You probably already have a pretty good idea of what dog walkers and pet sitters do. A dog walker walks dogs, and a pet sitter is like a babysitter for pets. Easy enough, right? While both of those statements are true—that's only the tip of the iceberg! There is a lot more involved behind the scenes than just the time you will spend caring for pets.
What professional dog walkers and pet sitters do:
Pet safety and wellbeing:
No matter what type of service you are providing or what kind of pet your client has, the most important thing is to make sure that pet is well taken care of. You are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of any pet that is in your care. Clients are trusting you with their beloved companions—and this is not a responsibility to take lightly. Make sure you have all the necessary tools and knowledge to provide the best care possible. This includes being knowledgeable about pet behaviors and learning pet first aid. We have a lot more great information in our blog post on Pet First Aid for Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters.
There is a big difference between hiring a professional dog walker and paying the kid down the street $10 to walk your dog after school. A pet care professional is appropriately insured and bonded. You can find more detailed information on insurance in our Academy lesson on Pet Sitting Insurance. You will also need a Service Agreement with your clients that outlines what is expected from both parties.
Being a professional means that you are responsible for creating and keeping schedules. This involves coordinating many schedules at the same time as your business grows and you have multiple employees. As the owner of the company, you are ultimately responsible for making sure that every service is completed.
For dog walks, make sure they are completed at the scheduled time and for the agreed-upon duration. Pet sitters provide care for all types of pets. It can be done as a pop-in visit, overnight stay, or a stay at the pet sitters home. They ensure that pets are well taken care of—fed, given water, bathroom breaks, and anything else a pet might need.
Other responsibilities include:
- Meeting with clients—you are the face of the company, so it's essential to make a good impression. See our article on Mastering the Meet and Greet for more information.
- Key management--keeping track of a couple of keys in easy, but once you have a hundred clients, you'll need a system!
- Going to customers' homes and sometimes providing additional services like taking in the mail or watering plants
- Invoicing and receiving payments--you'll be delighted you have pet sitting software once it comes time to invoice and receive payments.
Other considerations for dog walkers and pet sitters:
While taking care of pets can be a dream job, it can also be challenging. As a dog walker or pet sitter, you will have a constantly changing schedule and work environment. On any given day, you might be out in the field, visiting clients' homes and walking dogs in a variety of locations. You will be dealing with a variety of different pet personalities and needs.
You also have to consider that being a professional dog walker or pet sitter involves being available and reliable. This means working rain or shine, and often on holidays—usually the busiest times of the year for pet sitters.
Does this sound the right fit for you?
Time To pet has all the resources you need to start your dog walking or pet sitting business. Sign up for our 14-day Email Course on Starting Your Pet Sitting or Dog Walking Business. Also, make sure to read through our Academy Lessons and keep an eye out for new Blog Posts with more helpful information!