Start Pet Sitting

Start Your Own Pet Sitting Business Today!

Are you ready to be the owner of your own amazing professional pet sitting business?  Be your own boss?  Set your own hours?  See happy pets on a daily basis that bring a smile to your face?

If so, you are at the right place!

We will tell you ALL you need to know to start your own professional pet sitting business!

Best of all...IT IS ALL FREE!!!!

That is right. We want you to have all the available, up to date information to help start you on the right track.

We know how hard it is to find all the information you need. We understand the frustration and neck aches while you are browsing for this information all over the web. Now, you can find it ALL right here.

We will be discussing all areas of owning your own professional pet sitting business from what a pet sitter does to how to pick your business name to how to hire employees. So, stayed tuned and check in regularly to see what we have to say.

Even if you already have your own pet sitting business, we will still be providing you with very useful pet sitting business advice. We will be discussing many aspects of advertising with a focus on free and low-cost advertising. So, this is even for you veterans out there.

Job Description

What Does a Pet Sitter Do?

Pet sitters usually offer an array of services from pet sitting, dog walking, pooper scooper, pet taxi and even house sitting. The most advertised is the pet sitting aspect of the business.

Pet sitting consists of taking care of all types of pets in the comfort of their own surroundings. Pet sitting does not mean taking the pets into your home. That would be considered animal boarding.

The purpose of pet sitting is to limit the stress to the pet while the owners are away for the weekend or a long vacation. Pets seem to do better when they are in their own home with their own bed and blanket, their own toys and their own buds (other pets). Pet sitters provide this luxury by making daily visits to care for the pets.

The following is a list of common pet sitting duties during regular visits:
  • Potty Break for dogs (can consist of a walk)
  • Feed/Treats
  • Refill water dishes
  • Play time
  • Snuggle time
  • Petting time
  • Clean any messes/litter box/cages
  • Administer Medications
This is what most pet sitters will do on most visits. The purpose is to keep the pet in its regular routine. So, if the dog normally gets a treat when it wakes up, you would give a treat when you arrive in the a.m. If the pet normally takes a walk around the block daily, you would do the same. If the pet likes to get read to (birds like this), you would read to it. This minimizes stress and allows the pet owners to relax more while they are away. If the pet needs a pill everyday at 6pm, you would be sure to arrange your schedule accordingly.
Pet sitters can also offer many other services to supplement their income. Many pet sitters will also offer daily dog walking to help those clients who work long hours, have an elderly dog or have a new puppy. Pet sitters may also offer pet taxi to the vet or pet taxi to the groomer. Pet sitters may also offer pooper scooper. This is picking up what the dog did while you were not there. This is a nice convenience since you are already there. You can use their scooper, plastic bag and throw it in the trash. You can make a nice $15 or so for just 20 minutes of work or less depending on the size of the yard. Basically any service you can think of which is pet related you can add on to a pet sitting service. You can even add on errand services. The possibilities are endless.

It is recommended to start off with just pet sitting and start building your business based on customer requests. This way you will learn what your area is in need of and start advertising based on that. The bulk of your requests and client bookings will more than likely be derived from pet sitting and dog walking.

Now that you know what a pet sitter does, you can determine if this is the right business for you. Remember you are taking care of pets. You may have some messes to clean up and you should have some basic knowledge of pet care and breeds.

Once you have determined if this is the right job for you and you have thought about which service you would like to offer within the pet sitting industry, it will be time to set up your business. 

The first step in setting up your pet sitting business is picking a business name.
We will discuss how to pick a business name in the next installment.

Business Name

How to Pick a Business Name

Your business name will be very important to your business image. You want to have a business name that is easy to remember, stands out and sounds professional but also spells out what you do.

Take a look through the internet for plumbers and check out the business names. You will find the very small business owner and the large franchised companies. What do you notice when you read through the names? This is what your potential clients will be thinking about when they look for you. They may have a list in front of them of 2 pet sitters or if you live in a very large area such as LA, they may have a list of 100 or more!  What is going to make you stand out of the crowd so they will look over all the rest and call you?

There are four important things to think about when picking out a business name:
  1. Originality: You want your name to be original. There are tons of Pampered Pets and Pet Sitters R Us. Once you pick out your name, do a Google search to see if anyone else thought of it first.
  2. Alphabetize: If you are among a list of 100, you would want your name to be as close to the beginning of the alphabet as possible. This shouldn't be your top priority, just something to think about.
  3. Spell out your services: If you are pet sitting, you must let the consumer know. If you just call your business Pet Perfection, your client's may forget who they are calling. Add on your services to the end. For example, you can call it Pet Perfection Pet Care Services. Be sure when you add on your services, you are not limiting yourself. You may want to grow in the future. So, if you think you may add on errand services or home care, you may want to add pet & home care services to the business name.
  4. Location: Personally, I believe this is very important when thinking of your business name. People love where they live. They love their state, town, street, etc. Tying that in to your business name will make people remember you. For example, if you live in Florida, you can be the Sunshine State's Best Pet Caretakers. Doing this also increases your chances of having an original name.
Once you have picked out your business name, it is very important to make sure no one else is using it. Some businesses will federally trademark their name. This is to ensure no one else can legally use their name nationwide. To check the trademark database click here.

Now that you have checked the federal database, you need to check your state database. There is a separate database available for each state. To find your state database, go to the Secretary of State site and click on your state. Find the area where you can do a business search. Then just type in the name you are thinking of using. If nothing comes up, that means no one is registered in your state with that name.

You may also want to check the newspapers, Internet and the phone book, just in case someone is using it but is not registered with the state. You can not use a name which is in use in your state or nationally even if they have not registered it.  Why would you want to get confused with another business anyways.  Pick a new name if you are unsure. You can't even use a variation of it. So, be sure to check all your resources before putting your business name on paper.  It will be much harder to change it later, so be sure before you go any further.

Now that you have your business name ready, you can get your business license. We will discuss how to do that in the next installment.

Rates and Services

What to Offer and What to Charge?

Now that you have the knowledge about what a pet sitter does and you have chosen a business name, it is time to write down exactly what you will offer and what you will charge. Get out a piece of paper and start writing.

What services do you want to offer?

Do you want to start out with just pet sitting?

Will you offer other services such as:
· Dog Walking
· Pooper Scooper
· Overnight Care
· Taxi Services
· House Sitting

Now that you have written down what you are going to offer, it is time to determine what you will charge.

In my opinion, it is best to charge for your time. Have time slots set up with a rate for each.

For example:
A 15 minute visit is $15; a 30 minute visit is $18 and so on.

This is for as many pets they have in a single household. I don't think it is wise to charge extra fees for more than 1 pet or 3 pets. It turns out being a turnoff for your client when you start to add on more and more fees. If your client has more pets than you feel you can handle in the time slot they request, they would have to purchase a longer time slot.

Many pet sitters will charge a small fee for administering meds.

A nice up sell is to add on Pooper Scooping. Cleaning up what the dog does while you are there is included if asked, however, you can offer to clean the remaining yard for another small fee.

Basically, what is included in your visit is doing all that the pet owner does to keep the pet in its same routine. That is one of the luxuries of hiring a pet sitter. Boarding kennels are very stressful on a pet. They feel much more comfortable in their own home in their own bed. Next we will be discussing getting a business license.

Business License

Do I Need a Business License?

Most people are very confused about this. Pet Sitting does not require a "trade" business license, but most states will require you to register your business with the state. To find out what your state licensing agency requires, click here. Just click on your state and choose general licensing. This will take you right to the link to register your business. It is usually fairly easy to find this information online, but if you are having trouble finding it, just find a phone number (to your local state government agency) and give them a call. They will be able to tell you all you need to do to become a legal business entity.

Canada may require you to file Declaration of Trade Name Form. You may also be required to acquire a Master Business License or municipality license in each area you may service. For more information, visit your local city hall or government office.

When you register for your business license, they will ask you what sort of business entity you will want to register under. There are a few options: Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Limited Liability Company and C or S Corporation.

In the next installment, we will talk about what each of these mean and which is the best for you.

Business Structure

What Type of Business Structure Should You Set Up?

There are 5 different business structures in which you can set up your business as.

These are:
  1. Sole Proprietor (most common)
  2. Partnership
  3. Corporation (Inc. or Ltd.)
  4. S Corporation
  5. Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Let's talk about the Sole Proprietor first: The sole proprietorship is the most common structure to form amongst pet sitters. It is inexpensive to form. It is usually owned by a single person or a married couple. The owner is personally liable for all business debts and may file on their personal income tax.

Next is the Partnership: Partnerships are also inexpensive to form. They usually require an agreement between two or more individuals to jointly own and operate the business. The partners share all aspects of the business (good and bad) in accordance to the agreement. It could be a 50/50 partnership or anything else agreed to in writing. Partnerships do not pay taxes, but must file an informational return. Individual partners would then report their share of profits and losses on their personal return.

Next is a Limited Liability Corporation or LLC: This is very common amongst pet sitters. It is advantageous for small businesses because it reduces the risk of losing all your personal assets should you be faced with a law suit. It separates your business and personal assets. You can also elect to be taxed like a corporation which saves you at tax time.

Next is a C Corporation: This is a complex business structure with more start up costs than many others. This is not a very common structure amongst pet sitters since there are shares of stocks involved. Profits are taxed both at the corporate level and again when distributed to shareholders. Lawyers are usually involved at this level.

And Finally is a S Corporation: This is more common than the C Corporation since it avoids double taxation. It is taxed like a Partnership. A business must be approved to be classified as such, so it is not a very common entity amongst pet sitters.

There are also other structures which are specific to certain states. Some of these include Limited Partnership and Limited Liability Partnership. As always, we recommend getting professional advice from your accountant and lawyer as to which would be more advantageous to your business from a legal and taxable point of view.

In the next installment we will talk about where to purchase insurance and bonding.

Business Forms for your Pet Sitting Business

Pet Sitter Insurance

Pet Sitter Insurance

In this section we will discuss the different types of pet sitting insurance companies available for your pet sitting business.

Pet Sitting insurance is very important for your business. Pet Sitting Insurance will cover you from any damage you may cause to the client's home such as knocking over an expensive vase. It will also cover you if you lose grip of the dog's lead and it attacks another dog or person. Most clients will expect you to have pet sitting liability insurance to protect themselves and their pet while they are in your care.

Below is a list of all the pet sitting insurance companies we could find in select countries. We have provided you with a link to each company website and some pricing information (scroll down the page).

Please visit each pet sitting insurance company in your country to compare deductibles, premiums, coverage amounts, etc. to be sure you are receiving the correct coverage for your business.
Mourer Foster (also in Canada)

Australian Insurance Carriers:
Barker Meier Insurance Brokers

You can also purchase liability insurance through local carriers. It is best to compare all carriers and decide which is best for you.

Below is more detailed information on each provider.

United States Pet Sitting Liability Insurance Providers:

* In the US, you can purchase pet sitter insurance through PSA, LLC. This organization is different because their pet sitting insurance fee is included in the annual membership fee. The membership dues are a low fee of $174 per year! This is for membership AND pet sitting insurance. You can also purchase special property coverage for an additional $100 per year. This works similar to bonding (only better) and will cover your business against personal property damage, care, custody and control and theft. Visit for more information on their membership or to fill out and application. You can also see there pet sitting insurance coverage specifically at

* Business Insurers of the Carolinas is contracted with PSI and NAPPS. This means you must be a member of either organization in order to purchase their insurance.

Pet Sitters International (PSI) membership only starts at $140/year.

National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) membership only starts at $160/year.

Once you pay for membership to either PSI or NAPPS, you can then purchase pet sitting insurance through Business Insurers of the Carolinas. Insurance coverage starts at $470/year.

* Mourer Foster offers pet sitting liability insurance. Insurance coverage starts at $350. You can also pay your premiums annually, semi-annually or quarterly which is nice for those on a tight budget. APSE (which i highly recommend joining) recommends Mourer Foster. You do not have to belong to any organization to purchase their insurance.

Canadian Pet Sitting Liability Insurance Providers:

Canadian Pet Pro offers pet sitting liability insurance for $600 per year. You do not need to belong to any organizations. You can pay with credit card as well as make monthly payments.

Horizon Insurance offers pet sitting liability insurance to members of All Canadian Pet Services Network (ACPSN). The cost of membership to ACPSN is $70 CDN. Insurance through this company is $575 per year.

Binks offers insurance to Canadian members of PSI. The cost of the insurance starts at $600 plus membership to PSI (which starts at $140).

Schofield-Aker Insurance offers insurance coverage to members of the International Association of Canine Professionals. IACP membership dues start at $50 for an associate membership and goes up to $100 for a professional membership. Insurance with this company is $765. You can pay in full or make 2-4 installments per year.

* Again (for Canada), Mourer Foster offers pet sitting liability insurance. Insurance coverage starts at $350. You can also pay your premiums annually, semi-annually or quarterly which is nice for those on a tight budget. APSE (which i highly recommend joining) recommends Mourer Foster. You do not have to belong to any organization to purchase their insurance.

United Kingdom Pet Sitting Liability Insurance Providers:

Pet Secure offers liability insurance for pet sitters on an individual basis. For more information, visit call 0117 9556835.

Pet Business Insurance provides insurance starting at £109.00 for care, custody and control. You can also add on employee coverage, equipment coverage and more. For more information and a free quote, click here.

Cliverton insurance premiums starts at £136.50.

National Pet Sitters offers insurance included in the membership fee. For new members, membership is £100 plus a one time registration fee of £400.

Park Insurance premiums starts at £58.01, this does not include coverage for the pet and is based on a £1,000,000 PL for third parties only. To include coverage for the pet, it is an additional premium starting at £98.00.

Protectivity offers insurance specifically to pet care providers.  Their rates start at GBP67.84.  Visit their website by clicking here.

Australian Pet Sitting Insurance Carriers:

Barker Meier Insurance Brokers Pty Ltd - Insurance from this company is also offered for members of Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA). Insurance premiums start at $330 and go up from there depending on where you live.

If you know of any pet sitting insurance company not listed above, please let us know so that we can update our information. Click here to send an email.

Pet Sitting Business Forms

Protect Your Business with a Signed Contract

You have done all the basic necessities to start your pet sitting business, now it is time to get ready for clients. The first step is to get your paperwork in order. This is essential to your organization.
The essential business forms you will need are:
  1. Service Contract
These are what I would consider the bare necessities, but there are many more that will contribute to making your business much easier and much more organized.

Let's talk about what should be in your pet sitting service contract first. Firstly, I don't like (and your clients will not like either) to call the contract a "contract". I like to call it a service agreement. It is essentially the same thing just with different terminology. Contracts have been given a bad name and therefore scare people off. People feel they are signing away their options and are obligated to then stay with your services no matter what. Instead of a pet sitting contract, I like to call it a pet sitting service agreement. It sounds nicer and less binding although it is just as binding.

The pet sitting service agreement should include the name and address of the home you will be working in as well as your name to show it is an agreement between yourself and the homeowner. This allows you to be in the home. It should then lay out what you will be doing there. You should have all your business policies spelt out and a place for your client to agree to them. Some of your business policies should include liability issues such as damage, aggression, illnesses, accidents, etc.

You should also list your cancellation policy, payment policy, etc. There is a lot of thought that should go into a service contract and it should not be taken lightly. The contract is there to protect your business and your pocket.

The next item is your pet care information sheets. These sheets will have all the required information to care for the pet such as breed, color, microchip number, shot record, birthday, etc. Then they will ask questions about how the client wants you to take care of the pet. These sheets should be pre-filled with all the questions so you will not forget to ask the client any important questions. You should have a separate sheet for each type of animal because each type of animal requires different sorts of care.

When I first started my business, I did not have a sheet and just came with pencil and paper. I found upon returning to the office, that I was notorious for forgetting something which would result in me making a phone call. I then made an information sheet to help guide me in these questions. You can even give the information sheet to your client to fill out, but I would recommend you doing it with your client so you are both on the same page. You would then save this form for each future visit to refer back to.

The next essential form is the veterinarian release. This is used to allow you to take the pet to the vet without baring the responsibility of the payment. It will list who the pet's normal vet is and give you permission to take to another vet if necessary.

The last essential form is the report card. This is left behind after each visit to document what you did and how the pet(s) did on each of your visits. The client's like to read about their pet's day upon their return. This will also help eliminate the need for follow up phone calls.

There are many other forms which will aid you in simplifying your business such as the medication permission slip which will give you permission to administer meds and give medication admistering instructions. The telephone reservation form will help with those phone inquiries and the satisfaction survey will help you get some feedback on your services.

All of these forms and more are offered in the pet sitting package located on the Home Business Forms website. This complete package includes 26 forms for a low price of $44.99! All you will need to do is print the forms. You will receive a completed product.

Once you have done all the above steps, it is time to start getting some clients. We will discuss marketing tips next.

Getting Clients

How do you Market your Pet Sitting Business?

Now that you have your business set up, it is time to get clients. In this installment we will discuss your many options and what options have been proven most valuable.

Some of your marketing options include:
  • Flyers
  • Phone Book
  • Website
  • Social Media
  • Online Advertising
  • Groupon
  • Newspaper
  • Magazine
  • Car Magnets
  • Business Card Distribution
  • Valupak
  • Word of Mouth

Flyers: Flyers are a great, cheap way of advertising your business. I don't recommend printing up mass quantities and distributing them door to door. This has been proven to be very ineffective and time-consuming. It is also illegal to put them in mailboxes, so you are going to have to walk door to door. People also do not like to have people walking on their property placing advertisements so that may be a turnoff for your potential clients.

You can print up a mass quantity and put them on cars in a parking lot, but you have to get a permit for that. Make sure you conduct your business legally to show you are a professional.

The best thing to do with those flyers is to print up a bunch of them and leave them in your car. Anytime you go to a store and notice a bulletin board, place your flyer there. Some of the best places are post offices, sandwhich shops, diners and coffee shops.  Get your flyer here.

Phone Books: Phone books are becoming a thing of the past and are being replaced with the internet. However, phone book advertising still remains very expensive. If you have the expendable income, I would recommend trying it out for a year and see what kind of response you get. If not, I would pass it up. There are so many other ways you can advertise for much cheaper.

Websites: A website will be your BEST advertising tool next to word of mouth. Most of your clients will search for what they need on the internet while they are at work. I definitely recommend a website above anything else. Your website does not have to be fancy, just professional looking and informative. You don't have to spend a fortune on it, you can even make one for free.

If you do not want to worry about designing your own website or your website is not bringing in clients, we can help out too.  We offer website design and overhauls.  Just click here.

Social Media: This is a great way to get local clients and testimonials.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.  There are so many ways to get your name out there on these.  Get an account with all three and start posting fun tips that will get people to notice you and share your page.  There are also lots of business pages that you can post your business on within Facebook.  So, get browsing all over your local Facebook pages and start posting.

Online Advertising: Once you have your website ready, you can advertise it online for free at many places. Even if you don't have a website, there are many places online to advertise. Some of those places are CraigslistMerchantCircleBackpageSuperpagesGoogle MapsYahoo and more. I have created a tutorial on how and where to advertise your website. You can find it here.

Groupon:  Groupon offers a great way to get new clients and on-going clients.  You offer your first time clients a deep discount, usually 50% off.  This may seem like you are going to do a lot of work for very little, but you have to look at the long term benefits.  If they like you, they will have you back and tell their friends!  So, in the long run, it works out great!

Newspapers and Magazines: Newspapers are a good option to try out. Some areas do well with newspaper advertising and some do not. The only way you will know is to give it a try. You can advertising in your county paper or you can advertising in the community papers (pennysavers). Magazines are more expensive and do not focus on a certain area in which your service area lies. Magazines may not be a good option to advertise this sort of business.

Car Magnets: Car magnets are a great advertising option. They are a cheap, one time cost, so it doesn't hurt to try it out.  Make sure you let your insurance know b/c if you get into an accident in a "work" vehicle and you didn't tell them it's a work vehicle, they won't cover you.

Business Card Distribution: Handing out business cards to everyone you see is not very cost effective. I don't recommend this form of advertising. However, always have your cards available should you see an opportunity to hand one out or display it. 

Valupak: Valupak is, in my opinion, not a good option for this sort of business. For one thing, it is distributed to a large area most of which you may not be covering. Second, it is very expensive. However, if you have the money to try this form of advertising out, give it a try.

Word of Mouth: This will be your best form of advertising once your business gets going. If you have happy customers, they will tell all their friends and family about you. Always be sure to conduct your business and yourself professionally in order to get those referrals. Leave your clients will plenty of business cards so they can hand them out to their friends and family. It is also a great idea to offer a referral bonus such as one free visit for every paid referral or $30 off a vacation week. This is a nice incentive to get them to hand out those referrals.

These are the most common types of advertising methods people use for their pet sitting business. I recommend trying out what you can to see what works and what does not. In the beginning, you will spend a lot more money until you are busy enough to stop advertising . Once you hit a slow spot and think you need to advertise again, hopefully, by then you will know what worked and will only need to spend money on that form of advertising.

Business Forms for your Pet Sitting Business

Hiring IC's

Independent Contractors

So, by now, you have your business set up, you are advertising and the calls are rolling in!  Yay!  Good job.  But now you are too busy and can't keep up with it all.

So, you can do two things. 
  1. Stop taking on new clients or...
  2. Hire Help
We will use this section to talk about hiring IC's.

There are many tax advantages to using IC's. You don't have to pay the employers part of federal withholdings, social security and medicare. You don't have to purchase workman's comp. You also save on insurance since your IC's must carry their own insurance.

For these reasons and others, many people choose to go the route of hiring IC's.

Before you go there, make sure you do your research! Many states have very specific rules about the classification of an IC. All states differ with this, so you want to make sure you are following the rules of your state.

IC Restrictions:

IC's run their own business. You can not tell an IC what to do, where, when or how. This is only for employees. You can tell the IC you have a job for them, what it is, where and what times the client wants them there, but that is all. You have no control over an IC and this is one of the major disadvantages.

Many states do not allow you to use an IC for services you offer your clients normally. This will vary from state to state. For example, if you offer pet sitting as your primary service, you can not subcontract out pet sitting jobs. However, if you have a client ask for grooming services, you can subcontract for that.

IC Rules:

An IC carries their own insurance and business license. You can also carry supplemental insurance that will cover IC's just in case their coverage is not enough.

An IC is responsible for reporting their own income. You will provide the IC with a 1099 at the end of the year reporting their income.

An IC is not entitled to any benefits (medical, unemployment, workman's comp.)

An IC should keep your client's information and your business information private. For this, you should have your IC sign a non-solicit agreement.

All IC's should sign an IC agreement. This is to show the IRS you are using an IC and the IC has agreed to the rules of being classified as an IC.

If the IRS feels you have an employee that you are classifying as an IC, they will impose fines on you and you will also be responsible for backtaxes. So, you want to be sure you are doing this properly.

Hiring Employees

If you are ready to hire help, you are ready to grow and expand!

One way to expand is with employees.  Employees follow your guidelines, your business policies and represent you to your clients.

So, how do you find that one person that is just like you and will work hard?  That is a hard thing to find and you may go through a few people before you find that.

You can advertise on facebook, craigslist, the newspaper.  Be sure to interview and trust your gut!  

Make sure you pay them well if you want to keep them.  Just think about how you would want to be treated if you were working for you.

Just remember, the more people you hire, the more clients you can take on, the more money you can make.  

Happy employees = happy clients = happy boss :)

Purchase Employee Application