How do you know if pet sitting is the profession for you? We all come from different backgrounds and industries. Pet sitting might have been a goal of yours or perhaps a sudden inspiration, as it was for me. Some of you choose it because of the six-figure profits many online courses and books flash in front of your eyes. (It’s possible…if you have the time, energy, and a perfect location. Did I mention time and energy?)
Whatever your reason for being a pet sitter, this two-part article will help you discover if pet sitting is the right field for you, whether full time or part time. We’ll look at how it matches-up with the budget you need in place. And we’ll help you decide what you’re willing to do for the love of animals and if you are physically capable to follow this dream through.
Let’s start with the animals.
Is Your Love of Animals Enough?
Being a pet sitter is a natural fit for animal lovers. We have the opportunity to view the world from the eyes of other people’s pets as they grow from unsure puppies to confident adults. We encourage them during their first unsure days after a move to a new neighborhood, and lend a hand – unhurried – to the elderly dog who still loves her walks but needs a boost to manage stairs. We often spend some of the most important moments of an animal’s life with them.
If you always remember to put the importance of the the animal’s needs first – and not on the minute hand of your watch – you’re well on your way to being a great pet sitter.
Are you willing to take first aid or canine self defense courses? Are you prepared for the messes in life as well as the hugs and tummy rubs? Are you ready to let your evenings, weekends, and holidays go to the dogs? If all this sounds fine…keep on reading.
If you’re an outdoor girl or guy…which means that being outside in the wind, rain, sleet, blowing snow, scorching heat, early mornings, and foggy nights is just another day on the job…then pet sitting might be the job for you. But if you like your creature comforts (as most dogs do too!) perhaps you can both still enjoy time together if you have room to board a few dogs at your home instead. Let the clients come to you! There are lots of ways to be a pet sitter and to turn your love of animals into a career.
Are You Capable of Being a Pet Sitter?
You might love animals, but if you’d like to be a pet sitter, you must be capable of handling them. Plenty of opportunities await you, but you must be honest with yourself if you want to find joy in the work. Stay within your comfort zone or you’ll be asking for trouble. If you’d like to care for dogs, but are nervous of large dogs, or have bad knees or other physical restrictions, consider marketing yourself as a small-dog pet sitter. Or become a cat sitter if you really prefer felines. The choices are yours.
Perhaps you’re a tropical fish hobbyist…why not let people know? Clients with an expensive collection of fish and equipment might not hand over the key to a dog walker, but to someone with expertise and his own aquarium set-up, why not? If you have a niche, promote it! And charge accordingly.
Tailor your business to your strengths and capabilities and leave the rest to other pet sitters.
Is Pet Sitting Feasible for You?
Aside from your health, is it feasible for you to set up this business? Do you have the 14-hours, seven days a week available for bookings? Is your car reliable? Will your budget allow you to be a pet sitter full time or part time as the business grows?
Pet sitting is easier if there are two of you. In our company, we’re fortunate to be able to do this as a couple, and we never could have managed it alone. If you’re stepping into this on your own, do you have family support? Are there one or two friends you know who would back you up? Is there a neighbor who would like to do pet sitting as a sideline? You might need to hand over a few of your regular clients to him on an ongoing basis if he’s keen. Then again…some people prefer to do a pet sit only now and then. The security of having help is worth sharing the riches and your clients feel you are a more professional choice than the teenager down the street. [Keep in mind also that for the most part, you must be at least 18 years of age to be covered by pet sitter insurance, so your backup person will also need to be over 18 to extend coverage to him or her. Generally coverage for five people is included in the basic insurance price – at least in North America.]
The area you live in or plan to work in is important to your success also. Is it a safe neighborhood? Are the homes well-lit? Are they deep in the woods or on estates? Is there dangerous wildlife in the area? Will you need to travel more than 10 – 15 minutes between calls? Some of these issues can have an impact on your bottom line, others, more importantly, will affect your safety.
Before we move onto part two of this article, take time to really think through your answers. On paper (or the computer monitor) it’s easy to brush-off some of these things as though they will never happen – but they do. Pet sitters are the first response team of dogs needing to pee! Whenever it is the most inconvenient time for you to go out…that’s when you’ll get an emergency call from a client needing you to run right over. Do you have to take the call? No. But you’ll have to take a few or someone else will. And I promise you…the dog sitting inside the house when you arrive will make you happy you drove over.
Until next time…have fun out there!