When most people think about dog sitting, they think it’s just a weekend job or something teenagers do for a few extra bucks.
This is not always the case though. In fact, far from it.
The pet sitting industry is booming, and dog minding is at the forefront of this.
What Is Dog Sitting?
Essentially, dog sitting is where you go to a person’s home and look after their dog while they are away.
The most common duties include keeping the dog company, making sure it has adequate food and water, along with walking and cleaning up after it’s mess.
Yes, this means cleaning up dog crap! It’s all part of the fun.
With the introduction of pet minding directory sites, more and more people are also offering dog minding services within their own home, much like a boarding kennel. The difference is, this is a more comfortable environment for dogs and it’s often cheaper.
So, the term ‘dog sitting’ broadly covers people who visit other people’s homes and those who take dogs into their own home.
Do You Need Any Qualifications?
You don’t need any formal qualifications to become a dog sitter.
As long as you have a love for dogs, and can look after them while their owners are away, you can do this!
That being said, this is a growing industry with a low barrier to entry, which means it attracts pretty much anyone looking to cash in on the trend. This is naturally going to concern some owners looking for people to mind their pets online, as it rightfully should!
There are other ways to differentiate yourself from the crowd, without needing some kind of formal certification.
For example, you could show that you have worked with your own dog/s over the years and list friends/ family that you have done some minding for as well. Over time, you will gain more and more clients, so you can begin to showcase this experience too.
You may not need formal qualifications as such, but these things can certainly ‘qualify’ you in the eyes of your prospective customers. Which is realistically ALL that matters.
The Pet Care Industry At a Glance
According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), the “pet care industry” accounted for $60.28 billion in spending in 2015 within the United States. This is an almost 25% increase in pet related spending from 2010 and things continue growing year on year.
Out of this, some $5.41 billion was spent on “pet services” in 2015 which includes grooming, walking, pet minding services and so on across all domestic animal types. This number is expected to grow steadily over the coming years.
But what about dog’s in particular?
An estimated 54.4 million households own a dog within the United States alone, which makes these fur babies the single most popular choice among US households.
Is There An Opportunity For You To Make Money?
Yes. If you can solve a problem for someone, you can make money. Regardless of what it is.
What is the ‘problem’ in this space?
People want their dog’s looked after while they are away on holidays, or when they are too busy on certain days. No one (myself included) wants to stick their dog in a boarding kennel if they can avoid it!
There are a good number of legitimate boarding kennels, absolutely. But I’m personally not a fan based on my experience, and I can see why many others avoid them where possible.
In my case, not only was it fairly expensive, but my dog came back quite ‘different’ in terms of her behaviour. She was way out of sorts to say the least. I later learned that some of these places deliberately under feed their dogs to keep them in line, a hungry dog is often much easier to control and it’s much cheaper for them. Makes sense.
Granted, I should have chosen a better one but it looked good at the time!
Anyway, assuming you do find a good one, you will likely pay a premium rate for this. Given the very fact that your dog is locked up in a foreign environment with a bunch of random dogs and people, trauma is still a factor. Especially when you are away for a period of time.
My point being, this is a real problem people face.
What’s the solution?
Pets are considered family members by many people, and they want to know their loved ones are bing well cared for in a loving environment when they cannot be there. Since people love their dog’s, they WILL naturally pay for the best kennel they can find, or better, the services a trusted dog sitter can provide.
If you can give their loved one the care she or he needs, when they need it, you can absolutely make money in this space. It could be as simple as an hour on certain days, or a two week long gig.
When you look at the figures shown earlier, and the sheer number of dogs in households, there is definitely an opportunity to make money here. There is a problem, and people are already paying to solve it. Plain and simple.
But how much money can you make doing this stuff?
The Average Pay For Dog Sitters
I am not a dog sitter myself, and I have no intentions on doing this either, but I did some research into this.
I wish I could give you the magic number of what people make, but it’s not that simple. There are many factors at play when it comes to how much you could potentially make.
Factors such as your location, reputation, client base, types of jobs you do and so on, all make a difference.
From I can see though, people are charging anywhere from $15 to $50 or more per 1 hour visit to a persons home. It’s not uncommon that people would do 5 or more of these visits per day, and with enough clients, some say they do as much as 10 or more per day. If you are staying overnight at the residence that rate increases significantly.
Depending on how much you charge, this could be more than just side money.
Much like any business, it all comes down to the effort you put into planning, marketing and building a good business as to how much you can make. Some make lots, some make very little.
Here’s what an organization called Pet Sitters International had to say:
According to Pet Sitters International’s 2016 State of the Industry Survey, its member pet-sitting businesses earned an average income of $60,625 (USD) in 2015… More than a quarter (28.5%) of PSI pet sitters reported business revenues of more than $55K in 2015—and 13.7 percent indicated their business revenues were more than $100K.
They have a member base of over 7,000 pet sitting business owners, so those numbers are quite impressive!
That being said, I doubt the vast majority of people in this space would be earning that.
People who join an organization like this are often quite serious about their business, as with anyone who joins an industry association. So you are looking at the top end group, even if these are ‘average’ figures. Also, the people earning the big bucks are likely working their asses off like most small business owners. Which means it’s a fair wage all things considered.
In any case, this does shows you the very real potential within this space, and illustrates that it’s not just a way to make 20 bucks on the weekend! There is no reason you couldn’t make a respectable income doing this over time.
Starting Your Own Dog Sitting Business
There are several ways you could get a business rolling within this space.
Quite easily in fact.
Perhaps the easiest option is to sign up with a website like DogVacay or Rover which act as middlemen between you and the customer. You simply create a profile on their site, and they send you jobs from people who are wanting their dog’s minded.
The cool thing about this method is that it’s super simple, and you don’t need to worry about finding customers yourself. The drawback is, they take a cut of your pay and you are limited to work within the bounds of their rules and regulations.
Both of the above sites take a 20% cut of whatever money you earn from jobs you take on. Personally, I think that’s pretty reasonable considering what they give you.
However, I’d personally do this in conjunction with setting up my own business independently if I got into this. I would run my own marketing campaigns so I’m not relying on any one company. If you are going to venture off into the world of pet minding on your own, the idea is to start small and scale up.
You could list your services locally on sites like CraigsList for free among other sites for example. Get the word out to people you know, perhaps on social media too. There are many ways you can spread the word and ‘test the waters’ first so to speak.
Once you start to gain some traction, another very powerful route is to create a website to showcase your service.
This may seem scary at first, but it’s really not given the technology that exists these days. Getting your website ranked in Google, Yahoo and Bing under the right search terms can mean getting a ton of high value clients.
For example, when someone types “Dog Sitting San Antonio” into Google, you can have your website show up in the listings. An average of 40 people per month search this ONE term according to my research, and this is just one town within Dallas. When you add the number up and given how targeted these searches are, there is huge potential here.
You don’t need to pay some ‘SEO guru’ $1000’s to do this. I can assure you. I learned how to get websites ranking in Google with a training platform called Wealthy Affiliate which you can start for free. It works.
There are a ton of effective ways to market your business online. Before you know it, you could have a raving fan base on a site like DogVacay along with many of your own clients outside of these sites.
Ways To Increase Your Income
Outside of the most obvious services you provide to your customers, there are some very relevant ways to boost your income with little extra effort.
Many dog sitters perform addittional duties such as dog bathing, walking, and grooming.
Some of these may be things you have already agreed to do for the original price, some are not. If you are doing an overnight stay you will likely have quite a bit of time up your sleeve. As in, you probably won’t be “actively” looking after the dog the entire time you stay.
There are many tasks people need doing around the home.
For example, what dog owner doesn’t have dog hair floating around the home? You could provide a vacuuming service each time you stay, this could be an easy way to make a few extra bucks with time you’d be doing nothing anyway.
You could even run errands for clients between jobs since you are on the road a lot, or use the time you have on longer jobs to work on marketing your business or planning jobs.
My point being, jobs that allow you this kind of flexibility definitely have their perks!
Whether you are looking to make a few extra bucks or a full-time income, this is certainly a worthwhile option to consider. Some people will earn very little doing this, some will earn much more.
Like any business, you will only get out what you put in.
Those who put a solid effort into building their customer base and offer a quality service, will naturally be in a position to charge much better rates and will see much more success as a result.
I wouldn’t expect to get rich doing this, but it could definitely become a viable business either on the side, or full-time for the right person.
Are you a dog sitter? If so, share your experience in the comments below!