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Do you love animals? Do you want to work in a field that you truly enjoy and are passionate about? Why not become a professional dog sitter?
Dogs are wonderful companions, they are loyal, caring, affectionate and passionate. However, they need a lot of care and attention. Between work, holidays and various social obligations, many people don’t have the necessary free time to be with their animal buddy as much as they want to be. Inevitably people have to leave their dogs alone which can make them confused and sad. Obviously, dog owners love their four-legged friends and never want to leave them, but rather they are forced to. That’s where you come in.
People will hire dog sitters to keep their dogs from getting lonely as well as keeping them in check and looking after their needs. It’s a great opportunity for you to earn some money, have a great time doing so and even make some friends along the way.
Qualifying to become a dog sitter
People want to know that the person they are handing their dog over to is reliable and can be trusted. If you want to make a strong first impression and show that you can be trusted, the best way to do so is to become certified. There are a few institutions that you can go to in order to become certified. These include:
- NarpsUK: The National Association for Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers are an organisation focused on supporting professional pet sitters. They are an excellent group to partner with as they are one of the largest and most trusted groups of its kind. Customers will be able to select you from the database of professionals safe in the knowledge that they are making a safe choice. They offer a wide range of course for you to take, all of which prove your capabilities and will allow you to justify charging higher rates.
- The College of Animal Welfare: They were founded in 1989 and have been providing quality education and experience for aspiring pet sitters ever since. They have pioneered a variety of veterinary courses and have developed an excellent reputation. In addition to teaching you proper animal care and providing qualifications for your aspiring career, they will also assist with being competitive in the current market.
- City and Guilds: City and Guilds offer a whole host of various courses for people to sign up for, including a number of animal care courses. Their certificates of technical competence are fairly short and drastically improve your employability in this area.
What you will need
Aside from qualifications to prove that you know what you are doing, there are other necessary steps that you must take to ensure success.
- You will need people and animal skills. Obviously, you need to be good with animals to work in this field, you probably wouldn’t want to work here if you weren’t good with animals regardless. But you do also need good people skills. I cannot stress enough how much you need people to trust you in order to get anywhere. You need a good reputation to get repeat business, so you have to impress your customers and take extra steps to do so.
- You will need to be insured. There are many aspects that you need to consider like liability insurance in case something goes wrong. Make sure that you thoroughly research the necessary insurance to ensure that you have everything covered.
- There are also various background checks that you will probably come across and need to pass, in these cases, there isn’t much you can do to control the outcome, but if you have done anything wrong in the past, you’ll pass these with no issue.
- (Optional) A background in animal care. Transitioning between different areas within the same field is more straightforward than changing fields of expertise completely. People value real-world experience just as highly as qualifications and high grades. If you can show that you have prior experience with animals regardless of how small it is, it will go a long way to increase your employability. Something like time as a veterinary nurse or volunteering at a kennel would be ideal.
Best sites for dog sitting
DogBuddy is a platform dedicated to connecting dog owners with dedicated dog sitters and dog walkers. Over the few short years they’ve been in business they have rapidly expanded to become a large scale Europe wide enterprise.
- They are one of the largest dog sitting organisations in Europe, not just the UK. This means that their customer base is much larger than other platforms.
- You have a lot of freedom when it comes to structuring your own schedule and setting your prices.
- They cover you with their own insurance and provide a 24/7 emergency veterinarian phone line.
- Starting out can be a bit rough as the high level of transparency will show people that you are new. Getting your first few successful booking and positive reviews will take quite a while as you won’t be anyone’s first choice.
Rover is a very large and dedicated platform with hundreds of thousands of dog sitters. They are highly trusted and offer many different services to dog owners. Here are a few reasons to consider signing up with them.
- All of the marketing is handled for you. Once you spend some time nicely organising and creating your user profile Rover will ensure that it gets seen. Because of this, you will start earning money much faster than you would through other platforms.
- Rover offers round the clock for you and your customers. If anything comes up at all you can rest assured that help is but a simple phone call away.
- If you are in a location with sparsely any do sitters, you will likely get a lot more business from the reduced competition. This is due to Rover being location-based, so owners are recommended sitters near their location.
- Rover has very stringent and high standards for their sitters. Less than 20% of applicants are hired, so you may have difficulty being accepted into the fold.
- The platform is location-based. Depending on where you are this can be a good thing or a bad thing. If you are in a densely populated region with only a few sitters, then they have a lot of business. If, however, you are in a rural region with only a few dog owners, or there is a lot of competition then you will struggle to get customers.
- You must be willing to fully commit to Rover. As a Rover sitter, they do not allow you to accept business from anyone except through their service. They will most likely monitor your communications with your customers to ensure that you aren’t directing business away from them.
Pawshake lets local dog owners and sitters connect with each other. It’s free to make an account with Pawshake and there are a number of advantages to signing up with them.
- Pawshake offers you protection by fully insuring you against anything going wrong.
- The exchanging of money is handled by Pawshake. You don’t have to worry about direct transactions with the customers since Pawshake takes cares of that side for you.
- Pawshake have a mobile app. This app lets the sitter and owner communicate with each other in real-time and constantly exchange updates.
- You get to manage your own bookings and have the freedom to reject offers.
- Finding your first few customers can be a struggle. People will always go for the most experienced sitter they can get. While your profile is in its infancy with very few reviews people won’t be inclined to choose you as their first choice.