Dog sitting is one of my favorite side hustles. There are many positive aspects to dog sitting that make it a great side gig. (I share my favorite pros, as well as cons, in this post below.) The best thing about dog sitting is that I get to hang out with cool canines and make decent additional income for it. Essentially, I get paid to do something I already love to do! In May of 2022, I made over $1k taking care of pets. I foresee the same revenue in June, which is already mostly booked. In this post, I share why I chose dog-sitting as a side-hustle and the pros and cons of dog-sitting. I also included a simple start-up guide at the end of this post which will walk you through how I created a profitable side-hustle from my love of animals with zero capital and zero experience.
Why I Chose Dog Sitting As a Side Hustle
Taking care of people and things has always been my strong suit, and pets are no different! I have always loved animals. In particular, I love how affectionate and loyal dogs are. Plus, I like to get to know their personalities. My parents currently have a 14-year old female yellow Labrador. As the child who always lived close by, the responsibility for taking care of her when my parents went on vacation usually fell on me. She was my inspiration for creating a business out of dog-sitting.
My First Dog Sitting Experience
It was the summer after graduating from dental school when I got my first booking. I had a three month gap between passing the national boards and getting my state license to practice dentistry, and I was hurting for money. I had moved back home for a month and was watching my parent’s dog while they went away for a week long vacation. One of my friends saw on Instagram that I was taking care of a dog and asked about his own. I offered to watch his dog for a week while he was away.
The dog’s name was Bixby. Bixby is an adopted dog who is cautious and defensive around humans. His owner was nervous to leave him alone for the first time, but he did really well with me and my dog. In fact, he was very loyal and loved to sit by my feet. Whenever I moved to a different chair, he would follow. I enjoyed watching him roll his back in the grass, although I always had to stop him from eating it.
I thought to myself, I could get used to walking dogs and watching over them while their families are away, especially dogs with special needs or who have difficulty socializing. There are many dogs who would not do well in a day care facility because of trauma or anxiety. There are also many dog owners who do not want to kennel their dogs for weeks at a time. I could provide love, attention and care, adopting these dogs as my own while their parents were away.
However, I did not start my dog sitting journey then. After a month, Mike and I moved in together, renting a live/work loft. We did not want to bother the landlord for permission to have pets. We did not buy our own place until two and a half years later. My dog sitting business began three years after I watched Bixby. A year into dog sitting, the world shut down. I didn’t take care of dogs for a year-and-a-half.
Flash forward to today. I rebuilt my dog sitting business, RMV Tail & Paws, after moving to a new neighborhood (our second home) six months ago. Last month, I made over $1k taking care of canines within our community. I care for each one as if they were mine and Mikey’s. Plus, I got to meet a lot of great, kind families along the way. It was an awesome way for me to integrate into our new neighborhood!
Side note: I believe in turning hobbies and passions into income-producing side hustles. I think that we all have certain talents and strengths that we can share with the world, and those talents and strengths show up in our hobbies and passions. Side-hustles built around things I love make it feel like I am not working at all, but also, end up being the most successful businesses. I have done many side-hustles, mostly in the early mornings when I am most creative and have the most energy. Check out these early morning side hustle ideas for inspiration!
Pros of Dog Sitting
There are many positive aspects to dog sitting. Here are a few of the reasons why I enjoy taking care of dogs!
- I get the benefits of a dog’s company, love and affection. Mike and I view each pet as one of our own. We end up forming really great bonds with the dogs we watch, who in return gives us a sense of purpose and meaning in life. So many of our pets rush to the front door and get excited when they know they will stay with us. I really love that.
- We get to meet our neighbors and make friends with people in our community. The pawrents of these pups have been really nice. They care about their dogs a lot, and we build relationships with them. It really helped us settle down in our new space.
- I get to spend more time with my husband. Mike and I enjoy creating ‘vacation plans’ for the pets. It forces us to have a ‘stay-cation’ too. We try to plan a fun event every few days for the dog. Whether that’s a hike, a beach trip, or a dog park play date – it ends up being a great time for Mike and I to connect with the dog and each other. There are no phones on these outdoor activities and long walks.
- The dogs get me outside. I have to walk them a few times a day, which is beneficial for me. I get some sun, listen to the birds, breathe fresh air, observe plants and wild life… pretty much absorb all the good things nature has to offer.
- Dog sitting gets me up very early. It is one of the many early morning jobs I have taken up. I feed the cat and the dog at the same time at 5:30am. Then as the cat finishes up his food, I take the dog out on a walk. I love having a productive morning and this ensures that before I even make a cup of coffee, I do something that gives to others and to myself too. Walking is rejuvenating for the soul and one of my favorite things to do when I walk or meditate and observe my surroundings. I used to listen to podcasts when I walk dogs because it made me productive, but I have found productivity in the walk itself, too. This part of dog sitting had really improved my mental health.
- I set my own schedule. I book my dog sitting days and dog walking days when I can, but not every time I am asked. I can always say no to a booking for whatever reason. It could be because I am too busy with my other jobs, I want some relaxation time for myself, or even because I don’t think the dog is a good fit with my lifestyle, home, family, or cat.
- I set my own prices. I am able to call the shots when it comes to fees. I do charge extra for dogs who have special needs, or for additional services. I also charge extra for holidays and for inconveniences.
- I get to go through my regular day without too much extra work. The thing with dog-sitting is that, aside from feeding them and walking them, it’s pretty much a regular day for us. I can work on my blog or bake in the kitchen. I can also do billing and accounting for the bakery, or enjoy a good book. Dog-sitting isn’t active work all the time.
Cons of Dog Sitting
As with anything, there are a few things to note about dog sitting. For example, I have to be more flexible with dogs around. Here are a few cons.
- I have to be okay with messes in the house. I am a pretty neat and tidy person, and for the most part, most dogs have been okay. If a dog is especially messy or tends to break things, I offer to watch them at their house instead. Or I offer drop-in visits where I simple check-in on them, walk them, and feed them in their home.
- Sometimes, there are accidents. Dogs can pee when they get excited or scared. Which means we have to roll up our Nordic rugs every time we have a dog over – just in case. It’s not too much of a hassle, but it is an inconvenience.
- After every doggy stay, I have to clean the home. Kind of like AirBNB visitors, doggy visitors can leave a bit of a mess. The cleaning time if part of the job.
- We have to be home more often. We don’t like to leave the dogs at home alone especially because their parents are already away. I am sure they miss them dearly, so we try to spend every moment with the dogs. With Mr. Debtist working from home, there is always someone here during the weekday. On weekends, we limit the errands we have to do.
- We can’t schedule impromptu date nights or socializing events. This works out okay with me since I am a heavy planner. Planning ahead is actually how I am able to juggle all my side-hustles! (If planning is habit you want to take up, check out my top 5 favorite planners for productivity). However, there have been occasions where we were invited to something last minute and were not able to attend. One has to be okay with missing opportunities like that.
How I Built A Dog Sitting Business
I built a dog sitting business for FREE and built up my clientele on my own. It was quick, easy, and simple. Dog sitting was something I was able to get off the ground right away. I made profit with the first booking, and built up from there. I created this guide to walk people through how I built my dog sitting business from scratch with zero capital and zero experience. If you want to start making additional income taking care of pets, this download will definitely be useful for you. It contains tips and tricks I wish I had when I started on my journey! Within six months, I was successful and earning over $1k per month. I believe you can, too.
The Secret to Success
I think what made my dog sitting business successful is my dedication to the pets, as well as my excitement whenever I meet someone new. I care deeply about each one. Being genuinely passionate about your work show others that they can entrust you with their pets, which are like family members. As with all types of work, love what you do and it won’t feel like a means to earn money. It will legitimately make you feel happy and accomplished. Convince people of your own happiness and you will be successful at what you do.