How do I Become a Pet Sitter?

Ron Marr
Ron Marr
A pet sitter might walk and feed a dog and make sure it's safe and comfortable while owners are away.
A pet sitter might walk and feed a dog and make sure it's safe and comfortable while owners are away.

It is easy to become a pet sitter, but it is not so easy to make a living as a pet sitter. The bare minimum requirements are a fondness and affinity for animals, reliable transportation, a telephone number and email address, and a small advertising budget. Your goal is to take care of the pets of others, either in your home or theirs. The difficult part for most who wish to become a pet sitter lies in gaining clients, something that can only happen after you have earned their trust.

Pet sitters might find opportunities by networking with vets.
Pet sitters might find opportunities by networking with vets.

For many people, pets are as important as other members of the family. Just as a parent would not leave his child with a total stranger, neither do people wish to leave their beloved pet with someone whose only credentials seem to be the ability to staple flyers to a telephone pole. Your key to becoming a successful pet sitter will come from building referrals. That means networking with veterinarians, dog walkers, groomers, humane society personnel, and even pet-store owners. You should join animal-related groups, speak at events, and be quick to volunteer if you wish your name to be circulated as a reliable and trustworthy pet sitter.

A pet sitter may offer other services, like dog training, to clients.
A pet sitter may offer other services, like dog training, to clients.

The best pet sitters have knowledge that exceeds proper feeding, watering, and exercising of a pet. To become a pet sitter that is in demand, you should take classes in animal behavior and health. You might also want to join the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, a referral and advocacy organization that promotes standards for the pet-sitting profession. The cost for membership begins at $100 US Dollars USD.

A professional dog walker helps busy clients make sure their dog gets enough exercise.
A professional dog walker helps busy clients make sure their dog gets enough exercise.

The more services you can offer, and the more training you can receive, the better your chances of becoming a pet sitter. With their busy schedules, many people do not have the time to properly exercise their animals. Professional dog walkers are almost always in demand, and most will offer pet-sitting services. If you also have pet grooming skills, your value as a potential pet sitter has just doubled or tripled.

Pet sitters must be willing to clean a litter box if an owner is going to be gone for an extended period.
Pet sitters must be willing to clean a litter box if an owner is going to be gone for an extended period.

Once the client trusts you, and sees that his pet has been returned safe, clean, and happy, you will become the pet sitter of choice. This is one type of business where the best advertising is by word of mouth. Thus, professionalism, cleanliness, punctuality, and customer service are all important. While pets appreciate pampering, there are many pet owners who appreciate it more.

A final word of advice to those who seek to become a pet sitter: never take on more than you can handle. If you only have space for three dogs and two cats, do not accept more. Also, keep in mind that pets are not just canine and feline. Be prepared with an answer when a client calls about his pet boa constrictor, Shetland pony, or African Gray parrot. Refer the caller to the best person for the job, for this will bring you referrals in return.

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Discussion Comments

anon151285

The first challenge is establishing a good client base for your pet sitting business. There are a number of effective ways to market and advertise your pet care services.

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    • A pet sitter might walk and feed a dog and make sure it's safe and comfortable while owners are away.
      A pet sitter might walk and feed a dog and make sure it's safe and comfortable while owners are away.
    • Pet sitters might find opportunities by networking with vets.
      Pet sitters might find opportunities by networking with vets.
    • A pet sitter may offer other services, like dog training, to clients.
      A pet sitter may offer other services, like dog training, to clients.
    • A professional dog walker helps busy clients make sure their dog gets enough exercise.
      A professional dog walker helps busy clients make sure their dog gets enough exercise.
    • Pet sitters must be willing to clean a litter box if an owner is going to be gone for an extended period.
      Pet sitters must be willing to clean a litter box if an owner is going to be gone for an extended period.