Are you a dog enthusiast that loves the company of furry friends? Or maybe you’re a fellow dog owner and the go-to in your circle of friends and family when someone needs a dog sitter. If you fall into either of these categories and wouldn’t mind earning money doing something you love, a dog sitting business may be right for you.

You can go the independent route if you’d like to make a career of out dog sitting someday, or you can start earning right away. Read on to learn more about both options, along with a step-by-step blueprint to get started. 

How to Get Started: The Independent Route

Step 1: Apply for a Business License

Check with the department of business regulation in your city to find out what licenses, if any, you need to get started. The customer service representative at the physical location should be able to point you in the right direction so you’re covered and in compliance with state and local regulations before getting started.

To add a layer of protection, you may also want to consider registering as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) through your state instead of operating as a sole proprietor. 

And don’t forget to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax filing and reporting purposes. Even if you’re a sole proprietor and can use your Social Security number for correspondence, an FEIN is an effective way to protect your identity. 

Bonus Tip: While obtaining licensure, it’s a good idea to look into insurance for your dog sitting business. That way, you won’t be personally liable for any mishaps that may occur in your business. 

Step 2: Gather Supplies

You’ll need to invest in supplies before opening up the doors to your new dog sitting business. Fortunately, the costs aren’t too steep so you won’t need to head to the bank and take out a loan, max out your credit card, or borrow a wad of cash from friends and family. 

When shopping for supplies, be sure to grab the following: 

  • Crates, training leashes and slip collars, doggy water bottles, and poop bags
  • Dog toys and treats for good behavior 
  • A dog backpack to carry all your supplies
  • A GPS tracker to keep record of your time spent outside without the dog in case the owner asks 

Another important consideration: do you have an area on your property or near your home for the dogs to play? If you’re in a single-family home, the backyard will suffice. But if you’re in an apartment, is there an open area or dog park nearby that you can take your furry friends to burn off energy? 

Step 3: Decide on Pricing

It’s impossible for your dog sitting business to thrive without making money, so it’s time to start thinking about pricing. But before you do so, grab a notebook and list all the services you provide. Next, divide them into tiers (if necessary) and research to determine what pricing looks like in the local area that you’ll be serving. Finalize the figures and you’ll be good to go. 

Step 4: Draft Up a Client Contract Template

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could operate on a verbal promise and a handshake? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in business, so you’ll need a formal client contract before opening up shop. You can either use a template found online and customize it to fit your business needs or you can consult with a legal professional. The latter is preferred if you want to cover all the bases. 

Regardless of which option you choose, the client contract template should include the following: 

  • A detailed description of the services being rendered
  • Pricing structure and payment terms along with due dates
  • Responsibilities for both you (as the sitter) and the client
  • How medical emergencies are handled 
  • Any applicable waivers

Step 5: Market Your Business

Now that your dog sitting business is licensed and you have all the supplies and a client contract in place to get started, it’s time to spread the word about your new venture. A few options to get you started: 

  • Word of Mouth – This is the most powerful form of marketing, and it doesn’t cost a dime to tell others about your business. Start by emailing everyone on your list of contacts, and ask them to inform others in their network. And keep in mind that since people will be trusting you with one of their most prized possessions, recommendations from others that they know you personally will serve you well.
  • Wear Your Brand – Consider having shirts printed for your business and wearing them everywhere you go. Also, get a magnet for your car and ride around in style. You never know who’ll spot your sign while you’re out and about and give you a ring to inquire.
  • Print Business Cards – They are another inexpensive way to spread the word about your new dog sitting business. You can leave them in local community centers, barbershops, churches, vet shops, and retail outlets. And of course, you can pass cards out to those that see your shirt and want to learn more. 
  • Advertise on Social Media – Since the market is highly saturated, highlight your expertise and relevant experience to stand out from the masses. In other words, highlight why you’re the best person for the job. 
  • Build a Website – Use a drag and drop website building platform, like Weebly or Wix, to build a website for your dog sitting business. These platforms have built-in templates that can be used free of charge. All you have to do is pay for hosting and you’ll be up and running in record time. 
  • Create a Newsletter – Use a free service, like MailChimp, to communicate with your prospects and clients via newsletter. 

Wondering how to handle bookings that come in before your launch date? You can handle requests by email or phone and jot appointments into your calendar. Or you can make your life a lot easier by using an online scheduling app, like Calendly, TimeTap, or Appointy, that automates the entire process and has built-in reminders for both parties. 

Step 6: Launch 

To boost anticipation for the big day, offer launch day specials to customers who sign up for services in advance. Use your email newsletter to spread the word, and tell everyone you know you have an official launch date in case they’re interested in patronizing your services. 

Step 7: Follow-Up and Garner Continuous Feedback

Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your customers. Also, gather testimonials and ask customers to leave reviews on Google and Yelp so prospects can learn more about who you are and how you can exceed their expectations before doing business with you. 

How to Start Earning Right Away with Rover

Going the independent route with your dog sitting business is feasible and can earn you loads of cash once you’re in demand. However, it could take a while to get to this point. But if you prefer to get up and running right away without all the extra legwork, Rover may be a better option. 

Key Benefits of Dog Sitting With Rover

Rover is an online platform that affords you the opportunity to dog sit and whenever it’s convenient for you. This means you can set your schedule so you won’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts arising from pre-existing commitments. 

Another key benefit is the ability to earn as much or as little as you’d like per job since there isn’t a set pricing structure. Instead, you assess your prices based on what works best for you. 

Best of all, you won’t just be stuck with just any dog. The platform allows you to specify which types of breeds, sizes, age, or other characteristics you’d prefer in a dog. That way, you won’t be stuck with an aggressive breed you’re terrified of or a dog that’s twice your size. 

Other key benefits include: 

  • A mobile app that allows you to conduct business at the tap of a fingertip and manage your operation while on the go
  • Customer support available 24/7 for unexpected occurrences, medical emergencies, and other questions
  • A seamless payment processing system that is integrated directly into the online platform so you can receive your funds two days after a service is rendered 
  • Free continuing education opportunities to enhance your knowledge as a dog sitter
  • Insurance coverage of up to $1,000,000

Earning Potential

You can earn up to $1,000 as a dog sitter with Rover, according to their website. And there are several ways to reach the monthly earnings threshold, including: 

  • Dog boarding, which is an easy way to rake in the highest amount of cash in the shortest period possible
  • Dog walking if the owner is always on the go and wants their furry friend to 
  • Dog daycare if the owner makes a living from home and needs some quiet time during the day
  • House-sitting or drop-ins if the owner prefers that you come to them

Cost Implications 

The fee structure per service for dog sitters using Rover is as follows: 

  • 20 percent for each booking if your profile was approved before March 1, 2016 (the fee is 15 percent if you have an existing profile that was approved before this date)
  • 25 percent if you’re a sitter with RoverGo

Getting Started with Rover

It’s easy to get up and running with Rover. Simply follow the steps listed below: 

  • Step 1: Visit Rover.com, select “Become a Sitter” at the top of the page, and start building your profile. Upon completion, it takes up to five business days for the manual review of your profile to be completed. (Note: by doing so, you’re also authorizing a background check). 
  • Step 2: Get to work. Once your profile is live, prospects can start reaching out to inquire and booking you for services. 
  • Step 3: Collect your cash. As mentioned earlier, the cash is yours to keep once two days have passed following the completion of services. 

Important Considerations 

Some important considerations to keep in mind when working with Rover:

  • Rover only accepts individuals that are at least 18 years of age. 
  • It’s may not necessary to register as a business with your state or local government. However, it’s a good idea to inquire about any licenses or permits you may need to get started.
  • You will be classified as an Independent Contractor for tax purposes. This means you’ll be responsible for remitting income tax payments, and Rover will not provide you with employee benefits since you technically aren’t an employee.

The Bottom Line 

Whether you go the independent route or get started with Rover, pet sitting can be just the opportunity you need to start rolling in some extra dough. And who knows: you may have a large-scale pet-sitting operation someday.

Author

Allison Martin is a syndicated financial writer, author, and Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI). She has written about personal finance for almost ten years and holds a master's degree in Accounting from the University of South Florida. Allison's work has been featured on The Wall Street Journal, ABC, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Fox Business, Credit.com, MoneyTalksNews, Investopedia, The Simple Dollar, and a host of other reputable publications. She also travels around the nation facilitating financial literacy and business workshops to individuals from all walks of life. In her spare time, Allison enjoys traveling, cuddling up with a good book, and spending time with family. She lives in Florida with her husband and two young sons.

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