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A professional dog sitter walking a dog on a leash.

How to Become a Professional Dog Sitter: Pet Sitting 101

Do you love animals more than anything? We get it. Dog sitting might be your perfect side hustle if you're an animal lover. You don't need much to get started, and if you take the proper precautions, it can be a fun, rewarding job.

Maybe you want to be a certified professional at this job, but where do you start? In this article, we'll walk through the steps necessary to start dog sitting. From choosing the best business model to marketing yourself and dealing with emergencies, consider this your ultimate guide to becoming an experienced sitter.

It all starts with setting up the proper framework for success. Let's dive in!

What a Professional Dog Sitter Does

Pet sitter throws ball at a dog

Being a dog sitter is rewarding - you get to hang out with fluffy friends all day and have extra cash in your pocket. But it's not just about playing with pups and getting paid; specific skills and responsibilities come with the job.

Dog sitting can involve anything from caring for one dog to managing multiple dogs simultaneously, so it's essential to be familiar with canine behavior and safety protocol. You'll need to understand how to properly feed, groom, exercise, and play with the animals in your care and be aware of any potential health risks or behavioral issues they might have.

In addition to these day-to-day tasks, you'll also need to create schedules that work for you and the owners. This could include transportation arrangements, vet visits, meal times, walks, and playtime – all while staying on top of housekeeping duties like laundry and tidying up after the pups. Managing time effectively is vital for a successful career as a proficient dog sitter!

Benefits of Becoming A Professional Pet Sitter

Are you an animal lover and enjoy spending time with dogs? Being a pet carer is an enjoyable way to make money while doing something you love. As a job, it can be a great way to supplement your income. It enables you to set your own hours and work on your own schedule and even gives you the freedom to choose your clients.

Being a sitter means that you can choose whether to go full-time or part-time, whatever hours would fit your lifestyle. Compared to most regular jobs, you never have to worry about missing out on important events and activities with your friends and loved ones.

But the benefits of working in this job don’t end with the financial rewards. Aside from the opportunity to encounter all sorts of adorable dog breeds and meet different people, spending time with these fur babies can be incredibly rewarding. You’ll be able to gain the chance to create meaningful and lasting bonds with these cuties, providing them with love, care, and companionship. Plus, you can travel around neighborhoods and learn more about your town with a charming friend at your side.

How to Get Started In The Pet Sitting Business

So, you want to be a professional doggy sitter? Great! You're in the right place. You can quickly become a successful and trusted pet care provider with a few key steps.


The first step is to get your name out there. Networking with other pet care professionals and local organizations can go a long way toward building trust and credibility with potential customers. For example, joining organizations like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) or Pet Sitters International (PSI) can offer valuable learning opportunities and help you find referrals for future clients.


You'll also need to research any licensing requirements for professional pet sitting in your area. This could include obtaining specific licenses or attending certification exams related to pet sitting, animal rescue, or animal grooming, depending on where you live. Understanding what is required of you legally will save you time and give potential customers peace of mind when hiring you as a professional pet sitter.


Another essential facet of this industry is obtaining the necessary insurance coverage for yourself. This part is crucial because it protects yourself and your business from unforeseen events. This mainly includes general liability and pet-care liability insurance. General liability insurance is for the sitter, whereas pet-care insurance is for the pet themselves.

Learning all these things and complying with all these requirements may take a lot of time. However, taking these steps would ensure your future success in the professional pet-sitting business!

Fostering Relationships With Pet Sitting Clients

Pet sitter carrying dog over her shoulders

Satisfied clients would not only hire you on repeat but are also more likely to refer you to other pet parents. Building an excellent reputation is necessary to thrive in this business.
So how can you foster relationships with your clients? Here are some tips:
  • Get to know each family and their pet on a personal basis. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Take notes if necessary.
  • Build trust by providing reliable and honest services—do what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it.
  • Respect clients' wishes regarding how they want their pets cared for while they are away—honor any special requests or restrictions they may have for their pet.
  • Show your respect and appreciation by sending cards, small gifts, or discounts around the holidays or special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries.
  • Keep in touch between visits so clients feel comfortable trusting you with their beloved pets whenever needed.

Building meaningful relationships with each of your client families will increase customer loyalty and help nurture more lasting business relationships that will keep them coming back for years to come!

Additional Tips

Now that we’ve covered all the basic requirements, here are a few more tips to help you out when getting into the business!

Decide on what services you want to offer

One of the best things about pet sitting is being able to decide exactly what you want to focus on. Remember that many people who hire pet sitters when they go away on vacation may also want you to do things like take in mail and newspapers and water the plants.

Make a business plan

Constructing a plan for your business is essential to a smooth operation. Newbies may wish to join a sizeable pet-sitting company or first apprentice with an established solo pet sitter. When you’re ready to go it alone, you can still work through a service provider like or get clients on your own. You may need to talk to a lawyer to decide what type of business structure you want and the legalities involved with it.

What to charge

One of the most important things to consider when setting up a business is the right prices for your services. You don’t want to charge too much or too little, but you also don’t want to be a carbon copy of the other pet sitters in your area.

Show your clients what separates you from others in the field. Maybe you want to provide extra service, like sending daily pet photos to owners who are out of town. Make sure to price accordingly.

Document yourself

You will need materials to promote your business, whether that’s a website or paper brochures. You’ll also need to make a template for your client contract. Talk to your lawyer or get in touch with a professional pet sitter association when you’re ready to draft a contract your clients will fill out and sign. You need to be clear about important things like what happens in a veterinary emergency, the exact services you will provide, and how you expect to get paid.

Difference Between A Sitter And A Handler

Certified professional dog handlers attend class with dogs

Handlers are different from sitters. A dog handler is a person who usually works in a kennel and looks after the dogs in their care. It's not often that you find a dog handler who can also work in someone else's home—that's more likely to be the job of a pet sitter.

Meanwhile, someone who works as a sitter has many of the same duties as a handler. They are responsible for caring for and looking after dogs in someone else's home, either on an ongoing basis or for just one session or overnight stay, depending on their agreement with the pet owner.

Typically, they will be required to feed and walk the dog(s), play with them, obey any instructions they have been given, and ensure they are safe while they are under their care. Dog sitters may also need to clean up any messes and ensure all supplies remain stocked.


What is the salary of a dog sitter?

On average, dog sitters can expect to make about $10 – $15 per visit, depending on their location and the number of services they offer. For example, if you offer additional functions like dog walking or a pet taxi service, you can expect to earn a higher rate.

Do pet sitters need insurance?

Yes! As a professional pet sitter, you should always invest in insurance policies that protect your business and personal interests. This can include general liability policies (which cover property damage or bodily injury), workers' compensation (if applicable), and more comprehensive coverage options like errors & omissions insurance.

How much money does a professional dog handler make?

According to Glassdoor, dog handlers in the United States get an estimated $34,627 annually. Salaries may vary in other places.


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