According to the FLSA, 14 is the minimum age to be employed as a dog walker.
However, federal law indicates that 14-15-year-olds cannot work over 8 hours a day, with no more than 18 hours per week while in school. Minors are also prohibited from working before 7 am or after 7 pm respectively.
Let’s discuss legal rules and age restrictions to become a dog walker as a minor.
Special Case 1: Minors Can Not Register on Gig Economy Platforms
As the owner of a job aggregator, I have the chance to work with dog walking platforms like Rover and PetBacker. I talked to their marketing team, and they consider dog walkers as private contractors.
Therefore, since minors cannot enter agreements, it is unlawful for minors to register and start dog walking on gig economy platforms such as Rover or PetBacker.
Special Case 2: Minors Below The Age of 14 Can Still Consider Self-Employment
While children below the age of 14 may become dog walkers, they cannot be hired by companies and are restricted to being self-employed. It is also required that their parent or guardian monitor and consent to their dog walking activity.
Aspects of business management that children will most likely need consent, and parental assistance include, but are not limited to the following:
- Accompanying a minor to potential clients and on dog walks.
- Assistance in determining and filing any taxes that may need to be paid due to income and expenditure.
- Assistance in the creation of income and expenditure budget worksheets.
- Ensuring that the child does not exceed the legal hours and days worked as a dog walker.
It is important to consider that a child cannot be held liable for any harm befalling a dog while the child is walking the dog. In the event of injury to a dog, the parent or guardian will be held liable for any damages (vet bills, emotional damages, etc.)
It is recommended that the guardian of a child file liability insurance in the event that any harm arises as the child performs their professional dog walking duties.
Aptitude Requirements For Children Walking Dogs
Further to legal rules and regulations is whether a child has the aptitude for dog walking.
Should a child be fearful of dogs, not understand how to care for dogs while on walks, or not wish to fulfill an employment position as a dog walker, they must not be coerced into doing so. Doing so is both unlawful and harmful to children.
The second consideration is the physicality of the child. Certain clients may have multiple dogs, large dogs, or energetic dogs that a young child may be difficult to control due to their lack of physical strength.
Once established, it is necessary to make sure the child walks the dog in a safe and enclosed area before taking the dog on a walk (such as in a backyard or a courtyard). This is to ensure the child can safely handle the dog.
The Benefits of Dog Walking for Children
While the most immediate and obvious benefit of walking a dog is money, children who walk their dogs are rarely paid as much as their adult counterparts.
However, the main benefits are often developmental in nature:
- Dog walking as a part-time job fosters a spirit of independence and helps to develop entrepreneurial skills at a young age.
- Dog walking helps children develop empathy and how to take responsibility and care for animals.
- Dog walking is an opportunity for children to engage in activities that improve mental and physical health.
- Dog walking is relatively inexpensive to begin. With expenses usually reserved for travel to clients, cell phone data, purchasing reliable running shoes, and purchasing harnesses and leashes.
The Bottom Line
Dog walking is a great part-time job for teenagers aged 14 or above.
However, working more than 18 hours per school week is unlawful. Furthermore, working above 15 hours per week is proven to have a negative impact on grades.