How to Start a Pet Sitting Business

How to Start a Pet Sitting Business

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Love animals? Maybe you’d love to start a business that lets you spend lots of time with dogs or cats or all different types of animals. If so, a pet sitting business might be the perfect choice for you.

How to Start a Pet Sitting Business

But it’s not as easy as just saying you want to be a pet sitter and then hanging out with cute puppies all day. If you’re interested in knowing how to start a pet sitting business, check out some of the essential steps in the list below.

Check Licensing Requirements

Each city and state may have its own requirements as far as business licensing is concerned. So before you actually start pet sitting, check with your local government or chamber of commerce to make sure you get the proper license or documentation to run a business in your area.

You might also consider obtaining business insurance to protect yourself in case there are any damages or health issues related to the pets you work with.

Outline Business Policies

Then you’ll need to come up with some policies and an actual plan for your business.

Will you only watch dogs or cats? Will you go to your clients’ homes for a set amount of time each day or stay there continuously? Will you provide any other services like dog walking or grooming? There are certainly other questions that will come up as you work with clients. But you should at least have answers for the basics before getting started.

Create a Pricing Structure

How to Start a Pet Sitting Business - Create a Pricing Structure

From there, you have to consider how to price your services. Do some research to see what others in your area charge and then create a structure where you charge per hour, per day or per job. Setting those rates early can help you be ready for customers once you start marketing your services.

Network Locally

Since you’re likely going to work with pet owners who are in your local area, it makes sense for you to do a lot of marketing locally. Get in touch with local veterinary offices, pet grooming businesses and pet supply stores to see if you can put up flyers or otherwise advertise your services there. And you could also do some local advertising in newspapers or sponsor local events.

Spread the Word Online

Even when you’re looking to attract local customers, online tools can provide a major boost. Post about your services on Craigslist or Then check social media for any groups that could be relevant with your target customers. Maybe there’s a Facebook group for local dog owners that could help you garner some interest.

Create Client Contracts

How to Start a Pet Sitting Business - Create Client Contracts

Once you actually start getting customers, you’ll have to create agreements with them so that each party knows exactly what to expect. You can find some sample contracts online to create your own.

Or you can consult with a legal professional who specializes in creating business contracts. Then when you get a new client, go over the contract and have them sign it so you can keep it for your records.

Aside from the basics covered in every contract, like payment terms and delivery of services, you should also consider contingency plans like what is expected of you in case of emergency or a veterinary visit.

Start a Schedule

You’ll also need to keep a detailed schedule of when you need to perform services for clients so you can be sure to show up on time for every job and not overbook any particular dates. Use Google Calendar, a paper planner or even an appointment scheduling software like Appointy or TimeTap.

Get to Work

Then it’s time for you to actually start working. If you love spending time with animals, this should be the easiest part of the job for you. You also have to keep up with the administrative part of running a business, like bookkeeping and scheduling. But the actual pet sitting should take up the bulk of your time.

Stay in Touch

How to Start a Pet Sitting Business - Stay in Touch

You should also keep a detailed contact list of customers so you can stay in touch and try to garner some repeat business. Don’t bombard them with emails or phone calls. But you might start a simple monthly newsletter with tips for pet owners that includes a line at the bottom reminding them to contact you if they need a pet sitter. Or even sending out a holiday card or pet birthday cards could go a long way toward helping you build a loyal customer base.

Price Your ServicesResearch local rates and create a pricing structure per hour, day, or job. Set rates early to prepare for marketing.
Network LocallyMarket locally by reaching out to veterinary offices, pet grooming businesses, and pet supply stores for advertising opportunities. Consider local newspaper ads and event sponsorships.
Spread the Word OnlineUtilize online tools like Craigslist and to advertise services. Search for relevant social media groups to attract target customers.
Create Client ContractsDevelop agreements with customers, specifying expectations and contingency plans. Seek legal consultation for creating business contracts.
Start a ScheduleMaintain a detailed schedule to ensure on-time service and avoid overbooking. Use tools like Google Calendar or appointment scheduling software.
Get to WorkCommence pet sitting services while managing administrative tasks like bookkeeping and scheduling.
Stay in TouchMaintain a customer contact list for staying in touch and seeking repeat business. Consider a monthly newsletter or holiday cards to build customer loyalty.

Investing in Quality Pet Care Equipment and Supplies

To excel in the pet sitting business, it’s essential to invest in quality pet care equipment and supplies. This includes items like durable leashes, comfortable harnesses, various sizes of pet carriers, first-aid kits tailored for animals, and appropriate toys for different pet species.

High-quality food and water dishes, grooming tools, and pet waste disposal systems are also crucial. Offering a variety of pet beds and crates to accommodate different sizes and breeds can enhance the comfort of the pets in your care.

Having a well-equipped toolkit not only ensures the well-being and safety of the pets but also portrays professionalism and dedication to your clients.

Legal and Insurance Matters in Pet Sitting

Navigating legal and insurance matters is vital for a pet sitting business. Firstly, ensure that you have the necessary business licenses and permits as required by your local regulations. Liability insurance is crucial to protect against potential accidents or damages that could occur while pets are under your care.

Additionally, consider getting bonding insurance to safeguard against theft or misconduct. It’s also advisable to have written contracts with clients, clearly outlining the services provided, rates, and policies for cancellations or emergencies.

Staying informed about legal obligations related to pet care, like vaccination requirements or local leash laws, is also fundamental in running a responsible pet sitting business.

Offer Specialized Services

How to Start a Pet Sitting Business

To stand out in the pet sitting industry, consider offering specialized services that cater to specific pet needs. For instance, you could provide pet taxi services to transport pets to veterinary appointments or grooming sessions. Additionally, you might offer services for pets with special medical or dietary requirements, ensuring that their needs are met with personalized care.

Another option is to provide overnight pet sitting for clients who require extended care for their furry companions. Overnight services can be particularly beneficial for pet owners who travel or go on vacations and want their pets to receive round-the-clock attention and care.

Moreover, consider adding dog training sessions to your list of services. Many pet owners seek assistance in training their dogs, and offering training sessions can be a valuable addition to your business, attracting more customers and creating a well-rounded pet care experience.

By diversifying your services and accommodating specific pet care needs, you can attract a broader clientele and establish your pet sitting business as a go-to solution for pet owners seeking exceptional and tailored care for their beloved companions.


Starting a pet sitting business can be a fulfilling venture for animal lovers, allowing them to spend quality time with various pets while providing valuable care and companionship. However, it requires careful planning and consideration of essential steps to ensure a successful and sustainable business.

First and foremost, aspiring pet sitters should research and comply with the licensing requirements in their local area. Obtaining the necessary licenses and business insurance helps protect both the business owner and the pets in their care.

Formulating comprehensive business policies and service plans is crucial for a smooth operation. Deciding on the types of pets to care for, the services to offer, and the pricing structure allows pet sitters to establish a clear business direction from the outset.

Networking locally and utilizing online platforms can significantly boost the business’s visibility and attract potential clients. Building relationships with local veterinary offices, pet grooming businesses, and pet supply stores can generate word-of-mouth referrals and enhance credibility.

Moreover, online tools and social media platforms offer additional opportunities to reach a broader audience, including potential clients in the local community.

Creating client contracts with detailed terms and contingency plans ensures transparency and a clear understanding of expectations between the pet sitter and clients. This helps build trust and credibility, leading to long-lasting client relationships.

Efficient scheduling and time management are vital to maintain a reliable and professional pet sitting service. Utilizing tools like Google Calendar or appointment scheduling software helps avoid overbooking and ensures timely service delivery.

Once the business is up and running, providing exceptional care to the pets should be the primary focus. Building positive relationships with the animals and their owners creates a loyal customer base and fosters a positive reputation within the community.

Finally, offering specialized services, such as pet taxi, overnight sitting, or dog training, can set the business apart from competitors and cater to the diverse needs of pet owners. Diversification and tailored care allow the pet sitting business to stand out and thrive in a competitive market.

In conclusion, starting a pet sitting business requires dedication, passion for animals, and a well-thought-out strategy. By following the essential steps and offering outstanding service, aspiring pet sitters can build a successful and rewarding business, bringing joy to both pets and their owners.

Playing DogsCats with KennelDog WalkingCats Photos via Shutterstock

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.