Guide to Starting a Pet Sitting Service

Humble Pup enjoying a car ride!

Pet Sitting 101

Humble Timothy and I don’t often go out of town for anything, but on the rare occasion that we do, it’s nice to know that Humble Pup is well taken care of.

Usually we try to leave her in the very capable hands of my parents, but sometimes they’re unavailable for pet-sitting and we’re left with few options.

Kennels and dog hotels can cost up to $200 a night, including food and care.  Plus, can you ever really be sure of how your furry friends are being treated? 

It is this primary reason that leads many pet owners to hire in-home pet-sitters rather than leave their animals at a kennel.

Starting a pet-sitting business is fairly simple.  With a few marketing tips and a wide variety of services, your business will be booming in no time!  But before you get too carried away with ideas of grandeur, you need to come up with a business plan.

Pet Sitting Services and Prices

Here are a few quick questions to ask yourself before you start looking for clientele.

  • What types of animals will you take care of?  Only cats and dogs?  Or reptiles, birds and fish as well?
  • Will you offer in-home pet-siting or will you visit other people’s houses?
  • What services do you offer and how much do they cost?  Do you offer a grooming service?
  • Will you charge per animal or per day.  The average daily price per animal is $25 – $50.  Prices should depend on type of animal.

Finding Your Clients

Any business needs customers, but how do you market a pet-sitting and dog-walking service?  Not to worry, there’s plenty of great ways to get your name out there!

  1. Recommendations: Ask friends and family members to recommend your services at their places or work or to other friends or family members.  Networking has to start somewhere.
  2. Create and Put Up Flyers: Include your name, phone number, list of services you offer, and areas you serve.  These flyers will be useful in many different ways, so make them nice, add color and pictures if possible.
  3. Contact Local Veterinarians: Although most vet clinics offer in-office kenneling, many of their patients’ owners may prefer a pet-sitter.  Ask if you can leave flyers in the office and if they’ll give your name and number to anyone looking for a pet-sitter.
  4. Facebook: Facebook has quickly become the largest social networking site and a prime tool for marketing your pet-sitting service.  Send out local friend requests and announcements to spark interest in your business.
  5. Advertisements: You can advertise either in local publications for very cheap or for free online at www.craigslist.com.  Offer discounts if they mention these advertisements.

The Job Requirements

When you’ve accepted a job, make absolutely sure that both you and your clients understand your basic job requirements.

For Dogs:

  • Walking at least 3 times a day.
  • Cleaning any dog-made messes.
  • Filling food and water dishes.
  • Active play time.

For Cats:

  • Cleaning cat boxes.
  • Cleaning any cat-made messes.
  • Filling food and water dishes.
  • Petting and play time.

You may be asked about additional services, such as picking up the mail or answering telephone calls.  Verify whether or not they’d like these tasks done as well.  If so, they should be done complimentary.

Also, ask for them to leave you a detailed note if they have any special instructions pertaining to care, food, or medications the animal(s) may need.  Have them include contact information as well as their veterinarian’s office number in case of emergency.

Leave a Good Impression

After you’ve completed all your basic duties of walking dogs, filling food and water bowls, and cleaning cat boxes, now time to make sure you’re called to pet-sit again!

Leaving a good impression is the most important part of making sure that your clients call you again or recommend your service to friends and family.

There are many ways to wow your clients, but doing that successfully will determine on the client.  Here are a few ways to leave a good and lasting impression.

  • Leave homemade cookies or brownies on the counter with a “Welcome Home” note on it.
  • Everyone loves a clean cat or dog, so give their pets a quick bubble bath and brush through.
  • Pick up around the house.  If the house is already clean, make sure to leave it exactly as they left it.
  • Take a digital picture of their pet and take it to the Walmart Photo Center and make it into a cute “Thank You” card or keychain.
What do you with your pets when you leave town?