Have you got a side hustle? They’re all the rage these days, although some folks are divided as to what defines a side hustle. Is it a passion project? A hobby that has been monetized? Or is “side hustle” simply a cutesy name for a second job?
No matter what you call it, a lot of us have one. According to a 2019 survey conducted by Bankrate, 45% of all Americans have another method of earning money besides their “regular” job. That extra income isn’t just pin money, either; fully one-third of us rely on a side hustle to help pay our bills and meet our day-to-day expenses.
So for us crazy dog people, there are plenty of ways to use our enthusiasm for our financial advantage. Let’s take a look at some of the entrepreneurial enterprises for dog lovers that go beyond run-of-the-mill walking, housesitting or grooming jobs.
Nothing Says Lovin’ Like Something from the Oven
There probably isn’t a single dog who doesn’t prick up his ears when he hears the word “cookie.” And have you ever met a dog owner who doesn’t love dispensing cookies, biscuits or treats to their furry friends? I didn’t think so. If you can turn out a delicious and nutritious dog treat, you’re already well-positioned to make a side hustle out of catering to canine snacking habits.
Naturally, the treats will have to appeal aesthetically to the pet parents, too, so consider investing in some cute cookie cutters in appropriate sizes, as well as attractive packaging for your homemade treats and either a stamp or stickers for decorating and branding purposes.
This is a side hustle that can start small — selling to your friends, neighbors and dog-park acquaintances — and then grow organically through word-of-mouth advertising or a small social-media effort.
Before you embark on creating your dog-treat empire, however, do some research to be sure you’re in compliance with all local and state laws. Having to shut down operations because you don’t have the proper licensing in place would sure be ruff.
Every Dog Is a Work of Art
Animal lovers who are artistically inclined can also make a pretty penny on the side by offering custom pet portraits. Whether your medium of choice is photography, pen and ink, paint or even sculpture or collage, creating artwork that depicts dogs’ personalities could be a fulfilling and financially rewarding effort.
Again, this is a side hustle that can start out small. Paint your own pooch’s portrait, take pics of your friends’ pups or work from Instagram snaps of social-media superstars like Tucker Budzyn, Tofu Chan or Doug the Pug. Start a Facebook page and an IG account to promote your work; chances are the requests for commissions will start pouring in before you know it.
Stylish Dogs Need Designer Duds
Are you a dab hand with a sewing machine, a crochet hook or an embroidery hoop? Turn your craft into cash by making canine clothing and accessories. Considering the fact that in 2018, American pet parents spent a whopping $16 billion on clothing, accessories, beds, leashes and other items for their furry friends. It’s certainly tempting to serve yourself a slice of that pie.
Channel your creativity, whip up some prototypes — sweaters, cheeky kerchiefs, ties, collars — and enlist the help of the cutest models you can get your hands on.
Etsy is a popular platform for crafty side hustlers. Although it will take an initial investment of time and effort to get an Etsy shop set up, it’s fairly low-maintenance thereafter. And of course, This Dog’s Life store is all about supporting entrepreneurs who have a passion for dog products. small businesses
If you’re not super tech-savvy, or if you want your potential customers to be able to see your fashionable creations for themselves, consider taking a table at a craft bazaar or festival. You could also approach local boutiques, pet stores, doggy day care centers or vets’ offices about selling your styles on commission.
Give New Meaning to the Term “Party Animals”
You might call your beloved Bichon a “furbaby” ironically, but there are plenty of people who dote on and cater to their pets as though they were truly their own flesh and blood. Perhaps because they don’t need to save for their canine’s college education or shell out for orthodontic treatment, hard-core dog parents often spoil the heck out of their dogs. To wit, the development of a new animal-related career: dog party planner.
The duties of a professional dog party planner are essentially the same as for their human counterparts; it’s only the details that change. They develop a party theme, scout out locations, invite guests, order a birthday cake, procure snacks to serve and source decorations and swag bags. As side hustles go, pet party planning takes a fair amount of work, but if you love to fête your family and friends, peruse Pinterest for clever ideas and coordinate all the details to ensure that an event goes off without a hitch, this could be a super-fun second job.
Shiatsu for Shih Tzus
Dog owners love to give scritches and belly rubs to their four-legged friends, and almost all dogs enjoy the attention as well. The power of therapeutic massage goes one step further to soothe dogs, ease their stress, and help them feel safe and secure.
Massage may be especially important for dogs who are frightened or anxious, whether that’s because a thunderstorm is raging outside, or they’re a rescue who suffered cruel treatment at the hands of a previous owner. Of course, some dogs are simply more high-strung than others by nature. Massage offers similar benefits for dogs as it does for humans, including:
- Relief from muscle tension
- Lowered stress and anxiety
- A boost to the immune system
- Reduced pain in arthritic or elderly dogs
- Improved flexibility and range of motion
- Better blood flow and oxygenation of the blood
- Lower blood pressure
- Speedier healing from surgery or injury
- Plain old relaxation
Although you no doubt have decades of experience petting dogs, massage is much more than simply stroking and smoothing a pup’s coat or giving their ears a quick rub. Some states require documented training and certification to practice pet massage; in others, only veterinarians can perform it. Check with your state’s requirements before you embark on this enterprise.
Even if you don’t need formal training to hang your massage therapist shingle, it’s still a smart idea to complete one or more courses anyway. It will not only help you be a better massage therapist, but also provide peace of mind for your clients (or, rather, for their humans).