A few years ago my husband and I adopted a pug named Frank who had diabetes. He needed insulin shots twice a day and this made it very difficult for us to find a dog sitter. We also had a senior chocolate lab at the time and couldn’t imagine putting him in a boarding facility. We started watching dogs every once in a while at our house hoping to find other sitters willing to trade services with us. This was before Rover even existed.
We couldn’t watch many dogs because we lived in an apartment but when we moved into a condo, we were able to watch dogs a little more often.
Once we moved to Connecticut with a nice house and a yard, we added a temporary fence to offer dog sitting services again. Because of Covid we really didn’t get that many requests at first, but once people started getting vaccinated and traveling again we were booked pretty quickly.
July 2021 had to be the most chaotic month for us. We were getting nonstop requests and it was really nice to have the extra income!
We not only host dogs as Rover sitters but we also use them for our own dogs. Thankfully, both experiences are mostly positive! We do know people who did not have positive experiences with Rover, so please do your research on the caregivers before trusting your pets with them!
Over the years, 100+ dogs stayed with us both on and off of Rover. Some repeat families pay us directly, which is nice to avoid the Rover fee. We earn an extra $500-$1000/month with Rover.
Preparing your Rover Expectations
We host the dogs in our own home so that’s the only service I feel qualified to talk about. It’s just easy for us this way and our dogs are able to get some playtime and exercise as well.
Before you decide to start dog sitting, please consider the following things:
The whole family has to be on board with dog sitting. To me, it is a very serious thing to take in someone else’s dogs. My husband and I agreed on how many dogs we can have at a time, what ages of dogs we will accept, who will care for them, and more. For advice on getting your partner on board with a side-hustle, check out my other blog post.
We decided we won’t take more than 2-3 dogs at a time and we won’t host puppies under the age of 12 months. It’s just too much work for our schedule and routine.
If you have small children, please take the decision seriously when considering dog sitting as a side hustle. While dog owners can inform you their dogs are friendly with children, you never really know how they may react in a new home.
Once you decide to go forward, set the ground rules for what dogs are and are not allowed to do in your home. Our home is basically for the dogs so they are allowed anywhere upstairs, on the furniture, and in our bed. It’s completely your decision as to what you want to allow in your home. But, please know that families look for sitters that allow specific things, it’s imperative you put what you are going to allow in your profile.
- Will you allow dogs allowed in/on your bed?
- Will the dogs sleep with you? If not, where do they sleep.
- Do you require dogs to sleep in crates?
- Will you allow dogs on your furniture?
- How long will they be left alone during the day? What will you do with them when you are gone?
- Are they allowed out in the home when you are gone or do they need to be crate trained?
As a dog owner myself, these are all things I look for when deciding on a sitter. I would be very upset to find out that someone who said they didn’t put dogs in crates, crated my dog. My lab is not crate trained and is very fearful of them.
Completing your Rover profile
The best thing I can tell you about your profile is to fill it out completely. Write a thorough profile description including:
- Why you became a dog sitter
- What a dog can expect when they come to your house, what are the rules – the schedule
- Any special services you can offer – medication administration, injectibles etc.
- A little bit about your background
- Good clear photos of you and your pets
When people are looking for a dog sitter, obviously they want to be sure their fur babies are cared for in the same way as at home. That’s why they are coming to you instead of boarding them at a kennel. What is it about your home and how you care for dogs that they should pick you out of all the other sitters?
Include lots of photos!
Rover will provide you with a link to request reviews from people you already know. This gives you a head start on the review process to give added confidence to your profile.
In order to rank higher on search results, the Rover algorithm wants a full and robust profile description, fast responses to messages, calendar availability updated, and positive reviews. Once you start building your clients, you will get more requests.
Setting your Rover Rates & Tracking Income
I look at what the going rate is for daycare and in-home boarding and I try to stay at the higher end now. When we started, I offered a lower rate to help build my clients. I also locked the rates for those customers from the beginning, especially if they left us a good review. What I can charge in Connecticut is vastly different than what my friend can charge in Ohio.
We set our rates based on the care they receive while in our home. We spend time with them like they are our family. This is the house of and for dogs!
Rover also allows you to set higher rates for holidays. If you are looking to petsit over holiday weekends, make sure to raise your rates!
We don’t usually care for puppies, but you can also set a rate for younger dogs. Puppies need a lot of care and attention, completely worthy of an extra fee!
Rover WILL send you a 1099 form if you earn more than $600. Check with your accountant to see the implications of this and how much you could possibly owe come tax time!
Communicating with the Family
Usually, people on Rover will send you a request and often they send it to a few other sitters as well in case you aren’t available. I try to respond pretty quickly.
I check my schedule to make sure it is open for those dates and times and then I reply with the following questions:
- Is there anything special I should know? Any special needs?
- Where does your dog sleep at night?
- Is your dog up to date on shots/flea medication?
- Does your dog have a tendency to try to get out of the front door or escape from places?
These are the main questions I ask before moving forward. Once it’s all good, I schedule a meet and greet.
Scheduling a Meet and Greet
It is very rare for me to schedule sitting without meeting the dog first. We schedule for about a half-hour and host it at my house. My dogs are not territorial AT ALL and have no problem welcoming other dogs into our home. IF your dog is territorial, you wouldn’t want to do it at your home. Going for a walk is a good way for them to meet. Somewhere on neutral territory.
If at any time you do not think the owner or the dog is a good fit, make that decision prior to a home visit. The worst thing you want to happen is a bad first impression and then the dog comes to your house for a week. I am fortunate and only had 2-3 dogs with concerns, and honestly, it’s usually the owners.
Don’t be afraid to tell the owners you don’t think their pup would be a good fit. It is important for them to know why so they can consider that when looking for other dog sitters.
For instance, if your yard is not fenced and you fear the dog may try to get out. This might not be something you are willing to take a chance with. Or maybe you have an older dog and their dog just has a ton of energy. You need to prioritize your own dog over the visiting dog.
Just because your dog is friendly and their dog is friendly – doesn’t mean they will get along. Especially on your home turf. That’s why meet and greets are very important!
During the Rover Dog’s Stay
The parents will bring food, bowls, leashes, outfits, shoes, beds, crates – LOL! I am exaggerating but many pet parents bring way more than they need. We have a million leashes and bowls so we always ask the owners to take any extra stuff back home with them. Pet parents have left enough stuff here with us!
I always ask for the vet’s current information just in case something happens.
We are overly cautious about having dogs in our homes. I make sure all the cupboards are shut tight, anything that can be chewed is picked up and ultra-secure about getting the mail or opening our front door. We’ve had a few dogs get out and it is absolutely terrifying. It is so easy for them to shoot between your legs when you are heading out the front door. Thank god we caught them each and every time, but even with our extreme diligence, if they want out, they will try everything possible to get out.
If there is an emergency, contact the family right away. Don’t wait and think it will be better when they pick up. If you have issues or questions, never be afraid to contact the family. I’d rather annoy them than regret not asking for information. Rover also has a number to use if you have issues.
Take lots of photos and send them to the family. They love seeing the updates! I’ve never had a family say I was giving them too much information or sending too many photos.
When the parents pick up, I always inform them of anything that went on during the visit. Once we a family told us their dog couldn’t jump high enough for our rock wall so they didn’t worry about her getting out of our backyard.
Well…. she did jump the rock wall! We never leave dogs outside unattended at our house so we saw her do it and immediately got her in the neighbor’s yard. But, I would never want this family to think their dog couldn’t jump that high and have it happen again at another sitter’s house. They were so thankful for telling them.
Things to Consider
When dogs are in a new environment and out of their home, they can do strange stuff. They might go potty in your house, chew things, or exhibit behaviors they don’t normally do at home. Please know it is VERY likely that the dogs will go to the bathroom in your home, especially once you start having more dogs’ scents.
Dogs may cry for a while when their parents drop them off, that’s totally normal.
Dogs may cry at night in their crates even though they sleep soundly in them at home, again it’s a new environment.
Just be aware that no matter how normal or easy the dog seems during the meet and greet, there is a possibility of issues when they come and stay with you.
A Few Final Thoughts on Making Money with Rover
Dog sitting isn’t always easy and it’s not going to get you rich quick. However, if you love animals and want to spend time with them, this is a great way to do it!
It takes a while to build up your credibility on the app and get repeat customers. I promise though if you are careful to protect other people’s pets and make them feel safe about leaving their loved one in your care, you will get repeat customers!
Have you tried Rover? Let me know in the comments! If not, use my referral link to start today!
Until Next Time,
The Bexa Boss Lady