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Pet sitting is a real job!

by Therese on May 18, 2006

in The Pet Care Biz

I was reading an article today…it was about the life of a chef, but in it the writer referred to pet sitting as a ‘normal job.’ Believe it or not, that little reference was refreshing. While most pet sitters I know wouldn’t exactly call pet sitting a ‘normal job’ we certainly do consider it a ‘real job.’ After all…it makes us real money and pays real bills! Unfortunately though, a lot of folks don’t know the reality of the pet care industry and they are under the impression that pet care is all fun and games, and not really work at all.

People who don’t understand what goes into the pet care business have the impression that people who petsit, run a dog daycare, walk dogs on a daily basis, or take dogs out on hikes are having the time of their lives and there’s no work involved. While it’s true that caring for pets can be fun and games, relaxing, enjoyable, extremely rewarding, and at times easy the fact is that pet care can also be tiring, stressful, and downright hard work. Most professional pet care providers I know work long hours and wear many different hats.

Consider a typical day for a pet sitter…

  • 6 a.m. – After hitting the alarm a few times, finally get out of bed…get ready for the day…and grab a quick bowl of cereal.
  • 6:30 – Leave the house and head to the first pet sitting visit.
  • 6:45 – Arrive for the first visit, where she’ll feed a couple dogs and cat, scoop a litter box, take the dogs for a walk, and then come back and spend some time with the cat. Then it’s time to take care of the housekeeping items such as taking the trash out, turning lights off, and other items to make the client’s home look lived in. Just before leaving, she’ll make notes on the daily log she keeps for the clients.
  • 7:30 – Time to go to visit number 2 – 10 minutes of travel time is ahead.
  • 7:40 – This family only has one dog but she is extremely hyper and needs a 45 minute walk just to calm her down a bit. Once the walk is over with it’s time to feed the dog, give her medication for an ear infection, then let her out in the back yard for another few minutes. And as with the last visit, trash needs to be taken out, lights turned off, etc. and write the client notes.
  • 8:40 – Visit number 3 is just around the corner, so it’s back in the car for a short 5 minute drive.
  • 8:45 – Arrive at visit number 4, which is always an easy one – it’s for a loveable older cat and a 9 year old mixed breed dog. Time to feed…water…scoop…socialize…take care of the house…make notes…and get back on the road.
  • 9:15 – Out the door and back into the car for a short drive to the next visit. Oops…the gas guage is almost on E so a quick stop is made to fill the tank up.
  • 9:30 – Visit number 5 is a house that includes caring for a cat, a dog, a bird, 2 fish tanks, and a gerbil. Once everyone is taken care of, the pet sitter notices a shoe that has been torn up, with pieces lying all over the family room floor. Picking up the pieces, she checks to see that it’s all there wanting to be sure the dog hasn’t swallowed any of it. Cleaning up includes running the vaccuum to get up the tiny pieces and threads scattered about. She finds the other shoe intact and hides it in a closet away from the dog, then makes a note about the shoe on the daily log.
  • 10:15 – And finally, it’s off to the last morning visit and less than 5 minutes later she’s relaxing on a comfortable couch with 1 mellow cat that likes to be petted.
  • 10:45 – Done with the pet sitting visits, it’s time to head back home to care for her own pets and do some other work.
  • 11:00 – 1:00 – Time is spent with her 3 dogs and a cat, make some calls to clients to set up some vacation pet sitting visits, answer a few emails, and print out a brochure that she intends to take to the printer later in the day. For about 20 minutes she relaxes with a quick lunch before it’s time to head back out for afternoon dog walks.

The next couple of hours are spent walking dogs, and doing a few quick potty breaks for the dogs she saw in the morning. Then, then it’s back home for another 3 or 4 hours before going back to visit the morning dogs for the third and final visit of the day.

Finally at about 10:30 in the evening an exhausted pet sitter arrives home to spend some time relaxing and hanging out with her own pets. She does have a few preparations to make for the next day though….pulling files and keys for a couple new visits she’ll add to her schedule for the next day and filing away items for a few other pet sitting jobs that she finished up today. After an hour or so relaxing, she heads off to bed, sets the alarm for 6 a.m., and almost before her head hits the pillow she’s asleep, but satisfied and content with the day’s work.

Not every day is as intense as this for every pet sitter. Many though, work a schedule like this for days, weeks, or months on end…and even longer. And if they’re good at it, people who aren’t all that familiar with the industry look at them and think they simply get to play with pets all day! I suppose it’s like an Olympic ice skater who makes doing a triple toe loop look so easy that just about anybody could do it. That couldn’t be farther from the truth though. It takes dedication, drive, passion, a sense of responsibility, and striving to always do better to make a great pet care professional. In a strange way, it may be a backhanded compliment when people refer to pet care businesses as “that little business of yours” because some pet sitters make it look so darn easy. If you talk to any pet care provider though, they’ll tell you they appreciate it when people recognize it for what it truly is. Even though they love what they do, it is indeed a ‘real job’…and a very respectable, and potentially profitable one at that!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Terri Randall May 19, 2006 at 7:46 am

Therese… You hit the nail on the head and described my life to a *T*! Although I love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else, it can take it’s toll. I think the way it’s most evident for me is my weight gain! Which shocks most people as when you think of pet sitters, you think of *go-getters* who are out and about and exercising all day! While that’s very true, I’ve found with my hectic and often erratic schedule, drive-through fast food joints have become my mainstay. So I’m making a valiant effort this summer to steer clear of all fast food and pack my car with healthy snacks and drinks. No sense in getting all this great exercise that pet sitters get only to screw it up by not eating right. :0)


Therese May 19, 2006 at 8:03 am

LOL, Terri…I knew somebody would say I described them! I didn’t even go near the fast food and weight issue though, even though so many of us battle with it. I know when I first started out I thought for sure I’d be losing but like you, I found myself driving into the fast food joints because I was so busy.

I just joined the gym a few weeks ago and am determined to trim down…I know how tough it is to get back in shape. Good luck with your efforts!!


Janet May 19, 2006 at 9:38 am

Everything you said is so true but while some are going home at 10:30 I’m starting my midday breaks from 11:00 -2:30. Midday breaks are my bread and butter. Yes, days are long and hard but it sure beats sitting at a desk in a cubicle. I’ll take tail waggin’ and kitty purring anytime. Thanks for writing a wonderful piece about our lives.


Therese May 19, 2006 at 9:46 am

You know…that’s one of the great things about this business…it’s not the exact same thing every day! And even when days are long and tough, the tail wagging and purring definitely help make up for it. šŸ™‚


diana March 1, 2008 at 9:16 pm

how much do you get paid


janet May 2, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Hi Everyone!

Pet Sitting is the greatest job! Ihave just started in August Of 08. Ihave a full time job also. Would like to get more clients, any ideas on getting your name out there? I would love to do this as a full time job when I retire, or as soon as I can. Any Ideas or suggestions would be wonderful. Thank You everyone. Keep up the good work with all the babies!


Jan September 15, 2009 at 7:17 pm

No office politics. No temperamental humans. It actually sound pretty good. Animals can often be more appreciative that people.


Carmen July 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Great post! Thx for writing. I’ve been doing this for 8+ years and love my job and the animals. Many do not realize, besides the actual pet visits, it involves scheduling, calling/texting/e-mailing confirmations and check-ins, taking care of accounting, driving, and often times taking care of pets with special needs. It’s a very real job, and takes a lot of energy, but totally worth it.


Aisha August 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I’ve just found this while surfing online, I set up my pet sitting business just 10 months ago. Before about a month ago, I was just walking one dog 3 times a week, and a few pet visits every few weeks. Needless to say business was slow. However after advertising and getting lots of excellent references, it’s getting busier by the day. Today I walked 4 dogs meaning around 6 miles, going from one house to another even for pet visits is quite tiring. I’m getting used to the busy days ahead, and it’s a good job I have lots of energy! When I tell people what I do for a living, they seem to think its so easy, and little money is to be made. How wrong they are they will never know! (until they read this)


Felicia October 4, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Mine was close to this but, I 1st had to take care of my animals. Then after 1-3 am visits i head to my PT job. Get off about noon no time for lunch start on middays get home about 3 eat. Check emails and messages while eating. Go to new client meets which are 20-30 min no charge go do dinner visits (these 2 may be reversed depending on potential client availability). Come home start our dinner eat have a short conversation with the hubs say good night to him and I head out to my evening visits come home quick shower to get all the smells and stuff off, bed sleep repeat
the person who made the comment no temperamental humans Ha dream on
the pay when you break down all the hours put in to every part with pay its well below minimum wage


Theresa February 6, 2014 at 6:02 pm

I dog sit off and on for family and friends since 2003 and need some advice on how to really get started doing it for a real paying job what are some good sites to post that I dog sit on I also volunteer at the local animal shelter in my community just looking for some good advice on how to get some other dog sitting of dog walking job other then family and friends hope someone can help me thank you so much in advance for your help
Theresa McKee


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