What to charge for pet sitting



Note: My ebook on how to start a pet sitting business is guaranteed to be the best resource available for pet sitters! Check it out here. The cost is $17.

What should you charge for pet sitting?

Pet sitters generally don’t charge enough. New pet sitters seem to worry they won’t get new clients if they charge too much. Or, they worry they don’t have enough experience to justify charging more. This is the wrong mindset. If you are a pet sitter, you should believe your services are highly valued.

Professional pet sitters should charge at least $20 per 30-minute visit when caring for dogs, cats and small animals like ferrets, bunnies and fish.

Suggested minimum rates:

  • 15 minutes: $15
  • 30 minutes: $20
  • 60 minutes: $27

Factors to consider when determining how much to charge for pet sitting

This is based on my own experience as a professional pet sitter. For more information, see my post on how to start a pet sitting business.

Ever wonder what to charge for pet sitting four large dogs?

What is your competition charging for pet sitting?

Look at what existing pet sitters in your area are charging, and offer something comparable to the high end. If the range is about $18 to $25 per half-hour visit, you should charge $25.

Make pet sitting worth your time.

A “30-minute” visit will take you about an hour or maybe more when you consider driving time to and from the appointment. Your time is valuable, so charge accordingly.

Offer different options for the length of each visit

Give people multiple options. For example, allow them to select 15-minute visits, 30-minute visits or 60-minute visits. And allow them to mix and match. So, someone might request one 60-minute visit and two 15-minute visits per day. This will give your customers some flexibility on how much they spend. Give them a better deal on longer visits. Charge enough for shorter visits to make them worth your time.

Charge more for pet sitting multiple dogs.

If a client has multiple dogs, it’s OK to charge extra for each additional dog. I charge $5 extra per visit for each additional dog. For example, a 30-minute visit for one dog is $20. A 30-minute visit for three dogs is $30.

If you want to maintain a flat rate regardless of the number of dogs, then charge a bit more.

Your pet sitting service is the best.

Some people hire pet sitters because they think they can save money, but those are not your target customers. You want to attract customers who appreciate quality pet care. These are the people who will appreciate your compassion for dogs and your dedication to quality service. They will hire you because you have experience handling and training dogs. They will hire you because you know what to do in an emergency, you are respectful of property, and dogs feel comfortable and safe around you.

Be professional!

You aren’t starting a pet sitter business as a hobby or to pay off your credit card. You are offering pet sitting because it’s a passion and a career.

As a professional pet sitter, you take yourself seriously. You have a modern, crisp web site with high-resolution photos. You accept credit card payments. You carry pet sitting insurance. You pay your taxes. You are properly licensed. You network within your community. You donate your time and money to animal shelters because you care.

Offer dog walking.

As a pet sitter, you need to provide dog walking as an option for your clients, and this service should be included in your flat rates. For example, if someone requests three 30-minute visits per day, maybe one of those visits is spent walking. For another client, you might only spend 20 minutes walking, leaving 10 minutes for feeding, saying hello and so on. Each dog will have different needs, and you should be advertising yourself as a dog sitter and a dog walker.

Care the most.

If you care about each pet as though she were your own, it will show. If you love your job, it will be obvious. You can’t be a good pet sitter if you’re doing it for the money alone. You are a good  pet sitter because you love caring for people’s pets. People will notice, and they will want to hire you and pay you accordingly.

Pet sitting ebook how to start a pet sitting businessHave you hired a pet sitter? What did you pay for that service?

Do you own a pet sitting business? How did you determine your rates?

Don’t forget to check out my ebook here, or click on the ebook cover on the right.

 



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  1. Amanda on March 24, 2013

    Hi Lindsay. I live near Washington, DC, in an urban area that is saturated with pet sitting/dog walking businesses. The going rates are a little lower than what you had outlined in your post. I work for a company, not for myself.

    The company charges $10/15 minutes, $15/30 minutes, $60 for overnight (walker sleeps at the client’s house). There are additional small fees for late reservations and multiple pets, and an additional large fee for visits on a holiday (we go by the Federal holiday schedule).

    One thing I’ve noticed that you don’t write as much about is expanding your business to include employees, and the economics involved in that. The company that I work for is not a chain, just one home office servicing the nearby area, owned by a really nice lady. However they have around 50 employees, including at least three office workers to manage the workload. I think that part of the reason their rates can be lower is because of the volume of business coming through there- they are making money. For an individual looking to transition to full-time pet sitting on their own in this particular business environment, I think you would need to (a)charge more because you obviously can’t have hundreds of clients and (b)have a special service you offer so that you can justify higher rates to potential customers. Dog running is something I haven’t seen here yet!

    One idea I was kicking around (since I think about this stuff even though I don’t plan on opening a business) is to have some kind of puppy program. Puppies need more bathroom breaks, socialization, etc. and specializing in puppy needs could help someone to get business. I had one client who had two HOUR LONG walks every day for their puppy. You could become an expert in puppies and their needs and offer discounts for multiple visits/day. If you had other clients on board you could do “puppy pairings” where you walked a puppy along with another clients dog to help socialize them. I think there are lots of ways to stand out.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on March 25, 2013

      All great points! I love your puppy idea. I’ve thought about that as well because there is definitely a need for that everywhere. Thank you for your input.

    • Ty Brown on March 29, 2013

      Wow, 50 employees! That’s awesome. Do you feel comfortable sharing the website? I’d be interested to study a pet sitting business that does that kind of volume.

      Now, I don’t have a business that large so my opinion may be of little value but the high volume/low price model historically ends up backfiring in just about any industry. It sounds like they’re making it work but I wonder how much better it could work if they examined their model and pricing structure? Perhaps it wouldn’t work at all but I’d be curious to see.

      • Amanda on March 29, 2013

        Hi Ty, the website is http://www.timeforawalk.com. You click through the landing page to get to the main website. They are a great company, with rates that are competitive for the area.

      • Lindsay Stordahl Author on March 29, 2013

        There is at a pet sitting company in my town that has maybe 20 employees. They are all part-time employees. I don’t trust the company because the employees tend to be students, and they are somewhat unreliable as far as showing up for pet sitting visits. I know this because I applied for a job there back in the day and the owner actually complained to me about her existing employees. The quality of the care just seems weak over all. But they do charge less, and that is what some customers care about most. So they are certainly meeting a need and I imagine the business owners are doing quite well.

        This is just one example, though. There are of course all kinds of pet sitting companies out there with multiple employees and they’ve manged to find a good system where the quality of care is excellent.

        • Amanda on March 29, 2013

          In this economy I think the reliability thing can be less of an issue. I know that the company I work for does not hire young walkers without a bachelors degree. When I worked there as my primary job I was a grad student, and I know a lot of their employees were in the same boat. The company can be choosy because they have so many applicants.

          • Lindsay Stordahl Author on March 29, 2013

            I’m glad to hear they are choosy about their employees. I bet they get applicants in almost every day.

  2. Chris on March 27, 2013

    Great article Lindsay.
    My boarding business is different from petsitting, but there are some similarities.
    When I first started, my idea was to keep my business small enough I could run
    it myself. I also wanted to make it affordable for the average dog owner who
    needed my services.
    The result was a business rapidly spiraling out of control! Too many dogs, too
    few of me. I had to close down for a year and rethink my whole plan.
    I raised my prices, and I stated my purpose upfront so my clients would know
    why I was in business, and what my time limitations would be. I also wanted them to know that my priority is quality care, not quantity.
    I have fewer dogs now, am making less money, but feel like I have finally achieved what I set out to achieve initially. I’m happier and the dogs are more relaxed.
    In the area where I operate, there is a wide array of dog boarding, sitting, and
    walking services. My advice to anyone considering a start up is to first identify
    what is your purpose, and what do you expect to achieve. Then, look around
    and see if your expectations fit the reality of the area in which you will be working
    and the reality of your financial requirements.
    In today’s world, caring for someone else’s animals is a big responsibility. Any
    number of things can go wrong and you need to be prepared, mentally,
    legally, and financially.
    In my previous life, I made a living as a flight nurse, dealing with people in the most critical of times. Honestly, taking care of a person’s precious pet, is just
    about as nerve wracking!
    Thanks again for another great article

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on March 27, 2013

      I think you have such a great business! I look at your web site every now and then, and that looks like somewhere I would be comfortable leaving my dog. I know you would encourage him to be on his best manners. That’s not always the case at your typically dog boarding/daycare facility.

      • Chris on March 27, 2013

        Thanks Lindsay
        If you are ever out this way, stop by, Ace would probably love the place!

  3. Ty Brown on March 29, 2013

    Have you ever experimented with a different pricing model altogether? For example, my dog training business used to operate in the same model as what you describe in this article and the same as most other dog training businesses out there.

    That is to say, we charged $X per X amount of sessions. A couple years back, though, we moved away from the time for $ model into a membership model where people aren’t just getting private sessions they are also getting on-going group sessions, online memberships, concierge services, etc. In other words, we have a membership service.

    The net result is the ability to charge more, move the discussion away from $/hour, and provide a more comprehensive service.

    Not sure how you would do it in pet sitting but just wanted to throw down food for thought.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on March 29, 2013

      Actually, I really like that approach, Ty. I will give that some thought. Or maybe it could be an option for some people.

  4. Beth on April 3, 2013

    I am a dog trainer in the twin cities area and have been looking into starting my own in home training. My original plan was to have a training session while the owner was home pretty much like class brought to you. But after looking around I am wondering if pairing it with dog sitting might be a good option. I am looking for some feedback and if any one a has experience with the in home training.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on April 3, 2013

      I don’t have a lot of experience marketing myself as a trainer. Through offering dog walking, I naturally work with dogs on basic walking skills, and with others I work on socialization and that type of thing. There will always be dog owners who need help with training and would like their dogs to also get exercise.

      As far as pet sitting, I’m sure there are some people who would love a trainer to work with their dogs while they are away. For me, though, the majority of my pet sitting customers just ewant their dogs to have fun and be well cared for. So … there is certainly an opportunity for what you want to do, but it’s all about how you market yourself. Just doing private training sessions at the dog’s home while the owner is there might be what most people want. I am not sure. Let me know what you end up doing. I am from the Lake Minnetonka area originally :)

  5. Colleen on October 14, 2014

    I pet sit in my home. The dogs are taken for walks, they sleep in my bed with me and go to work with me ( I’m a groomer) I started doing this as so many customers were asking where they could find a good pet sitter. My dilemma is what to charge and how to handle those people that think if they drop them off at…say 4 or 5, that doesn’t count as a day. Any thoughts? I live in North Carolina.

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