Do you love animals? Are you a cat or dog whisperer? If you’re looking for a lucrative way to spend some extra time with furry friends, pet sitting might be a great supplement to your other work (and in time, a rewarding full-time job). Best of all, you don’t need any specific training to get started beyond a knowledge of animal care routines.

If you’re interested in becoming a professional pet sitter, take the following steps:

  1. Understand the job requirements
  2. Build a website and get references
  3. Start networking
  4. Protect your pet business

Read on to learn how to start a pet sitting business.

Understand the job requirements

Pet sitting isn’t all fun and games. Although you’ll get to spend plenty of time out on walks with your new canine friends or entertaining your kitty with laser pointers, it’s important that you understand the responsibilities you’re trusted with as a pet sitter. A pet sitter should be:

Flexible – You’ll most likely be charged with pets when their owners are away on weekends and holidays. That means you need an open, available calendar free of commitments that keep you from saying “yes.” Once you’re on the job, make sure you have enough time in your schedule to walk pups several times a day (or cooperate with a dog walker).

Responsible – These days, people see themselves as “pet parents,” and they take their fur children’s health seriously. Be prepared to accommodate specific feeding routines, stick to medication and walking schedules, and scoop the litter box regularly. In addition, check in with your clients as often as they require, providing pics and assurances of their pets’ well-being.

Level-headed – Pets do weird stuff. From eating sidewalk chicken wings to howling at the back door, you never know what animals will get up to, especially since they’re not used to you (yet). If a pet has an allergic reaction or throws up, be prepared to keep calm and check in with the pet owner without ruining their trip.

It’s also helpful to have a basic idea of animal behavior. Hopefully, you can draw on your own past experience with pets. If not, consider offering to pet sit for a friend first.

House sitting is part of the job As you consider a career in pet sitting, remember that house sitting can be part of the job description. While some dog owners might let you watch their pup at your house, most pet owners will want you to stay and watch their home along with their pet, as this is less stressful for all parties involved.

This begs the question: Are you comfortable watching someone’s house, too?

Additional tasks that a pet sitter might complete include:

  • Taking in the mail
  • Taking out garbage
  • Picking up packages, farm shares, or other subscriptions
  • Letting in gardeners or housekeepers
  • Setting the alarm system, shutting windows when you leave, etc.
  • Cleaning up after yourself

As you can see, pet sitting can be a bigger commitment than a few cuddles with a cat. If you think you have the right schedule and personality for the job, start taking the next steps to grow your pet business.

Build a website and get references

As you start pet sitting and grow your own business, you’ll need a way to advertise your pet service. A website is a great way to show your professionalism and responsibility, as well as advertise your rates. Luckily, smart web builders make it easier than ever to create an attractive, professional website with zero coding know-how.

Be sure to include the following on your webpage:

  • A picture and bio
  • A list of services (overnight stays, pets you can watch, dog walking, etc.)
  • Reviews & testimonials
  • Your current rates
  • Contact information
  • A calendar with your availability (using an app like Calendly)
  • Scheduler and booking form

If you don’t have any client reviews yet, know that you’ll want to get testimonials as soon as possible. Being a pet sitter is all about trust. Your website should feature at least a few references that speak to your reliability and your way with animals. This is why it can be so helpful to take a few gigs for free: that way, you can ask for a web testimonial afterwards.

A strong local presence will also help so make sure you have business profile on Yelp and Google My Business. While you’re building your own business you may choose to use a third-party platform such as Rover to find and book clients.

Start networking

Many pet sitters gain clients through word-of-mouth. Once you’ve watched someone’s pooch (and the dog goes home happy and tired), the owners will likely tell their whole office how great your services were. However, building your client base can be slow going at the beginning. To speed up the process, take the following steps:

  • Leverage social media – create a Facebook and Instagram account.
  • Ask your clients to leave a review on Yelp, Google My Business, or Facebook (make sure there is no monetary compensation for the review).
  • Ask your clients to repost your adorable pet sitting pics on Instagram and Facebook with your business tagged.
  • Offer your clients a discount if they a refer a friend and they book your services.
  • Start a blog. Blog posts can improve your search engine rankings as well as demonstrate your expertise as a pet sitter.
  • Post regularly on your social accounts highlighting all the happy pups in your care (with owner permission of course) – and don’t forget to tag the pet Instagram accounts!

Protect your pet sitting business

Once you start booking jobs, it’s important to protect your business from risk. We’ve already covered a few things that could go wrong—a pet could throw up or have an allergic reaction, or someone could even break into your client’s house.

If your client blamed you, would you be protected?

You hope your clients wouldn’t sue you, but it can be a dog eat dog world. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll be liable for any claims filed against you, as well as your own legal costs. To protect your pet sitting service, purchase general liability insurance to protect against client and third-party claims of personal injury, advertising injury, bodily injury, and property damage related to your pet sitting work.

With pet business insurance, you can confidently enjoy your time with the pets in your care.

On-Demand Pet Sitting Insurance

If you’re just getting started as a professional pet sitter, you may want to take out insurance for your first overnight—not for a full year. Thimble makes that possible. Our Pet Sitter Insurance is offered on-demand, which means you can choose from hourly, daily, or monthly policies.

Getting Pet Sitter Insurance with Thimble takes less than 60 seconds, so you can say “yes” to last-minute requests. When you enter a few details about your business and your desired coverage length, you’ll receive an instant quote. Click to purchase, and a Certificate of Insurance will be on its way to your inbox.

Don’t end up in the dog house. Take out pet sitter insurance so you can grow your business in the healthiest way possible.

Launch your pet sitting company

Now that you know how to start a dog sitting business or cat sitting business or any pet sitting business, the next step is to take the plunge.

As with any new business endeavor, building up your client base can take time. But as long as you follow these steps and protect yourself from risk, your new pet sitting business will be the cat’s pajamas (Okay, we couldn’t resist).