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If you’re looking for a new side hustle and happen to love dogs, good news: it has never been easier to start dog sitting and make money doing something you love.
According to a 2016 National Pet Owners survey, 65 percent of U.S. households own a pet. Even more encouraging, according to Pet Business, 35 percent of all dog owners reported using a dog sitter in the past six months.
How to Start Your Own Dog Sitting Side Hustle
In the past, dog boarding used to be a norm for pet parents who were planning a vacation. But the data above shows that more dog owners are considering dog sitting services instead.
This trend is projected to increase even more according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which projects “employment of animal care and service workers [will grow] 11 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.”
There is no doubt that there is a great opportunity to make money as a dog sitter.
But is it the right side hustle for you?
Our 2,000+ word step-by-step guide will help you determine if dog sitting is the right opportunity for you and help you get started!
Should you become a dog sitter?
If you’re considering starting a dog sitting business, chances are you’re already a dog lover! Loving dogs is a big part of launching a successful dog care side hustle, but your skills and experience also play a big role.
Start by asking yourself these simple questions to evaluate your dog care experience and knowledge:
- Do you have experience with a dog of your own?
- How long have you owned a dog?
- Do you have experience with a wide variety of dog breeds or just a few?
- Have you taken dog sitting jobs for family or friends in the past? Did you enjoy it?
- Is your home a safe and friendly environment for dogs?
Even if you don’t feel like you have mastered every aspect of dog sitting, that doesn’t necessarily need to hold you back from starting your business. You can always read books, take classes, and volunteer at a local shelter to build up your dog sitting skills. You could even pursue certification as a pet sitter!
What does a dog sitter do?
Before you launch your dog sitting side hustle, it’s important to understand exactly what kind of care and services your clients will expect from you. Of course, by definition, dog sitters provide comprehensive care for dogs either in their own home or in the dog’s normal environment.
But it’s not quite that simple.
Dog owners have more options than ever before when it comes to finding care for their four-legged friends. And that means that you’ll need to go the extra mile to standout among your competitors.
As a dog sitter, you can expect to do the following:
- feed the dogs and take care to provide continuous access to fresh water
- provide ample exercise and play time (playing with toys, walks, fetch, etc.)
- administer any medications dogs may require
- take care of small chores around the house (if staying in the pet’s home), such as bringing in mail, opening and closing blinds, and other requested tasks
Of course, you don’t have to provide any services you’re not comfortable offering. You may have good reasons for restricting the types of services you offer, and that’s perfectly OK.
Do you need a license to be a dog sitter?
The short answer: no, at least not in most areas (though you should always consult local regulations!).
But it is always a good idea to acquire a local business license when forming any kind of service-oriented business. Contact your local chamber of commerce or check out this guide from the Small Business Administration for more information.
How do you actually start a dog sitting business?
Depending on whether you’re looking to start a small dog sitting side hustle or full-time dog sitting business, your overall business plan will look very different. That said, it’s a good idea to be very clear about what types and levels of services you wish to offer in your dog sitting business before you start.
- Will your services include dog sitting in the dog’s normal home or will you host dogs in your own home?
- How many dogs can you realistically host at one time?
- Will you provide transportation for dogs, or will this be the owner’s responsibility?
Once you answer these questions, your dog sitting business will take shape and you’ll be ready to take the first step toward launching your new business: marketing.
How do you market your dog sitting business and get new clients?
Marketing for your dog sitting business can and should take on many different forms, especially if you’re looking to start making money fast as a dog sitter. The more ways you can spread the word about your business, the better!
First, you’ll want to start by making sure your home is safe and welcoming to dogs. Remember, you’ll only get one chance to make a good first impression — and that includes your marketing efforts.
Second, at minimum, you should create a simple business card for your dog sitting business so you can begin telling friends and family about your new side hustle. You can easily share your card with pet parents at your local dog park to start generating interest in your business.
We also recommend creating a simple but professional flyer describing your services, rates (more on that below!), contact information, client reviews (once you have some), and references. Keep flyers short, sweet, and professional – but also make sure they are engaging! Then seek permission to post them on local information boards in coffee shops, restaurants, and groomer locations. Rely on your existing relationships and sphere of influence here rather than cold calling new contacts.
Third, while word of mouth advertising is valuable, it has never been easier to market your dog sitting business online with a company like Rover. Simply put, the web is the easiest way to get the word about your new dog sitting business. And Rover just happens to be one of the most popular places for dog owners to visit when searching for care for their four-legged family members!
How can I market my business on a site like Rover?
For years, Rover.com has been the largest network of 5-star dog sitters and dog walkers on the web. Founded in Seattle, Washington in 2011, Rover’s mission is to connect dog owners with real dog people who will treat their pets like family. They are an award-winning technology business committed to making dog care safe, easy, and affordable for dog owners –and they’re accomplishing their mission in amazing ways.
Currently, Rover.com offers services in over 10,000 cities, has over 140,000 registered dog sitters, and has churned out 5-star reviews from pet parents at a 95% rate. How do they do it? They are very selective about who they accept as a dog sitter –in fact, they typically accept less than 20% of potential sitters, according to their website.
The only catch with Rover.com is that they take a small portion of your revenue in exchange for putting your services on display in front of more potential local clients than you could find on your own.
So how you can you put yourself in position to be accepted as a dog sitter on Rover.com?
First, click or tap here to open a new window and start the registration process with Rover.com. On the landing page that follows, you’ll see two options you can sign-up for – Rover and RoverGO. Both programs are very similar, but RoverGO provides a bit more hand holding and helps you set up your business page with professional photos and additional support all for an additional 5% of the revenue share.
Choose the option that is best for you and proceed to the sign-up page. You’ll need to verify that you’re 18 years or older and provide your email address to get the process moving.
After you sign-up, the team at Rover.com will personally review your profile for approval. Once you’re approved, your profile will go live immediately and you’ll be ready to start booking clients.
Pro tip: Do NOT forget to set-up your availability on your calendar. Many people create their account and forget to set availability and wonder why they never receive booking requests — this is a big mistake!
How can I position my business to compete with other sitters in my area?
Once you’re approved and ready to market yourself on Rover, it’s time to begin researching the rates charged by other sitters in your area. Taking a close look at the registered competitors in you area is a great way to make sure you’re not overcharging (or worse, undercharging) for your services. As a rule, you want to be competitive while also using your Rover profile to showcase why your dog sitting services are superior to your competition.
Start your research by heading to the Rover.com home page and perform a basic search that matches the parameters of the services you intend to offer. For example, make sure you’re not comparing your rates for House Sitting with another your competitors’ rates for Drop-In Visits — that’s not going to be useful information.
Pro tip: You should perform separate searches to conduct market research if you plan to offer different varieties of services.
Here is an example: a quick search for Dog Boarding for Small and Medium sized dogs in my zip code yielded first page rate results ranging from $20 to $40. The highest rated sitter charged just under the high end of this range at $37. She had 216 reviews, 79 repeat clients, and a 5-star rating.
When you are first starting out, it’s a good idea to set your rates somewhere in the middle of the range you identify in your area. You don’t want to price yourself too high, but at the same time, extremely low rates raise red flags.
What are some hints for setting up my Rover.com profile?
A closer look at the above mentioned profile definitely hints at some simple best practices for setting up a friendly Rover profile:
- Her picture included her entire family, who all look very friendly (smiles go a long way!)
- She included several pictures of herself with her own dogs as well as with repeat visitors
- Pictures also included her dogs playing with clients’ dogs (this is very important!)
- The description of services provided uses very dog-friendly language
When potential clients read your profile and look at your pictures, you want them to immediately recognize that you love dogs and that you are trustworthy. If anything in your profile makes them doubt your ability to love and care for their dog as your own, they won’t consider hiring you.
Another tip: use the small byline underneath your profile name to advertise something catchy and important about your service. For example, “dog loving family of 5 with a fully-fenced yard.”
What are some of the best tips to make sure you start getting bookings for dog sitting?
Once you have done the ground work in setting up your dog sitting business, prepared your home, and built your Rover profile, there are just a few more steps to make sure your business starts getting books as soon as possible.
First, you’ll want to create a free Facebook page for your business (this video can show you how). Don’t worry about running sponsored ads at this point. But you can use your page to post photos of dogs during their stays in your home and build your business profile. Think of your page as a portfolio.
Second, be sure to register for accounts on Craiglist and NextDoor. Advertising your services on these sites can boost your bookings significantly.
Third, take the time to build relationships with other dog owners whenever you can! Think of each pet parent you meet as not only a potential client, but a possible referrer to your business. And don’t be afraid to talk about your business with friends and family. They can often provide the best reviews and testimonials for you until you gather more client reviews.
How much money can you make as a dog sitter?
This is the million dollar question — and as with most side hustles, potential earnings can vary based on many factors.
Again, using the Rover search tool is one of the easiest ways to take a quick look at what real dog sitters are earning in your area. You can also cross-reference listings on NextDoor and Craigslist to make sure Rover dog sitters aren’t trying to undercut the rest of the market (very unlikely).
Rate isn’t the only factor to consider when evaluating your potential earnings as a dog sitter. Be sure to consider the following factors:
- How often will do you offer your services? Daily? Weekends only? One or two weekends per month?
- How many dogs are you comfortable hosting at one time?
Here are a few sample breakdowns:
How can I get started today?
Note: We have tried to make starting your own dog sitting business as easy as possible with this post. If you see something that should be added to this guide, please let us know right away so we can add it!
Get started by visiting Rover.com and registering today. On the landing page, you’ll see two options you can sign-up for – Rover and RoverGO. Choose the one that is best for you, finish your profile and calendar availability, create flyers and business cards, and get to work!