Being paid to guard pets, here is an activity that will delight those who love these adorable little animals but do not necessarily want to have them in their paws around all year. Many pet owners, for various reasons, are looking for this kind of home care. Let’s take a closer look.
- Here's the program
- What is pet sitting?
- Who can become a pet sitter?
- Your home or the pet owner’s home?
- How much can you expect to earn?
- How do you get started in pet sitting?
- Pros and Cons
- Information recap
What is pet sitting?
Do you know what “babysitting” is? Well, it’s pretty much the same, but for pets. This term refers to a person who temporarily takes care of animals when their owner cannot.
This can be any kind of pet. Dogs and cats are the most common, but pet sitters can also be hired for rabbits, hamsters, birds, etc. Sometimes the requests can be more surprising. With the emergence of a fashion that consists in adopting more “exotic” animals, some are even entrusted with the care of more unusual species such as snakes, chameleons, or spiders.
These pet sitting services are requested for many reasons and for various durations: In most cases, you will watch a dog or a cat when its owner will be away for a long period of time (vacations, hospital stay, business trip, etc.), but you may also be asked to go to their home on a daily basis to feed the cat, the goldfish or the stick insect, or to walk the dog. The missions can therefore be very diverse, taking place at your home or at the pet owner’s home, and lasting from one to several days, and sometimes even several weeks. It’s up to you to see what you accept or not.
The main advantage of pet sitting is that it’s an alternative to animal shelters and pensions, environments that pet owners are sometimes wary of. They also prefer this option so that their companion is not disturbed by a too-brutal change of environment.
In concrete terms, your job will consist of taking good care of the animal entrusted to you (feeding it well, taking it out, making sure it feels good, and doesn’t do anything wrong, etc.).
Who can become a pet sitter?
This activity is for everyone. Well, everyone with a minimum of responsibility (yes, teenagers too), and except of course for people who don’t like animals or who are allergic to them. Otherwise, if you have the time and the inclination, well! Go for it.
For some species, however, you may be asked for specific qualifications. Some animals require special attention, and their care is sometimes much more delicate. I am thinking for example of horses, but also exotic animals such as reptiles, amphibians, arachnids, and even sometimes small primates such as the Saïmiri (AKA Peruvian Squirrel Monkey). So, rest assured, these cases are rare, but know that if you have the skills required for the care of these animals, it can be an advantage over your competitors.
Also note that this type of business is often seasonal. You will most likely have more work during school breaks and relatively less during the rest of the year. It is therefore preferable to be available at that time.
Your home or the pet owner’s home?
It will depend on where you live because it will be difficult for you to keep a Great Dane in a small apartment of 25m2 located in the middle of New York. But if you live in a house or even a big apartment, and you have a garden or a big enough terrace, you could propose guardianship at your home. Whether you prefer one or the other option is up to you and sometimes negotiable with the client.
However, make sure you have the owner’s agreement if you rent your home, as well as any necessary insurance, if applicable.
How much can you expect to earn?
Each payment depends on several factors such as the type of animal (a hamster does not require the same attention as a dog, for example), the activities you will be asked to do (if it is a simple walk, if you have to feed it, wash it, etc.), and more generally the time you will spend with it.
On average, we can estimate that a day with a dog brings 20 dollars and about 10 dollars for a walk of one hour, a little less if it is a cat, and rather around 5 dollars for small animals like rodents. For long-term care, the daily income is also around 20 dollars. Of course, if you have to fulfill special requirements, like giving care or administering medicine, you can ask for a little extra.
And then there are the less “classic” cases where you will have to keep a potentially dangerous animal (snake, spider…), several animals, or more globally when the time you will have to devote to the animal is much more important, and in which you will be able to ask for more, sometimes even much more. It will then be up to you to negotiate this with the owner.
Be careful, these figures are valid for UK and some other European countries, as well as for the USA or Canada, but it can vary, sometimes greatly, depending on the region of the world where you are. If you live in another geographical area, a little Google search should help you find out more.
As you can see, this is generally not a full-time job, but rather a complementary income that can be very satisfying if you particularly like animals. And then if your goal is to earn enough money to be able to live from it, then you will have to find a maximum of clients and have a lot of animals to guard.
How do you get started in pet sitting?
The most difficult part, especially in the beginning, will be to demonstrate that you are a competent person that pet owners can rely on. You’ll need to build that reputation brick by brick as soon as you start, and then do everything you can to maintain it.
People who use pet sitters are generally very attached to their pets—they would not entrust them to just anyone. So, don’t hesitate to start with the pets of your relatives (family, friends, and colleagues). Also create a Facebook page to collect your first positive reviews. Then, work on your presentation on this same page: Show that you love animals, publish photos/videos showing your skills, in short, anything that can make you credible in the eyes of pet owners.
Once this first phase is accomplished, the next step will be to find “real” customers, thus attracting people who do not know you. For this, there are several axes to explore:
1Local classified ads:: Maybe there is a local newspaper in your area? If so, there should be a classified ads section. If not, look for small shops nearby (bakeries, bookstores, bars, etc.) and supermarkets within a radius of 5 km or more. There too you will often be able to post an ad offering your services.
2Specialized websites: This is often where pet owners go when they need a pet sitter. If you live in a big city, or any other densely populated area, this is a very good way to find a job quickly. Some examples: TrustedHouseSitters(UK, US, Canada, Australia), pawshake (20 countries: UK, Canada, NZ, etc.), Holidog(12 countries: USA, UK, Australia, NZ, etc.), PetSitter(UK, US, Canada).
3Social networks: Creating a Facebook page is a very good start, but you could also publish content on other platforms such as TikTok or Instagram. The more present you are on the networks, the more you will increase your visibility. Try to be a little original in what you post and, if necessary, get inspired by what others are doing.
4Facebook groups: Check if there are any Facebook groups for pet owners in your area. Join in the discussions, give opinions, advice, and let people know you are a pet sitter. Building this kind of positive and caring relationship can only benefit your business.
5Advertise: Launching micro advertising campaigns on Google and social networks (mainly Facebook, TikTok and Instagram) is a very effective way to find new clients. And you don’t need to invest large amounts of money for this, small and very targeted campaigns of 5 or 10 dollars should be enough.
6Word of mouth: Recommendation is still without a doubt the best way to get new customers (hence the importance of taking care of each of them). Do not hesitate to ask those who have already trusted you to tell their friends and family about you.
As we have seen, it is quite simple to start pet sitting and earn money by taking care of animals. Of course, you should not take this type of mission lightly because taking care of an animal is a serious job that requires a great sense of responsibility, but it is especially a very rewarding activity for those who love animals.
It will not be easy at first, because nobody knows you, but by working well and following the few tips indicated in this article, you should be able to earn at least an additional salary.
Environmental and climate change issues are more than ever at the heart of the concerns of this 21st century, which is why I am proposing a few ideas that will enable you to limit the negative impact that the implementation of this idea could have.
These solutions that I suggest are sometimes largely insufficient to compensate for these negative impacts, such as carbon offsetting. Unfortunately, there is not always an ideal and 100% efficient solution, far from it. And if you have others, please do not hesitate to share them in the comments below.
Let’s start with a figure that may surprise you: It is estimated that cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds in the United States! Far ahead of collisions with wind turbines or power lines! Fortunately, there are solutions (respectful of the cat’s well-being) to limit this hecatomb. This article proposes some solutions. Read it—it will be useful when you keep one or more cats.
But the main problem comes from the production of food for our companions: Created mainly from meat, the amount of water, energy resources and cultivable land needed is colossal and generates significant greenhouse gas emissions.
So, of course, neither dogs nor cats can be vegetarian, but some brands specialized in pet food production have become aware of the problem and are trying to bring solutions (e.g. Royal Canin Vegetarian), as explained in this article.
Be careful. Never give this kind of food to the animals you keep without the explicit agreement of their owner! But if you are interested in this subject, find out more and discuss it with your clients.
There are other problems as well, such as the plastic used in the manufacture of toys and utensils, but all these problems are more the responsibility of the pet owners than of you. I just wanted you to be aware of all of these issues so that maybe you can think about them and, again, talk about them with your customers.
- A great job if you like contact with animals
- Nice walks in perspective, when you go to walk the dog
- Not a very difficult job
- You will be responsible for the well-being of an animal, never forget it.
- Not always easy to find animals to keep, depending on where you live.
- Location: At the owner’s home, or at your home (this is sometimes negotiable).
- Investment: A priori, none.
- Earnings perspective: Quite variable, but generally between 10 and 20 dollars per day and per animal.
- Required: Love animals, know how to take care of them and have a great sense of responsibility.
- Risk level: Fairly low.
- Implementation time: You can start today.
- Material needed: A smartphone to manage your social networks and find clients.