Survival Jobs for Performing Artists: Dog Walker
Interview by Lauryn M.
Much like nannying, personal assisting, temping, and other survival jobs in the city, dog walking has its pros and cons. Like nannying, dog walking allows for adventure, love, care, and the outdoors. You can start a freelance business on your own, or join a staffing company. The staffing company may ask for more full-time availability to keep their employees committed. Some may only ask for certain hours of availability. For the most part, early morning, late evening, and weekend hours make It great to balance your audition and performance gig schedules with most doggies.
Read on to see dog lover, Lindsay Zaroogian’s experience and review on what it’s really like to be a dog walker in the city.
Interview with Lindsay Zaroogian
How many years have you lived in NYC?
7 and a half years
How did you become interested in working as a dog walker in the city?
I have an immense love for dogs in general. When I was working in Newport, RI, I'd actually volunteer to walk dogs at a shelter on my day off. The facility I interviewed for particularly piqued my interest because it was a daycare/ walking service but also a cageless boarding facility. So, I learned how to walk dogs for a business, how to command a dog run AND I'd get to sleep overnight with the boarders! The overnight shift was the best part.
How long have you been dog walking?
I worked at the dog daycare for 3 years.
How did you hear about your dog walking job opportunities?
How many dogs do you typically care for at a time?
When I walked, I would take up to 3 dogs at a time.
In the dog run I could have upwards of 30.
Is it tough working with multiple dogs at one time?
Absolutely. It was a challenging skill set to learn. Having family dogs growing up is not the same as learning to be Alpha in a pack situation. I did find it very useful to learn how to control a dog run and then transfer those skills to walking a pack. Although my company never asked me to walk more than 3 dogs at a time, I've been in situations where I've walked up to 6. All the body language and communication skills I learned in the dog run environment allowed me to safely control a walking pack of dogs.
Do you believe dog walking is a reliable, flexible, enjoyable source of income, while pursuing a career in the arts?
It really depends on how you go about it. As an artist, I'd recommend working for a company, even though the income is lower. Working with a team allows you some flexibility to miss days of work.
If you book out of town frequently, even dog walking for a company won't give you enough flexibility to do that and have a job to return to (like perhaps a restaurant could, because of the high turnover rate in the city). Most people need a regular weekly, if not daily, walker and really prefer stability in who is coming into their house and taking care of their pup.
Working for yourself, you'd never be able to take a day off, let alone leave on contract.
Would you recommend working as a dog walker to new artists in the city?
For a company. It's as good a day job as any. Just make sure you really like dogs!
Have any other comments or concerns you would like to share?
NYC is one of those rare locations that does the whole doggy daycare thing. Go upstate, they think we're nuts! I much prefer that work to babysitting. I also opted for the daycare over waitressing because I wanted a guaranteed hourly wage so I always knew I could pay my rent.
I'm an odd duck with the dog run. It's the only day job I've ever loved. When I quit acting, I will become a legit dog trainer. I'd switch careers now if I wouldn't miss the stage so much! We all make our choices.
Lindsay Zaroogian is a NYC based musician and actress. She graduated with a BFA in musical theatre from SUNY Fredonia. She's a core member of Thicket & Thistle and is busy working with them to create new musical theatre works.
Facebook: Lindsay Zaroogian
The top Dog Walking Companies in NYC
At $30/hr I would check this job opportunity out stat!