Last week I was able to share some information about Wag, the Uber of dog walking. There are many pros and cons to using this app, and there are also many pros and cons to working as an independent contractor for them.
In my presentation, I mentioned that one of the main issues I have with Wag is the competition that exists to get a walk. Even when I open a notification for a walk right away, it disappears immediately. I did some searching to see if this was a common issue with walkers, and I found that almost every review on Indeed.com made some reference to this problem. Here is the first one you see that explains it perfectly:
What makes this problem worse is that customers prefer to get more experienced walkers, but you need walks to get experience. Sounds like a dilemma, doesn’t it? It can get pretty cutthroat when the app is oversaturated with people who needed a side hustle and just want to hang out with your dogs for pay.
As a side note, I think it is 100% worth it because of the one “pro” you see in this review. Time with dogs is the greatest reward for being a fast button-clicker and getting lucky. Even though I am happy with my decision to work as a walker, there are a few more issues on my end that any potential future walker should know.
Wag does not have any protection for walkers. If you go to a customer’s house and there is a violent dog or any other unsafe situation, there isn’t much they do. On top of that, many users have said that their live chatline is always busy and it’s hard to get a live person to talk to when its sole purpose is to give walkers a resource when they run into an issue. Yikes.
Another issue with the app is that you can’t see walker notes before you accept a walk. These notes usually tell you about the temperament of the dog, the type of collar, how to get into the owner’s house, etc. This can pose a problem because of the above information. Walkers are not protected. If you accept a walk with a dog that has an aggressive temperament, too bad. If you accept a walk with a dog that has an unsafe collar, too bad. If you accept a walk with a dog whose owner is home and going to let you in and that makes you uncomfortable, too bad. This seems like an easy fix to me, yet it is still an issue with the way the app is set up.
Walks with Wag can be pretty expensive, but the pay for Wag isn’t what you would expect. As I mentioned in my presentation, Wag takes a 40% cut of the earnings. This is pretty high compared to Uber and Lyft or Airbnb, which take only about a 15-20% cut. This means that for a 60-minute walk, which costs $30, walkers only get $18. But for what? It’s clearly not going towards the app or customer service.
These problems bring me to my overall point. Walkers cannot make a living off of this job. The issues with (1) oversaturation of walkers, (2) safety issues, and (3) low pay makes it very difficult for someone to be able to make good money doing this. The whole reason I applied was that I thought that I could make some extra money in between jobs and classes. Even so, my schedule never seems to line up with dog walks that are close to me and if it does, I move too slow and someone else gets the walk. This is fine with me because I am not using it as my main source of income, but I would imagine it would be extremely difficult if I was.
I always have said that hanging out with dogs is my dream job. I guess that’s probably anyone’s dream job. That made Wag very attractive to me. But there is always a catch, right? Of course, every new company has its issues, and these are just the ones I have noticed. But the real test will be to see if anything changes in the coming year. Until then, I’m just going to practice shortening my notification response time.