By chance, I began working as a dog walker during my senior year of college. Over the following year and a half, I’ve walked and talked with my fair share of good boys and girls. Here’s how I benefitted from my first dog walking job.

Dog walking is a mutually beneficial relationship.
Dog walking benefits the both of you. They’re happy, you’re happy!
Photo by Biana Ackerman on Unsplash.

Benefit #1: It’s a Chance to Bond With Your Furry Friend

I began my dog walking “career” with a wiry Chihuahua named Rigby, and a calm Pitbull named Nelson. My job was to walk them around the neighborhood twice a week around lunchtime.

At first, Rigby was very anxious and hesitant to spend time with me. But the boy loved his walks, and he knew that’s why I was there.

In the beginning, it was tricky to get his leash on because he would nip at my ankles, but once we were walking, we were a dream team.

Since Rigby, I’ve walked ten dogs, and he was my favorite walking buddy by far. Once we were moving, we were grooving.

I like to think he enjoyed our walks as much as I did. They benefit, you benefit, everyone can benefit from dog walking!

Unless you’re allergic to dogs… then I don’t have any suggestions for you, you poor soul.

Benefit #2: Walking a Dog Can Teach You Patience

The other dog I walked, Nelson was chill from the get-go. Or so I thought.

He was older, wiser, and more exhausted than Rigby, so I figured walking him would be a breeze. Oh, how wrong I was.

I learned right away that Nelson loves botany. Like, on a level I’d never seen from a dog before.

Maybe in a previous life he was a florist or environmental activist because he could not walk three feet without stopping to smell, admire, or lick a plant.

Hidden benefits of dog walking is plant watching.
Added benefits of dog walking is plant watching.
Photo by László Glatz on Unsplash.

At first, I was all, “Awww how sweet,” but I then I realized our walks wouldn’t go very far. Most of the time, my time with Nelson consisted of him analyzing every flower on the block, and me gently nudging him to keep walking because he hadn’t done his business yet.

But who cares. I was taking a class on Biodiversity, anyway. He helped me study, and we walked far enough for him to take his legendary large dumps.

Walking a dog can give you that calm, mental health break everybody deserves
Walking a dog can give you that calm, mental health break everybody deserves.
Photo by Lavi Perchik on Unsplash.

Benefit #3: It Can Be the Most Calming Part of Your Day

Both dogs had their walking routines and personality quirks that I loved. I always looked forward to seeing them, no matter how long it took Nelson to get down the street.

That year, my days with them looked something like this. Wake up late for class, rush to grab my seat, sit there anxiously and try to learn, get lunch in a crowded room that makes me even more anxious, and then go walk the boys.

The hour I spent going to their house, gearing them up, and walking them was a meditative act for me. I was more than stressed out and this “job” gave me a slice of peace when I needed it most.

Sure, not every day was flawless. There was the day I went into full Mom Hulk mode when a lady called Rigby mean for barking at her dog. And there was the day I thought my shoulder would pop out of its socket because Nelson pulled me so much.

But I took it in stride because I loved them, and they were animals for crying out loud! They weren’t trying to stress me out like my writing professors were.

It's safe to say dog walking helped keep me sane my senior year.
It’s safe to say dog walking helped keep me sane my senior year.
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash.

Bittersweet Benefit #4: For Dog Walkers, You Might Get in Your Feelings When the Job Is Over

When graduation came, my goodbye with Rigby and Nelson was quite sad because I knew I wouldn’t see them again, since I was moving back home. Ah, it still hurts to think about it!

Now, I have a rotation of around seven dogs to take care of and walk as a side job. I could spend all day talking about each little angel, that’s how much dogs mean to me.

And even though this experience with Rigby and Nelson wasn’t my first time walking a dog, as I grew up with them, this was the first time I appreciated walking dogs.

So whether you own a dog, are considering getting one, or want to pick up a side hustle, I hope this made you see an act as simple as walking a dog differently.