If you’re looking for an ideal career that will allow you to stay home, hang out with dogs all day, and pay the bills, you should definitely consider dog sitting. Just about every dog owner out there will need a reliable sitter from time-to-time, and many dog owners need dog care on a regular basis.
The pet industry is one of the fastest growing markets in the country. In 2018, Americans spent more than $72 million on their pets, with $6.11 billion going toward services like grooming, boarding, and doggy daycare. Dog lovers are willing to pay for premium pet sitting services, especially if it means that their favorite companion will be well taken care of in someone’s home as opposed to a kennel or boarding facility.
One of the best things about starting a dog-sitting business is that there is very little overhead. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need to get started dog sitting.
Is Dog Sitting Right for Me?
If you love dogs, consider becoming a dog sitter!
The short answer to this question is that if you love hanging out with dogs then dog sitting could definitely be a good choice for you, but there are a few things to consider. Before you jump into dog sitting with both feet, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have space in my home for one or more dogs?
- Do you have other pets that will be tolerant of other dogs in their space?
- If you rent your home, do you have a landlord’s approval?
- If you own your home, do you need the approval of your homeowner’s association?
- Do you have a fenced-in yard?
- Do you already work from home or stay home most of the time?
- Do you have kids or other family members that also love dogs?
If you answered yes to all or most of these questions, then there is a good chance that a dog-sitting business will be perfect for you. Still not sure?
A Few Reasons Why Dog-Sitting Might Not Be for You
Be sure to invest in pet-sitting insurance before you bring dogs into your home.
While everybody with a healthy love for dogs can take steps toward starting their own dog-sitting business, there are a few obstacles you may need to overcome. If any of the following conditions apply, you may need to wait before taking the leap:
- You have babies or small children at home. Even the friendliest dogs can be overwhelming for small children, and if you don’t know the dog well, it could be disastrous.
- You have older children at home who are afraid of dogs. If you have kids or other family members in the house who are afraid of dogs, you should work through these fears before starting a dog-sitting business.
- You have dog allergies in your household.
- You rent your house or apartment and dogs are not allowed.
- You don’t have a yard. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but if you don’t have a fenced yard, you will have to spend extra time leash walking the dogs in your care.
- Your homeowner’s insurance won’t allow it. You should always check with your insurance company to ensure that you’ll be covered if there is ever a dog-related incident on your property.
What You Need to Get Started Dog Sitting
Keep a variety of toys on hand for the dogs that you watch.
Compared to over businesses, dog sitters need very little to get started. We’re going to start with the basics. As you secure your first dog-sitting clients, you can add to this list.
Business and Advertising Necessities for a Dog-Sitting Business
- A dog-sitting website. Most small businesses use a website to help them find clients and advertise their services, and while it does require an initial investment, it’s definitely worth every penny. If you have the technical knowledge, you can create a website yourself. All you need is a domain name, a hosting service, and a free WordPress theme. If the thought of creating your own website makes your head spin, you can hire a local web designer for under $1000.
- Business cards and flyers. This is another important investment for getting the word out about your dog-sitting business. You can have both printed at your local Staples or copy shop or even print them yourself.
- Pet-sitting insurance. In addition to your regular home-owner or renter’s insurance, you will want to carry separate pet-sitting insurance to protect yourself from liability issues if a) a dog in your care is injured or worse, b) if a dog in your care bites or hurts someone, and c) If a dog in your care destroys your property. Pet insurance will not usually cover an instance where a dog in your care bites or hurts you — only third parties.
Equipment and Gear for Starting Your Dog-Sitting Business
Now that the boring stuff is taking care of, it’s time to gear up for your dog-sitting business. If you have a dog of your own, you have a decent idea of what you’ll need to get started. If not, here is what you’ll need to create a home that every dog will want to visit.
Sturdy dog crates in different sizes. No matter how well you vet your dogs or how well-trained they are, there is a chance that you will need one or more crates to manage the dogs you watch. While using crates may be contentious to some, it offers the dogs you care for a safe, secure area to relax in, and also keeps them out of trouble. It also allows you the freedom to walk one of your dogs while leaving another one at home or run to the grocery store without fearing that your couch will be destroyed while you’re away. AmazonBasics sells sturdy metal dog crates in six sizes. You can choose from a single or double door, and they fold down flat when you’re not using them.
Washable crate pads. Crate pads are small mats that fit inside the crate and act as soft bedding for the dogs you are watching. Crate pads should only be used with dogs that aren’t chewers. These AIPERRO crate pads come in three sizes to fit in various crates, and can also be used as stand-alone pet beds. They are fully washable and feature a non-slip bottom.
No-tip food and water bowls. Keep water off your kitchen floor with these stainless steel no-tip bowls. Comes in sets of two that are easy to clean and rust-resistant.
Leash for multiple dogs. How many dogs can you safely walk at once? The MoSANY three-way dog leash allows you to walk up to three dogs of different sizes with one tangle-free leash. This is perfect for busy dog walkers who want to walk more than one well-trained dog at the same time.
Poop bags. If there’s one thing you can count on when running your own dog-sitting business, it’s that you’ll be picking up a lot of poop. Buy your bags in bulk so that you never run out. These Pets N Bags dog waste bags are 100% biodegradable and easy to open.
Sturdy dog toys. You have to be very selective when choosing toys for the dogs in your care. Stay away from soft toys, toys with squeakers, or rope toys as they can pose dangers for aggressive chewers. Instead, opt for sturdy chew and play toys that all of your dogs will enjoy. We suggest the following:
- Kongs – Kongs are incredibly durable, can be stuffed with treats and frozen, and come in different sizes. They are suitable for all types of dogs.
- Nylabones – Nylabones come in all kinds of shapes, flavors, and sizes, and they clean your dogs’ teeth as they chew.
- Benebones – Similar to Nylabones, Benebones come in different sizes and flavors and are made in the USA.
- Jolly Balls – These rugged toys were originally created for horses, but now there is a whole line of toys just for dogs. There are lots of different sizes and styles. If you choose the one with the rope tug included, be sure to supervise during play.
Cleaning supplies. No matter how awesome the dogs in your care are, you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll have accidents to clean up from time to time. Be prepared with a good stain and odor remover. Nature’s Miracle is an enzymatic formula that cleans up virtually all organic stains and eliminates odors.
A treat pouch and treats. Positive reinforcement training is one of the most effective ways to build a relationship with the dogs in your care. Even if you don’t consider yourself a trainer, you will likely use commands with your dogs and rewards when they follow those commands. A good training pouch will ensure that you always have a treat reward when you need it, and a variety of training treats will keep things interesting for the dogs.
Use tasty treats as a reward for good behavior.
The items mentioned above include everything you need to get started on your dog-sitting journey. You will find that many of your clients will supply much of their own gear for their pups when they visit, including toys and treats, so keep your investment modest at first, and continue to invest as your business grows.
Tara spends much of her time raising puppies for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. She has been volunteering with Guiding Eyes for the past 12 years, and is currently raising her 9th puppy, a frisky German shepherd named Gatsby. Tara will work with Gatsby for a year, providing him with a loving home, obedience training, and many new experiences to help him become a guide dog.
Tara has been a passionate animal lover since she was a little girl. She got her first dog when she was four years old, and has lived with a rotating cast of animals ever since. She is fascinated by the complex bonds that develop between human and animals, and is dedicated to helping people use humane and effective training methods to build deeper relationships with their pets.