I recently started dog sitting on Rover, where I’ve been making around $300 per month watching dogs. Nick and I have always wanted a dog, but we don’t want to make the leap until we have a house of our own. With the current crazy housing market and high interest rates, we’ll be staying put in an apartment for quite some time. To get our fill of puppy hangs, I signed up to dog sit on Rover.
Through Rover, you can offer several different services:
- Dog boarding – Dogs are dropped off at your home, and you watch them overnight.
- Dog walking – You go to someone’s home during the day and walk their dog.
- Doggie day care – A dog comes to your home for the day, but does not stay overnight.
- House sitting – You go to someone’s home, stay there and watch their pets while they are out of town.
Because I work from home, I offer dog boarding and doggie day care. I don’t offer dog walking because I can’t promise to be available to walk a dog at a certain time given my meeting schedule. I also prefer not to house sit, but haven’t ruled it out entirely.
Rover is great because you can maintain a calendar of when you are available, with no minimum commitment. Only want to watch dogs one weekend a month and travel the rest of the time? Totally doable. Only want to watch dogs during the week? Less lucrative, but also possible. Despite my busy travel schedule, I’ve been able to make an average of $300 per month by watching dogs when I’m not on the go.
Dog Sitting on Rover: How to Sign Up & Get Started
Click here to sign up and create an account with Rover through my referral link (if you ever need a dog sitter, my link gives you $20 off!). You’ll have to fill out a profile, and pay for a background check which can take a few weeks to complete. Here are a few tips for maximizing your profile:
- Upload a few photos, preferably of ones with dogs.
- Write up what dogs will be doing while they’re at your home. Do you have a great yard? A cozy couch the dog can nap on? Does your flexible schedule allow for multiple walks throughout the day? All great things to plug!
- Request references from friends and family who are familiar with your pet sitting (or cuddling) experience. These can count as your first reviews and help you get your first customers.
In terms of things you’ll need in your home to prepare for dog sitting, it’s best to keep it simple and not spend a ton of money. Here’s what you’ll need to get started for around $50:
- A set of bowls. Some owners bring their own bowls, but it’s good to have a pair on hand for those who don’t. No need for anything fancy here – these stainless steel dog bowls from Amazon will do the trick.
- A couple toys. Again, nothing fancy needed here, but it’s nice to have a couple toys on hand in case the owner doesn’t bring any. Toys can help prevent boredom and anxiety in dogs, so they won’t chew things in your home. Rope toys tend to be the most popular among my customers!
- Somewhere for dogs to sleep. Some customers bring their dog’s crate or bed, but not all do. It’s important to have a game plan for where dogs will sleep. I’m slightly allergic to dogs so I prefer to keep them out of my bed. If they don’t have attachment issues, they can usually sleep on my couch. However, some dogs will be miserable if they can’t sleep in the same room as you so it’s good to have a one-size-fits-all dog bed that you can keep in your bedroom. Otherwise, you might hear whining all night long!
- Poop bags – Most people do not provide these (though some do), so it’s important to have a ton on hand. Don’t be that person who doesn’t pick up dog poop!
Dog Sitting on Rover: How to Set Your Prices
Rover lets you set a price per night, but how do you know how much to charge? Start by searching in your area as if you are a dog owner. Look at the people closest to you – how much are they charging? Other sitters in your town or neighborhood can provide good benchmarks for what you should charge, but it’s important to consider other factors, such as whether or not you have a yard, if you only take one dog at a time, how often you can provide walks, etc. into your pricing. Your services may be more or less valuable than your neighbors’, depending on your situation.
You also might want to charge significantly less for your first few weeks as a sitter to lure new customers and get reviews that will ultimately help boost you in the search rankings.
Over time, as you build reviews, you can increase your prices. I started at $28 per night and I am now charging $50 per night.
Dog Sitting on Rover: How to Earn Amazing Reviews and Tips
Your reviews are key to growing your Rover dog sitting business, but how can you make sure you earn five stars every time – especially when you only interact with your human customers for a few minutes?
- Be friendly, warm and welcoming when you meet your customers – Treat dog parents like you would any other customer. Give them explicit directions to your home, meet them outside, and offer to show them the place. Be flexible with drop off and pick up times, and willing to arrange meet-and-greets. These people are often nervous about leaving their pet with a stranger, so by appearing friendly and welcoming, you’ll set their minds at ease.
- Ask good questions – Show customers that you know what’s needed to care for their pup by asking important questions. How is your dog around other dogs? How often do they need to use the bathroom? What time of day do they usually go out first? What is a normal length for their walks? Any special dietary or medication needs? Are there any commands you are training on that I can help reinforce?
- Provide regular updates and photos – I like to send 1-2 photos per day of the dogs, with brief updates on what they’re doing, such as napping on my balcony or going for a short hike. If there are any problems, I also alert the parents and keep them apprised of what I’m doing to help (e.g., I’ve had a couple dogs with severe anxiety or tummy troubles that I’ve had to make special food or coax up/down my stairs). While your first instinct might be to avoid telling your customers there’s a problem, I’ve gotten some of my best tips from parents of dogs who were especially difficult. Plus, if something is truly abnormal for a dog, the parents should know in case it indicates a bigger health problem.
- Send back the dogs tired and ready for the car ride home – This is an important one. People expect that you’ll be giving their dogs proper exercise and care while they are away, and the last thing they want is to return from vacation or a long day at work to a dog that is hyperactive and anxious. Make sure you take the dog on regular walks, and perhaps plan an extra long walk on the dog’s last day with you so they are calm and tired for their car ride home. I also usually try to take dogs for a bathroom break 20-30 minutes before their owners return, so they don’t have to stop again on their way home.
Dog Sitting on Rover: How to Promote Your Business
So now that you have your Rover dog sitting business set up, how do you get more customers? I already shared that you can set low prices for your first weeks in business to get those first reviews rolling in. Once you have great reviews, you’ll start showing up more and more in search results, but there are a couple other things you can do to maximize your bookings:
- Keep your calendar updated: If I know I’m going to be traveling or unable to care for a dog, I block my calendar. Rover allows you to select, “my calendar is up to date” which I recommend clicking every few days. This puts you up at the top of search results, with a little banner that says “availability confirmed for next two weeks.”
- Promote your business in your local community: Through Rover, you can buy business cards and provides a referral link that gives new customers $20 off their first booking. You can promote these on local bulletin boards, in community social media groups, etc.
- Respond quickly to inquiries: Your search rankings are impacted by how quickly you respond to potential customers. Even if you can’t accept a booking, it’s in you best interest to respond as quickly as you can to a message.
Dog sitting is by far the most enjoyable of my side hustles. I get to earn money and hang out with dogs, and I’ve even started to get more daily steps according to my iPhone since I began. If you work from home or have a flexible schedule, I highly recommend starting a Rover side hustle to help you earn extra money for travel without compromising your retirement savings. Click here to read more of my travel finance tips.