How to Become a Pet Sitter
How to Become a Pet Sitter: A Step-by-Step Guide
So if getting loads of hugs, playing ball and caring for pets for a living sounds exciting, well it is. However, you must be very responsible and alert.
If this sounds like your dream job, then becoming a pet sitter is probably the perfect career for you. Here’s some tips you need to know about how to become a pet sitter.
Research the Profession
The first step to becoming a professional pet sitter is gaining a thorough and clear understanding of what the role entails. Below is an overview of responsibilities and skills required.
Pet sitting is basically babysitting for pets whose owners are on holiday, at work or who generally need to be away from home for long (or short) periods of time. You may be asked to host pets in your own home, pet sit in the owner’s home or simply visit and walk pets a set number of times each day. You’ll be responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of the pets under your supervision.
Typical responsibilities include:
Feeding pets and putting out fresh water.
Brushing and grooming pets.
Cleaning litter boxes.
Walking dogs in all kinds of weather (the owner may request a certain walking distance)
Vacuuming up pet hair.
Taking pets to the vet in emergency situations.
Notifying owners of any injuries or sickness, and keeping them updated on their pets and home (this can include sending them photos of their pets)
Following laws and regulations (for example, dogs should be held on a lead when being walked)
You may be asked to perform additional tasks, especially if you’re staying over at the owner’s home while they’re away. These should be agreed on beforehand and can include:Cleaning the entire house.
Cooking meals for the pets.
Collecting the owner’s mail.
If these extras are not part of your services, then you might want to consider charging an additional fee for them.
Essential Skills and Qualities
First and foremost, you must love animals – whether they’re two-, four- or eight-legged (or legless); small or big; or fluffy, feathered or scaly. (If you’re not too fond of or allergic to a certain animal, you might want to make it a point to let clients know about this or choose your contracts more appropriately.) Important skills and qualities required to perform the job, other than a love for animals, include:
Being reliable and trustworthy
Having excellent customer service skills
Having strong interpersonal and communication skills
Having a high attention to detail
Being physically fit
Patient with pets
Willing to work outdoors
Staying organised and practical
Working Hours and Conditions
Pet sitting is not your typical 9-to-5 desk job. In fact, it’s anything but. One of the biggest benefits of the profession is that it offers a great deal of flexibility, meaning you get to set your own hours. But, you may have to follow a set working schedule if you’re an employee at a company offering pet sitting services, and you may also have to deal with late-night calls and last-minute requests. It can be a physically demanding job, as you’ll be responsible to taking dogs out for walks – sometimes for long distances, if requested.
Travelling may also be involved if you’re pet sitting in the owner’s home, though you can choose to only take local jobs. Emergencies may arise when a pet under your supervision becomes sick or suffers an injury and must be treated by a vet. It is of utmost importance that you require owners to fill out a detailed form with their contact details, their vet’s contact details, and relevant information about the pet (including age, breed, prior medical conditions, etc). Such emergencies may, in extreme cases, result in the death of the pet. If a vet recommends euthanasia, make sure that the owner consents to it – it is not your decision to make!
There’s also a certain personal risk involved in pet sitting. For example, you may have to deal with problematic animal behaviour, which may result in a few bite or scratch marks. Improper handling of dangerous animals (like venomous snakes, for example) can be life-threatening.
As an independent pet sitter, you’ll be able to set your own rates. If you choose to offer your services through an online pet sitting marketplace, note that you may be charged a commission which typically ranges between 10% and 20%. The Pet Stays Directory do not charge any commissions. www.petstays.net.au The income you earn will largely depend on your experience, reputation and client base.
2. Get the Qualifications
There are no formal education requirements to become a pet sitter, though becoming certified can greatly help your reputation and credibility within the industry, as well as make you more employable. Align your seld with industry associations and groups. Be insured. You’ll typically need to be covered against things like employers’ liability, property damage, loss or theft of keys and death of animals. Do your research on the best insurance plan for your specific needs. Here is a link to some of the insurance companies that are involved with Pet Stays.
3. Land Your First Job
One of the best methods to find pet sitting jobs is using Google to search for employers near you and online marketplaces that specialise in offering pet sitting services. You could also explore major job boards for pet sitting opportunities. It’s also a good idea to let family and friends know you’re looking for a job. Word of mouth is still a very powerful marketing tool, even in the 21st Century!
4. Develop Your Career
Getting your name out there is essential for success, especially if you’re working independently. A strong social media presence and a well-designed website can also help you promote your services, as well posters, flyers and business cards. Webvertize Australia is well versed with creating websites including for those involved in the pet industry www.webvertize.com.au
As you progress in your career and have built up a large client base, you might want to consider setting up your own business. Of course, a large financial investment will be required to get things up and running. This could lead to a successful, and potentially nationwide, business – or further afield. You should also consider pursuing further training to stay on top of trends. Attend networking events to expand your client base further. It’s also important to note that any certifications you have previously acquired may require renewal.
Are you thinking about becoming a pet sitter? Perhaps you’ve built your own successful pet sitting business and would like to impart your wisdom to those considering following in your footsteps?
Join the conversation down below and share your thoughts and experiences with us!