It seems that pet sitting is a natural career choice for dog lovers hoping to make a living doing something they enjoy. And with dog ownership on the rise, pet caretakers are currently in high demand. If you're considering starting your own pet sitting business, you've probably been wondering what dog sitting rates average in your area and what you should charge your clients.
Dog sitting is undoubtedly a rewarding job, but like any position that allows you to determine your own rates, it can be a difficult service to price. This article will give you an idea of how pet sitters set their rates and what they should expect from their salary.
You'll need to take into consideration your experience and the area that your business is located in. You don't want to set your rates too high and turn clients away. At the same time, you need to make a living, so you don't want to price your services so low that you can't pay your bills.
Ask a Dog Sitter: Dog Sitting Rates & Dog Sitter Salary
According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, the average pet sitter has a median gross income of $18,000.00 per year. It should be noted that a sitter's salary is highly dependent upon experience, so there is quite a large gap between a beginner's salary and the earnings of a sitter who has years of experience in the business.
It is also reported that dog sitters charge an average of $17.75 per visit, but because of the wide range of prices and what constitutes a visit, the median rate of $16.00 per visit is a better representation.
Some pet sitters just show up, let the dog out to use the bathroom, fill his water dish and then let him back inside. Others will spend time playing with the dog and may tend to other animals in the home too.
It's always a good idea to keep your dog sitting rates on the lower end when you're first starting out. Do some research on the pricing of pet sitting services near you and offer your services for a slightly lower rate.
Don't sell yourself short, but understand that until you build a reputation and land a few regular clients, you'll want to have value on your side.
We'll use the NAPPS median rate of about $16.00 for thirty minutes of dog sitting as an example. If this were the average price for a half hour visit from a dog sitter in your town, it would be reasonable for a new pet sitter to charge around $12.00-$14.00 for an appointment of the same amount of time.
Pricing based on different services
One of the first things that you need to decide when starting a career as a pet sitter is which services you want to offer. These services will greatly effect your dog sitting rates. Pet sitting is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of tasks. Some options to consider might be:
- dog walking
- play dates at the dog park or a similar location
- dog sitting in the owner's home
- boarding in your own home
- taking the dog to appointments
- tending to other pets in the home
A free meet and greet in the owner's presence is a courtesy that most sitters offer. Not only will it ensure that the dog is comfortable with you, but it will put the owner's mind at ease to meet who they're hiring before committing. I have never had a meet and greet that didn't result in a job, but it really is worth the extra trip to make sure everyone is happy with the arrangement.
For instance, an average night of boarding with Fetch Pet Care is between $45.00 and $55.00 depending on the size of the dog.
These dog sitting rates seem to be pretty representative across the board. In-home pet sitting is generally a little more expensive, falling into the $60.00-$70.00/day range on average.
Most dog sitters charge an additional fee to sit for multiple dogs at once. According to NAAPS, it is more common to set your base rate for one dog, but about 33% of pet sitters include two.
Doubling the rate for each dog won't be a very attractive option for clients, so additional fees should be some fraction of the original price. For example, if you normally charge $16.00 for to pet sit for one dog, it would be reasonable to add about $3-$5 for each dog after that.
Variables that will effect your dog sitting rates
There are a couple of variables that need to be addressed before any dog sitting rates are settled upon. Setting pre-determined pricing for situations, even some that might seem unusual, will help you in the long term. The difficulty of pet-sitting can change drastically between jobs.
Does the dog have special health or behavioral needs? These should also be addressed delicately with the owner before officially accepting the job to make sure you are up to the task and don't severely undervalue your service. All dogs need to be looked after attentively, but those who've experienced trauma or are in poor health require that you be hyper-aware of signs that could lead to trouble.
Consider your location when setting rates. A dog sitter will be able to charge more in a densely populated city than in a rural area for a few reasons. The cost of living in cities is generally higher, as is the demand for pet services.
People living in cities often don't have yards with enough open space for their pets to get proper exercise, and a good deal of them travel for work frequently. This necessitates that their pet be cared for while they are gone. A quick area code search on Rover.com shows that the average price of a pet sitter in Los Angeles is around $35.00-$50.00 per night while the same services in rural Georgia cost between $20.00-$30.00.
None of this is to say that you can't make a living pet sitting in a smaller town – just that you will probably need to set your rates lower if you live in a less populated area where the demand for pet care services may not be as high.
You will also want to set rules regarding holiday prices, last-minute emergency visits and penalty fees for late payments before they are necessary.
Make sure these are easily located in your price list. This will keep you from having to make a hasty, individual decision when you run into an these situations.
Another important thing to remember is that pet sitting will probably require you to transport dogs in your personal vehicle. The amount of time required for travel, as well as fuel prices and increased wear and tear on your car should be factored into what you plan to charge. Some pet sitters charge specifically for travel while others choose to set a boundary for their services and charge extra for jobs outside of the area.
The condensed version
Your salary as a dog sitter is largely in your control. Provided that you live in an area where you can find enough steady work, all it will take for you to become a successful dog sitter is a lot of planning and hard work.
If you stick with it long enough to maintain regular customers, you will likely find yourself with a comfortable salary and a messy but awesome job filled with belly rubs, slobbery kisses, and happy four legged friends.
Just be sure that you start out below the average price for dog sitting in your area and then gradually increase your prices as you gain experience. Sitting down to write a business plan would be a great place to start. You'll have all the information you'll need in one spot. It will be easy to set your dog sitting rates after that.