I Want Your Job: Dog walker

Mark Forsythe, 45, is a professional dog walker who lives in London and walks up to 18 dogs a day, charging £10 per walk

Describe your typical day

I leave home at 8am, along with my two dogs, and pick up another four for a walk. By 9.30am we're at the park for an hour's walk. There's a gaggle of people who meet up in the morning and we stand around and drink tea; it's a social meeting while the dogs run around. I then drop the dogs home and at 10.45 pick up a second set, which tend to be bigger.

At 12pm we go to a different park and this walk is the most energetic, I march solidly for an hour. At 2pm, I pick up the third round of dogs; they tend to be smaller and it's a quieter walk. I do the last round at 4pm and at 6pm I drop the last dog home. Then I shower and put on entirely different clothes. It's quite a structured day and I like that – it's like having deadlines.

Why did you decide to become a dog walker?

I used to work in IT and I packed it in and took a year off. When my money ran out I had to look for a job. I was in the park a lot with my own dogs and people started to ask me if I would walk their dog. I did it for free at first, until I realised I could make a living. I had 100 flyers printed and put them in vets and pet shops, but 98 per cent of my clients came by word of mouth.

Do you like the job?

I love it. I like dogs and I love walking, because I find it therapeutic. There's a rhythm to walking, you can lose yourself in it and as I walk I daydream and work things through in my head. I spent so many years working with people I didn't like and couldn't get away from; now I have time on my own. I wouldn't go back to IT for anything in the world.

What's the hardest part of the job?

The first thing people say to me is you must pick up a lot of dog poo. But I don't mind that. I've perfected the knack: take a deep breath, try to do it in a single movement, and knot the bag. The real downside is people who don't like dogs; they can be aggressive and even throw stones. The most upsetting thing is when a dog runs out of the park and I have to keep five others secured and safe. One dog ran four miles and was later found at home. Another time a dog threw itself into the canal, a guy on the towpath lowered me in by holding on to my left arm and belt. I pulled a muscle in my back, got a mouthful of dirty water and cut my shirt on some glass. And I got £10 for that!

What advice do you have for budding dog walkers?

Choose your area well and keep it as small as you can – otherwise you'll end up spending half your day driving around picking up dogs. Also research your market, find an area with middle class families with children and dogs, and where both parents work. You also need the right clothing to suit the weather conditions, so paying a little more for good boots is worthwhile.

What skills do you need?

It's a physical job and you must be able to separate dogs if they fight. I look after people's pets and have access to their homes. People think it's easy, but it's not just a walk in the park.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Anna Smaill’s debut novel, The Chimes, is a fusion of fantasy and romance
booksMan Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Sport
Ji So-Yun scores the only goal of the game
sport
Arts and Entertainment
One of the Pyongyang posters, the slogan of which reads: ‘Let the exploits of the northern railway conductors shine!’
art
Life and Style
Linguine with mussels and fresh tomatoes
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

AER Teachers: Graduate Primary Teaching Assistant

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: A good primary school in ...

AER Teachers: Graduate Secondary Teaching Assistant

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: A good and improving scho...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer - Entry Level

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Software Developer i...

Guru Careers: Graduate Print Producer / Account Executive

£18 - 25k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Graduate Print Producer / Account Execut...

SPONSORED FEATURES

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer