Everything you need to know about making money with Pettsitter

Written by Emma Kansiz

Published 2022-07-05 / 4 min read

With the heartwarming motto “find your best friend’s next best friend” Petsitter.com aims to connect busy pet owners with reliable and caring pet sitters. For all you animal lovers reading, this side gig has your name on it! Whether you’ve taken care of pets before or you’re a complete newbie, this might be the opportunity for you. Read on to learn about the requirements and skills you need to become a pet sitter and see if you can make a side income doing something you truly enjoy.

What is Pettsitter?

Petsitter.com was created with the aim of constructing a community of pet owners and pet lovers who can work together to take great care of pets and have fun doing it. They have been praised and featured in The New York Times, HuffPost, and The Globe and Mail. PetSitter is part of the CareGuide family, a group of companies that connects customers and freelancers in a variety of different sectors.

PetSitter is not limited to dogs and cats. There are frequent posts by pet owners who need help feeding and watching horses, parrots, hamsters, and rabbits. The services offered are vast, including grooming, feeding, walking, and housecall services. Some pet owners only need help for a few hours on a one-off or weekly basis while others need pet sitting or kennel services for a week at a time.

How does Pettsitter's earning structure work?

PetSitters are allowed to set their own rates which is a nice change from side gigs where you have to rely on tips to raise your income above the fixed hourly wage. PetSitters can decide what price they think is fair based on their experience or what services they offer. PetSitter also has a job posting page where pet owners can list the services they need and the price they are willing to pay (this usually ranges from $10-$20 per hour or per day, depending on the time commitment needed). PetSitters can earn a healthy lump sum for kennel and overnight pet sitting services, particularly if they are charging by the hour. 

There is one significant drawback to PetSitters, however, and we need to mention it right out of the gates. While there is a free basic membership plan available, it is pretty restrictive and limits most of the value you’ll get from the website. A basic membership, for instance, does not allow you to share your contact info. You will have a cap on how many messages you can send to prospective clients, and you will not be prioritized in search results. That’s a pretty rough shake, to be honest, particularly for users who want to dip their toes into pet sitting and want to reduce their upfront commitments for something they may only care to do part time. For a membership you will be paying $18-23 a month, depending on whether you are based in the United States or Canada. A three month membership ranges from $45-$59. These costs are not outrageous by any means but they might certainly put off some pet sitters who want to see if they are getting value from the service before throwing down their credit card. 

That being said, PetSitter does not handle any transactions. Payment is to be discussed and arranged with your individual clients. Most pet owners will pay by Venmo, eTransfer, or in cash. Because many members are paying monthly membership fees, PetSitter does not take any percentage of your earnings. This makes it pretty compelling for those who want to dedicate a lot of time to their pet sitting gig.

What is the time commitment for Pettsitter?

PetSitter allows you to set your own schedule. You can choose which requests to respond to and you can apply to jobs on their job board that suit your needs. This makes it a strong side gig option for busy students or professionals who want to get a furry fix every now and again.

Keep in mind, however, that in order to establish a consistent reputation and build a client base, you have to be willing to work at hours that may be inconvenient for your personal or social life. The request for PetSitters spikes on weekends - and particularly on Long Weekends - and in order to get your name out there you might have to sacrifice weekend benders and drinks for your new pet sitting side gig. For many people that is not an issue at all and actually works perfectly for their schedule and demeanor. But this is a reality you should consider before becoming a pet sitter.

Another common demographic for those seeking pet sitting services include busy professionals who need pet care during weekday office hours. If you are able to organize your school, part time job, or freelance work around this reality you may beat out a lot of your competition that have full-time 9-5 jobs.

How to get started with Pettsitter?

PetSitter.com has a fairly straightforward onboarding process. To begin you are asked to fill out some information about yourself, including contact and location information.. The signup questionnaire will ask you about your pet care experience and whether you have your own transportation or not. You can also narrow down your specific pet care proficiencies and choose which animals you are comfortable working with. The profile setup will prompt you to create a headline with a succinct, eye-catching introduction to your services. Below, you can fill out a detailed description about your skills and what sets you apart. The description must be over 100 words, so feel free to hype yourself up and be informative. Add a professional, yet playful photo to your profile to attract pet owners and show the unique aspects of your personality. Then you will be prompted to choose a membership plan as mentioned above.

PetSitter allows pet sitters to post their own profile and allow pet owners to contact them, but it also allows pet sitters to peruse job postings in their region and contact pet owners themselves. This option allows you to be proactive and take ownership of your side gig as a pet owner. When you peruse the jobs that are posted there is a nifty tool that allows you to filter by animal, type of care needed, and whether the pet needs house call visits. You can also find overnight and pet boarding opportunities to maximize both your income and the time you get to spend with sweet and lovable animals. This can allow you to find postings that are the most relevant to you.

Pettsitter requirements

Required Resources

Depending on where you live, a car may be nearly a necessity. If you are looking to walk dogs or make house calls in a dense urban area a car is probably not a necessity. But if you live in a suburban area or smaller town a car will allow you to apply for more jobs and take on more responsibilities with the pets you take care of. Expanding your geographical search area will also allow you to find more roles and apply for positions that have less applicants due to location or distance. 

Required Skills

PetSitter allows users as young as 13 to sign up for the service if they have proof of parental consent. In addition to having a passion for pets, you should also consider whether you have ‘soft’ skills. Because PetSitter relies on its user profiles as a point of contact with all potential clients, there is a real emphasis on communication skills, professionalism, and willingness to market oneself.   

For basic dog walking positions a love of pets and being physically fit is enough to qualify you. But for more advanced services, such as overnight care, grooming or help with farm animals, you will need more extensive experience and know-how. 

Many pet owners will want to look at your references so that is something to keep in mind. These do not need to be specifically related to pet sitting, but can be general employment and character references. PetSitter also recommends that their users pay for a police record check in order to secure high-paying clients. Many pet owners who require overnight care or housecalls for their pets will want to know if they can trust their potential trust sitter. Trust and mutual respect are absolutely foundational to the relationship between pet owner and sitter so you might have to be comfortable paying for a police check in some cases.

Required Documents

Unlike some side gigs like Uber or Lyft, where you need to amass your driving and insurance documents to apply, PetSitter is a breeze to sign up for. To create a basic profile and get the ball rolling you only have to fill out basic personal information, including location and contact details. This basic information is all that is needed to access the portal and start browsing jobs but be aware that many pet owners will ask for additional documentation. This may include job references and a background check depending on the scope of the work. 

Because of the low effort required upfront, PetSitter is a good option to keep in your back pocket, but be honest with yourself about how much time it will take until you are earning from the site. Although companies like Lyft and Uber Eats can be time consuming to join, once you are accepted as a contractor, you can typically begin earning money immediately. PetSitter will still require a degree of proactivity and initiative on your part and some pet owners may want to hold one or two interviews before letting you in sight of their precious pet.

Other important details

As mentioned above, don’t be deterred simply because you are not a dog or cat person. You can also look after lizards, fish, reptiles, and rodents, which require different kinds of care (that doesn’t include walking).

There has been some controversy on online message boards calling out PetSitters unscrupulous business practices. Though these experiences are anecdotal, some angry users complain that they are sent ‘fake looking’ message requests from pet owners to encourage them to pay extra for unlimited messaging services. Some of the irate users said that the messages they are sent upon signing up are not from real pet owners and are simply a tactic for users to pay for messaging services. It may be prudent to sign up and create a profile, but hold off on paying for additional services until you’re more proficient navigating the site and reaching out to pet owner job ads. 

Our review

PetSitter is a well-designed website for pet lovers to make money from their passion, but it does come with a few caveats. As detailed throughout this chapter, it does come with upfront costs. The basic package, in all honesty, is kind of a waste of time. It has very limited features and nearly guarantees that you will be ranked far down the list when pet owners are searching for prospective sitters. You can only send a few messages a month, which is insanely restrictive for a service that basically necessitates frequent communication. You need to be willing to apply for new job posts that come up and reach out to pet owners to get the ball rolling. If you have a restriction on the amount of messages you can send, then you’re already losing before you start playing the game. This gets to the heart of why some users feel misled or disappointed by the service. They feel that PetSitter is all but forcing them to go with the paid membership option to get anything of value out of the site. They are right on that point, as the Basic membership option is basically just a token to draw users in. But with that said, the monthly costs are low and considering that PetSitter does not take a cut of any of your earnings through the site, it might actually be a worthwhile upfront investment to make. What’s $20 a month if you are earning $200+ a month using the service?

If you want a side hustle that you look forward to, or if you’re simply new to the gig economy, this is an easy starting point. The time commitment and requirements straight out of the gates are super low and the potential upside is high if you are willing to put in consistent effort to apply to postings and market your services.