Last Updated: Jan 16, 2015
If you love animals, a pet sitting business might be the right business idea for you. Individuals and families are busier than ever, so they’re willing to pay for someone to help take care of their dogs, cats and other pets. Here’s what you need to know about starting a pet sitting service.
Pet sitting can be a rewarding a lucrative business if you like dogs and cats. While those are the most common types of pets, other pet owners may want you to sit with their more exotic friends from the animal kingdom. This may include snakes and lizards, birds, monkeys, fish, various rats, such as gerbils and hamsters, or even large cats like tigers and panthers.
A pet sitter is someone who cares for a pet while the owner is on vacation or traveling. It’s typically seen as a part time job, but if you get enough clients it can turn into a full-time gig.
Pet sitters handle all of the care and feeding an a pet owners best friend while those owners are away. This is a trusted position and not something to be taken lightly. Some people care for their pets as much as parents care for their children. Duties may include:
The benefit to the pet owner is that they feel secure leaving their pet in good hands, which leads to peace of mind so they can enjoy their time away.
What Qualifications Do Pet Sitters Need?
It helps to have a love for pets. If you don’t enjoy being around various types of animals, then you might reconsider this employment option. On the other hand, if you like pets, then this could be the gig for you. Some pet sitters specialize in certain types of pets. For instance, if you like horses, you might offer your services as a professional equine handler.
Not only should you enjoy being around animals, but you should have some experience with them. If you are asked to sit for a person’s dog or cat, let them know if you’ve ever cared for that kind of animal. If you’ve owned one yourself, that’s great. Otherwise, you should at least have experience with other people’s pets.
Some pet sitters have degrees. It might help you with certain types of animals, but for dogs and cats it usually isn’t necessary. The professional training, however, you receive in veterinary school could be helpful, however.
The Salary Expectations of Professional Pet Sitter
How much you can expect to earn as a pet sitter depends on a number of factors: Where you live, your level of experience, what you are expected to do, pet owner demands and the duties you’ll be expected to perform are just a few of the factors that will determine your income potential.
Your best bet is to check your local economy. Call around to a few pet sitting services and ask how much they charge for specific services such as walking a dog, cat sitting, bird feeding, vet visits, and sitting with pets on holidays.
Yes, pet sitters do sometimes actually work holidays.
Generally, entry-level pet sitters can expect to make a minimal income until they build up a loyal clientele and gain some experience. Once you’ve been in business for a few years and you’ve developed your reputation, you could earn a full-time income. Remember, though, you are responsible for your own advertising and taxes.
How to Start a Pet Sitting Business
It may be easier to start with family and friends. Write down the names and numbers of everyone you know who owns a pet. Call them and let them know you’re available for pet sitting the next time they need someone to handle the care of their pet while they are away. If you let them know you are starting your own business, they may agree to pay you a small amount, but what you really want is a reference, so ask them if you can use their name to refer future customers to for credibility.
If your state requires a business license for pet sitting, acquire your license. You may need to file business papers with your state. Find out the best legal structure for your business and file the right papers—that is, after coming up with a suitable name.
Because you’ll be caring for people’s pets and have access to their home, be sure to talk to your insurance agent and get insurance to cover your business activities.
Finally, advertise your business. Get some business cards on attend a networking event where you can meet people and let them know what you do. Design a flyer and distribute it to places in town with bulletin boards—the library, pet stores, vet clinics, dog grooming businesses, etc. You should also create a website so that people looking for pet sitters online will find you more easily.
Your best form of advertising will be word of mouth, so provide a great service at a reasonable cost and your customers will do your marketing for you.
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