Professional Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters – an Overview
Professional dog walkers, both individuals and businesses, are paid by dog owners to walk their dogs for them. Some dog walkers will take many dogs for a walk at once, while others will not. In some UK counties dog walking businesses must be licensed. Professional dog walking services can be obtained locally or thorough online referral services. Dog walkers in the UK can post their services for free in places such as the Internet which lets customers review different services, and enables service providers to specify hours and fees and contact information.
A Pet Sitter?
A Pet Sitter is a contracted service provider who takes care of a pet in its own home.
What is daily/daytime dog walking?
Daytime dog walking is pet sitting on a weekly, ongoing basis. A daytime dog walker is usually used to walk or visit dogs that need a regular break during the busy work day. A dog walker may be scheduled for daily visits or just a few days week, often once or twice a day depending on your work schedule and the needs of the animals. The most common dog walking visits are scheduled for somewhere between 20 and 60 minutes.
What is holiday pet sitting service?
If your pet sitting service provider offers holiday service, that means that the pet sitter is available to visit your pets if you go out of town on a trip, such as on a holiday or a business trip. During this time, a pet sitter will make scheduled visits to your home. Often these are scheduled to start between pre-determined times (such as 6am-8am, 2pm-4pm, 8pm-9pm, etc.) that will best fit your pets.
How long is a visit?
Each sitter determines what length of visits they will offer (such as 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, etc.). Homes with multiple pets will often require longer visits than homes with only one animal.
How many times a day should my pet sitter visit during a holiday?
The frequency of visits is something you will negotiate with your pet sitter once the pet sitter interviews the situation and determines your needs and wishes. Most indoor only dogs will require a minimum of 3 visits per day (at least morning, afternoon, and evening). Most clients choose once per day, or twice per day for cats. Some sitters will consider every other day visits.
Can a pet sitter stay at my home all day or overnight?
Some pet sitters do offer live-in and/or overnight care.
Live-in daytime care is less common, because most pet sitters have pet sits and daytime walks they need to do for other clients all throughout each day. So the availability of this type of service may be very limited.
Can my pets stay at the pet sitter’s home instead of my home?
Some pet sitters do offer boarding services. Boarding availability may be limited to certain types of pets, since special licensing and additional insurance may be required of the pet sitter.
How much does pet sitting cost?
Each pet sitting business sets its own rate structure, which can vary greatly from other businesses. Many pet sitters charge a fee’s per visit. Some sitters may have additional charges based on number of pets, mileage to your home, holidays, or tasks needed.
Do I meet the sitter before service?
Yes, for most sitters an initial consultation is required before your first service can be provided. This consultation will give the sitter time to learn about your pets, fill out paperwork, take notes about your home and required tasks, and collect keys from you. Many sitters offer the first consultation for free, or will credit any consultation fee to your first visit. If you would like a follow-up consultation at a later date, be aware that there might be an addition fee for this. Please be sure to call far enough in advance to schedule your consultation.
Should my pet sitter be insured?
You should definitely select a pet sitter who is insured for liability. It is important that their coverage includes care, custody, and control of the pet. Pet sitters can provide proof of coverage, or a phone number you can call to verify they are currently insured. A few of the more common pet sitter insurers can be found on the www.petbusinessinsurance.co.uk
Is it safe to have a stranger in my home?
We know that having a new pet sitter in your home for the first time can be nerve-racking.
Here are some tips to help you find a reliable pet sitter that would like to build a trusting relationship with your family. UK Police checks can be obtained for people who wish to work in the business.
- The pet sitter should be insured for liability, including care, custody, and control of the pet.
- The sitter should provide contact information for references upon request. Do be sure to contact the references.
- Check with vets, groomers, pet stores, and other area pet businesses to learn more about the reputation of your chosen pet sitting business.
- Be sure that the sitter provides a copy of the legal terms of your contract, including cancellation policy and other terms.
- Be sure that you fully understand the costs of your service. Ask what services are included with the cost quoted.
Other factors to consider
- What kind of pet dog walking course and or pet sitting course /education and/or certification does the sitter or dog walker have?
- Does the sitter know pet first aid – is this important ?
- Did the sitter ask many questions during the consultation, and did he write down all of the answers carefully?
- Is the sitter a member of professional organisations, such as pet sitting associations, humane organisations, or other pet care groups?
- Does the sitter have a backup plan in case of a personal emergency?
- Is the sitter a full time sitter, or do they have limited availability due to another job or school?
- Does the sitter have the proper licensing for their area (in some areas a business license or kennel license for boarding may or may not be required).
- Does the sitter talk positively about other sitters in the area, and seem informed about the industry and other pet care providers?
Final questions to discuss with the Pet Sitter/ Dog walker
- Will you have the same sitter serving your home the entire time you are away?
- Will the sitter be allowed to bring anyone with them to the sits?
- Does the sitter ever bring children to visits?
- How often will the sitter leave a note for you logging how the trip is going?
- Do the sitter’s available time periods fit your pet needs?
- How will your key be stored or returned?
- Has the sitter cared for your type of pet in the past?
- How is payment to be arranged methods (cash, cheque, direct debit, etc.)
Business Development for Dog Walking Course and or Pet Sitting Course
Advertising your Dog Walking business is extremely important if you wish to create a successful business and it is advisable to set aside a budget for advertising each month. There are many places where you can advertise for free also. The list below are some of the more important places to advertise.
Create your own dog walking website with the details of your business including the services your provide, the areas you cover, your costs and your contact information. You can either create your own website or get a respectable website design company to create one for you. Creating your own would save you a lot of money as a website can cost several hundreds of pounds to create.
Promote your business online by adding your business details to as many dog services websites as possible. Make sure that if you have completed an accredited Dog Walking & Pet Sitting course this is on you literature.
Create flyers advertising your business and deliver them to all the house in your local area where you would be prepared to travel too. This is an excellent and cheap way to advertise. You can create your flyers yourself and print them out on your home computer, or if you wish to give your business a more professional touch, you could get them designed and printed professionally. You can also ask your local pet shops, groomers etc. to display your flyers in their shops. You could even ask them to mention your business to their customers if you offer the same in return.
Advertise in your local newspaper. This is probably more expensive than the other methods, but you could try it out for a week or two and measure the response to see if it is worth the cost. Word of Mouth is a very important and free way to advertise. If you provide an excellent service to your clients, you could ask the to mention you to their friends who also have dogs.