Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dog Walking - The Profession

It's a pretty great sight to see a dozen or so dogs rambling down a busy avenue together, tugging on the leads that connect them to the lone dog-walker whose job it is to manage them for a couple of hours out of the city flats they each call home.

And the sight is an extremely common one on the streets of Buenos Aires, where professional dog walking is rather big business.

Every morning as the sun rises, eager beaver dog-walkers buzz the flats of their dog owning clients, gather up the canines and trek around the city streets, dodging in and out of the thousands of porteños on their way to work, as they hop between plazas and parks to give the pets some daily exercise.

Buenos Aires is a flat-living tower-block jam-packed city, and so dogs rarely enjoy the luxury of their own garden or outdoor space where they can bury a bone and dump at will. If their owners work all day then it’s hours on end cooped up between four walls, where they’ll no doubt leave their mark; or outings out with a professional joined to a lead with a handful of buddies.

Officially there are over 110 dog-walkers registered with the authorities in Capital Federal, though hundreds more work in black. It is nearly impossible to not commit some sort of illegal act while doing this work, say the walkers; so to avoid the inevitable fines, some feel it's better off not registering.

Registered or not, dog-walking is a tough and physical job, and one that takes great strength and fitness. Anyone who has walked one dog will know the force some of even the smallest breeds can have; so just imagine a group of them as they pull you along and tussle to cock a leg at the bottom of a lamppost.

However, according to the pros, it's far easier to manage more than it is less.

The Law states a lone dog-walker can walk a maximum of eight dogs at a time. But with an estimated one million dogs in the city (not including street dogs), demand is high, and many choose to take out more. It is occasionally possible to see the odd athletic chappy, or chapette, with over twenty dogs attached to the lead. That takes some doing.

Ilda walked my own dog for 2 years
Ilda, who has been running her own dog-walking business for thirteen years, would do nothing else. ‘The exercise and being with dogs that I love is a perfect way to spend every day,’ she says. 'It gives me the freedom to be my own boss. And well, unlike people; dogs don't let you down.'

The job has its down sides though. The city of Buenos Aires does not provide doggy bins on its streets, and more and more plazas are being closed to animals as local residents complain about constant barking.

Not to mention summer temperatures of up to 40°C and just-out-of-the shower-like humidity.

But whatever the situation, dogs always need exercise; and depending on the neighbourhood, dog-walkers can earn anywhere between $US30 - $US50 per month per dog. If they’re taking out say, twelve in the morning, then twelve in the afternoon, and maybe the odd one in the evening; then it can soon become a not too shabby way to make a living.


  1. Excellent, shows how the market economy works! There is demand for this service, so there is supply as well. This service model could be exported successfully for use in other countries too! :)

  2. This walk looks beautiful, thanks for sharing it. It occurred to me that in days gone by there would have been a man up a ladder cutting that ivy, safe or not and probably not very well paid at that!

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