According to some statistics, there has been significant economic growth in the pet care industry. This probably has something to do with the growing number of apps that connect pet parents with reliable and trustworthy pet sitters in cities worldwide. And, in theory, anyone can become a pet sitter, but you probably have to overcome some hurdles to become a pet sittier Hopefully, this goes without saying that you need to love animals, have great communication skills and be physically fit to make it as a pet sitter.
A step-by-step guide to becoming a pet sitter
Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash. Are you a dog person perhaps?
Become A Pet Sitter in 5 Essential Steps!
You grew up with dogs and cats but you are unable to have your own for some reason. You’re motivated to work as a pet sitter to deal with some personal issues such as loneliness, the death of your own pet, the lack of friends in a new city, etc. You work from home, meaning you spend the entire day alone and would love to have some company – or you’re a stay-at-home parent.
You’re perhaps a student or a retired person who would love to work, and spending time with animals always cheer you up and pet sitting is among your dream jobs. Whatever navigates you to the world of pet sitters, it’s important that you’re not doing it just for the money.
Read now the five essential steps you should take to become a pet sitter and find your first job!
Step 1: Sign up to a pet service platform
The traditional way of looking for a job, any kind of job, should not be considered dead, but building a business from scratch using pretty old techniques takes a vast amount of effort and time. You have to get the word out there on your own, without any help. Signing up for an online pet service platform available in your city would still create entries on your to-do list but advertising yourself and getting in touch with pet parents would go more easily.
Whether your sign up for Rover, PetSitter.com, or other platforms such as Wag!, PetBacker, Leinentausch, Gudog, Tailster, Petme, or Pawshake, etc., you should remember that the process and the steps might slightly differ in each case.
The majority of the sites (e.g. Rover) don’t impose a registration fee on you, but some (e.g. PetSitter.com) do offer paid subscription plans. On PetSitter.com, you can select the free basic, or the paid monthly, quarterly, or yearly plan.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Step 2: Prepare for an application process
Normally, when your account is set up, you’ll be asked to do some tests either online or in person at the local office of the company.
Rover has a rigorous sign-up process. They screen all the potential pet sitters and accept around 20% of them. You have to pass a test, which is done in their local office. It takes approx. 5-20 minutes. You can expect your knowledge of canine equipment tested. What does this mean? You have to put collars and harnesses on a fake dog.
You have to prove you won’t have any issues when working with dogs wearing slightly different accessories. You’ll be charged for your background check, and that will cost about $25-$35 (≈€22-€32). If you pass all the tests and background check, your profile will be approved.
With Wag!, you have to take a temperament test and a practical test online. The former is requested to find out what kind of person you are. The latter includes questions about the practical side of being a pet sitter; for example about the different tools (e.g. Gentle Leader®, collars, harnesses, etc.) pet sitters might come across when walking dogs.
Then you have to film a video of yourself answering some questions related to pet sitting (e.g. What would you do in an emergency situation?). The sign-up process ends with you attending a personal meeting with someone in the Wag! office, and pay for your background check. That costs ca. $25 (≈€22).
PetSitter.com differs from Rover and Wag. They are not an agency, meaning they only help facilitate the meetings between pet sitters and pet parents. They will give you some tips on where to turn to request your own background check.
What to keep in mind?
The companies’ local offices are usually located in major cities.
Step 3: Complete Your Profile on on the Pet sitting App
By the time you reach this step, you may have already written a short bio about yourself. What comes next is to personalize your profile – as much as possible. Some say there is no point in doing it as quickly as possible. Take your time. Your profile must demonstrate your passion and love for animals and your professionalism as a pet sitter. You have to give a great first impression.
1. Present yourself in a professional manner both verbally and visually
You should write a concise biography. Elaborate on your experiences with dogs growing up, share some personal memories. We’re not saying that you should adapt a sentimental tone but your experiences and passion for animals should be illustrated. You can’t go wrong with being specific. Mention the size, the age, and the breed of the dog you’ve lived/worked with.
Highlight what your presence would mean in the life of your four-legged clients. In other words, you need to stand out from the crowd of online pet sitters to be able to get your first pet-sitting client. If you’ve got pet insurance, that could strengthen your profile even more.
Have some photos taken of you with either your (or your family’s/friends’) dogs or former clients’. You may wear simple outdoor clothes, but try to dress professionally, and don’t forget to smile. Some pet sitters suggest that you should upload photos of your home, yard, neighbourhood as well – to let parents know where their beloved pets will be taken care of.
2. List your services & rates
On Rover, PetSitter.com, Wag! and other portals, you can list and offer a range of services. For example, dog boarding, dog walking, doggy day care, house sitting, drop-in visits, dog training jobs, cat sitting jobs, etc. Evaluate yourself, your skills, qualifications and experiences, and then decide what services to provide in your city.
If you have zero experience and no reviews/stars on your profile, some tactics must be used to get your first pet-sitting client:
- Set lower rates than other pet sitters working in your area; price your services separately.
- Ask your friends/family members to write references/testimonials for you.
- Convince your friends/family members to join the site as a pet sitter, so they can hire you and then write positive feedback about your services.
3. Adjust settings
Besides typing some sentences, you can add some information by simply selecting options from a list created by the platform. Clear differences can be detected between portals. For example on Rover, you can choose dogs based on their size (small, medium, large, giant) and age, and can determine their number. On PetSitter.com, the responsibilities (e.g. pet feeding, pet grooming, etc.) you’re willing to do can be listed. You must feel comfortable around the pets you look after.
- Is my home and/or am I compatible with a large or giant pet?
- Am I able to provide good care for a puppy? Have I got pee pads stored in my home?
- Do my dogs (and/or cats) behave well in the company of other animals?
- Can I hold the leash firm enough if the pet sees something and want to catch it? Am I strong enough to carry the pet in case of an accident, etc.?
- Can I administer medication if a senior needs an injection, etc., or am I squeamish?
- Am I okay with walking/boarding pets that are not spayed/neutered?
4. Indicate your availability
The last step to make your profile stronger and more appealing is to mark the days in the in-built calendar when you’re available, and state how far you can/want to travel for work. This goes simply on Rover. On PetSitter.com, you should add this piece of information in your bio text.
Your schedule will surely have an impact on what kind of services you’ll offer. For example, if you’re a freelancer working from home, pet boarding and pet walking seem more suitable. If you attend school and live in a dorm, you may focus on pet walking, house sitting, and drop-in visits. Adjust your pet-sitting career to your lifestyle.
Step 4: Get in Touch with Potential Clients
Your profile looks professional, and it’s time to truly ponder on how to find your pet-sitting client. Usually, you’ve got to strategies to follow on platforms specializing in pet care services. You either send messages to potential clients or wait for them to contact you. Some experienced and well-established pet sitters say beginner sitters have more chances to get hired during holidays.
Nevertheless, if you still don’t have any reviews or five stars, you may not receive so many responses. On Rover, you can take advantage of the on-demand pet walker option. You’ll get notified of requests created by owners who don’t have a preferred pet sitter yet or that sitter is unavailable.
How to ensure you’ll get the job?
Keep your schedule open, so you can react to the message right away. Even if it’s not the most desirable location and time, accept it. Receiving a review and some stars should be your priority at this point.
You stand at the finish line now.
Someone responded positively, and the meeting with the pet parent is coming up. Remember that you won’t always have the opportunity to chat with the owner in person. If you decide to meet them, you’re still not obliged to accept the job. For example, some information is brought to life. Perhaps you and the pet parents and/or the pet don’t click. It happens, and you are better off finding the right match for yourselves.
Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash.
Step 5: Start Your First Pet-Sitting Job
If you do click right away, you should engage in an in-depth conversation with the pet parent. Ask them about the pets’ diet, temperament, special needs, behavioural patterns, medication, medical history, what to do in emergency situations, etc.
You must know everything important and pay attention to detail. If you tend to forget or mix up things, write them down in a notebook or make notes on your phone. Well, just jot down everything, so you won’t have to stress about anything. We’d recommend a physical notebook since your phone may stop working due to the weather conditions (such as heat, cold, etc.). Nevertheless, your phone should be always fully charged and have enough data on it during your shifts.
Some platforms actually make possible for pet parents to track your steps while you’re looking after their dog. To show them how seriously you take your job, you can also send some photos or videos to them. They will know their pup’s doing great, and they may reward you with tips.
Some useful information:
- You may need to calculate with commission fees. (Rover keeps 20% of your earnings, but no charges when withdrawing your money.)
- If you earn less than a certain amount, you may not have to pay taxes.
- Check whether buying new toys or travel expenses are tax-deductible. If so, organize your receipts in a binder.