Yes, you really can. Keep reading if you want to learn how to start a dog sitting business at home and pay your mortgage by playing with puppies.
We’ve been doing it for a year and a half, and it’s awesome.
When we moved across the country, we started the dreaded search for a new kennel for our buddy when we went on a trip. I spent so much time searching and worrying, and thinking each place wasn’t good enough. I mean, seriously…the best-looking place I had found not only charged $2 for each email update you requested, but an extra $3 a night if you wanted them to sleep on a cot instead of concrete. That was the best local kennel.
Thankfully, we found Rover just in time.
If you don’t know, Rover is the dog equivallent of AirBNB. It’s everyday people who are willing to take in your dog and let them hang out as part of their family. We signed up right away, found a local couple, had a meet-and-greet at their house and we were TOTALLY comfortable leaving our Roscoe with them for 3 weeks. We even got updates and pictures (for free!). He didn’t set paw in a crate, never mind staying in one for 23 hours out of every day as he would have gotten from mainstream boarding.
So as soon as we got home, we signed up to be sitters ourselves. Not only is it super fun and rewarding, it paid for our mortgage and groceries when the Hubs lost his job last year. Talk about a good decision…
There are 5 services you can offer on Rover:
- Overnight boarding
- Doggy daycare
- Dog walking
- Dog “drop-ins” (you go drop in on a dog who is home alone and feed them/hang out with them for 30 minutes)
- House sitting (you go stay at someone’s house, with their pets while they’re away)
You can offer any or all of these services. So even if you live in an apartment and can’t have dogs, you can get paid to get fresh air and exercise with someone else’s dog, or give belly rubs to a puppy. Who in their right mind would turn down getting paid to play with a puppy?
How much money can you make dog sitting?
As always, it depends on how much you charge, how many dogs you want to take in and how often.
If you start your own dog sitting business, it will start out slow of course but like any business, if you do it well it grows exponentially. It fluctuates with the seasons as well. Summers and holidays can be quite busy, while winter is slower.
We offer overnight boarding, daycare, walking, and drop-ins. Last year we really got started in March, and by the end of the year, we were earning what a full-time minimum wage job would pay. You can easily make more than that if you have more time to devote and are willing to take in more than 2 guest dogs at once!
So worth it.
Want to start your own?
Here’s how to start a dog sitting business at home:
Here are our top tips to start a successful dog sitting business with Rover…
(Really we have tons more tips…I tried to keep this shorter, ha! Thinking of an eBook in the future? Let me know if you want more!)
First you’ll have to apply to be a sitter. For the sake of all people and dogs involved, they don’t accept just anyone, and they do run a background check on you. Once they accept you, here’s what to do next:
1. Start by setting up your account well:
- Fill out your profile well.
Write like you speak and say what you mean, but stay professional. It’s a very personal thing to leave your dog with someone, so you want to make sure that you are relatable and people understand that you love dogs. But at the same time, don’t be too casual or potential customers will be afraid you don’t take caring for their pet seriously.
Look at your local competition analytically. What would make you comfortable with leaving your pet with them? What would make you uncomfortable?
- Use a high quality photo of yourself.
Again, remember to be relatable, yet professional.
A selfie laying on top of your dog doesn’t look professional, it looks…crazy. I would be worried about leaving my dog with you. Don’t be crazy.
Most people show themselves with dogs in their profile picture, probably wanting to take every opportunity to show that they love dogs. We opted not to and used a quality snapshot a friend took of us. If you’re offering services on Rover, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re a dog lover and you don’t need to go overboard trying to prove that fact. Show that you’re a balanced adult human being instead and you’ll automatically eliminate a lot of your potential competition.
Remember, people want you to love dogs, but they generally don’t want someone that is obsessed with dogs. Would you?
- Tell potential customers what they can expect.
So many people are using Rover for the first time and they just don’t know what to do. When you make it easy on them, you give them the confidence to book with you.
- When you are starting out, price yourself lower than the local competition.
Once you have a few 5-star reviews, start raising your prices.
2. Getting your first clients:
The quality profile you just set up along with the lower prices will go SO far in this. Additionally…
- Take advantage of Rover’s incentives
Rover will give you a personalized code that will give first-time customers $20 off. Use it! Send it to ALL your friends and family and ask them to pass it along too. Encourage them to book just one day of day care or one or two walks or drop-ins.
They will get the service FOR FREE if the total is under $20, you will still get paid your full amount, AND you will get 5 star reviews.
Plus, the more clients you book, the higher Rover will put you in the local search results, meaning even more customers.
- Print some business cards with your personalized code on them
It is not uncommon (at least in the mid-west) for people to ask if you’re a professional when you’re out walking a dog. Always put a card or two in your pocket so you can hand them one or two, and be sure to tell them about the discount!
BONUS! I made a business card template in Canva for you to use. Just replace the generic info with your own. Then you can order printed copies right from Canva.
3. Having a successful meet-and-greet:
After a potential client requests a booking, always set up a meet-and-greet first. (Don’t worry, Rover will remind you and walk you through it, it’s easy.)
- Most importantly, don’t be nervous.
I know…easier said than done. But it’s vital to chill. Dogs are mirrors, and if you’re anxious, your dog will be anxious. If your dog is anxious, they will be embarassing. If your dog is embarassing, you’ll get flustered and the meeting will make it’s way down the toilet. Just chill, it’ll all be fine.
- If you have dogs, put your them away and let the guests enter in peace.
Dogs often have a way of making everything about themselves. But your potential clients don’t care about your dog right now, they care about their own. Show them that they, and their dog will be important to you and their personal space will be respected.
Once you’ve had a little time to chat with the people and the dog has had a chance to sniff around, let the dogs meet in a calm and controlled manner. (Easier said than done if you’re the lucky owner of Golden Retriever–then just do your best.)
- When it goes well (and it will, don’t worry), explain what the next steps are.
Usually, you will accept their booking request, ask them if they have filled out the care instructions for their dog, and be sure to ask if there are any special needs. People are often understandably shy about special needs or quirks, so make them comfortable and ask things like “is the dog comfortable being left alone?” or “are there things she might chew on if we leave them out?” or “how does he let us know when he has to go potty?”. And make sure they understand you aren’t judging, you just want to be prepared to make their dog comfortable and anticipate his or her needs.
4. Successful dog-sitting stays:
- Take high quality photos of your visiting dogs.
People don’t want to see a blur the general color of their dog.
Get a clear picture of the dog in natural light. The best ones are right after play time or a walk when the dog is smiling.
Be sure to keep your house tidy while the dog is visiting because you never know when a great photo opportunity will happen and you don’t want dirty laundry or junk everywhere in the background.
Rover makes it amazingly easy to snap a picture with your phone and send it to the family right through their app. The owners will receive it as a text message.
- Send at least one quick update and photo to the dog’s family every day.
The updates don’t have to be in-depth, just a sentance or two about how much fun their dog is having or what they did today.
Go for a walk every day (unless it’s just seriously dreadful outside). To a dog, walking is the most important thing for both their mental and physical health. Don’t be lazy, take good care of the animals that have been entrusted to you. It will be good for you too, and you will come to love those walk-breaks if you don’t already. It will drastically improve their day and yours, and the owners will be tickled pink to see a picture of their dogs exploring the world.
- Pop a thank you card in with the dog’s belongings when you send them home.
If it has been a longer term stay, maybe a little gift too. My favorite is to print a great photo of the dog and put it in a frame from the dollar store. It literally costs just over a dollar to make someone feel really special. Other little gift ideas: homemade treats like sweet potato chews (homemade is practically free), a bandana (again, homemade is practically free), a reusable shopping bag (just load all their stuff back up in it), or even a certain type of toy that was one of the dogs favorites while they were with you.
Ready to sign up and start dog sitting, or walking?
If you create an account after clicking that button and complete a stay or a walk within 3 months, Rover will give us an Amazon gift card. I’m obviously not recommending that you become a dog sitter so I can get an Amazon gift card, I’m recommending it because it’s an awesome and fun way for homemakers like me to make enough money to cover the mortgage (and more). The gift card is just a bonus, and thank you so much for it if you do use my link!