What Do Dog Sitters Get Paid?
A love for animals is a must for becoming a dog sitter — or any other pet sitter, for that matter. You’re taking time out of your day to play, exercise and feed these beloved family members. When most people think of dog sitting, dollar signs rarely come to mind, but you can make a pretty decent living as a pet sitter, and can make much more than the average animal care and service worker.
In 2010, animal care and service workers earned a median wage of $19,780 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That works out to about $9.51 an hour. But these figures group all care and service workers together. A pet sitter earns a much different scale than a pet groomer, for example.
A survey conducted by Pet Sitters International (PSI), an educational association for professional pet sitters, found that pet sitters earned an average of $48,635 a year in 2010. This annual wage is based on an average of 2,606 sitting assignments a year -- or roughly $18.66 per “sit.” Pet sitters tend to serve an average of 103 clients each, which works out to a billing of about $472 a year per client.
On average, pet sitters charge a rate of $17.75, reports PSI. However, the typical pet-sitting visit only lasts about 30 minutes. Sitting entails anything from playtime to dog walking, to care of special needs pets, to pet transportation, meaning the pet sitter transports the pet from one location to another, such as to a veterinarian or doggy daycare.
Almost all pet sitters service both dogs and cats -- making up about 96 percent of sitters. Roughly 63 percent of sitters also service birds, and almost 62 percent of sitters include fish as part of their services. Besides playtime, dog walking, feeding and watering your pets, some sitters include grooming, errand service, doggy daycare and in-home sits, as well. An overnight sit can range from $40 to $80 a night, but the average is closer to a $60 flat fee.
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.
How much do pet sitters make?
Have you always been a natural animal whisperer? Do you take great pride and joy in caring for your furry friends, and enjoy taking walks as much as they do? A career as a pet sitter might be a pawsible path for you.
First, find out how much pet sitters make—and what you need to provide a pet sitting service—before you embark (couldn’t help ourselves) on your new vocation.
Pet sitter’s salary range
Unlike dog walkers, pet sitters usually come to a client’s house to provide one-on-one care and companionship for their animals, including walks, feeding, and other special care. Occasionally, they may stay over at the client’s home.
Animal care isn’t a standardized business, so the pay scale can vary greatly from job to job. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2019 median salary for animal caretakers was $24,990 per year, and $12.02 per hour.1
- The lowest 10% of earners received an annual salary of $18,6302
- The highest 10% of earners received an annual salary of $38,630
The pet sitter and owner negotiate the exact fee, whether on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis. Despite the median yearly and hourly salaries above, many pet sitters are more likely to charge a flat daily, nightly, or weekly rate for their pet sitting service.
These rates don’t always reflect the same price point as their hourly wage. So, how much do pet sitters make per day? For example, a sitter that charges $15 an hour for regular walks may only charge pet sitting rates of $40 a day and $75 for an overnight stay.
With so much variation within the pet sitting business, it’s important to understand what you should be charging as a pet sitter based on your needs.
How location impacts pet sitter salaries
As with any industry, people in major metropolitan cities and neighborhoods are willing to pay more for a pet sitter than in other zip codes. These states show the range of standard pet sitter salaries across the country:3
- District of Columbia – 470 animal caretakers with a mean hourly wage of $17.50 and an annual mean wage of $36,400
- California – 22,530 animal caretakers with a mean hourly wage of $15.27 and an annual mean wage of $31,770
- New York – 12,450 animal caretakers with a mean hourly wage of $14.87 and an annual mean wage of $30,920
- Florida – 14,760 animal caretakers with a mean hourly wage of $12.82 and an annual mean wage of $26,670
- Texas – 16,370 animal caretakers with a mean hourly wage of $11.72 and an annual mean wage of $24,390
- Idaho – 1,370 animal caretakers with a mean hourly wage of $10.80 and an annual mean wage of $22,470
Transportation is another location-based factor to take into consideration. Many pet sitters charge for the round-trip to and from their client’s home if they have to drive a long way, in addition to their hourly or daily wage.
Education & training requirements
There are no real requirements to become a pet sitter (other than an unparalleled love for animals). But there are certain qualifications that will enhance your employability and earn you a few extra bucks:
- Previous experience with pet care, whether volunteering at a local animal shelter, with a veterinarian, or previous pet sitting experience is a plus (with references, please!).
- Certain licenses or certificates, including the certification programs from the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International.
- Any pet-related courses, like pet behavioral training or first aid.
- In most cases, at least a high school diploma or equivalent is expected for a pet sitting job.
Licenses, certifications, and formal training will only make you more desirable as a potential pet sitter and justify a higher rates more quickly.
Tips for setting your rates
When negotiating your pet sitting rates and fees, the clients make a huge difference. And no, we’re not talking about the pet parents.
Spending your day with a not-yet-house-trained, loves-to-steal-socks, full-of-energy puppy is not the same as lounging about with a low-maintenance, well-trained, six-year-old dog. The pay shouldn’t be the same, either.
Get a clear picture of the four-legged friends you’ll be attending to before you agree to a price point:
Species – All animals need love and attention, but they don’t all require the same amount of work. Of all the household pets, dogs typically take the most effort because of daily walks, playtime, and trips outside to relieve themselves. Cats, rabbits, reptiles, birds, and the like are easier to manage and therefore fall under a lower pay scale.
Age – With dogs especially, rambunctious puppies are a whole new ball of energy and the most likely to want to play nonstop. You should always charge an additional fee for young pups.
Number – They say two is better than one, but it’s also more work. Once you’ve established a standard hourly rate, go ahead and tack on an extra fee for every additional animal.
Care needs – If the animal needs to be continuously supervised, assisted with moving around, or given regular medication, you may want to charge more than you would for a self-sufficient one.
Grow your business with referrals & reviews
As a pet sitter, you’re looking for work through personal connections and word of mouth instead of traditional job boards and corporate sites. That’s why your reputation as a responsible, reliable pet sitter is so important.
Once you build a substantial client base, you can start inquiring about other potential leads, especially with your high-paying customers. You can also ask them to leave positive reviews for you online and act as references for new clients. After you establish your presence, hone in on affluent neighborhoods willing to pay higher wages for your services.
Protect your business with insurance
Pet sitting may be your passion, but it can also be a source of financial hardship and distress if you leave yourself vulnerable.
Anytime you interact with third parties, whether two-legged or four, you risk the possibility of accidents or injuries. But general liability insurance can provide investigation, defense, and settlement for claims that may otherwise wipe out your pet-sitting pursuit altogether, including:
- Bodily injury – Claims of physical injury against a non-employee third party
- Property damage – Damages to another entity’s property (including your client’s home or a third-party location)
- Personal & advertising injury – Claims that you published something damaging to another’s reputation
In most cases, pet-sitting isn’t a full-time job, so paying for annual insurance doesn’t make much sense in a short-term, (often last-minute), gig-based industry.
Luckily, Thimble offers on-demand Pet Sitting Insurance coverage in a matter of seconds (under 60, to be exact). You can purchase:
- Hourly coverage for quick dog-walking appointments
- Daily insurance for a nine-to-five of caring for a furry friend (ahem, client)
- Weekly or monthly coverage for long-term pet sitting stints
Get the Thimble app or click “Get A Quote” now so you can protect what really matters—your business and your livelihood (even if you can’t protect the neighborhood squirrels from your client’s dog).
More than just puppy love
You may have entered the pet-sitting game because of your love for animals. You can turn it into a lucrative pursuit or side hustle by growing your client list, taking good care of their pets, and protecting yourself from potential claims and damages.
Who knows? You might even be able to teach an old dog some new tricks. Just be sure to purchase the right insurance coverage first.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook, Animal Care and Service Workers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook, Animal Care and Service Workers: Pay.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2019; 39-2021 Animal Caretakers.
How Much Do Pet Sitters Make?
Kay is a professional pet sitter who owns and runs a successful pet sitting service.
Making Money as a Pet Sitter
Some of the most asked questions about becoming a pet sitter are how much money do they make a year? How about a month? What can they expect to see in a day?
Unfortunately, there's no correct answer. There are way too many factors to take into consideration, and the only true way to get a straight answer is to become a pet sitter yourself and see what you're able to earn.
As a professional pet sitter myself who owns and runs a successful pet sitting service, I understand that you'd probably at least like a ballparkfigure of what you could be expecting to make as a pet sitter, so I put together this article to give you an idea.
Pet Sitter Salary Examples
How much you can make as a pet sitter depends on a lot of things. These are a few examples of real pet sitters and their salaries:
- I run my own pet sitting service in the South-East region of the US. I average around 8 pet sitting visits per day at around $15/each. I don't work weekends or holidays, and earn about $30,000/year. I've been doing this for the past three or so years.
- A pet sitter in Florida manages to handle about 15 to 17 pet sitting visits per day and brings in around $1200/week. That's $57600/year. They work weekends and occasional holidays.
- Another pet sitter in the North-West does 2 or 3 pet sitting visits per day and manages to bring in an extra $1000/month. That about $12 to $17 per visit.
- Another pet sitter in a more rural area of the US is able to do about 14 pet sitting visits per day, at around $17 each. They do not work weekends and average around $4700/month or $57000/year.
How Much Can I Make Pet Sitting?
Before you break out the calculator, the first thing you'll need to know is that pet sitting, though it may seem simple on the surface for some quick and easy money, it's a lot more than meets the eye.
If you plan on making it in this business, then you're going to need to be punctual, organized, a people-person, and understand that it's your job to answer calls from clients at any time of day, no matter what you're doing—you never know when there could be an emergency, and your clients are counting on you to be able to help!
With that said, in order to get the best idea of what you can be making as a pet sitter (assuming you'll be going into business for yourself and not working for another person), you'll need to do some market research. This will help you determine how to price your services as well as give you information on whether or not there's possible room for competition.
Thumb through the phone books and do a Google search for any local pet sitting or dog walking services. How many are there? What services do they have to offer? How much do they charge? Do they have good business testimonials? Most of all . . . could you do better?
Knowing about your competition isn't the only research you should be doing. You also need to know about your city or town demographics—do you have an idea of how many people own pets that take frequent vacations or work tedious jobs that might keep them away from home for extended hours at a time? This is need to know information!
You can easily be the best and only pet sitter in town, but if nobody in the area is going on vacation or working long hours, then it's not going to be easy to make it as a pet sitter.
Pet Sitting Costs and Expenses
When trying to calculate how much you could expect to be making as a pet sitter, don't forget to subtract the costs.
These costs include insurance, advertising (business cards, pamphlets, commercials, etc), business licenses, website, and fuel, among other things.
Depending on whether you're going into business for yourself or if you'll be working as a pet sitter for another company, you may not need to deal with some of the above costs.
How Much Should I Charge?
Let's just say that the demographics of your area are fine and that there's some room for competition in the line of service business that you're interested in squeezing into. How much should you charge clients for the services that you offer?
This is where that market research comes in handy. You want to price your services according to what you believe would be affordable to households in your area, as well as what pet sitters are already charging.
When first starting out, it's a good idea to price your services lower than the competition, but not too low—too low might get you some less-than-great clients and may even drive potential clients away out of worry. So if other pet sitting businesses are charging $17 and $19 per half hour for a pet visit, consider charging $15.
Raising Prices Later
After you've got some experience under your belt and dedicated clientele, you might want to consider raising your prices. You might be asking why. Well, think of it this way—would you rather have a handful of clients who are okay paying more, or would you rather have tons of clients to deal with who pay less?
You can't take on every pet sitting job yourself, and if you're not in the market to hire a new employee anytime soon, then raising your service prices to ensure you only attract the best clients may be in your best interest.
Possible Service List
You're not going to make any money without a service list! If you're having some trouble coming up with services that you can offer, feel free to use any of these—I offer every single one to my own clients, and they're all client favorites.
- Dog Walking
- Boarding (in my own home)
- Sleepovers (where I stay in their home with their dog)
- Vet Visits
- Grocery Pick-Up and Delivery
- Dog Park and Beach Visits
- Dog Bathing and Basic Grooming
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Marissa Folken on May 09, 2018:
I think out of all of my jobs i will become a dog walker.
Zander Meier on May 09, 2018:
i love my dads dog and love caring for them so this job would be amazing for me and anyone else who love dogs.
zander meier on May 09, 2018:
I love my dads dogs and love to work with them so this job is good for me
Fifitrixiebelle on February 12, 2018:
TY for a great article!!
Claudia on January 10, 2018:
my neighbor is a pet sitter etc and he charges 12.00 ro 15.00 a 10 minutes dog walk. Is that the average dog walk salary?
Debi Briscoe on October 05, 2017:
What’s the best way to get started as a pet sitter, walker and everything that most people would need?
Joyce O. on March 27, 2017:
I stay at my clients houses to watch both pets and houses. I charge between $30 to $50 a day. I looked into it and to board a dog in this area is between $20 - $50 a day depending on the size of dog. Multiple animals are additional cost. Everything besides housing the animal is extra. Extra cost for interaction with the animal, treats, giving medication, etc. I provide all that for one cost. In addition, I walk the animals, play with them plus the fact the animals get to stay in their own environment where they're more comfortable. I like doing it and my clients are all happy with me. I hope to grow my business.
afsaneh baradaran on November 08, 2016:
i would like to be a pet sitter only for cats, birds and fish. but not dog. do you thinks i will be successful in this business? i live in a big city Toronto Canada
Brook Renner on September 01, 2016:
how old do you have to be a pet sitter?
Joanne on October 03, 2015:
I suffer from RSD CRPS, I can walk and I love animals, how do I become a pet sitter? I have been a Certified Nursing Assistant. I also have a dog of my own. Animals are great ( however I would not sit for a snake.) :)
Andrew from Rep Boston MA on July 13, 2014:
Great Hub! I might think about becoming a pet sitter myself. While i'd only do it primarily for dogs (as they are what I have the most experience in). I know some animals can be wild and crazy while others are calm and relaxed for most of the time. I'd have to get some more experience from my aunt, whos a dog trainer on how to deal with bite happy and high strung dogs. The experience I have is helping her train Newfoundland dogs,a very calm and peaceful breed of gentle giants for the most part. I've dealt with 4 of these ~160 lb furballs at once along with a black lab! Of course these 5 were all fully trained with people and commands, and the Newfoundlands got all their water rescue and obedience awards. You could have left a baby with them and no harm would come to him/her. I would think an untrained dog of any kind would be a little harder to control!
Thanks for the idea and great Hub - KEEP IT UP!
Kay B (author) from Tampa, FL on June 10, 2012:
@Gege, are you staying there 24 hours, full time? Most pet sitters charge anywhere from $35 to $80/night for that. I personally charge $40, but am only there from 8pm to 8pm so I can work the next day.
gege on June 10, 2012:
I am pet watching , staying at the owners home they have 4 Yorkie and one pecaneses dog so that 5 gods day and night.
Chris Hugh on June 03, 2012:
Good hub. I wish someone would do it here. I need a good sitter.
Claudia Tello from Mexico on June 03, 2012:
Wow! The numbers are amazing, especially considering that it is not a full time, all-day-long job!
Average Dog Sitter Hourly Pay
Avg. Base Hourly Rate (USD)
The average hourly pay for a Dog Sitter is $12.99
What is the Pay by Experience Level for Dog Sitters?
An entry-level Dog Sitter with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $10.87 based on 6 salaries. An early career Dog Sitter with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $12.60 based on 35 salaries. A mid-career Dog Sitter …Read more
What Do Dog Sitters Do?
Dog sitters provide care for dogs on an as-needed basis, such as when a family is out of town or on vacation. Their tasks may vary depending on the dog's needs and the owners' expectations. Common tasks performed by dog sitters include walking the dog several times per day, preparing the dog's food per owners' instructions, ensuring the dog's environment is safe, providing medications and monitoring the dog to ensure that no emergency health situations arise. Dog sitters must be comfortable …Read more
Job Satisfaction for Dog Sitter
4.2 out of 5
We currently don't have any reviews for this job. Are you a Dog Sitter? Take our survey to help us meet this goal.
This data is based on 32 survey responses. Learn more about the gender pay gap.
Common Health Benefits
Salary dog watcher
How Much Does A Pet Sitter Cost?
Pet Sitting Rates
Pet sitters charge an average of $25 per 30-minute visit, $20 to $30 per day, $45 to $75 per night, or $250 to $375 per week. Rates depend on the services requested, if you need 24-hour pet care or service on holidays, and if you have additional pets.
|National Average Cost||$15 per hour|
|Minimum Cost||$10 per hour|
|Maximum Cost||$60 per hour|
|Average Range||$10 to $25 per hour|
If you want your pet to experience in-home sitting while you're away, hiring a professional pet sitter is the way to go. Many times pets left in kennels are lonely and unhappy until their owners return home. Some pets can overnight or have a multiple-day stay at the pet sitter’s home (which can be cheaper) rather than have the pet sitter stay in the pet’s home.
Table of Contents
- Pet Sitting Rates
- How Much Do Pet Sitters Charge?
- What Does a Pet Sitter Do?
- House Sitting Rates with Pets
- Pet Sitting Price Factors
- How to Choose a Pet Sitter
- How Much Do You Tip A Pet Sitter?
- Pet Sitters Near Me
How Much Do Pet Sitters Charge?
Pet sitting services generally cost $25 per 30-minute visit which includes a potty break, feeding, and fresh water. Prices depending on the sitter's service area relative to the pet owner, and whether the pet needs to be picked up and dropped off. If you have more than one pet, add $10 per additional dog.
|Length of sitting||Dog||Cat|
|Per Day||$20 – $30||$10 – $20|
|Per Week||$250 – $375||$250 – $375|
Will you be gone over a holiday such as Memorial Day? Add $5 per visit. Is your pet a puppy? They take a little more work, so add $5 to the base rate.
Pet Sitting Rates Per Day
Pet sitting rates are about $20 per day on average. Of course, there are always variables that affect that price such as if you need a pet taxi to pick up and drop off your animal. The price applies to one dog, cat, or bird and the price will go up by $10 for each additional pet.
Overnight Pet Sitting Rates
If you want your pet sitter to provide overnight care in your home, it will cost from $40 to $75 per night. There are a lot of benefits to this arrangement, such as:
- You keep your home occupied.
- Your pets are kept company throughout the night.
- You have someone on hand in case of an emergency, such as a pet who gets sick.
Pet Sitting Rates Per Week
For a five-day week, you can expect to pay $250–$375 for pet sitting a pet with no special needs, which includes house sitting if the pet sitting includes overnight stays. (Additional pets would cost more.)
What Does a Pet Sitter Do?
A pet sitter is your pet’s substitute caregiver. When you have to be away, and you want your pets to be taken care of in a loving manner, perhaps even in their own home, you will hire a pet sitter. Instead of staying with your pet full time, the pet sitter may drop in a few times a day to feed, water, and let the pet outside to do its business.
The most common pet sitting services are:
- Provide company for your pet(s), even taking them outside to play.
- Feed and give the pet fresh water.
- Take the dog for a walk outside for exercise.
- Clean litter boxes and clean up any other pet mess that may occur.
- Depending on their qualifications, they can administer medications.
- Take your pet to their vet appointments.
- Pet sitters are often willing to bring in mail, put out the trash bins, and water plants.
House Sitting Rates with Pets
A house sitter who also takes care of your pets costs from $30 to $65 a day. Sometimes it might be more economical for you to hire a pet sitter as a combination pet sitter/house sitter. They would stay at your home with your pet every day and night until you return.
With a house sitter, they can check the mail, and water the grass and the houseplants. They will be a visible presence in your home, which may help prevent a break-in, and they might do a little light housework, ensuring you come home to a clean house.
- Dog Sitting – A dog sitter who stays in your home will cost $30–$65 a day.
- Cat Sitting – A cat sitter who stays in your home will cost $30–$65 a day.
- Bird Sitting – Birds are generally boarded, rather than have a person spend the night in their home. Depending on the size of your bird, the cost for boarding can range from $12–$18 per day.
Pet Sitting Price Factors
Many things affect the price you’ll pay for pet sitting such as if you are located in California or Texas. The base price can easily double if you have several pets, or if they are sick or elderly. It may also cost more if they are very young and still learning where to use the bathroom.
Type of Pet
Smaller pets who can amuse themselves and don’t need to be walked can be cheaper to pet sit than an active dog who requires 2–3 walks a day. Puppies can cost an additional $5 per visit.
Your zip code will have a lot to do with the cost of pet sitting, no matter what kind of pet you have or how many of them there are. Urban areas usually cost more than rural areas. For example, dog sitting rates in Charlotte, North Carolina, are about $15 per hour, while dog sitting rates in NYC, New York, are approx. $21 per hour.
Some pet sitters can house sit, pet sit, and still go to their jobs every day, so know in advance how present you want your pet sitter to be. They can remain on-site mostly 24/7, leaving your pet alone for no more than a few hours. Be prepared to pay more for this.
Pet sitters can often administer medication—both oral and injection –which costs about $5–$15, depending on the type of medication and how it’s administered. An injection will cost more than a pill. If your pet needs hourly medical attention, it can cost you about $200/day for that 24/7 level of care.
Do you want your pet to be bathed or groomed? Add $75.
You can pay from $7–$10 per additional pet, in addition to the base rate of $40–$75 per night. If all your pets are dogs, for instance, you might get a lower price than if you have two dogs, a cat, and three birds.
Expect to pay extra on holidays, as pet sitters are giving up their holiday tradition to care for your pet. Most pet sitters charge an additional $5 on holidays.
How to Choose a Pet Sitter
- Be sure the pet sitter is a professional. Ask if they belong to professional organizations such as NAPPS (National Association of Professional Pet Sitters), Professional United Pet Sitters (P.U.P.S.) or Association of Pet Sitting Excellence.
- Choose one that has a business license and is insured and bonded.
- Check the references you receive from the pet sitter or from your friends.
- Ask if they are trained in pet CPR and first aid.
- Arrange a meet and greet between your pet and the prospective pet sitter. They should get along. If your pet has to be coaxed to warm up to the pet sitter, choose someone else.
- They should present professional items such as contracts, payment arrangements, cancellation policies, and their plan during bad weather for taking your dog outside.
- If they are also acting as a house sitter, what are they willing to do around your house? Make sure everything is spelled out, so you both have the same understanding.
- Be sure you feel good about your choice. If you have any hesitation at all, choose someone else. This person is going to be in your home and taking care of your fur baby. You need to have confidence in them.
How Much Do You Tip A Pet Sitter?
The proper tip is about 15%–20% of the bill, or about $15 per night. The correct amount depends on how long they stayed in your home, and if they went above and beyond what they agreed to do.
If they did everything they agreed to do, tip on the lower end just as an act of appreciation. If they cleaned your kitchen and mowed your lawn, you might give them more. If your pet had an emergency and they rushed them to the emergency vet and stayed all night at the vet, you’d probably better consider the higher end of the spectrum and keep their number to use them again.
Get free estimates from trusted pet sitters on HomeGuide and good luck on your search!
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