Have you ever thought about working for yourself as a dog walker? Maybe you’ve already decided to give it a go, but you’re looking for some pet sitting tips to boost your results.
If you’ve been looking for a way to transition out of a 9-5 job, want to work your own hours, and get paid good money, caring for pets on Rover may be the perfect thing for you!
I’ve been able to make more than $15,000 working on Rover in less than a year (about 8 months), and I’ve steadily been able to build up a client base and supplement my income, all on my own schedule. I can take time off whenever I like, choose my clients, and set my own schedule.
Plus, the animal lover in me gets its fill of almost daily love from pups and kitties!
My best pet sitting tips for making good money on Rover:
If you want to know what my top pet sitting tips are that earned me over $15,000 and how to grow your Rover clientele quickly, read on!
1. Always schedule a meet and greet when possible.
A meet and greet is the best way to determine if a particular animal is one you want to provide care for. Meeting their owners is important too, since they’ll be the ones you’re communicating with, who will be paying you, and whose expectations you’ll be striving to meet (or exceed!).
Make a list of questions you always ask at every meet and greet. The questions on your list are up to you, but here are some ideas:
– What does your pet’s typical daily routine look like?
– How do they usually react to you going out of town? Have there been any issues around that in the past? Ways they express separation anxiety?
– What are their favorite toys, games, or activities?
– Do they have any particular likes or dislikes? (Like certain places they don’t like to be touched, etc.)
– How are they around other animals? Other people?
– Do they have any quirks that are normal to you but may strike me as odd or potentially concerning?
– Is there a specific time you’d like a walk or a drop in visit to happen? Or is there a more flexible window of time that I can choose when I visit within?
– What are the specific details of your travel itinerary (what time will they leave and return from a trip)?
– How do you feel about me having a guest at your home?
This last question pertains to overnight house sitting, and it’s a question I’m always sure to ask. People have different feelings about this, and obviously you should respect the owner’s wishes if they say they’re not comfortable with anyone else in their home.
Home is a sanctuary space for people.
NEVER bring a guest over to a client’s home without getting their express permission beforehand.
Only accept bookings from people and pets you feel comfortable with. It will save you trouble in the long run.
2. Start your rates at what Rover sets them at.
Rover automatically sets your rates for the services you choose to provide when you sign up. To get a faster start building your Rover business, I recommend leaving your rates as they are at first.
They are a bit lower than they should be, in my opinion. But the low price will help you get your first few bookings. Pet owners may see you as a risk they’re taking when you don’t have any reviews yet or anyone to vouch for you as a solid care provider. Having your rates low incentivizes them to choose you over other sitters.
3. Upload good quality photos.
Use a FLATTERING photo of yourself on your profile – bonus points if it has you with an animal!
I’d love to say that we live in a world where appearances don’t matter, but frankly that’s just not the case.
Don’t choose a photo of you that is unflattering, where you’re not looking at the camera, where there are other people in the photo with you so they can’t tell which person you are, etc.
In addition to your profile picture, add several photos to your profile of you with animals or good quality photos of your own pets/pets you have walked or sat before.
4. Accept all appointments you can, unless it’s truly a bad fit.
I will never recommend that you book an appointment with an animal or an owner you don’t feel comfortable with.
After all, one of the major benefits to working on the Rover platform is that you get to be your own boss and be in control of which clients you take on.
That being said, try to accept all the appointments you can that meet the basic criteria of feeling comfortable providing care for the animal and working with that particular owner.
If you want your business to grow faster, take on that booking that’s on the weekend. Book the appointment that’s a little further than you want to drive. Book an appointment that you feel you’re not getting paid quite enough for given the time and effort it will take you.
Because the golden key to growing your Rover business is ALL. IN. THE. REVIEWS.
The more verified stays you have on your profile, the more reviews you can obtain. The more reviews you have, the more people want to book you. So in the beginning, it’s really in your best interest to take on less than ideal bookings because it WILL help grow your business.
5. Always ask for reviews from people you know will give you a good one.
Every time I complete a booking with someone, I request a review from the owner.
Rover does this automatically, but it’s still very important for you to ask for one directly.
These days, everyone is getting bombarded with notifications, and a lot of them are sent automatically.
It’s really obvious that the Rover reminder to leave a review is being sent by a robot, and pet owners may easily assume that because it’s automatic, it doesn’t really matter that much whether they leave one or not.
People don’t like to do things for robots as much as they like to do things for people.
By asking directly, you’re letting them know that it really does matter to you whether they leave one or not. The request I usually send in Rover messaging or hand write in a note usually goes something like this:
Thank you so much for booking with me, [owner name]! [pet name] and I had a great time. Would you mind taking a few minutes to leave me a review on Rover after you get home (if it’s a house sit)? It would really help me out and be much appreciated!
With this approach, I find most owners do leave a review. My tip: just ask them once, unless they tell you they’ll leave you one by a certain time and to remind them again if they don’t.
If they don’t respond at all to the request and don’t leave one, just move on. Don’t pester them. You’ll get more reviews from other owners, so don’t sweat it. No one likes someone who is too pushy.
6. Always provide 5 star care.
This tip goes hand in hand with the one above. Obviously, you only want to ask for reviews from people when you know they’ll give you an awesome one.
How do you make sure they give you an awesome review? Always provide 5 star care.
Be communicative, loving with their animals, and careful to follow care instructions. Always send owners at least one photo (more is better!), and think ahead to avoid problems.
Remember, your job as a pet care provider is to make owners feel at ease and have their stress level reduced. It falls squarely on you to make that happen! Leave Rover cards that reassure them their furry friend is in great hands. Be proactive about scheduling and asking questions in a timely manner so you’re not adding to their stress!
7. Increase rates over time as your reviews grow.
I would say that positive reviews are probably the number one factor, aside from the content in your profile and having a good profile pic, that determines whether or not people select you to care for their pets and ask for an initial meet and greet.
Look – you’re a stranger. When people hire strangers to do things for them, especially when it comes to caring for kids or pets, they want to see that other people have vouched for you and say that you’re okay.
Hopefully better than okay. Hopefully fantastic!
But the way for them to do that on the Rover platform is definitely reviews. As time goes on and you start collecting more positive reviews, you can gradually increase your rates. Having control of your rates is a major benefit to working for yourself.
Plain and simple, people are not willing to pay as much for a sitter with 0 reviews than they will be for a sitter with 10, 30, or 50+ reviews.
People pay for quality, and the reviews are what convince people that you are a quality pet care provider.
How quickly you do this is up to you, but I would recommend raising your rates a bit for each group of 5 or 10 reviews you obtain.
Obviously, there’s a cap on what a reasonable rate is for each service, but you get to decide how high you want to go and how quickly.
The idea is to come up with some kind of system for raising your rates at a pace that feels like you are valuing yourself and your time, while also going at a slow enough pace to still incentivize people to choose you before you have TONS of reviews, as I mentioned in tip #2.
8. Limit your radius to save money on gas and time.
As I stated in tip #4, when you’re just starting out, it’s worth it to drive a little farther than you normally would like to in order to just complete your first few appointments and gain some happy clients and good reviews.
However, after a while it would behoove you to limit your service radius and evaluate when a visit is worth the time and expense it would take to get to and from the appointment.
For example, I live in Oakland, and when I got a request for 2 days of 30 min walks all the way on the west side of San Francisco on the waterfront, I decided it just wasn’t worth my time to accept that request.
I think my rate per walk at the time would’ve earned me about $26 (two dogs), but it would’ve cost $6 in toll fees and at least 30 minutes of driving each way, so really I would’ve earned $15 (once you subtract the bridge toll and the Rover fee) for 1.5 to 2 hours of my time. Not to mention the energy that gets drained out of me when I go to and from the city, and potentially parking meter fees, and the cost of gas.
Definitely not worth it!
When you work for yourself, you get to decide when and how you spend your time. You have to use your own judgment here on cost, opportunity cost, your current rates, how much hassle is required, and how badly you need more reviews.
Just make sure you evaluate these things before you decide to accept far away requests. As your business grows, you won’t need to be willing to travel as far and not going as far means time and money savings 🙂
9. Be willing to work holidays – this is where you earn the big bucks!
I traveled a lot over the summer, and of course that means I spent a lot of money. By the time I made it back home in the fall I was more than ready to just stay put for a while and of course, WORK MY BUTT OFF! Gotta replenish that bank account.
So I decided I would work Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years on Rover.
This is an extremely busy time for pet sitters because most people travel to see family and can’t or don’t want to bring their pets with them!
Now, you may not be able or willing to work ALL of these end of the year holidays. I was lucky because my family lives only a few hours drive away. Also, everyone had different Thanksgiving dinners to be at, so my family collectively decided to have our dinner on Saturday. That meant I was home and available to work for the real Thanksgiving and the days before and after.
Also, my family doesn’t gather for Christmas anymore since everyone has in-laws – we just do Thanksgiving together. And New Years is not a time I go out to parties – I like small gatherings with friends or family where we can talk about the year ending and what we envision for the year ahead. In the case of this year, I just had a nice dinner and spent the evening with my boyfriend.
So it was an easy year for me to work all three holidays, but boy did it pay off!
I made somewhere around $5,200 working these holidays.
I worked full days pretty much Dec. 19th – Dec. 26th. Then I had some lighter days from the 26th – Jan 4, and lighter days Thanksgiving week. All in all, when put all together, it’s equivalent to working 40 hours a week for 3 weeks and making over 5 grand.
Pretty good, if you ask me!
If you worked those same hours at a minimum wage job, you’d only make $1,440! (And you wouldn’t be working for yourself!)
The holidays are a great time to work on Rover because Rover allows you to charge Holiday Rates for your services. Most pet owners are more than happy to pay a little extra because they know this is a premium time and that you as a sitter are making sacrifices to work through the time that everyone wants to have off.
Rover will suggest holiday rates for you, or you can set your own. Obviously you don’t want to gouge your customers, but don’t feel bad about charging more during this time. Your time and services are valuable!
10. Leave a welcome home note for people coming home from trips.
One personal touch I like to add to my house sitting stays is a hand written note to leave for owners who will be returning from a trip. I say the same things I would normally say in Rover messages, but going the extra mile to leave a note is really nice.
I just say welcome home, I hope they enjoyed their trip, that I really enjoyed my stay with their pet, that I’d be happy to sit for them anytime (but only if that’s true!), and I ask them if they would mind leaving a review.
I’ve gotten comments from people that they really appreciate these notes. It’s the sort of thing that makes clients feel like you really care (and deserve praise!). The notes don’t take much effort on your part for the return you get out of them.
11. Think ahead about key pick up and drop off.
This one is simple but can be easy to overlook until it’s too late. Think ahead about how you’re going to get keys from owners before your first visit and return them after your last visit.
Always make sure to clarify if a key left hidden for you is for you to keep on your key ring or if the owners need you to leave the key in its hiding place for others to use.
A lot of owners will give you keys when you complete your meet and greet, but that’s not always possible. If you don’t get keys then, you should send them a message at least a day in advance of your first visit confirming where you will be able to pick up/drop off the keys.
Don’t wait until you arrive to complete a visit to message them asking where they left a key for you!!!
If they’re not able to respond right away, you’ll be wasting your own valuable time, you may be subjecting the pet (especially dogs) to discomfort if you’re supposed to be feeding them or letting them out at that specific time, and you’ll be stressing your clients out once they realize that you’ve been waiting for 30 minutes for a time sensitive response from them.
This is NOT what you want! Remember, your job is to reduce stress and make their lives easier, so make sure to think ahead!
12. Make sure to ask about quirks, likes, and dislikes.
I mentioned this in tip #1, but make sure you ask about things that pets particularly dislike. For example, being touched in certain areas, being picked up, picky food habits, etc. Also ask if there are things that are normal to the owner but may seem odd or concerning to you. Ask owners if there’s anything else they can think of that they think you should know.
13. Always be punctual.
Being punctual creates a good first impression, demonstrates your professionalism and your respect for their time. ‘Nuff said.
14. Send high quality photos that make pets look like models.
Owners LOVE receiving photos, especially when they make their pet look stunning! Don’t send photos that are blurry, too dark, or that don’t showcase their pet’s natural beauty. I know sometimes pets are not always the most cooperative on camera, but always do your best to take good photos, and take the time to try and get good shots.
15. Pro tip! Invest in some salve.
You might not think about this, but working a lot on the Rover platform can be incredibly hard on your hands!
When I was working all day every day during Christmas week, my knuckles dried out and cracked. They felt SOOO disgustingly scabby. I felt like I had the hands of someone who was 250 years old! Here’s the deal: washing your hands so many times a day dries them out.
And in the winter I get chilly, so I turn the heater on in my car. But what this means is I had hot air blowing on my already dried out hands on the steering wheel all day – yikes!
Get some thick salve or nice lotion to put on your hands at night to restore them. I wouldn’t really bother during the day while you’re working, because you’ll be washing your hands at least once per visit to each animal, if not several times. You’ll just be wasting salve and/or creating a gunky mess.
16. Use your referral link to make money helping friends make money 🙂
When you sign up with Rover, they give you a unique referral link like this one to share with anyone you know who might be interested in working on the platform.
If someone signs up using your link and completes a service on Rover within 90 days, you get $50! Boom. Rover wants to reward you for helping them grow their sitter database. You want to help people you know earn good money doing something fun and flexible. AND I’m sure you wouldn’t mind increasing your own income.
It’s a win for everyone! (Using my referral link helps support this blog, in a way that’s completely painless to you! 😉 I sincerely appreciate it.)
17. Pro tip – always have your own poop bags, squirt bottle, etc.
Usually owners will provide all the supplies you need to care for their pet, but it doesn’t hurt to have some of your own as a backup, just in case. Steer clear of using your own food or treats though! Some animals are very sensitive and you don’t want to cause any digestive or other problems.
Keeping a spare roll of poop bags is highly recommended though, just in case owners run out or you forget to grab theirs on your way out for a walk.
18. Pack your lunch and stock snacks.
It’s so easy to head out for a Rover appointment without thinking about what your whole day will look like and fail to realize that you will not have time to feed yourself when you get hungry. You don’t want to stress yourself out about time or have to resort to eating fast food because you didn’t come prepared.
Pack yourself a lunch to take in the car. Sandwiches are always great, or my favorite is making a big batch of something on Sundays that I can eat throughout the week and are ready to grab out of the fridge.
Another smart move? Stock some snacks that live in your car. That way if you forget your lunch one day, you’ll still have something to tide you over. Dog walking is a really fun job, but it’s significantly less fun when you’re hangry!
19. Be willing to negotiate your prices.
It’s better to lower your rate for certain clients and obtain their business and appreciation than to not get the business at all or rub people the wrong way because you’re unwilling to budge.
Would you rather book a new client for recurring dog walks every week earning you $5 less than your usual rate? Or earn $0 when they don’t book with you because they think your rates are too high?
Obviously your negotiations should be within reason – don’t undervalue yourself. You need to use your own best judgment here.
20. Update your Rover calendar every few days.
Rover boosts your profile in search rankings and places a “Calendar Recently Updated” banner on your profile when you update your availability for the upcoming 2 weeks. Both of these things will increase your chances of getting seen and getting booked, so it’s a good idea to update your Rover calendar as often as it will let you (in my experience, this has been about every 3-4 days).
21. Tidy up.
It’s definitely not your job as a pet care provider to double as a house cleaner, but cleaning up obvious things that take little effort is a great way to go the extra mile and keep clients happy.
I’m not talking a deep clean here, but if the trash needs to be taken out, that’s easy for you to do on the way out. Is there a blanket that lives on the couch that has fallen into a lump on the floor? Pick it up and fold it real quick. If you’re house sitting and the owners didn’t have time to wash the last couple dishes in the sink, just wash them with the ones you use when you cook. Things like that.
If the pets make a mess while you’re house sitting, that definitely falls under your job description to clean up. Any little extra things you can do (as long as it’s not too personal – don’t fold all your client’s underwear if they left them in a pile on the bed – obviously just leave them alone) will surely be appreciated. Everyone loves coming home from a trip to a clean house.
22. Always give advance notice.
Look, I get it. One of the biggest advantages of working for yourself on the Rover platform is that it’s on demand. There’s no one telling you when and how much to work.
You can work as much or as little as you want and take time off whenever you want.
You don’t have to painstakingly accrue sick time and vacation time.
But when you need to take time off, you should still be considerate of your repeat clients. If you have dogs you walk every week, let their owners know that you won’t be available on certain dates as soon as you possibly can.
The more notice the better, but try and let them know a week ahead of time at a minimum. You don’t want to disappoint them or leave them in the lurch. Good communication will certainly make clients value you and see you as someone they want to hold onto!
Communicate clearly, often, and with enough time for them to reply.
I touched on this in tip #11, but you should always try to avoid sending messages or asking questions that you need the answer to immediately. If the client doesn’t get your message or reply right away, you’ll be stressed and frustrated, and so will they whenever they finally see your message and that you needed an urgent answer.
Also, you want to communicate often. A good rule of thumb: if you’re wondering whether or not you should send a message or ask a question, you should!
Most owners will prefer a lot of communication over too little. You don’t want them to be wondering how things are going and worrying that they haven’t heard anything from you.
Take care in the messages you craft to avoid ambiguity or asking multiple questions at once. If you ask 4 yes or no questions at once and the owner replies with one yes, what are you to make of that?
Read over your message/questions and make sure they’re clear and unambiguous and that your tone is what you want it to be before hitting send.
24. Pay attention to pet signals.
You’d be surprised at how many people are oblivious to or choose to ignore the signals that animals send to them.
Some animals are very shy or slow to trust new people. Some just like to have space or don’t want to be touched in a certain way. Others are territorial and don’t want you near their stuff.
Pay attention to them! Give animals space if that’s what they want!
You’re not providing good care if you’re forcing an animal to let you pet them. You’re actually just stressing them out.
Moreover, if you push them too much and ignore their signals, you might get swatted or nipped at. If an animal wants space, you should always give it to them. When this happens to me, I just focus more on talking to them during our visit instead of petting them. That way they still feel less lonely because someone is there paying attention to them, but I’m not making them feel uncomfortable.
25. Reply quickly.
Aim to reply to Rover requests in under 30 min – under 15 is ideal.
Rover lets owners know before they even reach out to anyone how quick each sitter is to respond, which may make the difference between them choosing you or someone else! This is especially important when owners are looking to book someone sort of last minute.
If there are two sitters whose profiles they like equally and who charge the same rates, but one has a response time of 24 hours and one a response time of a few minutes, who do you think they will pick?
I know it’s not always possible to respond right away, but if you can, DO! And if you can’t, just respond as quickly as you are able.
26. If necessary, spend some time alone with an animal during a meet and greet.
If an owner tells you their pet is sometimes aggressive or behaves badly for others, make sure to ask if you can spend time alone with the animal during the meet and greet to see what happens.
Have the owner step out for a few minutes. Animals may act nice with you while the owner is there but will act differently once they leave because they feel less safe.
I personally had a terrible experience with a cat (the only bad experience I’ve had on Rover) where the cat was very friendly to me during our meet and greet, but became so aggressive and mean when I visited her alone that I was unable to complete the booking I had agreed to do.
This is something you should never do!!
It was very stressful and I felt extremely bad for having to cancel early, but I also didn’t feel safe putting myself in the situation again.
This may have been avoided if I had asked to be alone with the cat before booking, having been told that she sometimes has behavioral issues. A painful lesson learned, both physically and emotionally.
27. Be personable.
It’s important to be personable with owners AND animals – obviously by that I mean NEVER under ANY circumstances let them discover that you are a robot!
Seriously, I know this is a business that is all about the animals, but don’t forget about your people skills. Owners will feel more comfortable with you caring for their pets if they like you and feel comfortable. They want to see you engaging with their pet but also want to be reassured by your social skills with people.
28. Let them know about the way you work.
Working for yourself means you get to set your own policies. If there’s anything you do as a matter of protocol with dogs, cats, or all pets, let owners know at the meet and greet.
For example, I let dog owners know that I always avoid other dogs on walks, even if their dog gets along well with other dogs, just as a precaution. That way there will never be an incident under my watch. Many owners have appreciated knowing that I do this!
Or as another example, I tell clients that I don’t officially begin house sitting jobs at 8AM. I usually start somewhere closer to late afternoon/evening. I let them know if they want me to start so early in the day (or stay until evening on the day the stay ends), they’ll need to either pay for another day of pet sitting or schedule a separate walk or drop in.
Anything like that that they should know about how you’ve decided to operate or run your business.
29. Be very vary.
Be very wary of escape artists! Make sure you open doors slowly when you arrive for a visit. A dog or cat may be waiting right inside the door to run out. When coming back from a walk, make sure you close the door before unleashing the hounds.
When leaving cats, I like to open the door a little and then turn my back to it, making sure I have eyes on all pets and am positive everyone is inside before I step out.
30. Send follow up messages that would be easy not to send.
Again, these small things may make the difference between you and someone else!
If someone writes to you saying thanks, say you’re welcome or my pleasure instead of just leaving the conversation hanging and never writing back.
If you’ve been writing back and forth with someone and they decide not to go with you, don’t just not reply. Wish them luck on finding the right sitter.
There are lots of little messages like this that only require a quick response, but so many people just leave them hanging. Replying to these sends a subtle signal that your clients are more to you than just dollar signs and that you really care about people and pets and do your job professionally.
31. Talk about your own pets as it is relevant, but not too much!
You don’t want to make a meet and greet all about you and your pets. But a comment here or there about how you’ve had experience with something similar to what an owner is describing is reassuring to them that you’re well equipped to care for their pet. Pepper those comments in, but don’t tell them everything there is to know about you and your own furry friend.
They’re worried about themselves, and that’s okay.
32. Never EVER leave ANYONE’S house without the keys in your hand!!
You don’t want the stress or embarrassment of locking yourself out. Never risk it.
Those are all of my tips for growing your Rover business and creating a full time income with your side hustle.
Have fun and enjoy getting paid good money to hang out with fluffy love bugs!
Before you go though, let me just tell you a few things I love about Rover:
1. I decide my own work load and schedule.
2. I choose my clients and work radius.
3. I can take time off whenever I want.
4. It feeds my heart and soul to spend so much time loving up animals.
5. I get paid multiple times a week – no waiting 2 weeks for a paycheck!
6. I’m getting to know neighborhoods in my city even more.
7. Dog walks build fresh air and exercise into my day so I don’t have to feel as bad if I skip my workout.
8. No boss!
9. I set my own rates.
10. I provide people with peace of mind about their pets – a very high value!
11. With such a flexible schedule, I still have lots of time for other projects I have going on, like my other part time job, my blog, DIY projects, and more.
What are you waiting for? Sign up for Rover right now!
It only takes a few minutes, and you could be earning money in just a matter of days. Use my referral link to sign up and complete a walk or pet sit within 90 days, and I will receive a $50 bonus. It’s a great way for you to support this blog if you like it that is completely painless for you!
Plus, when you sign up, Rover will give you your own referral link that you can use with your family and friends to get your own bonuses!
If you have any questions at all about growing your Rover side hustle, feel free to email me at [email protected] I will be sure to answer you personally.
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