a walker and opt to send to my preferred walkers first. He has accepted each time. Works out great.
I had no idea Wag was taking such a huge cut!
I also use rover for boarding services. I’ve been happy with both apps and thrilled with the people who’ve looked after my dog. But I’m starting to rethink using Wag. Just seems like they are ripping off the dog walkers. Of course I have zero idea about their startup and operating costs.
That’s entirely up to you. I know a lot of customers that use Wag to find walkers and then go private with them. But if you use Wag, they have insurance which would cover anything that might happen and a private walker might not have that unless they’ve made their own business out of dog walking. It is a large cut, but a lot of times if a walk sits there for a while they will increase the payout to the walker–I have been paid full fare a few times for walks and that comes out of their pockets (Wag, not the owners). And the discounted walks can also go to normal fare if no walker accepts the sale payout–so it kind of helps balance out things a little.
WAG will severely sanction you if they find you working off app or “stealing” their customers. We are Independent Contractors only to the degree it suits them.
WAG is a great service for ad hoc walking if you are away or need a one off casual walk. If you want a permanent walker go with Rover. WAG does not offer the versatility you want and need and skims too much from the Walker payout.
Financial Panther says
Jim, not sure what happened with you and Wag, but thank you for sharing your experience. Sounds like you have some beef with Wag for whatever reason.
Be careful to review your contract. WAG will drop you like a hot potatoe and accuse you of fraud if they suspect you are walking a dog living with you. They will say they did an investigation. But… If they really did do a complete investigation before attacking you with a complaint of fraud… they would know it was your neighbor’s dog or your mom’s dog that does not live with you and she dropped it off for you to walk while at an appointment… and she thought it would be nice to support your efforts in your job of walking dogs. It does not say you can’t walk family members dogs but you can’t walk dogs owned by yourself or that live with you. I just don’t agree with accusing people of fraud and firing them without asking for explanations during their “investigations”. Their complaint was completely off base.
I posted a review on this place (Wag) a few months back. Horrible experience with them! If I could give them 0 stars I would. A few months back one of the so call “professional walkers” lost my puppy. It was a headache the whole process. I was lucky enough a very nice couple found my pup. The walker stayed with all my puppy stuff. I talked to Reyna (manager) and other staff about getting my stuff back. They offered me free walks and my money back in return I had to delete all the negative reviews I posted about them. They wanted me to sign a contract and then get my money back. obviously I decided not to sign the contract. I feel like people deserve to know how unprofessional and irresponsible these people are. It’s been months and never heard from them. I wouldn’t recommend Wag to anyone.
Financial Panther says
You know Wag is a platform like Uber or Airbnb, not a company that hires dog walkers. When I walk dogs on Wag, I don’t work for Wag – I’m my business of me, and I happen to get my customers via Wag and using the Wag platform. You wouldn’t say an Uber driver works for Uber or an Airbnb host works for Airbnb.
You had a bad experience with Wag, but that’s because you got unlucky and got a shitty walker, just like you can get unlucky and get a shitty Uber driver or a shitty Airbnb host. How Wag handled it is another matter – and sounds like they did a bad job there.
I’m not a “professional walker” like you are looking for, but I am a very knowledgeable and good dog walker with over 100 5 star reviews. If you got me as your dog walker, you’d have a different tune I’m sure.
Wag totally has their hand in our tip jar, they take 40% of the walk and 40% of our tips. It’s in the walker agreement, I read it and ignored it on purpose because I really just wanted to walk dogs before I went back to work in the spring. So, $5 tip= $3 to the walker, $10 tip= $6 to the walker. If you want the walker to get a 15% tip, you should tip 25%! Sometimes with travel time our pay works out to only $7 an hour, tips really do help and keep the system working. I’ve seen dogs not get walked because wag set the price too low for a more isolated area. One of my regulars had this happen when I was unable to walk him. All they could offer for the poor little guy (who I know is kept in a tiny crate all day) was $10 at bonus and he would cycle back down to $8.40 every hour when the old walk time expired. I saw 3 walks for him between 1:30 and 5 pm and then I assumed the owner came home and took down the walk. It was frustrating to watch and I knew it was the low price and travel time that prevented other walkers from taking the walk.
Is it new that they skim the tips too? That is against the law in many industries.
Yes, no flexibility to let walkers communicate with Owners to work out what is best for the Pooch.
I was just wondering what you did with your bike when you had to ride to a neighborhood or something? Like what if there weren’t any bike racks. If this doesn’t apply to you then what would you recommend?
Financial Panther says
I just lock it up to a pole if there are no bike racks. Should usually be a stop sign or something you can lock to.
I did over 300 walks for WAG before I chucked it in. They were late in returning calls, the app wouldn’t work in a lot of areas I walked, the app would give me walks over 100 miles away. I guess my biggest complaint was how little flexibility the app gave customers. I like night walks. I talked to numerous clients that wanted me specifically but didn’t have the ability to work directly with me for a mutually agreeable time. Also, under the Walker agreement if we go off app, book directly, or use leads gleaned from the app for our own Independent business there are big penalties. We are Independent Contractors, yes, but within the limits they prescribe. Let’s see how they fare under the new California law…
Noah Cohen says
I’m a professional dog trainer in Ann Arbor, Michigan and I applied to be a Wag! walker since I already spend much of my free time walking dogs at the local Humane Society, just as a volunteer, so I figured I might as well earn a few bucks for the same activity.
Wag! made an error on my application and did not follow up with me to my satisfaction, so now I work as a walker/dogsitter for their competitor, Rover, instead.
From my limited experience, Wag! seems not to be managed very well, and declines to take responsibility for anything. I like Rover very much, and I think the people at Rover are higher-quality than the kids at Wag!, but honestly, I would suggest using a family member, a small local business or a friend from your personal life to look after and walk your dog, if you need this sort of help. Local help just seems like the more trustworthy, sensible option.
Personally, when I have to go away, I board by dogs with my veterinarian clinic. It costs much more, but my dogs are my life, so the peace of mind is worth it, for me.
Noah J. Cohen
Hello Noah. You can try using the free Paway App to manage your existing dog walking clients. It functions just like Wag but without taking any percentage of the walk. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/paway-dog-walking-smart-fun/id1526025358
Willoughby Reeve says
I like that there is one more opportunity out here which both sides can (ideally) win; a dog needs what a dog needs, and that dog’s owner can be reasonably satisfied knowing that his or her dog will be in capable hands.
It seems. that a person can be somewhat vetted, first by the company, and ultimately by the dog owner AND dog/dogs. The pay/price seems reasonable for all parties.