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How Much Should I Charge For Overnight Dog Sitting?

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Dog Care By Alex J. Coyne 9 min read July 19, 2021 17 Comments

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Pet-sitting makes for one of the best career options out there for dog lovers; if you’re great with dogs and love spending time with them, why not consider becoming a professional pet sitter in your area?

Many people manage to earn a steady part-time income through pet-sitting, while many others have managed to turn it into a full-time career. Could that be you? We took a look at some of the ins and outs of the pet-sitting business.

When it Comes to Dog Sitting Income, Survey Says…

According to reviews website Angie’s List, users report paying an average of $37 per day for overnight pet-sitting services, with a “general range” of $25 to $50 per visit in-between.

PayScale.com lists a much-higher salary estimate at approximately $31, 000 earned per year, though note that this goes with pet-sitters who have considerable experience in the business.

It’s worth noting that the average of an overnight pet sitting gig can vary considerably depending on where you live. The easiest way to see what most are charging in your area? Check craigslist, Rover, or call up competitors and ask about their prices as if you are a customer.

Of course, how you set your own rates as a freelance pet-sitter is entirely up to you as long as you’re able to (1) cover your businesses costs and (2) provide an affordable and efficient service at competitive rates compared to similar services in your area.

Elements That Can Influence How Much You Charge

While we’ve discussed a very loose range when it comes to charging for pet sitting services, there are several other factors that can affect how much it is reasonable to charge.

Sitting Location. Will you be staying at the dog’s house or your own? Staying at the dog’s house means more comfort for the canine, but more effort for you, which means you should be able to ask for more pay. Are you dog sitting for someone who lives in the middle of nowhere? If the location is more difficult to get to, you should be able to charge a bit more for that as well.

Services Required. Your services offered as a dog sitter can vary quite a bit. In addition to keeping an eye on Fido, will you be expected to walk the dog too? How often and how far? Are there any other duties you are expected to fulfill, like taking care of plants or collecting mail? The more services you provide, the more you deserve to charge.

Number of Pets. If you’re taking care of two or three dogs, you should certainly be paid more than you would normally receive for a single canine. Cats aren’t as much work as dogs, but watching over a cat in addition to a dog should earn you a bit more too. Same with any other small or exotic pets!

Medications or Unique Medical Needs. Some dogs may have certain medical needs that require pills or shots. Depending on the care, you should be able to charge more. While feeding the dog a single heartworm pill isn’t such a big deal, daily medications or insulin shots definitely deserve some kind of pay bump.

Dog Disposition. More difficult dogs require better pay. If you’re dealing with a tough canine that is a nightmare on the leash or has behavioral issues, you deserve to get paid more than the standard rate!

Basically, consider any inconveniences in the pet sitting gig. If you’re dealing with any kind of unusual situation, you can probably ask for a higher pay grade.

How to Advertise Your Pet Sitting Services

Step one for most emerging businesses and side-ventures – yes, including yours! – is to advertise your services and products. People have to know about you before they can hire you, after all.

Here are some advertising techniques for sprouting sitters that won’t break the bank:

  • Get a Website – Even A Simple One! A professional website will be your businesses online home. While having your own website isn’t inherently necessary, it gives you a lot of clout and makes you seem like a more legitimate and serious sitter. You can set this up yourself on websites like Weebly, WordPress or Blogger. Your website should have an About page that tells people more about you and your services and a Contact page where people can get in touch at the very least.
  • Grab Some Business Cards. Business cards are cheap enough to print and pass around whenever the occasion presents itself. Ask nearby pet stores if they’re willing to let you advertise your services in their store – many, if not most, are more than happy sticking a couple of business cards on the counter for passerby customers.
  • Post Ads. Post advertisements for your services on websites like Rover and PetSitter; branch out and advertise through Facebook, let your friends know what you’re doing and make use of local and online classifieds – most, though not all, are free to use. (Use caution when meeting prospective clients and their pets, as with any other online meet-up.)
  • Word of Mouth. Word of mouth is a major component of any successful business: If you’re off to a bit of a slow start, don’t stress – as time goes on, people will hear about your excellent service. It’s your job – with business cards, websites and advertisements – that they know where to find you.

Dog Sitting With Rover: Is It Worth It?

Using a services marketplace website like Rover has pros and cons.

The advantage? Rover basically advertises your services for free. While the cost of buying PPC ads, Facebook ads, TV ads, and radio spots is well outside of the average dog sitter’s expense, Rover is a massive company with a big ad budget. When Rover promotes their website, they’re promoting you too (unfortunately that goes for your competitors as well).

Rover also is handy to have as a middleman – they can help handle customer service complaints and lend a hand if things go awry.

rover dog walking app

The major disadvantage of Rover is that you won’t get the full cut of what you make. Rover takes 15% off your earnings, leaving you with 85% of the money made. That’s not a terrible deal, but sometimes it stinks to not get the full amount that you’ve earned. The good news is that if you develop a rapport with a client, you may be able to eventually book future sitting arrangements with them directly and cut out Rover.

Another aspect of Rover that is both helpful and a hindrance is the reviews. Starting off, you may have a difficult time booking sitting sessions without a collection of shinning 5-star reviews under your belt.

A good way to combat this issue is to offer your services at a discount initially, simply doing gigs to build up reviews. Once you’ve earned a handful of strong ratings and testimonials, you can begin to up your rate to something more sustainable long term.

Some tips for winning good reviews? Take photos of you with your designated pooch and share them with the owner. Make sure to provide a detailed report about the dog’s behavior, actions, and potty movements. Going the extra mile will really impress owners and ensure a good review!

Getting Started With Your Dog Sitting Services

Ready to get started?

We have a full guide on how to become a dog sitter that you should be sure to check out! But we’ll provide you with the basics here as well.

Before you jump straight into it, you’ll have to decide exactly what kind of service it is you are going to offer.

Will pet-sitting be hourly, daily or over longer periods of time – like when a pooch’s owners go on holiday for a month?

Also consider if you will be a live-in sitter for the longer periods, and if you will be traveling to owner’s houses to collect their pooches there, or if you have an existing area – your office or home – to get things done.

Once you’ve decided, you might need some other things to get your business going – among other things, a good quality poop-scoop and wet wipes are key.

Depending on the services you’re offering, you may also require types of shampoos for every type of pooch’s skin, water and food bowls, as well as the actual food – though in most cases owners will provide their own.

You may also need to purchase a variety of dog collars and harnesses – sometimes dogs will have their own preference for a certain type of collar and refuse to walk with anything else. Again, usually owners will provide you with the dog’s main harness or favorite toys, but it’s good to have a few backups just in case.

Also make sure to ask about what treats are safe to feed the dog, and which he likes best. It’s never a bad idea to have a dog’s favorite goody on hand!

Don’t forget you’ll be dealing with all kinds of different dogs and their individual dog quirks, so be ready to adapt to the dog’s demeanor.

 Dog-sitting, like being Spider-Man, comes with great responsibility. People will be entrusting you with their beloved pets; this trust involves getting their dog from Point-A to Point-B safely and securely, making sure they’re properly fed, have gotten more than enough exercise and are, well, happy as a dog can be. Can you do that?

Let’s take one last look at what you could be charging…

Calculating Your Expenses: What Should You Charge For Dog Sitting?

dog sitting expenses

Just how much should you be charging? That will be largely dependent on what you do, how you do it, and how much it costs you.

Do a little bit of market research in your area: Call other pet owners and ask them if they’re already making use of such a service and, if yes, how much they are paying for it; find out what makes them happy about existing services and what they feel they could be offering – that’s how you spot a gap in the market.

Also consider calling up a few local competitors and posing as a customer to get their rates. Remeber, anyone with an already established business and more experience will likely be able to charge more than you will when you’re still new and getting started. Still, you’ll get a good ballpark amount on what the going rate is for dog sitting.

With this market research, you can take into account what others are charging.

From there, you want to take a good, long look at your expenses. Profit is calculated by subtracting your income you’re your expenses – you’re looking for a positive number here, of course.

Grab a pen and piece of paper, then make a list of everything that will be costing you money to make the business a reality – think of starting costs (things you will likely only pay for once or twice during the start-up phase) and running costs (what it will consistently cost you to keep things going.)

These expenses can include dog collars and other pooch-related accessories, travel costs (depending on how far you’re traveling, gas can be a big one), advertising costs, pet sitting insurance, etc.

From that, you should be able to calculate how much you will need to charge in order to cover your costs – and, of course, make a profit.

Are you on your way to pet-sitter stardom? We hope so! Are you an experienced pet sitter – share your tips in the comments! Got more questions? Let them fly in the comments and we’ll try to provide guidance.

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Written by

Alex J. Coyne

Alex J. Coyne is a freelance journalist with eight years’ experience writing for publications like People Magazine, Re:Fiction, Great Bridge Links and NB Publishers. Sometimes, his three dogs take him for walks around the neighborhood; they offer helpful feedback on his work and
offer little to no comment on his singing.

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17 Comments

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Nina

Just an FYI, Rover takes not 15% but 20%.

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Candace Linton

I have been an in-home pet/house sitter for several years. I stay at their home and sometimes for 1-2 nights at mine. But, I basically move into their home for the period of time they will be gone. I get their mail, cook my food etc. When, I leave the owners can’t tell I’ve been there I wash my dishes and clean up after myself. I keep the animals routine as normal as possible. I work a full time job and go back to their home on my lunch break to let animals out etc. I am off work (at a school) most holidays and summer when people are traveling. Plus, I only work Mon.-Fri. 7:30a-3:30p. I love getting to know different animals. I have watched over 30 dogs in the years I’ve been pet sitting.

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Denise Hilton

I have been using Wagwalking and currently taking care of 2 dogs. I make around $2600 per month since I am doing it full-time (9 hours). There’s another website called Pawshake and they also offer very good rates.

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Lisa Chapman

Your information is EXTREMELY helpful for my 21 year old who joined the pet industry 2.5 yrs.ago! Clients at her Doggie Day Care love her and she has gained personal referrals for private care from them. She is always unsure about what to charge, especially with all the different care scenarios; her home, their home, overnight, meds, # of pets, driving distance, etc. Thanks so much for this direct and informative site.

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Peg Harrington

Hello i am in need of some information ,I want to apply for this dog sitting job but i really don’t no how much to charge .I have done a lot of small jobs ,but never a 3 month one,this is a German Shepherd 3 year old they say she is well trained and gentle.but i never had to figure out this kind of job.I am assuming she will come to my house,big yard but no walking has i can’t walk very well ,don’t mind being out so she gets lots of exercise.I don’t even no if i will get this job but i am torn as to what to do.Many dogs in my area and this will give me a good start to tell any further people wanting help.They say the kennels are out of their price range ,but i may call to see what they are charging .I hope you can give me some help ,and appreciate any advice .Thank you in advance.
Peg

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Meg Marrs

Hi Peg – I think you are right to call the local kennel and see what they are charging. You of course will charge less than them, but it is good to know. Try going on Rover and seeing what others pay for a similar service. Good luck!

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Tanya

Im watching a a little yorkie at my house and bringing him to doggie day care while im at work during the day and picking him up after work for a week while mom and dad are in Australia how much should I charge?

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Meg Marrs

We try to answer this in the article – it really depends on competing prices in your area. I would say somewhere between $30 – $40 per day. I am assuming the owners are paying for daycare?

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Anne

Great article thank you. Question: If you’ve made a contract for a week or two of overnight petsitting for a set price and the client decides to come home early (for no particular reason), do you expect payment for the entire contracted week? Or do you charge a percentage? Thanks so much for a response.

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Meg Marrs

Hi Anne – glad you liked the article! I imagine it really depends. I think it’s not unreasonable to expect the full amount agreed upon if the owners just decide they want to end their trip early. Or, if you want to maintain a good relationship with the client and see a possibility for future work with them, you could take 50% or so of the days not used. Really depends on the situation and what you’re comfortable with.

Would love to hear what others would do!

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Sharon

Great information. In addition to the above I have found it an added feature if you become Pet Tech Certfied for CPR and first aid for animals. It is good training and is good for 2 years. I also recommend an LLC and your own Insurance which is usually 120-150 per year

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Meg Marrs

Great advice Sharon!

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Kay

Hey Lesia! In my experience dogs pee in unfamiliar territory. Some need to be “trained ” for your home to insure this doesn’t happen.

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Lesia

How do you handle a male dog that you are sitting for in your own home who likes to lift leg and mark territory? I’ve started doing dog sitting recently and this has been a challenge. Also are there any products that you might would recommend ? I made a mixture of lemon scented Lysol and vinegar to put in a spray bottle for cleaning up

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Selima Williams

Thanks for the helpful information

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Joanne Matthews

I have been doing dogsitting out of my home part time for about 20 years through word-of-mouth referrals. I’m now seriously thinking of doing this as a full time occupation, as I lost my job of 15 years last December. I have a pug of my own that gets along with ALL dogs. This article was very useful to me! Having owned three dogs prior to my pug, I have numerous harnesses, leashes, collars, and food bowls at my disposal. A couple of things I will add to this article though is ALWAYS insist that the dog owner bring their own food. I say this because if you feed a dog food that is not his/her own, that will almost ALWAYS upset their stomachs. Also make sure the fur parent provides proof of vaccinations, names and phone numbers of their vets and phone numbers to call in the event of an emergency.

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Meg Marrs

Good tips, thanks for sharing Joanne! Yes, I agree that having owners bring their own food is the best course of action. Probably smart to have extra food on hand just in case, but any dog will definitely be happier (and probably healthier) eating the food they are used to.

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