I came across this opportunity quite by accident, at a local convenient store located not far from my home. I was buying an energy drink, and saw a flyer on the counter for a girl who babysat cats, dogs, and any other animal for an affordable price. The flyer included a picture of her with her own dog, as well as a phone number where she could be reached. This intrigued me. Can you really make money pet sitting?
I decided to look into it. Here is what I found.
The Basics: What Is Pet Sitting?
Pet sitting is exactly what it sounds like. Pet sitters get paid to baby-sit pets. Sometimes they watch pets while the owners are at work. Sometimes, they watch pets for people while on vacation, or just overnight when the need arises. Oftentimes, pet sitters find clients and just fulfill all of their pet-sitting needs—and truth be told, it can be a great way to make some extra money… especially if you love pets.
But Can You Really Make Money Pet Sitting?
Actually, yes. This is absolutely a viable business that people are making money with. Granted, it is not always successful, as there are a lot of variables to take into account. Geography is one of them. Your personal schedule and situation is another. If you don’t live close enough to the kinds of people who can afford a pet sitter, then you are probably going to have a hard time finding work in this niche.
But—with that being said, people will go to great lengths to take care of their pets. And I have seen more than enough evidence online to make me believe that this is an absolutely viable business model if you can market it and implement it correctly.
How Much Can You Make Each Month?
I have been looking into this and have figured out that some pet sitters earn as much as $1500 a month watching animals—but that is not necessarily how it starts. For many people wanting to start this side hustle, you need to start at the beginning. There are several websites where you can sign up to become a pet sitter by building a profile. These sites are pretty popular for getting your start at pet sitting—but at the same time, this is not the only way to find business if you want to start this side hustle.
From what I have heard, the cheapest rates that sitters usually start charging is around $10 per hour per pet. Obviously, there is more to this job than just collecting payment and keeping pets, though. You need to know how to care for the animals, how to feed them, how to play with them, and how to take them on walks/provide what they need.
You don’t necessarily have to be educated with any sort of college degree, but you do have to be passionately invested in taking legitimately good care of pets. This is probably not the sort of side hustle that one would start if they didn’t love spending time with animals.
How Do You Get Started As A Pet Sitter?
There are a few different ways to find clients as a pet sitter. You can make profiles on pet-sitter websites like Care.com, Rover.com, Petsitter.com, etc. You can also advertise through social media. There are a lot of local Facebook groups dedicated to this kind of thing, so establishing a presence there could be a great way to find potential clients.
You can also use Craigslist to advertise your services. And if you are feeling particularly adventurous, you could even tap into more ‘analog’ advertising methods. You could design a poster and hang it around town. Vet clinics, pet food stores, local grocery store bulletin boards—pretty much anywhere potential pet owners might spend time.
Pet Sitting Apps
- Scout (business management app for pet sitters)
- Dog Vacay (find dog sitters and walkers)
- Pet Backer (connect pet sitters and owners)
- Task Rabbit (find and post local gigs)
You might have to start out small. Scoring your first client will be a big step. But after that, you will have a reference that you can offer for new potential clients, which will likely make them feel a lot better about leaving their beloved pet with you.
Also, remember to always be polite and helpful. This is, after all, a business where impressing the owners and keeping them happy is almost as important as keeping the pets safe, happy, and healthy!
What Are The Requirements?
You will need adequate space to keep one or more pets if you are watching pets at your own home. You may also need to supply a crate or two for keeping animals who are crate-trained overnight. The pet owners will likely supply the food for the pet, but it is also important that you have snacks on-hand to give them. You will also need animal beds and some outdoor space for them to play in. If you don’t have any outdoor space, you will definitely need to take them on leash-walks, at the very least—as animals certainly don’t want to spend all of their time cooped up indoors.
You will also need to be able to interact with the pet owners in a positive way. This gig is mostly about the animals—but the pet owners are the ones who pay the bills!
If you do not have a space that you can use for pet sitting, you can offer your services to house-sit or pet-sit at the pet-owner’s home instead.
In some cases, you may need to buy insurance for this kind of gig. This varies by location, and may not be required if your job is a small side-hustle—but it can be worth looking into just so you don’t get caught without some kind of liability insurance. I could see this as being more important if you are watching purebred dogs that are worth a lot of money.
You will also need plenty of time to spend sitting the animals you take in for clients. If you work full time, you will obviously need to account for that somehow. This gig may work the best for people who already work from home, as they will have the most time to dedicate to the side-hustle.
Can You Realistically Turn A Profit Pet Sitting?
Yes. Since this is usually a side hustle that costs very little to nothing to get started, it can actually be pretty easy to turn a profit. The hardest part of this is having available space for the pets you wish to sit. It can become especially lucrative if you have the space to watch multiple animals at the same time, though you also have to be careful as not all animals get along all the time.
This is all just part of the job though. As a general rule, you can turn quite a profit once you start to get this side-hustle going. I checked local rates and they vary from $25-$35/night, so if you can book 3 dogs, that's $100/day, which is a lot of money.
There seems to be a lot of vacancy and competition though, plus families and women look like they get preference for sitters, so single dudes, you may be stuck lifting heavy stuff and digging holes instead. This may depend on your area though!
Does It Cost Anything?
If you already have a good place to watch pets, then it should really only cost you as much as you need to buy the things you need to get started. This could include pet-appropriate snacks, a pet crate or two, a play-place for cats, etc. If you choose to spend money on a profile to market your pet-sitting skills online, then you may have to pay for that as well. But as a general rule, you probably won’t have to spend money on this unless you just choose to.
Are There Any Non-Monetary Costs?
You will need to put real time and energy into this side hustle, as the animals will require your actual care and attention. This may not be as labor intensive as babysitting human children—but it still demands that you pay attention to the animals, play with them, feed them, walk them, etc.
My Personal Feelings About Trying To Make Money While Pet Sitting
I actually really like the idea of this as a side-hustle—but at the same time, I do not necessarily feel like it is a good fit for everyone. If you don’t have a good space to watch pets in, and/or if you do not have a passion for taking care of animals, then I would probably say that this is not a good gig for you.
But if you do have both of these things, then pet sitting could be an awesome way for you to either earn some extra money, or even build your own business.
You can also dog-walk and house-sit to take care of people’s pets in other situations to earn more—which is pretty cool. And you could even potentially expound on this by marketing yourself as a ‘pet care guru,’ and making it more interesting to attract more attention.
There is all kinds of potential with this one. As a general rule, I am kind of a fan. I'm going on vacation in a couple months to Thailand, and though I already booked my dogs at a kennel, I next time I'll be testing out one of these pet sitting gig sites to see how it goes.