If you love cats or dogs, you could cash in on this connection by taking on a side hustle pet sitting or dog walking.
Meghan Lim, who has made money with these two side hustles, said they can be fun, easy, profitable, and flexible work.
Lim works full-time as a remote financial analyst, and she spoke to Business Insider previously about side hustles to try over the holiday season based on her experience.
While Lim said she is focusing more on her personal finance content creation as her main side hustle, she does recommend pet sitting and dog walking, especially for those who love animals. Lim shared her advice and some things people interested in pet sitting should know, including how much time it can take and how to get started.
What to charge for dog walking and pet sitting
Lim previously told BI she can typically make around $1,000 a month from pet sitting, drop-in visits, and dog walking, all of which she’s done for a few years now.
Lim said “the best price to start for dog walking is $20 for a 30-minute walk. It’s a very standard rate.” She also noted you can feel free to charge based on your preference and what others are doing around you.
Something Lim wishes she had known early on is to increase your rates as you get busier with clients. Lim said she realized she had to increase her rates “in order to lessen my load of people coming in.”
“It’s important that once you get that experience and start to get good reviews, don’t ever undercharge yourself,” she said. “If you want more clients, then it would make sense to charge less. But, if you’re at a point when you’ve built up a lot of clientele, definitely charge more.”
She made $150 a night for taking care of two dogs for a few nights at the end of 2023 and the start of 2024. Because this house-sitting gig was around New Year’s, she charged more than her typical rate. Her roommate helped out on New Year’s Eve when Lim was with family.
“Since I have so many clients already and so many people asking me to watch their pet, I cannot do it all by myself,” Lim said. “Whenever I need to leave during a pet sit, I always make sure to have a backup in hand.”
Meet the owner of the pet beforehand
Lim suggested meeting the owner and their pet before taking on a client.
“There are situations where you may not end up liking the responsibility or maybe you just don’t find the right fit with the owner,” Lim said.
Lim said Rover, a pet-service platform, does “strongly recommend that you have a meet and greet before you take on that task of watching the pet.”
Lim noted several questions people could then ask the owner, like basic information about how often they should feed the pet and medication they may need to give the pet. They can also ask if the pet goes on walks.
“One of the most important questions to ask is ‘how long can I leave the dog alone?'” Lim said, adding some people may be OK with a longer period of time than others.
These can be flexible side hustles, but tell the owner if you also work another job
Lim said it’s important to tell the owner if you have a full-time job or other time conflicts so they know you won’t be able to talk on a 4 p.m. walk if you are still working, for instance. Lim said you can always ask if you can come a little later or earlier but to be mindful of their schedule too.
To avoid interference with her work hours, Lim said she’ll tend to walk only one dog midday during her lunch break or outside working hours if someone requests it.
“I would say if you work from home, it’s really flexible, especially if you have time during your lunch hours,” she said.
It can also be flexible in terms of the work you take on. “Let’s say you’re somebody who has a hard time with large dogs, maybe you don’t have the strength, you can choose to take on the smaller dogs, so you’re not pressured to take on a request,” she said.
Be prepared to potentially watch a pet overnight
People who are interested in pet sitting or house sitting should know this may involve staying over to take care of pets for more than one night, Lim said.
If you’re new to pet sitting or new to doing a side hustle that may require staying overnight, Lim said to make sure to be respectful and not be afraid to ask questions.
“They should always clean up before they leave when they finish a sitting and to always notify the owner of the things that they did such as feeding the dog, taking it out for a walk, and cleaning up after yourself,” Lim said.
People who are pet sitting while working should also see if they can get access to the pet owner’s Wi-Fi so they can still get work done while taking care of the pet.
“I would bring my laptop with me to the dog’s house whenever I did a house sitting since I work remotely and can work anywhere as long as I have access,” Lim said.
Other tips if you are starting out
Lim suggested asking friends to write testimonials to help boost your profile.
“If they don’t have experience pet sitting, they should have a friend document their experience being responsible with a pet or stating that they are an animal lover and why,” Lim said. “Any example of good behavior towards animals is a great way to create a testimonial if you don’t necessarily have direct experience with pets.”
Once you do have success landing some work, Lim noted to ask owners to leave you a review. She said this and marketing your services are essential. Lim also said that if you find a pet you enjoyed working with, tell the owner so you can potentially work with them again.
“Don’t be afraid to tell the owner, ‘hey, I really had a good time watching your dog or walking your dog. I would love to watch him or her or walk him or her again. Here’s my number. Just let me know when you need a walk,'” Lim said.
She said if you are not getting clients on the app, there are some other things you can try. That includes lowering your rate and trying marketing elsewhere such as in a Facebook dog group.