You may absolutely love cats, dogs, and other pets, but that doesn’t mean you’re cut out to be a pet sitter. Before you jump in, take a look at the reasons listed below. If any of them are why you want to start your own pet sitting or dog walking business, I urge you to give some serious thought as to whether or not this is the business for you.
1. It’ll be an easy way to make money Nope. This is absolutely false. While it can be fun and rewarding, it’s not always easy. You can count on the following:
Working way more hours than you’d like
Cleaning up nasty things that come out of pets!
Visiting the emergency animal clinic
Going out in nasty weather because pets are counting on you
Dealing with difficult pets and owners
Always having to hustle to market your business so you’ll get new clients
. . . and that’s just for starters!
2. I can work with pets and not people Again, nope! While it’s true that you will primarily be working with pets, you will have to interact with people quite a bit. Remember, you’ll be taking care of your client’s pets – their family members. Because of that you’re going to need to know how to talk with your clients about their pets, about your services, and about a myriad of issues that may come up. You may have to reassure pet parents that their pets are OK, educate them about the pet sitting business, inform them of a pet or home emergency, and possibly even let them know their pet has died. If you don’t think you can handle this type of communication with understanding, tact, and kindness then pet sitting isn’t the job for you.
3. I can work whenever I want to Well, yes and no. You could refuse to accept clients who want weekend or evening work, but that will cut into your paycheck. The reality of it is, most career pet sitters work crazy hours. They may start their day at 6 am and work off and on until 10 p.m. – and that’s seven days a week! And then there’s the part about not getting a day off for months on end. Read this post which talks about a typical day for a pet sitter. 4. I have small children and I can take them with me Not a good idea. Period! By taking your kids to work (yes, pet sitting is work!) with you, you run the risk of:
being faced with a lawsuit when your child breaks something in a client’s home, is bitten by a dog, or lets a pet out (note: your pet sitter insurance probably won’t help you out here, either!)
being viewed as very unprofessional
losing business! Former clients won’t recommend you (you know…the ones who owned that lamp your child knocked over and broke). Other pet sitters and pet professionals such as veterinarians, groomers, and dog trainers won’t refer to you once they find out your kids are along for the ride.
5. I love pets That’s definitely a good start, but it’s not enough. As a pet sitter, it’s a given that you’ll be interacting with pets on a daily basis, but guess what?! Because you’ll also be a small business owner you will be responsible for creating policies & procedures, managing finances, creating or managing the creation of your website, marketing & advertising, purchasing insurance, scheduling, paying self-employment taxes, and a slew of other business tasks.
So, am I trying to discourage you from starting a pet sitting business? You could say that. It’s crucial that anyone thinking of getting into this business does some research before jumping in. It’s not a 9 to 5 job, and isn’t right for a person who doesn’t want to commit fully to their business. It can be physically exhausting, frustrating, emotionally draining, and all-consuming. If you’re able to understand that and still think you have what it takes to launch your own pet sitting business, then you just might do well . . . but do your research first!
So, pet sitters, what do you think? These are only five reasons not to start a pet sitting business, but we all know there are more. What are some of the reasons you’d give?