A dog sitter laughing while playing with a dog.

As more people are going back to work, traveling for work or going on vacations again, someone needs to watch their dogs so they aren’t alone—and lonely. If you love animals and are looking for a way to earn some extra moolah, dog sitting could be your calling.

But most pet owners won’t let just anyone care for their four-legged children. Here’s how to become an “official” dog sitter.

The first step in your new business venture should be a pet-sitting course. By adding this certification to your resume, you add an extra layer of credibility and trust to your business. Courses typically walk you through a pet’s dietary needs, first aid and sometimes even disaster planning, so you’re prepared for anything that comes your way. Udemy, Pet Sitters International, and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters are just a few organizations with courses to explore.

Next, you’ll want to map out your business game plan. Here’s a checklist to keep you moving in the right direction!

1. Create a list of services you provide.

The basics include:

  • Providing clean food and water
  • Walking and playing with the dog
  • Cleaning up pet messes
  • Administering pet medications if necessary
    • Note: Be sure to ask the pet owner for proper instructions prior to their departure. If you have concerns or questions after receiving instructions, be transparent with the pet owner so their dog receives the best possible care.

2. Jot down qualifications and past pet-sitting experiences. Whether you’ve been watching friends’ pets for years or you have experience with special-needs animals, it’s relevant to your potential customers.

3. Map out how much you want to charge. The average rate for a pet sitter is between $12.50 and $17.25 an hour. When outlining your prices, be sure to factor in the number of animals you’ll be caring for and if you offer overnight care as an option.

4. Market your professional dog-sitting business. After completing steps 1–3, you’re ready to create a website for marketing your critter care. A website provides potential customers with an outline of your business, your contact information and a way to book everything with ease. You can create your own website for free or for a small monthly fee on sites like WordPress, Blogger, Wix or Squarespace.

5. Make reviews prominent. When creating your website, leave an area where customers can leave reviews. Also, engaging with those who leave reviews is a great way to continue building relationships. Even if it’s a simple, “Thank you!”

6. Create a profile on pet sitting websites. By uploading your information, these dog sitter seeking individuals will know how to reach out and request your care. Rover, Sittercity and Petsitter are popular choices to get you started.

7. Stand out with your own business cards. You never know who you’ll run into out and about. When someone says they could use a dog sitter, provide them with a business card to check out your services and book a pet sitting session.

8. Be prepared to pencil in those upcoming pet-sitting adventures. Purchase a planner or calendar to keep all your appointments straight. It’s key to any successful business to stay organized and on top of things.

9. Schedule a visit with the owner and their pet. You’ll want to meet with the owner to make sure you gather all the dog’s info, such as feeding schedule, medicine, special instructions, and so forth. In the process, this will help the pet get to know you alongside someone they already trust.

10. Bonus tip! Consider joining a pet sitting organization to boost your reliability and add to your networking opportunities. Two well-known organizations are Pet Sitters International and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.

Finished with the list? It’s time for your #DogSitterSummer!

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The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.