Start a Pet Sitting Business

Starting your own pet sitting business is one of the most rewarding and profitable home businesses you can start. It doesn't take a lot of money to get started, and can be completely free if you use services such as Lodge Your Dog, you just need a love of animals. This article will show you how to get your own pet sitting business started, and gives some tips on making it successful.


  1. Plan your business. All businesses, great and small, can benefit from a thoughtfully-written business plan. Here are some key points to consider:
    • Analyze your market. How many people in your area might use a pet sitting service, and how many pet sitters are already in business in your area?
    • Define your company. What will you do, specifically? If there's only one of you to start, you'll need to think about how and what you can actually do. What are the key benefits of your company, and what needs will it satisfy?
    • Build a better mousetrap. What will make your company better than the competition? On-call pet pickup? Individual service? A name within the community, maybe with animal charities or shelters that gives you some credentials? What makes your business special?
    • Develop a marketing campaign. How will you get the word out, and entice people to call you? Marketing yourself effectively is key to making your business successful, if your a pet sitter or an accountant! Given two identical companies, one with average marketing, and one with excellent marketing, the one with excellent marketing will virtually always win.
    • Don't forget sales! Marketing is what makes people aware of your company. Sales is what brings them in the door. Don't neglect that part.
    • Define your workflow. How will you fill your day with pet sitting, and how will you handle the inevitable emergency job, or the 2-hour-late pickup? How will you hire? What is the threshold for new employees?
    • Develop a backup plan to cover all sits should you have an emergency that prevents you from taking care of the animals.
    • What do you need to get started? Leashes? Cages? A big yard? Lots of kibbles and bits? You may not need a lot of cash to get started, but you will need some to gather supplies and pay for sales and marketing efforts.
    • Where will you get funding? This might be from your savings, or an interested friend. It could be from the local shelter, or from your Uncle Moneybags.
    • Show them the numbers. Before you take any funding—even from yourself—know what you will do with it, and how much is enough.
    • Put your best foot forward. Describe your qualifications, and include anything that might be relevant to people trusting you with their pets. You might be a dog whisperer, or voted person most likely to herd cats. Make that known!
  2. Name your business. If you want, you can give your business a name. Try to choose something unique that describes your business. Avoid cutesy or cliched names like "Pampered Pets." Consider a name that will be easily memorable and will tie you to your community.
  3. Consider getting licensed. If you just wish to create a small "business" in your neighborhood or among family friends, you can skip this step. However, if you want to become a truly recognized business, you may need to obtain a Business License (depending on your location) Go to if that's relevant, or look elsewhere on line to find out if your state or location requires a license.
  4. Prepare the paperwork. You will need a service contract for your clients to sign. You will need a report card to record what you did during visits. You will need a way to track medications you may need to administer, you will need instruction sheets on how to take care of the pets and the home. Prepare these and any other necessary paperwork before opening the business.
  5. Determine your rates. Consider how much money you want to charge. Try to keep your prices straight and to the point so as not to confuse your clients. Some factors to consider when creating prices:
    • Type of animal. A dog is going to require more work than a fish, and thus you may want to charge more.
    • Amount of time. How long do you have to watch the animals?
    • Number of animals. How many animals are you taking care of?
  6. Join a trade association. This means you will have support and advice when needed and you will work to a code of conduct which will give you business credibility.
    • Distance from your headquarters. If you are going to service a larger area, you may want to do a mileage surcharge.
  7. Build a website. In today’s world people go straight to the Internet when they want to find a product or service. You will definitely increase you chances of success by using a website.
    • Just having a website is not enough. In addition to being found your website has to tell people that you will care for and love their pets just like they do when they aren’t home.
    • People who use pet sitters really love their pets like their children and if you don’t have the right message on your website it can kill your business before it ever gets started.
  8. Optimize your site: simply publishing your site is no guarantee it will be found! Utilize these tips that Google recommends you follow in order to best optimize your pet sitting website:
    • Title Tag: One of the most important elements when it comes to search engine optimization is your title tag. Make sure it contains your targeted keywords and is no more than 70 characters long. Some possibilities are:
      • Top pet sitter in Portland, OR, 20+ yrs experience! Call 503.555.1234
      • Pet sitting while you work! Call Willa Kenzie today, 503.555.1212
      • Away on business? Trust your pets to Willa Kenzie, 503.555.1212
    • Meta tag: Inside your HTML code is your meta tag. Use accurate, normal language to describe your page content. Each page's meta tag should contain a unique description.
    • Quality Content: At the end of the day, your website should give the visitor good quality content. Google rewards quality content that is unique and fresh. Update your site with new content often.
      • Once you have a website up and running, and are refreshing it regularly, consider signing up for Google AdSense, and running pet-related advertisements on your site for some extra income.
  9. Open your doors for business. Once you have all your ducks in a row, start taking clients, and give them the service they signed up for—and give it your all.
  10. Meet and greet your clients. Make sure you meet the owner as well as the pet before you actually sit the pet. Ask about the pet's food, when to feed it, as well as what to give. What they're allowed to do, but don't ask simple questions such as "Is she allowed to potty on the couch?" or "Do I have to shut the gate when he is outside?" as it may make you seem unable to care for the pet or pets in question and could drive away customers, now and in the future.
    • Make sure the pet has had all of it's shots as well as if it needs any medication and if so, when. Also, this would be the time to make any special arrangements.
    • Always follow up with customers. When you first meet them, ask how they found you. If you find that there's one place in particular where customers are finding you, increase your exposure there.
    • When the job is done, ask for feedback about what they liked, and what they could do better.
    • When it gets to be too busy, hire an assistant, and then keep growing!


  • Make sure your business is organized and professional. Your customers will want to be sure you are a responsible business owner. Your first impression will be what will tell them if they can trust you with their home and pet.
  • Don't forget a backup plan -- if something happens to you, who will take over to feed and walk the pets?
  • Always show you can take care of the pet(s)
  • Introduce yourself to the homeowner and the pet(s).
  • Show up on time and in clean clothes
  • Sit on the floor and play with the pet a bit, but not the entire time.
  • Next, go over your visit details (dates, times, etc).
  • You should have paperwork to record all of this on. You will need a pet sitting/dog walking service agreement (or contract) to outline your business policies to protect you and your business. You will also need a sheet to record what you are going to do while you are there.
  • Your first impression will be your meet and greet. Here are some steps to be sure it runs smoothly:
  • Go over your credentials and show them your insurance policy.
  • Once you have all the paperwork filled out, you are done. Let them know you will send out a confirmation of the dates when the job gets closer.
  • If the animals don't behave nicely together, try to separate them or keep them apart. So they know that when their part they get praise and they do better apart then together.


  • Make sure you inform them of your cancellation policy. It is recommended you receive full or partial payment upfront, especially for new clients.

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