How to Become a Pet Sitter

PetMD Editorial
Updated: October 13, 2020
Published: March 08, 2012
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Making Pet Sitting Your Business

Do you love caring for animals and want to consider doing it for a living? Perhaps you were asked to sit for a neighbor or family member’s pet, and loved it – many professional pet sitters start out that way. Here are ten tips that will help any budding pet sitter.

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#10 Get Good Recommendations

Word of mouth is vital currency when trying to get professionally established, at any level. Be able to provide references and/or testimonials from clients who can vouch for your professionalism. Building a strong and positive reputation may be the one thing standing between you and the next client. If you’re good at what you do, you’ll be up and running in no time!

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#9 Become Familiar with Your Surroundings

This almost goes without saying, but having an established veterinarian and/or animal hospital is a pretty important aspect of being a pet sitter. Most pet sitters go to the client’s home, so make sure to know where the closest animal hospital is. Just getting the client’s veterinary information is not enough – should one of your charges require emergency medical attention, you want to be able to act quickly.

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#8 Establish a Support System

It’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan in case you need a helping hand. Consider working with another pet sitter who can help you out if you get into a bind while taking care of your charges. You may also want to work with a pet groomer to keep business flowing!

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#7 Provide Special Services

Some pet sitters provide additional services as well as pet sitting, including special attention to exercise and/or therapy or training. The sky is the limit on what types of services you can strive to add to your repertoire – from assisting with competitive sport training to aquatic sports and/or therapy. You can find many types of services pet sitters provide, but don’t forget to listen to your existing clients for tips.

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#6 Figure Out Your Pet Sitter Rates

You want to know how to set up your rates, but don’t know where to start? The best way is to look up other local pet sitters and find out what the going professional rates are in your area. Then, you can create a sliding scale on what to charge based on years of experience and additional services provided. Don’t forget to include additional expenses such as mileage and other hidden expenses.

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#5 Prepare a Questionnaire

As surely as responsible pet parents will have questions for you, it’s an equally good idea to have a list of preliminary questions to ask your prospective clients. On the top of the list is whether the pet you’ll be looking after has any special medical or nutritional needs. Older pets may need extra care or attention, so make sure you’re up to the task prior to taking on the new charge.

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#4 Pay Special Attention (to Special Needs)

Horror stories abound with clients who left their diabetic or geriatric pet in the care of an uninformed pet sitter. If the pet you’ve decided to care for is on medication, find out if there are additional dietetic needs, allergies, or acute conditions to watch out for. If you’re unsure about the specifics of the pet’s needs, speak with the veterinarian’s office.

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#3 Read the Trade Publications

Pet Sitters World is a bimonthly magazine published by Pet Sitters International (PSI), an organization you surely want to take note of. In the magazine, you will discover a plethora of information and resources to help you get your start.

#2 Luck Favors the Prepared

Sometimes, the unexpected happens while pet sitting, resulting in collateral damage. What would you do if, while caring for your charges, you accidentally break or damage something within your client’s home? Consider these kinds of questions so you won’t be caught unawares. Form a comprehensive checklist that includes emergency numbers to a support network, be prepared to face the unexpected with a smile, and keep your charges happy.

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#1 Plan for Your Future

Both the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) and PSI offer certification programs to solidify your pet sitting career. Consider mapping out a plan by checking what criteria both organizations ask for in order to people to become certified. Becoming a certified pet sitter will give you a seal of approval from a vetted organization that can only help further your career. You may also want to look into becoming licensed, bonded, and insured.