Thinking of Starting a Pet Sitting Business

LuvVT18July 22, 2009

I am thinking about starting up a pet sitting business.

I currently have several people (through word of mouth and at work) that I regularly pet sit for. I just wondered if there is anyone here that does this as a business and has an suggestions or tips for me.

I really enjoy doing this - I like it much better than my day job! I don't just do it for the money (although that is a plus!) I do it because I truly love animals - dogs and cats.

I currently mix my pet sitting with house sitting (where I will stay in their home - I only do this for close friends) and take care of their plants, take in their mail and take care of their pets.

Any tips on where to start and what this entails?

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mazer415

YOu will need a business license, you will need to check with local ordinances to make certain you can actually have a business out of your home and that you wont be breaking any laws by having too many pets at your place. You will need to look into extra insurance and if you rent you wil need to clear everything with your landlard. You should be bonded as well.
That all taken care of you will should have first aid and CPR for pets under your belt since that will help with your insurance and if anything happens you will be more prepared to deal with it. I suggest you either get a close circuit camera system or some other way of recording the goings on around the place, or at least keep a journal. YOu will need to contact an attorney to have him draw up a release of liability waiver in case any of the dogs fight or one gets loose and something bad happens. You will need to make certain the area you are keeping the dogs has been escape proofed. You will need a form for your clients so they can fill out name, address, drivers license number (in case someone dumps their pet on you or wont pay and you have to go after them in court) they will need to fill out any health problems the dog has so you wont be liable in case a dog goes down in your care.
This may seem like alot but let me tell you it takes just one person to have not told you about a dogs health problem, or a dog escaped and got hit by a car or worse a dog fight broke out and stitches are now involved, things can get hairy in an instant.
Good luck

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 10:27PM
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rivkadr

Um, mazer, pet sitters generally don't keep the animals at their house...they go to the house of the pet owners and take care of them there. A lot of your advice has zero relevance.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 1:24AM
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gibby2015

Here's a link to the pet sitting association - probably some good advice there. I've used a professional pet sitter for many, many years - the same one for the last 17 years. She waters plants, brings in mail, etc. as you describe. She claims it is a high burnout job but somehow she has managed to stick with it for a long time - she is a former vet tech.

I recently looked into finding a new pet sitter as the one I have now won't do any kind of injections because of her liability insurance limitations. Not sure what that's all about but I bet she just has homeowner type liability not something that covers "medical" care like injections. I did find another pet sitter more than willing to give injections - found her on Angie's List. She had alot of good reviews except for one - she lost someone's dog!! I met with her anyway but something about her gave me the creeps - she just tried too hard and she had a lot of misspelled words on her materials. That combined with the lost dog made her a no go.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pet Sitter organization

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 1:34PM
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LuvVT18

Thanks for your tips.

Mazer - I plan to go the the home of the pets and take care of them there. I personally have two cats and I know they wouldn't like it if I brought strange animals home to take care of.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 1:48PM
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Gina_W

You can also look into a franchise called Fetch! I use them, and one of the Cooking forum regulars is a franchisee.

Fetch Petcare

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 6:06PM
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mazer415

I know at least 15 pet sitters, some of who sit at a clients home and some who take the dog to their home, it depends on the clients wishes....
If you are staying at a clients home, you WILL need to be bonded and insured.
Note - not all pet owners are cool people. I have heard some pretty horrific stories of people who were accused of stealing, accused of killing a pet, had trouble with neighbors, who turned out to have had issues with the pet sitters clients for years etc etc etc. Bottom line. CYA. Good luck

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 12:34AM
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LuvVT18

I am trying to do lots of research on this and go into it well-informed.

Thank you for all your suggestions.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 12:10PM
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rivkadr

Yeah, okay, Mazer, it's always easy to say "Well, I know someone that..." The most common definition of a pet sitter is someone who goes to the person's house; it's how it's defined at Wikipedia, dictionary.com, and petsitters.org.

Anyhoo...I do agree with Mazer that you will need to be bonded, licensed, and insured. And some other things to think about:

- how much are you going to charge per visit? Make sure it's inline with other pet sitters in the area.

- are you willing/able to give medicine, and do injections? Will your insurance allow you to do that? How much will you charge for these services?

- Do you have a reliable means of transportation, and a backup should that transportation break down?

The way my cat sitter handles things is:

- when you first sign up with her, she comes for an initial meeting, both with you and the cats. Also, you get to point out to her where all the important stuff like carriers, food, etc. is. She charges for this visit.

- she keeps a copy of the key to our house, so that we don't have to do any drop-offs or pickups of it (if you do that, make sure you have a secure place for all the keys)

- she keeps excellent files of all her clients, and any that she is currently sitting, she pulls out their sheets and puts them in a binder that she carries with her as she's sitting them. That way, any information about medicine, backup contacts, vet info, etc. is right there with her if she needs it.

- she also has a pretty decent website, with up to date information about her rates and herself. There is NO excuse for any small business to not a have a website in this day and age. As a consumer, the first thing I do when I'm considering using a company is look them up on the 'net; I'm much more likely to go with a business where I can find out about them, versus one that has no web presence.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 1:06PM
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trianglejohn

I was lucky that I stumbled upon a dog my dog liked that needed long term care (owners traveled overseas for months at a time. Dog was elderly and needed twice a day medical care). They paid me quite well to care for him, when honestly my dog did most of the work. The friends I have now that work for a service just barely make any money. Most of the boarding kennels in this area charge a lot of money, I don't know why pet sitting has to be so much cheaper. It can be hard work.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 3:02PM
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HomeBusinessForms

There is a lot of useful information out there on the web. Many offering their own experiences and guidance. I recommend you read them all and try out many ways of advertising to find the right niche for your area. There is so much fun to be had in this industry :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Info on starting a pet sitting business.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 12:51PM
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nancyinmich

You might consider taking a photo or two of each new pet, doing so as a part of each home's "portfolio", but also as a way to show the condition of the pets when you took the job. Taking a photo of any hot spots or other new wounds or other issues that you are asked to help care for while the owner is away is also a good idea, just in case it is later alleged that you allowed an injury to occur or worsen (thinking along Mazer's line of thought, CYA!). You can use your phone's camera to forward photos of any concerns to pet owners, as well. Documentation is so much easier these days! When I first hired a pet sitter/dog walker, I printed out photos of our dogs for her, with the dog's names on them. I figured that would be a big help to someone who saw a dozen or more dogs a day and was just getting to know my two. Today, that would have been a quick thing accomplished on a cell phone!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:39PM
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robertz6

How will you handle the matter of learning about the dog or animal, if you wish to expand beyond your current customers?

People often do not tell you the truth about their animals. I was recently given a dog. When I asked for his paperwork, I got a rabies tag from another area. It had no address, name, date, etc. It could have been two years old, or even for another dog. The paperwork from the vet was the only thing I would go by, and that might not be 100% reliable.

I notice that mixed breed dogs are usually described by the 'nicer' half. One nearby dog that likes to play rough is called a beagle mix by the owner. I would call it a bull terrier mix.

All owners like to give their dogs the benefit of the doubt. 'My dog has never bitten anyone'. Well folks, maybe you never let him or her out the yard so you don't know if the dog wants to bite someone.

If the dog damages their house while the family is on vacation, whos insurance covers it? The families insurance or your special insurance?

Even the positive experience of walking the dog might be a problem. Five hundred feet from my house lives a pit bull. I petted it once when it crossed the street (not tied up) to greet me and my friendly dog. One week ago it injured a small dog and bit a owner and another small dog as they walked by. It was seized by local animal control and found not to have rabies paperwork. Then a chip in the dog indicated names of former owners, and the current owner said the dog was a stray.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 5:41PM
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dominoswrath

The dictionary Nazi RIVKADR sounds like they have a bug up their you know what.

No need to attack people for SHARING information or for having differing opinions.

To rely on a dictionary to define what a pet sitter is to the entire population is completely asinine. Yes, that's my opinion.

Now go back to your DICtionary.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:37PM
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heathw12

My sister started a pet sitting business a few years back. Something she found helpful was using some sort of software to make the day-to-day business operations easier and help her market. I believe she uses BookMyCity, but I'm sure there are plenty of others out there as well.
Something to think about. Especially in this day and age...a lot of people want the option to book services online and things like that.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 2:24PM
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