If you enjoy spending time with animals and they seem to enjoy spending time with you too, you might have a career as a pet sitter ahead of you!
Being a pet sitter can be a rewarding experience. Not only do you get to cuddle with some adorable animals, but you also get to help out pet owners in a time of need. But being a pet sitter is also a big responsibility. After all, you’re tasked with taking care of another person’s beloved animal!
Pet sitting is the perfect opportunity for students to earn extra income, or for anyone with a flexible work schedule to pick up a little extra cash. You have the freedom to come and go as you please, and more importantly, you get paid to do something you love.
In short, it’s a fantastic gig to have, so read on to learn how to get started! In this blog post, we will explore 13 different tips for pet sitters. From what to do in an emergency to how to handle different types of pets, these tips will help you become the best pet sitter possible.
Tips for Pet Sitters
1. Get an Insurance Policy and Licensing
As a pet sitter, it is important to have an insurance policy in place in case of any accidents or injuries that may occur while you are caring for your clients’ animals. You should also be sure to check with your local government to see if there are any licensing requirements for pet sitting in your area. If you really want to turn this side hustle into a full fledged business, forming an LLC is an important step as well.
By taking these precautions, you can help protect yourself legally while providing the best possible care for your furry clients.
2. Pricing your Services
As a pet sitter, you will need to charge for your services in order to make a profit. There are a few things to consider when pricing your services, such as the type of service you are offering, the length of time the service will take, and the location of the service.
If you are offering basic pet sitting services, such as feeding and walking, you will likely charge less than if you are offering more comprehensive services, such as overnight dog sitting or cat sitting or caring for a pet with a medical issue.
The length of time the service will take is also a factor to consider when pricing your services. If you are only offering a 30-minute walk, you will likely charge less than if you are offering an hour-long walk.
The location of the service is also something to consider when pricing your services. If you are pet sitting in a rural area, you may not be able to charge as much as if you are pet sitting in an urban area.
In general, it is best to start by charging a bit lower than what you think your services are worth. This will help you attract clients and build up a good reputation. Once you have established yourself as a reliable and trustworthy pet sitter, you can begin to raise your prices gradually over time.
3. Take Notes (Both Before and During)
Some clients will take it upon themselves to type up a schedule and essential information, such as medications, how much food each pet gets, etc. Others will expect you to visit the house first for a meet and greet as they talk you through everything. Even if they promise to type it all up for you, jotting down some notes doesn’t hurt!
Make sure to ask questions! You want to know as much as possible to make both your job easier and the pets in your care feel more comfortable.
As a pet sitter, one of your most important responsibilities is to keep track of everything that happens while you’re caring for your clients’ fur babies. The best way to do this is to take notes throughout your visits.
Not only will taking notes help you remember important details about each pet, but it will also give you a written record to refer back to in case there are any problems or questions later on.
Plus, if you ever need to take over another pet sitter’s shift or have someone fill in for you at the last minute, having detailed notes will be a huge help.
So what should you include in your pet sitting notes? At a minimum, you should make note of the following:
- The date and time of your visit
- How long you were there
- What activities you did with the pet (e.g., walked, played, fed)
- Any changes in the pet’s behavior or appearance
- Any medications given and when they were given
- The pet’s eating habits, attitude, and energy level
- Anything else that seems important
By taking good notes, you can ensure that every pet gets the best possible care while their owners are away. A little diary of your daily adventures is also a nice thing to leave your client to let them know that you treated their pets just like they were your own.
4. Don’t Make Yourself Too Comfortable
When you pet-sit in someone else’s home, it’s so that the dog, cat, or other pet doesn’t have to experience a stressful change in routine. In other words, it’s ultimately for the animal’s comfort, not yours.
Expressly ask your client if you may use kitchen appliances or electronics. Most will be happy to let you watch T.V., play video games, and use the kitchen. They’ll also be pleased that you asked. And if they say that anything is off-limits, respect their request.
“As an example of how things can go south, I once had a client who said I could use her desktop computer. It turned out we used the same email host, and I had to log her out of her account to log into mine, which was problematic as she didn’t know her password and thought I had somehow tampered with her email. Yikes!” – Cathy Habas
5. Respect Your Client’s Privacy
Don’t be nosy! You might think, “Well, if they left it lying around, it’s fair game,” but this is an unprofessional attitude. You are there to look after a pet. Browsing someone’s paperwork or rifling through the mail isn’t respectful. When you are pet sitting, you are being trusted with not only a pet, but also with the owner’s personal information.
Don’t risk your reputation; don’t touch things you don’t need! People will notice if something is out of place. In the back of every client’s mind is a hope that you won’t steal from them. If you move things around, you risk arousing this suspicion.
By respecting your client’s privacy, you will build trust and create a lasting relationship.
6. Keep Them Entertained
As a pet sitter, it is your responsibility to keep the pets in your care entertained. This can be a challenge, especially if you are watching multiple pets at once. However, there are some things you can do to make sure the pets are happy and occupied while you are there.
First, try to create a routine for the pets. This will help them feel comfortable and secure while you are there. Set aside time each day for playing, walking, feeding, and any other activities the pet needs. If possible, stick to the pet’s normal routine as much as possible.
Next, make sure you have plenty of toys and activities for the pets to enjoy. Dogs and cats need different types of toys, so be sure to have a variety of options available. If possible, rotate the toys so the pets don’t get bored.
Finally, give the pets plenty of attention and affection. Remember that they may be missing their family and feeling anxious – so spend time talking to them, playing with them, and just generally showing them that you care!
7. Always Keep Safety Top of Mind
As a pet sitter, your top priority should always be the safety of the animals in your care. Here are some tips to help you keep them safe:
Your pets might never make a mad dash for the door when you step outside to get the mail, but your client’s pets might. And that’s just one example of the need to be hyper-vigilant on the job. When in doubt, always take extra safety precautions.
“For example, I prefer to enter using the back door when a client has a fenced yard so that I don’t have to worry about door-dashers. The last thing I want to do is lose a client’s pet or be responsible for it running into the road and being hit by a car!” Cathy Habas
If you take a client’s dog for walks, don’t stop to let other people pet him or her or allow other dogs to have a sniff. The risk of your client’s dog biting or being bitten might be small, but it’s still a risk that you do not want to take. This concern is a major reason that it makes sense to protect yourself with an insurance policy as well!
Additional pet safety tips:
- Always use a leash when walking dogs, even if they seem well-behaved. A sudden squirrel or passing car could startle them and cause them to run into the street.
- Keep cats indoors at all times. They can easily escape outside and get lost, or worse, get hit by a car.
- Never leave pets unattended in a car, even for just a few minutes. The temperature inside a car can rise very quickly, and animals can suffer from heat stroke or even die if left in a hot car for too long.
- When letting pets out into your yard, make sure the area is secure so they can’t escape. Check fences and gates to make sure they’re secure before letting your pet out.
By following these simple safety tips, you can help ensure that the animals in your care are always safe and sound.
8. Have a Backup Plan
As a pet sitter, it’s important to have a backup plan in case of emergencies. This could include having a friend or family member who can take care of your pets if you’re unable to, or making sure you have the contact information for a local veterinarian in case of an emergency.
9. Learn How to Respond in an Emergency
Knowing how to stay calm and how to problem solve in a crisis is just one side of the coin. Do you know how to give an animal CPR or how to administer first aid? As a pet sitter, these are invaluable tools to have in your repertoire. Animals can get themselves in odd situations at a moment’s notice.
Likewise, if something is not a real emergency and you have time to call the owner to consult with them, it is wise to do so before whisking a pet off to the vet. Pets can get upset stomachs due to a change in routine. Or they may have odd habits that you’re not aware of, such as excessive panting even on the best of days.
In an emergency situation, it is important to remain calm and take action quickly and efficiently. Take a deep breath, assess the situation, and follow these steps:
1. Remove the pet from the dangerous situation if possible.
2. Call the pet’s veterinarian or an animal hospital for advice on how to proceed.
3. If the situation is life-threatening, take the pet to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic.
4. Keep in mind that your safety is also important; do not put yourself in danger in order to help a pet.
10. Don’t Forget to Send Updates
If you’re pet sitting for someone, it’s important to keep them updated on how their pet is doing. In today’s technology-driven world, it is incredibly easy to snap a picture with your smartphone and send it to your client. Don’t worry about disturbing them with a text. They’ll be delighted to see that their pet is happy despite their absence!
Show that their cat is getting lots of snuggle time, their dog is getting out for his daily walk or their guinea pig has a fresh clean cage. Visual proof that “all is well” will ease any anxiety your client might have about leaving their pets in a stranger’s care.
11. Clean Up After Yourself
Try to leave the home exactly as you found it. If a week’s worth of dog hair has accumulated, sweep it up. If you used dishes, clean them and put them away. It’s rude to expect your client to come home from a trip and to navigate around your messes.
A messy house is not only unappealing to clients, but can also be dangerous for pets if they get into something they shouldn’t.
12. Ask for Feedback to Improve Your Service
If you want to improve your pet sitting services, one of the best things you can do is ask for feedback from your clients. This can be done in a number of ways, such as sending out surveys or simply asking clients for their thoughts after each visit.
When you get feedback, take it to heart and use it to make changes to your business. Even if the feedback is positive, there may be ways you can improve. For example, a client may say they were happy with the overall service but wish you had stayed longer during the visits. In this case, you could consider extending your visit times for future clients.
No matter what the feedback is, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow as a pet sitter. Your business will be better off for it in the long run!
13. Ask for Recommendations
Pet sitting might be a good side-income for some people, but it’s also possible to turn it into a full-time job. The key is to understand that pet sitting is based on trust. Clients have to trust you to be knowledgeable enough to respond in a variety of circumstances and to be respectful of everything in the home.
Word of Mouth Is Everything
Once you’ve proven yourself to be a capable pet sitter, you can count on glowing recommendations! Pet sitting is driven by word-of-mouth advertising. The best way to get new clients is to treat your current ones right.
After every visit, ask if they’d be willing to leave you a review on Yelp or Google or recommend you to a friend. There’s no better advertising than the personal recommendation of a happy customer!
There’s a lot to think about when you decide to start a pet sitting business, but by following the tips in this blog post, you can set yourself up for success. Once you’ve established your operation and have proven yourself, you can begin to enjoy the many benefits that come with being your own boss.
If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments section below!
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9 thoughts on “13 Pet Sitting Tips to Get Your Side-Hustle Started”
Greetings, Pet sitting has become almost a fulltime job for me & I was happy to read your important tips covered everything I do! Many thanks for sharing Just recently I created a Facebook page which allows perspective clients to see my reviews as well as get a feeling for me personally. It may be an idea other pet sitters would like to consider. https://www.facebook.com/PetBuddyGirl
Hey, thanks a lot! Does a pet sitter need to have a veterinary education?
I wasn’t even aware that people knew how to give CPR to an animal! My sister has been wanting to get a pet sitter for when she and her husband go on trips. I’ll be sure to let her know to ask about any emergency training their potential sitters might have.
good idea about how to take care of pets..a good pet sitter is very important for any pet..thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the information regarding dog sitting and what all beginner pet sitters should know. I really like what you said about responding to emergency and how that is the biggest difference between a beginner and a veteran. My wife loves her dog and so we always have to take her to a well-known dog sitter in order for her to vacation comfortably. Thanks again!
Thanks for your comprehensive guide to becoming a professional pet sitter. Pet sitting can be a good job for the student but many people have got this work as a profession. Nowadays many people are making six figures in a year from their pet-sitting business. Pet sitter is really a good job for the pet lover. They can also try the job as a dog walker, Pet groomer, Pooper scooper and pet masseuse. Thanks again for your informative post.
Thank you for your input, Josh. It’s true that a person could conceivably make a lot of money pet-sitting. My step daughter does it as a sideline, and she does quite well. I’m glad you visited us at Animals Bliss, and do hope you’ll come again. Take care!
These are awesome tips to keep in mind.I love animals and they seem to take to me right away too.They are like little children in fur coats and they are so loyal.
These are great tips! I worked as a pet sitter for about five years … first as part of a company and then on my own. I will never forget the fur babies I met … it was the most rewarding job I ever had!