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How to Become a Professional Pet Sitter/Dog Walker



Job hunting can be a frustrating task. There is the résumé building, the narrowing down of prospective employers, the interview process, not to mention the obligatory "jumping through hoops." But if you love pets, are reliable, honest and hard working, and are interested in a career that is both fun and challenging, you'll want to join the wonderful world of professional pet sitting and dog walking. That way the pets can do all the hoop jumping for you (which will really only be when you're sitting or walking circus pets).


Let's start with pet sitting. There are two ways to get your foot in the proverbial door. First of all, you can join an already established agency or train under someone who has set up a solid business and needs to hand jobs over to someone else. Or open door number two and start your own pet sitting company.


Of course, both options have their ups and downs. Working for someone else will mean a boss, and perhaps less money than if you were working for yourself, but you’re also not doing the difficult behind-the-scenes tasks, such as getting clients, liaising with clients and dealing with problems as they arise. Working for others means you just have to be available when you say you are. None of this, “I’m not getting out of bed for less than $10,000 a day,” a la Linda Evangelista, the Canadian supermodel. Just make sure you are reliable when it counts.


If you do decide to work for yourself, you need to build a reputation. Bully all your friends into using your services and get their friends to hire you, too. Post ads on veterinary bulletin boards, Craigslist, and pass out fliers around town. It may take awhile to see the fruits of your labor, but usually the larger the effort, the larger the payout.



Comments  5

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  • Interested
    08/01/2014 12:51am

    Do I need to do any courses to be legal? Or am I capable of doing the pet sitting without any certificates?

    I'm no professional, but I have worked in a couple of vet clinics and I have the time to spare, to being to do such a thing.

    FYI I am in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.

    And thank you!

  • 12/05/2016 05:33pm

    **Do I need to do any courses to be legal? Or am I capable
    **of doing the pet sitting without any certificates?

    There are certification programs through companies like DogTec, Pet Sitters International (PSI) (global), National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) (US/Canada) and others. These certifications help you ensure you're doing the best you can for your clients and their fur/scale/feather babies.

    There are also courses in Pet CPR and First Aid which I'd consider as something that should have been mentioned in this article. Many companies offer these courses, my favorite is PetTech, as their course is very hands on and well created, but there are many other companies that service different areas of the country and world.

    If you're planning on working for another company know that you might be an Independent Contractor (IC) or an Employee. Depending on your town, city, state/region/country's laws you may only be able to legally be an Employee. Check this yourself do not rely on the companies to make sure as things may have changed and they didn't notice. IC's must carry their own insurance, have their own clients, on top of also working for the company they are contracted with. Employees are typically only working with one company, and that company holds all the liability.

    If striking it out on your own, you'll need Insurance. You should also have the Pet CPR/first aid certification, bonding, and membership with one of the leading organizations for pet-care, like PSI and NAPPS. You'll need the ability to manage social media, client wants and expectations, and plenty of other businessy things, so it only ends up being about 25% pets, 75% business management for your day unless you manage things smartly by automating portions of it. Pet Sitting Software is a great way to do this and I suggest it to everyone, even solo folks that never intend to hire. My favorite is Time To Pet, but there's also Handlr, Leashtime, Pet Sit Plus, and many many others.

  • 12/05/2016 05:35pm

    I forgot to mention you also need to check your city/town/state/region's laws regarding how your business itself can operate, especially if you plan to board dogs in your own home. Make sure you register as a business legally with any entity your service area requires.

  • This Is All Wrong
    12/05/2016 10:29pm

    Coming from approximately 7 years of professional dog walking and pet sitting experience this "article" is all wrong.

    I can't imagine me saying "Hire me because I won't drink your booze" Maybe back in the day when it was your next door neighbor's son's girlfriend but today we study dog and pet behavior, we invest our lively hood for our client's pets. We take courses for Pet CPR and First Aid, learn of typical breed habits, dog training, invest a lot of time in dog training.

    Today, pet parents aren't looking for that "I'm not going to drink your booze" they're looking for the qualified dog and cat person, that can handle emergencies and work with dog behaviors. They're looking for a professional that has invested their heart and souls into pets.

    Maybe the writer would be interested in interviewing a true professional? Hit me up!

  • Pet-Sitter Tips
    12/06/2016 05:46pm

    With the growing need for pet-care services, starting a professional pet- sitting or dog-walking service is a great opportunity. Loving pets, being honest and hardworking are all important traits for this profession (as the article mentions), but working in this industry requires much more. It's important that prospective pet sitters understand that not operating legally (having proper business license, if needed, for example) and not having the necessarily business credentials (pet-sitter insurance, for example) can create a very risky situation for the pet sitter, the clients and their pets. PSI advises pet owners to ask (and pet sitters to be able to answer "Yes") to seven important questions:

    Does the pet sitter have the proper business license for your city or state?

    Is the pet sitter insured and bonded?

    Can the pet sitter provide proof of clear criminal history?

    Does the pet sitter provide client references?

    Will the pet sitter use a pet-sitting services agreement or contract?

    Is the pet sitter a Certified Professional Pet Sitter™ and/or has he or she participated in pet-care training, such as pet first aid?

    Is the pet sitter a member of a professional and educational association, such as Pet Sitters International?

    PSI offers a variety of resources for those interested in joining the professional pet-sitting industry.

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