If you consider yourself a pet lover, have you ever imagined being a pet sitter? Imagine having the freedom to spend your entire day with dogs or cats while making money, too. This seemingly impossible dream can be a reality when you start your own small business as a pet sitter from home. You’ll be able to spend the day with furry, fluffy friends and help out your fellow pet owners, too. Not only is it a great way to earn some extra cash, but many people turn it into a long-term business that brings in a full-time salary. This guide has many helpful tips for starting your own pet-sitting business from home for a fun, exciting job you’ll love to do every day.
What does a pet sitter do?
Being a pet sitter is a lot of fun, but it also comes with serious responsibilities. Here are some things you’ll likely do as a dog or cat sitter:
- Meet with the pet owner to discuss their pet’s needs and gather essential information. You can meet the pet or pets to see if you’re a good fit.
- Provide each pet with food and fresh water throughout the day, as required.
- If the pet needs to take medication, you’ll likely administer it to the dog or cat based on the pet owner’s information that they’ll provide to you.
- You’ll keep litter boxes for cats clean, take dogs out for bathroom breaks, scoop poop, and dispose of it responsibly.
- If you’re watching small pets, you’ll clean the cage and add fresh bedding (i.e., for rodents or rabbits).
- Give pets the exercise they need, including regular walks for dogs outside or taking them for visits to the dog park.
- If the pet owner requests it, you may also need to groom their pet, including bathing, cleaning out ears, brushing teeth, trimming nails, and brushing coats.
- Staying in touch with pet owners to update them on how their pet is doing.
- Attending veterinarian visits if always required and having all of the pertinent emergency information just in case it’s needed.
Make sure your house is always pet-ready
As a professional pet sitter, you’ll need to make sure that you always have a pet-friendly, pet-ready home and safety for the pets. Here are some essential tips to ensure that your home is safe and ready for pets to enjoy. Not only will this keep your clients happy, but it will also ensure that every pet you watch has fun while staying safe in your home.
- Backyard: Make sure you have a safe, dog-friendly fence where your pet customers can run and play. Look around and ensure that no toxic plants are growing in your yard; if there are, remove them. Clover, Kentucky bluegrass, or synthetic turf makes an excellent ground cover for dog-friendly backyards. Make sure that there is always a source of shade available, whether from a tall tree or an awning, and always provide access to fresh water outdoors.
- Front yard: The same tips apply to the front yard as they do to the backyard, but you may not want to fence this area. If not, monitoring your furry clients when playing outside in front of your home is important. Keep dogs on a leash at all times until they’re properly secured in a fenced-in area or indoors.
- Indoors: Move all medications and cleaning supplies to a high area where pets can’t reach or use child safety locks on cabinets and drawers. Secure all garbage cans so that animals can’t gain access to your trash. Tie cords and cables and make sure they’re behind your appliances and furniture. Add indoor/outdoor rugs that aren’t easily clawed by curious paws, as some animals could get their claws stuck in the loops or fibers. Keep toilet lids closed, and never leave food or drinks unattended.
- Dog pens: You can safely corral your pet friends with a pen designed specifically for dogs. Place it where you can keep an eye on the pet. Only use pens made for pets and use blockades to keep animals away from specific areas of your home.
- Safety gates: A durable, locking safety gate should be used to block stairways or anywhere that you don’t want pets to go. Ensure the gate is secure and won’t accidentally fall over, which could result in an injury.
Always ask for details and get special instructions
Before you take on any new customers, it’s vital to ensure you’re always communicating with the pet owners. Ask them to give you specific instructions regarding their pet’s needs, including any medication they need to take and when, dietary specifics, and information about their pet’s demeanor and behavior.
Come up with a simple form for your clients to fill out so that you cover all of your bases. Doing this in advance will ensure open communication between yourself and your clients. It also keeps you and the pet safe and happy while watching over them.
Keep the owners up to date
Some pet owners may be anxious about leaving their beloved furry family behind, especially if they travel away from home. You can ease their concerns by ensuring that you consistently keep the pet owners up to date. One of the best ways to do this is to send short video clips and photos of their pets eating, napping, or playing. It’s a great way to give your clients peace of mind, showing that you’re actively caring for their pets while away. Don’t forget to have clients include emergency contact information on your new client paperwork, too. That way, if something happens, you’ll already have what you need to handle the situation promptly.
Another great way to keep pet owners up to date is to send them an occasional text message letting them know everything is going well. You can also ask a few questions like, “What’s Fido’s favorite toy? Does he prefer the red ball or his chew bone?” This shows active engagement with your customers and demonstrates that you’re interested in making sure their pet is happy while away.
Staying proactive and remaining as communicative as possible is a smart way to ensure you’ll have return clients.
Working with Rover.com
Rover is an excellent resource, especially for new pet sitters. This online service and app will help you find clients in your area actively looking for a pet sitter. You can find business easily through the platform by creating an account and setting up a great profile.
How to create a Rover account
Visit Rover.com and fill out the section on the website titled “become a sitter.” Here, you’ll confirm which services you provide, including boarding, dog walking, doggy daycare, and house-sitting or drop-in visits. Depending on your availability, you may choose to offer one or all of these services. Once you select the services you offer, you’ll move on to the next step, which is setting your schedule and other preferences.
Set your schedule and select your preferences
After selecting the services you can provide, you can select your schedule. This will show clients when you’re able to work. For example, you may only be available on weekends or during certain hours of the day. If this applies to you, you’ll want to check only the times and days you can do pet sitting for Rover. Once your profile is approved, you can change this information as needed. You should also select your preferences regarding what types of pets you can watch.
Write a great profile
This is your chance to shine, so make sure you write something positive and exciting about yourself. Discuss your experience of watching pets and talk about your background, like your education or where you live. The more you can tell others about yourself in your Rover profile, the more interested people will be in choosing you as their pet sitter.
Is a license required to watch dogs or be a dog sitter?
In most parts of the United States, having a license isn’t required to be a professional pet sitter. However, it’s always best to check with your local area beforehand, just in case.
When starting a service-oriented business, it’s always a good idea to apply for and receive a municipal business license to be safe. Contact your local chamber of commerce or check with the U.S. Small Business Administration to learn more about what’s required and how to apply.
Every small business should have the necessary tools to budget and monitor its finances. From getting bonded and insured to taxes, these financial tips will help you prepare. Remember to keep good records of your income and expenses, too.
Get licensed, bonded, and insured
If you want to start a pet-sitting business from home and keep the profits from your hard work, it’s advised that you get a license, a bond, and insurance. This is the best way to ensure that your business remains profitable and reputable.
Staying informed and protected against possible dangers will keep you, your clients, and their pets safe and happy. Look at a reputable pet care insurance company like Veracity Insurance Solutions. They provide insurance specifically for pet sitting, as well as bonding. In instances where a pet bites you while in your care or if a pet becomes ill under your care, the insurance may cover you.
Keep records of your income and expenses for tax purposes
Every small business should keep thorough records of its income and expenses for tax and accounting purposes.
- Consider using accounting software to help you keep track of your money coming in and all of the money you pay to run the business.
- Don’t forget to include things like marketing costs, fees you’ve paid to use services like Rover, and the cost of any upgrades or changes you made to your home to get it pet-ready.
- According to the IRS, you should keep your tax return records on file for three to six years, depending on the situation.
Every successful business needs to be creative to grow. The right marketing tactics and creative thinking can help turn your pet-sitting business from a side hustle to a full-time job. The more you proactively use these tips, the more pets you’ll be able to watch.
Benefit from the holiday rush
Most people travel during the holiday season to see friends and family. That makes it a perfect time to benefit from the holiday rush if you plan to stay local. Market your pet-sitting business before the holidays and make it known that you’ll be available. Those who can’t take their pets along for the holiday vacation will need a reputable, reliable person to watch them while they’re away. Be clear that you can watch pets during this time, and you could even offer a discount to sweeten the deal.
Always prioritize repeat customers
Repeat customers are happy customers, so they should always be your first priority. The more repeat clients you have, the better your reputation will be. Remember to ask your favorite clients if they can leave a testimonial or review for you on Rover.com or post on your pet-sitting website if you have one.
By prioritizing your repeat customers, you’re ensuring a steady flow of income and getting free word-of-mouth recommendations. Ask your repeat clients if they need a pet sitter so that you can create a schedule that works for you.
Build up your reputation
Don’t be afraid to ask old and new customers to leave you a review. Make sure that you offer a place for them to leave comments about your work, like on your business Facebook page, on Rover.com, or on any other business social media accounts you have.
The more positive reviews you have, the more new people will be interested in hiring you to watch their pets. Over time, you could find that you have too many customers and plenty of work to do, making this a seriously profitable business.
Remain current with your Rover calendar
Remember to keep your Rover calendar up to date and current. For example, if you’re heading out on vacation, it’s vital to update your calendar so that clients know you’re unavailable. Alternatively, update the calendar to reflect your availability if you have some extra free time.
This will open up new doors that you may have forgotten about since customers assumed you couldn’t pet sit. When you confirm your calendar with Rover, you’ll get a profile banner showing you’re available.
Keep your prices fair
One thing that attracts customers the most is fair prices. While you definitely want to make money pet sitting from home, you should also try to keep your rates competitive. Price your services wisely and offer a variety of discounts.
For example, coupons or coupon codes for repeat customers are always a wise move. You can also offer discounts for those who need a pet sitter for multiple days at a time. Look at what other pet sitters are charging their clients and try to price your services accordingly.
Take interview requests seriously
Pet owners are understandably concerned about leaving a pet with someone new. If a potential new client wants to interview or meet you, taking those requests seriously is essential.
Meet and greets are an investment that could land you a job. It’s also a great way to familiarize yourself with the client, their pet, and their home, especially if you’re watching the pet in their home rather than in yours. Every step you take is an investment in your business, so always keep that in mind.
Use the tips in this guide to help you start your own pet-sitting business from home. If you love animals, it’s a great way to earn money and spend quality time with your pet. Remember to be proactive and use platforms like Rover.com to help you gain new clients for a fun and profitable small business you’ll enjoy. If a pet-sitting business is not possible at the moment, consider options available in an online education program.