We both have many years of experience in the professional pet sitting industry. That’s why we wrote this post to help you determine your pet sitting rates whether you are a pet sitter or if you are the one hiring a pet sitter.
First, we’ll go over what a pet sitter actually does, the services they offer and what pet sitting rates you can expect to pay. Typically, pet sitters set their own rates, so this post will help you understand what to expect.
IN THIS POST:
- Pet sitters who own their own business
- Pet sitters through Wag and Rover
- Do pet sitters stay overnight?
- Services pet sitters offer
- What to pay a pet sitter
- Pet taxi service rates
- How to determine your pet sitting rates
- Tips for choosing a pet sitter
- How much to pay a friend to pet sit
- Do I tip a pet sitter?
Different types of pet sitters
Pet sitters who own their own business typically make pet sitting their career and tend to be the most reputable kind of pet sitter.
They offer a variety of services, and they set their own rates for services like:
- Pet sitting in their own homes
- Pet sitting in their clients’ homes, including overnight stays
- Dog walking
- Pet taxi services
- House sitting
- Errand services
They also go through the administrative trouble of:
- Registering their business
- Carrying professional pet sitting liability insurance
- Having a system in place for invoicing their clients and collecting payments
- Running marketing campaigns
- Having a business website
- Paying taxes
- Hiring staff
When a professional pet sitter decides to bring on staff, they could either be part time help or full time pet sitters. They typically undergo a background check as part of the hiring process. After all, they’ll have access to clients’ beloved pets, homes, keys and alarm systems and need to be trustworthy and true animal lovers.
For more info, see: How to start a pet sitting business
A less challenging option of working as a pet sitter is to start a business under a larger company such as Rover or Wag. These pet sitting platforms make it very easy to create a free pet sitting profile that can be set up in a few minutes, enabling pet sitters to potentially start taking clients that very week.
They set their own schedule and pet sitting rates, and specify whether they’ll watch dogs in their own home or at the client’s home. However, it can be tough setting yourself apart from the crowd as these pet sitting platforms become more and more popular, and clients have hundreds of pet sitters to choose from.
What’s good to know for peace of mind is that pet sitters through Wag and Rover are covered through professional pet sitting liability insurance, just like pet sitters who own their own business.
Barbara has been working in the professional pet sitting industry since 2012 and has owned her own pet sitting/dog walking business since 2015, so her expectations were extremely high when she hired a dog walker through Rover.com.
Although she had her doubts about finding a truly capable pet sitter on Rover, Barbara was positively surprised and very happy with the woman who ended up taking care of her dog. She was in her mid 20s and in between jobs, a true animal lover and 100% reliable. Mandy & Barbara are still friends on social media to this day!
Students looking to make some money pet sitting
The biggest difference between the previous two pet sitters and students looking to make some money on the side is that the latter usually don’t carry professional pet sitting liability insurance (unless they create a pet sitting profile through Wag or Rover).
However, they’re usually pricing their services below the average pet sitting rates for a certain geographical area, which can make them attractive to clients looking for pet sitting on a budget.
One of the downsides of considering hiring students is that they’re typically limited in the amount of pet sitting they’re able to do and may actually only be able to pet sit during breaks from school. This means that they may not be the best fit for clients who are looking for a regular pet sitter or dog walker.
Several of Barbara’s pet sitting clients told her about pet sitting experiences they had with students – none of them were good and involved partying at the client’s homes while they were out of town. We recommend vetting people who’ll have access to your home very carefully! You’ll find more information on which questions to ask a potential pet sitter in our section How to choose a pet sitter.
Let’s take a closer look at the service options pet sitters typically offer.
They’re usually able to accommodate a variety of different wishes their clients might have, ranging from just a few daily check-ins to a mix of overnight stays and midday check-ins or even 24 hour care at the pet sitters’ home. Obviously, the more customized the service request is, the more expensive it’s going to be for the client.
Daily pet sitting check-ins or “visits”
The daily check-in option is the most commonly requested one. For dogs, it consists of three or four daily visits at the client’s home, typically ranging in length from 30 minutes to an hour.
Some clients request longer visits in the mornings and at night time along with a shorter midday visit. Others are fine with three or four 30 minute visits.
Cat owners usually request one or two daily visits, usually depending on how many times the cats are fed per day. Some cat owners are even ok with just one visit every other day to refill food and water bowls and scoop litter boxes.
It essentially comes down to personal preference, the pet’s routine, and the client’s budget.
Overnight stays at the client’s home
Overnight stays at the client’s home are a great solution for pets, specifically dogs who get anxious when left alone at night. They’re also great for anxious HUMAN clients and house sitting purposes.
Since the pet sitter will spend a decent amount of time at the client’s home, overnight visits are more costly than regular check-ins. See our section How much should I pay a pet sitter? for information on rates for overnight stays.
It’s common to combine overnight stays with an additional midday visit for potty breaks and/or walks, a little playtime and TLC. Some pet sitters charge extra for the midday visit (Barbara does). Others include it in their overnight package price.
Boarding at the pet sitter’s home
Another option is boarding at the pet sitter’s home. That’s what it’s called when clients drop their pet(s) off at the pet sitter’s home for at least one day, but most boarding requests are made for several days up to several weeks, sometimes even months.
This type of pet sitting requires the client’s pets (usually dogs) to get along with the pet sitter’s pets. It’s rare that pet sitters don’t have their own pets. That being said, boarding at the pet sitter’s home is not a good fit for every client as their pets might not do well with other pets.
How pet sitting differs from traditional dog boarding facilities
In-home pet sitting either at the client’s home or at the pet sitter’s home differs drastically from traditional dog boarding facilities. The main difference is the level of care pets receive. In-home pet sitting is a lot more customized and geared towards one-on-one pet care, whereas traditional dog boarding facilities only offer group pet care.
The latter usually have about one staff member responsible for 10 dogs. This obviously makes it impossible to offer the same level of care a personal pet sitter is able to offer.
Dog boarding facilities do have the advantage of being less expensive than personal in-home pet care, at least as far as boarding for one pet is concerned. They typically charge per pet, whereas some pet sitters charge a flat rate regardless of your number of pets.
Another advantage of dog boarding facilities is that they usually have a vet on staff or are located very closely to a veterinary clinic.
See our post: 10 things to do when boarding your dog
Pet sitters wear several different hats depending on their respective job and the pets they care for. Some pet sitters only work with smaller animals such as dogs, cats, ferrets, guinea pigs, fish, reptiles and birds, while others care exclusively for horses or work with pets from both categories.
During check-in visits:
- Feed the pets
- Refresh their water
- Administer medications if necessary
- Offer playtime & TLC
- Take dogs for potty breaks and/or walks
- Bring in mail
- Adjust blinds/lights
- Take out trash cans/bring them back inside
- Send picture and/or video updates to their clients
During overnight stays:
- Take dogs for a longer walk in the evenings and/or mornings if requested
- Sleep at the client’s home, sometimes in the client’s bed if requested, potentially with the client’s pets on the bed (or under the sheets, ha!)
- Offer extended playtime and TLC
- Walk their dog clients
- Feed them and refresh water bowls
- Administer medications if required
- Offer playtime and TLC
- Send picture and/or video updates of their furry guests to their clients
Pet sitting for horses and other large animals
The level of care for horses can differ as much as the level for smaller pets does. It depends entirely on the client’s requests and their budget. Some horse sitters will check-in on their client’s horses 2-3 times per day to feed them, groom them, clean stalls and take them out of their barns onto a pasture (that’s called “turnout”) and bring them back into the barn in the evening or in case of inclement weather.
Other horse sitters are hired to watch the horses as well as ride them on the client’s property for an extended period of time, and some even move into a guest house or apartment on the horse property in order to be able to care for the animals 24/7. This job pays very well, but it also limits the horse sitter’s personal time.
Barbara knows a dedicated horse sitter who permanently lives on the client’s farm as the client travels a lot. His personal time is more or less non-existent, but his love for horses and for his job outweighs that “minor” detail.
Pet taxi service
Pet sitters who offer pet taxi services provide rides for their pet clients to or from the groomer, vet, boarding place or any other location the pet needs to go to. Sometimes their client asks them to stick around until the end of the pet’s appointment and give them a ride back home.
For safety reasons, all pets that are being transported in the pet sitter’s car should either be traveling in a pet carrier or be securely attached to a dog seatbelt.
House sitting and errands
Some pet sitters also provide services that don’t actively involve their pet clients. Examples are house sitting and errand services, ranging from picking up pet food, meds from the vet, or even the human client’s dry cleaning or grocery shopping.
For a little peek behind the scenes of Barbara’s life as a professional pet sitter and dog walker, check out the article below:
Lindsay attended a baby shower a few weeks ago, and ended up talking to someone about what to charge for pet sitting.
The woman knew Lindsay was a pet sitter, and she said when she looked into hiring someone to watch her two cats the range in rates was very surprising to her. Some charged as little as $10 per visit, while others charged $20 per visit and some charged $40.
She thought this range in pet sitting rates was odd and found the selection process overwhelming and frustrating.
You see, the pet sitters charging less are usually students trying to make a little money or brand new pet sitters trying to get their business started up.
The people charging considerably more are usually well-established pet sitters with waiting lists and strong reputations.
We can see why it would be frustrating for someone trying to hire a pet sitter for the first time.
In this particular case, the person with the two cats ended up hiring someone in the middle as far as rates.
2019 overnight pet sitting rates
$60 per night is a fair rate at minimum for a pet sitter to charge for spending the night at the pet’s house. This is likely to be from roughly 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and may or may not include a daily visit at noon. It’s common for pet sitters to charge more than this, in the $70 to $80 range per night.
$60 or more per night may sound like a lot, but remember the pet sitter is available to your pets 24 hours per day. While she may not be at your house the whole time, the pets are still technically in her care and she spends a considerable amount of time and energy thinking about them even when she’s not at your house.
She also spends time driving to and from your house, often late at night or early in the morning. She probably also spends time calling you, emailing you or posting social media updates about your pets while “off the clock.”
2019 pet sitting rates for 30 minute visit
Most pet sitters also offer rates per visit, typically offering a couple different options such as 30-minute visits and 60-minute visits. The client would then have the pet sitter stop by three or four times per day.
Typical pet sitting rates per visit
30-minute visit: $15 to $25, depending on location
60-minute visit: $20 to $35, depending on location
Some pet sitters also charge an after hour fee, such as $6-8 for visits after 8 or 9 pm.
Some pet sitters charge an extra $2 to $5 for each additional dog per visit. Others include this in their flat rate for simplicity (up to a certain number).
You can also expect some pet sitters to charge an extra $5 or so per visit on major holidays such as Christmas Day, New Years Day, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.
Pet sitters who offer pet taxi services either charge per trip or for the roundtrip. Most rides are booked within the same geographical area of the client’s home and don’t end up taking more than 20-30 minutes of the pet sitter’s time per one-way trip. The rates charged can be determined off of the cost of a regular 20-30 minute visit, plus an additional $5-10 for gas.
Assuming that a ride to the vet takes 15 minutes of the pet sitter’s time one way, and the pet sitter is dropping the pet off and taking them back home, they would charge their client for 30 minutes of their time as well as an additional gas surcharge of $5-10. They could potentially also charge the client for their time spent waiting for the client’s pet.
If the pet sitter charges $20 for 30 minutes of their time, that pet taxi ride would cost a minimum of $20 + the gas surcharge + the potential charge for the time spent waiting at the vet’s.
How much to pay a pet sitter for boarding in their home
The rates will vary here as well, but you can expect to pay at a minimum of $35 per night for one dog. Some pet sitters may charge closer to $55+ per night for one dog. They typically take a small number of dogs in their homes per night. Likely under 5 dogs but you should always ask to be sure.
Typical pet sitter rates for house sitting and errand services
Pet sitters who offer house sitting will typically charge a little less than what they would charge for an overnight visit if they’re expected to spend the night at the house. If an overnight visit is $70, house sitting could be around $50 for 12 hours. If the client expects the house sitter to stay at their place 24/7, the price would go up accordingly. In this instance, it would be around $80-100.
If they’re only expected to check in on the house once or twice per day to get the mail, adjust blinds, take trash cans out on trash day and back into the home, we’d suggest charging the same as a check-in visit for a pet would be.
For errand services, pet sitters usually charge for the amount of time it takes them to run the errand + a service fee of $10-20, depending on the location.
If you are a new pet sitter, here are some questions to ask yourself when determining your pet sitting rates.
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. For example, if the range is about $18 to $25 per half-hour visit, you might want to charge $22.
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
As we mentioned earlier, most pet sitters offer multiple options. For example, 20-minute visits, 30-minute visits or 60-minute visits.
So, someone might request one longer 60-minute visit and two 30-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. Lindsay charged $5 extra per visit for each additional dog through her Run That Mutt pet sitting and dog walking business. That adds up fast!
For example, a 30-minute visit for one dog might $20. A 30-minute visit for three dogs would be $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 communicate well, you carry pet sitting insurance, you are respectful of property, and dogs feel comfortable and safe around you!
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. Your business is insured, and you pay your taxes. You are properly licensed (if required in your area). It’s important to you to donate your time and money to animal shelters.
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.
Once you’ve asked your vet, co-workers, friends or family for referrals, checked Rover, Wag, and Care.com, as well as search engines such as Google or Yahoo search, you’ve probably found several potential pet sitting candidates.
If you’re deciding on a pet sitter, our advice is to hire someone based off references, word of mouth and your own opinion after actually meeting the pet sitter.
Read pet sitter reviews and ask for references
Don’t hesitate to ask any questions that could help you determine whether or not you feel comfortable with this person. Lindsay wrote a post on questions to ask a pet sitter, and some of those questions include:
- What’s included in your rates? What isn’t included?
- How long is each pet sitting visit?
- Will you walk my dogs? How long?
- Do you have pet sitting insurance?
- Do you charge extra for multiple dogs/cats?
- What is your dog training experience?
Also don’t hesitate to ask the pet sitter you’re interviewing to go for a test walk with you and your dog(s), right then and there while they’re at your home, especially if you have larger dogs. You’ll get a good idea of whether or not the sitter is experienced in handling and walking (larger) dogs.
In addition to the references, questions and the dog walking test, also pay some attention to the pet sitter’s physical appearance. They shouldn’t be wearing a suit or high heels for your interview, but they should be dressed in practical, clean dog walking clothes appropriate to the season and weather conditions.
For more info, see: How to choose a pet sitter
There’s some truth to the saying friends and business don’t mix. It’s probably always a better idea to barter pet care with friends and family instead of paying them actual hard cash. You could also consider flying them your way for pet sitting if you live in different zip codes, along with wining and dining them while they’re watching your pets.
That’s exactly what Barbara’s friend Erica did when she asked Barbara if she could watch her pup for an extended weekend, along with some of her client’s dogs. Erica is the lady who Barbara used to work for in D.C. suburbia. She has since then relocated to Florida and runs her pet sitting/dog walking business down there.
Erica flew Barbara in and made sure her fridge was stocked extremely well and that her car had a full tank of gas. She paid for Barbara’s pet sitter who watched Barbara’s dog back in NC, and in return Barbara watched a few of her client’s dogs as well. It was essentially business as usual, except in beautiful, sunny Florida!
Also check out the article about the time Lindsay’s mom watched her pets:
Pay your friend less than you would pay a professional
If you feel like a little cash would be appropriate to pay a friend for their help with pet sitting, do some research on how much professional pet sitters would charge for the time frame you’re out of town for. Then offer your friend a portion of that amount.
Assuming you’d be paying a professional pet sitter $75/day for 3 one hour visits that cost $25 each, you could pay your friend a little more than half of that, $40.
When figuring out how much to pay your friend, keep in mind that your friend is not a professional pet sitter and won’t carry any liability insurance in case something happens to your pet or your home while your friend cares for both. They probably also won’t care for your pet with the attention to detail that a professional pet sitter is used to.
If you’re happy with the pet sitter’s care, it could really benefit the pet sitter if you left her a positive review on Yelp and Facebook. You could also leave her a tip. While most pet sitters probably don’t expect tips, leaving one is a nice gesture.
After all, tipping is common in the service industry, and we wouldn’t dream of not tipping our waiter or hair dresser unless they did a truly awful job, right?
If you have a regular dog walker or pet sitter who goes above and beyond for you and your pets, do show them how much you appreciate their dedication by leaving them a $20 bill here and there or getting them a gift card for Amazon or that local coffee shop you know they like. It’s also a nice gesture to leave them a larger tip for Christmas, somewhere around $50-100, or even more.
Pet sitters who go above and beyond are the kind who:
- Accommodate last minute service requests
- Always show up on time regardless of whether the hot sun is beating down on them or it’s almost literally raining cats and dogs
- Clean up nasty accidents (and we do mean nasty!)
- Find a way of administering meds to those pets who truly don’t want to cooperate
- Spend a little extra time with your pets when their schedule allows it
A little advice for pet sitters and gifts for clients:
Regular clients whose pets you take care of either daily or several times per month do appreciate a little Christmas gift as well. You could gift them some dog treats, either home baked or store bought, along with a card. It won’t break the bank, it’s tax deductible, and it will truly make your clients feel extra special!
Here’s an example of a holiday card Barbara gave all of her clients last year:
Now we’d love to know what the rest of you think!
If you’re a pet sitter, what do you charge for overnight visits?
If you’re a pet owner, what would you expect to pay to have a pet sitter stay at your house?
This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated in November 2019.
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