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How to be Successful in the Pet Sitting Home Business

Updated on September 29, 2016
Stacie L profile image

Stacie L has raised many pets and had some cats live into their twenties. She also ran a successful pet-sitting service.

Dog Walkers

lead the way with a great home business
lead the way with a great home business | Source

How to help pet parents

Do you watch others pets when they are away? If you do and are good at it, then start charging for your time.

The term "pet sitter" has been around for at least 25 years but people have been watching others pets for many years. This is similar to babysitting only this cherished member of the family has hair or fur. A sitter comes to your home during the day or away on vacation. They walk the dog, empty the litter box, and feed the pet when the owners are away.

Other duties include plant watering, taking the mail in and making the place look lived in. The idea of coming to the home is to reduce the animal's stress level and reassure the owner .

Pet parents had to bring their dogs to kennels before the idea of keeping them at home started. Cats are usually taken to the nearby veterinarian to keep caged up until the owners returned from a trip. I can tell you that this will drive them crazy!

I once went away for two weeks and left my cat at a vet kennel. I didn't know at the time that she would be stored in a room with all barking dogs. When I returned to pick her up, she was cowering in the corner of the cage. I was so upset at this sight, that I vowed to never leave any pet at a kennel again!

I grew up with a love for animals such as cats, dogs, hamsters, birds and anything that ran on all fours. I would take home hurt birds, squirrels, and mice, to nurse them back to health, and then release them. Whenever I found a dog or cat, I would place ads and care for them, until the owner came for them, and sometimes they went to a new home.

Many pets to watch

Americans work long hours today and they need someone to walk the dog in the middle of the day. Neighbors are not always available and it's an imposition to constantly ask your neighbors to help out. Besides that, you may have a nosy neighbor and who wants that?

Because people are so busy working longer hours and driving further for their jobs, the need someone responsible and reliable. The college kid may have friends over and the young kids are a liability.

According to the 2012 Humane Society US Census, Americans owned a whopping 96.6 million cats and 83.3 million dogs. New Mexico has the most dog owners, while Vermont still has the most cat owners. Exotic pets such as turtles and other reptiles are catching up, as well. These statistics reported on at least one pet; many homes owned multiple ones!

This can cause stress for both pet and owner. There is not always a neighbor, family member or friend at home to watch or walk your pet.

How to start a pet sitting business

How I started pet sitting

I had always watched neighbors, friends and family members pets so when it came to starting a home business, this was a no-brainer.

The idea came to me when someone offered to pay me to walk their dogs. Next, their neighbors heard about this and asked me for their dog, as well. Soon I was walking dogs, feeding cats and became very busy that I decided to start my business .

Information to get started

I was very busy and needed help and knew I had to become official and make it legal. I read as much as I could and found some organizations of like-minded people.

There are some manuals that have helpful information to get you started with your pet sitting business.

I have used the following organizations to help me; PSI Petsitters International is the largest group in North America and based in Virginia. They have classes and offer certifications.

Other groups are online, such as Petsitters, and Petsits which have members information and informational articles.I was listed with both and had many calls from pet owners.

PetsitLC is a group that offers membership and includes liability insurance,and also good, is a site for help wanted ads and sitters services ads at Pet-Sitters.

cats need attention
cats need attention | Source

How to hire employees

When your service becomes popular to the point that you need help on a regular basis, then it will become necessary to hire help.

The qualities for these employees is no different than the qualities that you have yourself. That is, they must love animals, they must be honest, be dependable, and able to handle any situation that may arise.

It's important to first do a background check. This is true for any work situation. The clients should also be introduced to the new employee and so should the animal that they will be walking or feeding. If that animal doesn't t like the person, you will have an unhappy customer.

Next, the helper should go along with you on your assignments; walking the dog, picking up after them, feeding them, cleaning the cat litter boxes and chasing the gerbils around the house, as well.

Above all, a new employee has to go on the bonding and insurance plan you have. A cell phone check is also a good idea. Have them call in and let you know their whereabouts at all times.

Temporary help

In a pinch, when the holiday season arrives and there are more jobs than help, you should also have a backup plan. I've used a competitor when I had too many jobs and not enough help.

I informed the customers who were away and had them sign a non-compete form and provide me with a copy of their insurance.

No matter how careful you screen employees, some will steal your customers away and start their own business.

If the customers don't care if they charge less and don't have insurance and bonding then, that's their business.

You need to be aware that if someone leaves your service and a customer stops calling for you,then check to see if they are using someone else.

Inform them that so and so is no longer working for you. This should keep you from being liable for their actions.

All in all, the pet sitting service can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. As long as you are diligent and have covered yourself, there shouldn't be many problems.

Best qualities of pet sitters

The most important item I need to mention is a love for pets. You cannot start a pet-watching, walking, feeding, or transportation daycare unless you absolutely love animals!

You may be driving to one client's home three times a day. There are days when you'll arrive at a home and find that Fido has torn up the couch or done his business all over the house.It happens. Sometimes a pet will get out and you'll have to track them down.

If you are a qualified Vet Tech.and can care for sick pets and can give medication,there will be times when the animal will have to be taken to the Animal hospital or clinic. These matters must be in writing ahead of time before you agree to a job.

Contracts are available and liability insurance and bonding are highly recommended. You can find information about this on the before mentioned sites.

How to train a Rotweiller video

Side Businesses

Pet products

Once you establish yourself as a reliable set sitter with referrals, you may want to branch out and offer products. Pet products can be a good side business and provides an excellent opportunity to earn a little extra.

Offering a catalog of items such as all natural pet food, pet clothing, pet shampoos, brushes and a discount to the local dog groomer, are some ideas to start with. You will get some good ideas from your customers when they ask for items.

Dog Training

Everyone knows an owner that needs to better train their unruly dog. You know the ones that always jump on people or even worse, bite people!

I've had to turn down some jobs due to aggressive and unruly dogs. I offered to help train them so it would make their lives a little easier. Obedience training is certainly easier when the animal is still a puppy. There are times when owners adopt a stray dog or pound dog without knowing the history. Offering to train the pups is a good sideline business that will help you find more jobs in the future.

All in all,combining a love for animals with a good business plan will be rewarding for you and your pet owners.

Final thoughts about pet sitting

So you see, starting a pet sitting service is a great way to help others and yourself, at the same time. It can definitely provide some extra money for you and some peace of mind for the owners.

Start off watching a neighbors pet and get referrals. hanging signs on doors and visiting vets is another way to get some business. To be taken seriously, become bonded,and certified.

Licensing is usually needed for Doggie Daycares, so check your local ordinances.

Well, that was 27 years ago that I started to pet sit professionally and now sit occasionally for friends. Pet sitting an be a good home business to start but you must research first and be professional.

Using Pet Sitters

Have you used a pet sitter ?

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© 2008 Stacie L


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