“You have the best job!”
“I wish I can spend my day with dogs and cats! You are so lucky!”
These are the top two things I hear about my job as a dog walker and pet sitter. Yes, it is one of the best jobs in the world. And yes, I am VERY lucky to be spending my days with dogs and cats, especially as my full-time job. However, it is way more than just spending my time with animals, receiving doggie kisses and taking cute dog photos. Especially if you plan to own a pet sitting and dog walking business. I personally have had pets my entire life, I worked as a Kennel Attendant for a year and half, did pet sitting as a side gig for 3 years, and have had my business and been doing this full time since 2018. Right here, I have provided you a list of the Pros & Cons of being a pet sitter and dog walker.
With this list of Pros and Cons, I am not sugar coating anything. I have provided you 6 Cons that will be the ‘Oh gosh’ or the “Oh no, so bad” cons. Along with 7 Pros that will be the “Oh, how cool and exciting” pros.
I will start with the bad news first…
Cons of Being a Pet Sitter + Dog Walker
- The Messes
- Have you ever seen a dog throw up or poop blood? Have you ever cleaned up animal throw up, pee, poop, or diarrhea? OH! And if you get a chewer! Boy. Get ready because you’ll have to clean up that mess too.
- I have come into houses for a drop-in visit where the dogs roam freely, and they have eaten/chewed the daughter’s mattress, shoes, bed frame, etc.! I have also come into homes where a big dog has taken a HUGE donk on the floor. Like HUGE, needing multiple poop bags huge. Be ready to clean, a lot.
- The Messages + Lack of Availability
- Pet Sitting is a 365 days a year job. Whenever people go to work or go on vacation, they will need you. Yes you could say no, but you risk them using someone else and losing business. Things are always coming up. There is not a day that goes by that one of my clients do not text me.
- I have said no to clients, and I have had to take days off by telling them I am unavailable, but again I risk losing their business so I do it as little as possible. I have been burnt out from my job more than once because I could not get a day off, and it would be 3+ weeks before I did. It wasn’t until I hired someone to help me out and be there when I couldn’t.
- With the text messages, emails, and calls I get them even when I am on vacation when my clients were told months in advance that I would be unavailable. This is why it’s SOOO important to set boundaries. For tips on setting boundaries, check my blog post 9 Things to Do When Starting a Dog Walking and Pet Sitting Business.
- The Clients + Red Flags
- The Red Flags are something that you need to pay attention to. Unfortunately when you first start out, you will not know what they are. And everyone is different with what they consider to be a red flag. Check out that post 9 Things to Do When Starting a Dog Walking and Pet Sitting Business to see what I pay attention to and how to catch those red flags.
- Those flags help tell you what kind of client they are. You will get clients that are “oh my dog is perfect! They have no issues with anything.” Usually those people are lying, or they just have a smart dog that knows that their parents are away and they get to misbehave. You will also get clients who are VERY picky. Where if you do not set something in the absolute correct spot, they will be blowing up your phone telling you what you did wrong. Then they will send you a hundred more texts to make sure you received their messages, and that you moved whatever it was to the correct spot.
- Personally, this is one of the biggest con for me. It sucks, and puts you and the dog you are caring for in a dangerous situation. It’s when somebodies dog gets out of the backyard and is roaming around. OR when the owner of the dog thinks “oh my dog is so great, they are the best dog and won’t do anything!” Wrong. They will charge at you. Even when you yell “my dog is aggressive!” Then for some reason the owner will just stand there, literally stand in the same spot, and yell the dogs name to come back. About 2% of the time does the dog actually ever listen to that owner.
- Solution: Yell “I am going to kick your dog”. Buy dog-friendly pepper spray or a stun gun. That will either scare the owner enough to hurry their butt over, or enough to scare the dog away. There was a time where I got attacked, or the dog I’m walking got attacked every week of that month.
- Escape Artists
- Ever have a heart attack? No? Get ready, because the escape artists will give you one.
- Things like, “What do I do?”, “How do I get them back?”, “Where did they go?”, “Do I tell the owner?”, “What do I say to the owner?”, “How soon after the pet runs away should I tell the owner?”, “Oh god, my life.”, “God, please help me get them back!” May all cross your mind within 30 seconds of that animal running out the door, or running away after slipping out of the leash. Good times.
- Last Minute Requests, Clients Who Constantly Reschedule or Pay Their Bill Late, and Saying No.
- Last minute requests are very challenging when you have a booked day, or just other plans in mind. It’s hard to say no to them, especially if you really like their dog. Or especially when they are a new client. Also, it’s hard to say no since it risks you losing business with them.
- Clients Who Constantly Reschedule or Pay Their Bill Late suck. They may be the nicest + kindest people in the world, but boy is it a headache. Doing this full-time, that scheduled booking they create is your livelihood. It’s how you pay bills. No matter how nice they are, you need your money. There will be clients who constantly reschedule, and potentially delaying payment. I have had to set a limit on how many times one may reschedule before they may not receive a credit nor a refund. The people who pay their bill late will present challenges as well, especially since you will worry that you will never see the payment. I have a not-so-nice late fee set in place to help reduce + prevent those late payments. Recently, I revised our payment policy where clients now have to pay their bill before services begin.
Thankfully pet messes, people paying their bills late, strays, and pets escaping do not happen every day. There are Pros that motivate me to want to get up and continue to do what I love.
Pros of Being a Pet Sitter + Dog Walker
Now the good news!!
- Dog Smiles Are Contagious
- Their smiles and their love is the #1 reason I do this. They get so excited to see you. One of my clients licks my knee every time I enter. Another one of them jumps around and brings me their new favorite toy. It melts my heart, and puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.
- Flexible Schedule
- Yes, you may have to pass up on some requests from clients. BUT once you have your boundaries in place, stick to them. If you only want to take care of dogs between 11am and 2pm, Monday through Friday, only take care of dogs during those time. You get to choose.
- Being Outside + Constant Exercise
- Nuff Said.
- The Owners + The Connections You Make
- I have met such AMAZING people, and I have heard some AMAZING stories. I have built such great relationships with my clients, and it has been such a blessing! By being a dog walker or pet sitter, you become a part of their family. They will give you hugs when they see you, invite you out to dinner, give you holiday gifts, etc..
- With owning a business, it’s a great idea to build connections and network! With networking you get the chance to meet some really passionate, motivating, and helpful people. People with advice or connections to help your business grow.
- Getting to Know Your Community
- As a dog walker and pet sitter you will have to drive to various areas of your city. By doing this, you get the opportunity to discover parts of your community you may have never known about. If you are new to a city, being a dog walker and pet sitter helps you get to know your surroundings.
- Two of the people I hired have told me how surprised they are and how cool it is to discover new parts of the city. One of them has lived in Pomona, CA for many years and never knew about certain areas. It’s a great opportunity to explore!
- Setting Your Own Rates + Having Your Own Business
- Your business. Your rules.
- Your Phone is Filled with Cute Dog Photos!!
- On my work phone, I have 10,000+ photos. I am pretty confident that 8 thousand of them are dogs and cats. When I look through them all, it brings back great memories, and a smile to my face! They are too cute, and to see some of them grow is so rewarding!
Related: Tools of the Trade
For me, the pros outweigh the cons. Yes, the cons can cause a few headaches, but it’s worth it. There are good and bad days, and you will find that at whatever job you do. For me, there are more good days when I walk dogs. I am so thankful, and beyond blessed for all the texts I get every-single-day from my clients because it means I get to do what I love for another day.
Why do you want to be a dog walker/pet sitter?
Share your dream with me in the comments below!
Or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!