Author Topic: Dog-walking collaborative: How can I make this work?  (Read 3310 times)


  • Stubble
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Dog-walking collaborative: How can I make this work?
« on: September 06, 2016, 10:20:12 AM »
This is the backstory but skip down past the ******* if you don't care:

So my wife finally landed her dream job after being unemployed for 3-months post-grad school. She started her new job today.

But now that we are both employed full time and have demanding jobs that sometimes require us to work long hours, we need to figure out a way to make sure our dog doesn't have to wait 10+ hours for us to get home and walk her.

I spoke to a couple folks in my apartment building about this who have similar working situations. Their solutions made me want to pull my hair out: Most people either pay a dog walker $15 per day to take their dog outside for 15 minutes, others drop their dog off at a doggy day care for $30 per day. I held my tongue but inside my head I'm screaming, "THAT'S $300 TO $600 PER MONTH! $3600 to $7200 PER YEAR!!"

There is NO WAY I'm going to add that kind of expense to my monthly budget. There has to be a better way.


I'm trying to form a dog-walking collaborative. If there are other people in my building who also need someone to walk their dog during the day and some of them are willing to come home early or work from home at least one day per week, surely we can come up with an agreement where we alternate dog-walking responsibilities. For example, I can work from home on Wednesday and Thursday; during those days, I can walk two dogs for 15-minutes. If I can find one or more neighbors to walk my dog (plus those of other participants) on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, all of our dogs get mid-day walks each day AND collectively we pay nothing (apart from 30-minutes of our time each week).

Does anyone have experience with this? I'm trying to come up with the best way to organize this. I want to make sure I'm thinking this through correctly. The last thing I want is to inadvertently stick someone with dog walking responsibilities 3 times per week while I only do it 2 times per week (for example). Does anyone have any savvy ideas for scheduling these walks?

Here's the scenario I'm thinking of: let's say I find 2 other people who are willing to enter this agreement (that is, they have a dog, don't mind giving me and the other person access to their apartment and have time to dog-walk a couple times during the week). That's 3 individuals and 3 dogs (lets assume we only have 1 dog each). How can we alternate responsibilities such that no one person is doing more work than the other?

Apart from the scheduling question, has anyone ever created or participated in a similar arrangement (say, with children)? How did it work out? Anything else I should consider before I stick a flier in the lobby of my apartment building?


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Dog-walking collaborative: How can I make this work?
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2016, 01:24:25 PM »
Is there a time bank nearby?


  • Bristles
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Re: Dog-walking collaborative: How can I make this work?
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2016, 02:09:58 PM »
I think you need a value exchange tool to implement this fairness you hope to achieve.  Perhaps, a currency, I hear the United States makes a good one. 

No, seriously.  The absolute fairest way to do this is to have everyone pay a certain amount into a pot to have their dog walked x times per week.  Then everytime you walk a dog you get to take out $X from the pot.  At the end of the week it all balances to $0.   


  • Guest
Re: Dog-walking collaborative: How can I make this work?
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2016, 03:47:00 PM »
This has disaster written all over it. What happens when one of the dogs gets loose and gets hurt on neighbour #1's watch? Who pays? What happens when neighbour #2 shorts their time and dog #1 messes in the house? What happens when you get stuck at work and can't make your dog walking time?

I'd just try to negotiate a bulk rate from a local dog walker. If they can pick up a pack of dogs from a single building, you may be able to get a discount.

As to your question about kids, nobody with professional obligations participates in a cooperative babysitting scheme. For all the reasons I listed above and more. Only people with very minimal professional obligations (or stay at home parents) participate in coop preschools.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Dog-walking collaborative: How can I make this work?
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2016, 04:19:53 PM »
when my kids were small I watched my friends 2 kids in the afternoon while she worked and she watched mine in the am when I went to college. This worked well for years but we both knew each other well and took the responsibility seriously.  I don't see it working with a bunch of strangers.  If you dog is small you can pad train it which is what I did when I worked.  If it is big then it won't work.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Dog-walking collaborative: How can I make this work?
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2016, 04:45:36 AM »
Maybe you have a stay at home neighbor in your building who would welcome being paid $10 per dog walk, or $15 to walk two dogs?

I know that I would say yes, if approached, even if I had no interest in starting my own dog business otherwise.

Go knock on doors mid day (on your work at home day) and see who is home and interested.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Dog-walking collaborative: How can I make this work?
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2016, 05:36:48 AM »
How old is your dog?  I mean, what was your plan about taking care of it (through shortish working days) when you got her?

Did one of you plan to work from home for many years until the dog was no longer?   

If it is a small dog in a large place, some people get 2 to keep each other company (it is not about the walking, but being alone).  I have never had 2 dogs at the same time, so I can't advise on this, but co workers recommend it.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Dog-walking collaborative: How can I make this work?
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2016, 05:56:44 AM »
I would probably just offer to walk their dogs on your two home days, and charge them $12 instead of the $15 they are paying.  Then use that money to pay a dog walker on the other three days, or just approach someone in the building who you know stays home and ask if they'd like to make $12 to walk your dog.  You'll still be out of pocket, but you'll avoid disaster.

If you purse the collective, I think the best way to do it is set a fee for each walk.  (Let's say $10 per dog per walk, or just per walk.) You could even buy some sort of little tokens, which I've seen babysitting collectives do, and/or have one person be record keeper and get one free walk for doing the work (again, babysitting model I've seen.)  If you do tokens everyone starts with 20 (0r whatever numbers make sense.) When you walk Fido and Rover for the neighbors, they give you two tokens (or you report two walks to the record keeper).  When someone walks your dogs, you give them tokens. At the end of each month or quarter, everyone settles up, putting money in for every token less than the starting number, or taking money out for every number over, or just based on what the record keeper shows for everyone.

But really, I think the reason some babysitting collectives work (and it seems many or even most don't!) is that it isn't exactly a necessary service.  If no one is available next Friday, you just don't have a date night.  In your scenario, what happens to Fido and Rover (neighbor's dogs) when you have a meeting on Wednesday? What happens when the Monday walker is out of town or has his MIL visiting or gets super sick?  Your dog can't just not go out on Mondays.