Confession: I have a petsitting business.
I know that’s not much of a confession, but you would be amazed at how many people tease me over that! (Hey, more jobs for me, right?!) I started petsitting for a professor my junior year of college, and it has turned out to be a nice little way for me to make some cash on the side. Petsitting is a much better option than babysitting for me, because I am much more comfortable taking care of fur babies than actual babies. Here are my tips to a successful petsitting business!
photo circa 2010 – our second rescue pit bull
1. Pre-visit with the animals. I always like to meet animals when their owners are around so that they are a little more comfortable with me in their home. It’s also an opportunity to get a feel for the animals and their personalities.
2. Ask for a schedule & list of emergency numbers. It’s helpful to know what time the animals usually eat, what time they usually go out for walks or to potty, etc. Having a schedule of their habits will eliminate a lot of the guessing work and keep them (and you) from freaking out. It will also help you to plan your time and schedule for the time that you’re petsitting!
As scary as it is, a list of emergency numbers is always good. (Most pet owners provide this without being asked.) While the pet owner may not have a backup number or secondary contact, having the vet’s phone number is a necessity. Freak accidents can happen, and you want to be sure you’re prepared!
3. Ask about parking. On my last petsitting job, I got a warning ticket for parking on the street. Lesson learned – I will ask about parking from here on out!
4. Send pictures if the owner checks in! Every person that I’ve ever petsit for has checked in on their pets while out of town. I usually try to snap a few pictures of the pet while we’re on a walk or playing, and then include it in conversation later on when they check in. It’s one thing to hear that your animal is doing okay, but there’s peace of mind when you can actually see that Fluffy is alive and functioning.
5. Respect their home. Regardless of whether you are staying at your place or the pet owner’s place be respectful. If you make a mess, clean up after yourself. If you drink out of a cup, wash it, dry it, and put it away. Occasionally I will grab a bottle of water out of someone’s fridge, but that’s about as comfortable as I make myself. It should look like you were never there.
6. Clean. This tip is my little secret, and the reason that I believe I continue to get jobs. I always clean someone’s house the day of or the day before their return. I sweep up around the pet feeding areas, wipe down their counters, take the trash out.
7. Payment Tips:
• Be sure that you make your gas money back! In fact, I don’t feel like it’s bad to ask for that upfront if the location is out of your way.
• When trying to decide on a rate, price check with local kennels. I personally think it’s better to be cheaper than the kennels, but that is up to you.
• Also, take into consideration if you will be staying in their house to petsit. I generally charge more to stay in someone’s home.
• Hang on to the key until payment. Most people are great about leaving you a check or meeting up with you the day after they return, or even paying in advance. I always hang on to the key, just in case. (Generally it’s cheaper to pay someone than to get your locks changed… Haha.)
So there you have it… My little tips on how to be the best petsitter out there and get some extra income flowing!