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31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas: Pet-Sitting (Day 20)

31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas

Welcome to October’s series on 31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas. In this series, I’m highlighting simple and legitimate ways you can earn extra cash in the next two months for those of you who could use a little extra cash to help you pay for Christmas — or just for your living expenses if you’re in a tight spot right now.

If you’ve found a great way to make extra cash before Christmas that doesn’t require an outlay of cash upfront, please email me your tip. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Guest post by Debby from Nutrition Concepts

A while back, I realized that many pet owners wanted at-home care for their pets instead of boarding them when they were on vacation or just gone at work all day long. And since I’m a huge animal lover, I started a pet sitting business in my community about 3 years ago — and it turned into a great way to make extra money!

I’m a dog owner and lover, so I mostly focused on catering to dog owners, but I also have a few cat owners as clients now. I give my clients the option of bringing their pet(s) to me or having me come into their home one to three times per day.

3 Things To Consider Before Setting Up a Pet-Sitting Business

1. Setting Rates

  • In deciding how I would set my rates, I surveyed what local boarding facilities were charging. (I looked at Petsmart, Petshotel, and a few other local kennels/boarding facilities).
  • Based on their rates, I decided on the following: $25 a day for one dog and $35 a day for two dogs (3 visits a day), $10 for a single visit and $15 a day for cats (single visit).

2. Creating Business Materials

  • I made my own Pet Sitting Business Cards using Avery business card stock. It cost me about $10 to buy the business card stock but you could also make up your own using regular 8 ½ x 11″ paper or card stock and cut them up to business card size.
  • I created a Pet Sitting Information Sheet to keep track of all of the information I need while caring for my clients’ pet. This makes it easy to know exactly how the client wants their pet fed, walked, etc.

3. Advertising

  • We have a community/HOA website that I advertised on at first, but all of my clients now come from word-of-mouth referrals.
  • I also keep business cards in my purse or pocket to hand out to people I meet when I’m out and about and also when I’m out walking my dog in the morning and evening.

Prospective Client Playdate

When I have a new/prospective client who wants their dog to stay at my house, I have them come over for a play date and complete the Pet Information Sheet. I’ve learned to ask good questions during the play date visit to find out what the animal’s behaviors and habits are really like. As with all relationships, communication and being clear about expectations will make it a good experience for both parties.

Keys to Success

The key to success in this business (and many other businesses) is great customer service – I regularly stay in contact with my clients to let them know how their pet is doing, and I send notes to new clients to thank them for their business.

Another key is to find clients as close to your home as possible so you don’t have to spend a lot of gas money driving to home visits.

Pet sitting is a great way to make a nice extra income. Plus, if you’re an animal lover, it’s also a lot of fun!

Debby is an ex-corporate executive turned small business owner and nutrition educator who has a passion for life and helping others. She writes about raising healthy children and eating healthfully on a budget at her site, Nutrition Concepts. You can also find her at her Facebook Page, Nutrition Concepts, Inc.

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  • Stephanie says:

    Love this idea!

  • Gwen says:

    Are you bonded and insured? I would never have a pet sitter in my house who wasn’t.

  • amy says:

    I do something similar but much less intense. I post a listing on Craigslist whenever I have some extra time or right before people usually go out of town. I offer to walk dogs for up to 30 minutes a session and charge $10 a session. Most people have me come by at least twice a day and I can usually work it into my work/errand running driving. I typically get 2-3 new clients each time I post and a lot of my clients ask me to watch their pets for them again in the future. In fact, my first client ever (4 years ago) has me come almost every weekend in the summer, sometimes just to water her plants and I still get paid my $10 rate each visit. It has been far more successful than I ever expected and a really easy and fun way to make some extra cash. I have only had two bad experiences, one with a rude college student that shortchanged me (make sure you get payment in full BEFORE the client leaves) and once with some uncontrollable dogs (after I called the client, she found other arrangements for them). Once I even had a woman offer me $150 to feed and play with her cats once a day for a week!

  • kat says:

    I used to work at PetSmart Hotel and had to quit because I couldn’t take the animal cruelty. They only cared about making money and charged customers services that they never provided for the pet. They would just sign off the paperwork of a pet instead of providing the full service. Example: an indi playtime is 15 mins but they let the pet go potty (which takes less than 2 mins) and put back in their cage. I complained to corporate numerous times because dogs and cats didn’t have access to water (SOME PETS HAD NO BOWLS IN THEIR ROOMS!). The pets that got the worst treatment was cats because they would sit in their cages sometimes for an entire day without being taken out at all. Being a huge pet lover this broke my heart and i had many meetings with corporate and they even had to take action on the managers when they reviewed the circumstances on the video tapes. I also refused to serve a dog a meal a customer brought in because it had large cuts of onions (Onions are poisonous to dogs) and chicken bones (choking hazard), my manager said, “The customer is paying us, so if he wants us to feed their dog acid poison, you do it.” Yeah…. I didn’t think much was going to change and quit that job!! BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN BOARDING YOUR DOG AT A PETSMART!! I think that home pet sitting might be better conditions for your cat/dog. Or even ask the boarding hotel if you can have a look at the facilities in the back. You have the RIGHT to look and just see the back and how many pets are sitting in their own poop, without any clean water. 🙁

  • This is a good business idea. As dog owners, we prefer to have our dogs stay at home. I have also toyed with this as a side business. There is a website that pet sitters can advertise to. I can’t remember the name right now. Theyntkae a percentage of your fee to be in their network but they supply your insurance coverage.

  • Our family loves having someone come to our home to walk our dog rather than board her. Not only does our dog seem to prefer it but we like knowing that our home has an added layer of protection. First the dog is available to bark at intruders and second the person caring for our dog also brings in the mail and checks out the house for us. We always use someone we know though, but if that was not possible I think I would still consider employing someone who does this service if I had a good recommendation from someone I trust.

  • Liz Kane Jr says:

    Posting this is just in time for the upcoming holidays. Thanks!

  • Carrie says:

    I did this for years and made quite a bit of money. I used to stay at the house with the animals. Not only did I take care of the pets, but I got the mail, watered the plants and made the house look lived in. I loved it as I was single at the time and living with my parents. I made $25 per day (this was 20 years ago).

  • Kathy says:

    Wow, that price is too high. I live in Miami where the cost of livng is very high and when I board my dog at the vet, it is less than $20 per day. They bathe him and trim his nails, examine him, feed him, walk him, etc. He stays in an airconditioned setting except when he’s out walking with a handler.

    • Erica W says:

      That is a STEAL!!!! Where we used to live (30 mins away) in IL, they charged $17 a day & that included a special RX food so they didn’t get diarrhea from nerves. BUT it included nothing else… a bath, which they almost always needed because they would smell like kennel, cost $10… & then we had to worry about fleas… & everything else…. we couldn’t swing the extra $10 for a bath, so then it meant I had to come home from being away & wash the dog myself… and since we almost always left on a Sunday, they weren’t open on a Sunday so we had to drop-off on a Saturday & pay the extra day of boarding.

      HERE they now charge $35-40 PER DAY… my jaw dropped when I called around. They charge FAR more in this part of IL, as we have relatives an hour 15 mins away & they pay $17 a day… OH, and they want an EXTRA $10-20 PER DAY to walk the dog, socialize them, etc. here… INSANE!!!

  • JP says:

    Excellent idea! You’re making money from an activity that you already enjoy!

    A few questions:
    – Do you need permits?
    – What unexpected costs do you face?
    – Do the animals have disagreements?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  • Tara says:

    I would like to do this but am not sure the best way to advertise. What have readers found to be the most effective? I am skeptical of Craigslist as far as safety goes. How do you screen who your meeting with? Also are there any websites besides Craigslist to advertise on?

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