7 Problems With Starting A Pet Sitting Business

In this day in age, people have started to realize how easy it is to start a pet sitting business. They think that you get some business cards, tell some vets your accepting clients, and throw up a website via Wix or some other free website builder, and list their services on care.com Within a few weeks they are off and running. Checks are coming in and they think “Wow. That was easy!”

But not so fast….


I applaud the ambition, but there is a bunch of fine tuning that needs to happen. Most of the time, the way pet sitting businesses start, isn’t something that can be maintained over the years.  At least not if they plan on still seeing their friends, family, going on vacation, and saving some money.

{Which, lets’ face it, you could 100% get if you go work for someone else. So why not yourself?}

I see these problems over and over again.

Sometimes the pet sitter has started their business, but never really addressed the elephant in the room. This leads to a snowball effect. The changes they need to create feel even bigger of a burden than if they had they started “right” in the first place.

So let me save you the trouble. Here are the

7 Problems {and solutions} When Starting A Pet Sitting Business.


#1 Pet Sitters Get Burned Out When Starting a Pet Sitting Business:

A lot of people start out because they love the pets. But they love the pets so much that they care more about the pets than themselves and their business. Too much of this imbalance could put you out of business.

It is imperative for a business owner to set business hours and take scheduled time off at least once or twice a year. After all, if you had a “regular” job you would get an average of two weeks vacation, right? A lot of pet sitters are working all around the clock by doing overnights and then early morning visits at 6am and visits as late as 10pm.

pet sitter burnout


It makes a person tried, unmotivated, hungry… so you end up choosing bad options like drive thru. It is also isolating because you are always running away from your friends and family to “go do a pet sit.”

Solution: Set strict working hours and schedule two vacations a year to recharge your batteries. 


#2 Pet Sitters Don’t Consider The Importance Of
Money Flow:

This can be the biggest headache for most. Do you send paypal invoices? Do you use Square, Swipe, have the clients enter it in online, or accept cash or checks?


A business will need to streamline this process. Not paying close enough attention could cost hours of the business owners time each week and be very confusing and almost a chore for the client who is trying to spend money. You don’t want to be chasing people down for money or having to sit in front of the computer creating invoices and applying payment to the invoices so your balance sheet is in check.

Falling golden coin - isolated on white

Solution: I suggest taking credit cards and have a method that will take less than 15 minutes each week. Here are all the ins and outs of CC processing. I have a great virtual book keeper if you are interested! 


Limited time offer. Apply now.

#3  Pet Sitters Do Not Have Unique Branding When They Start A Pet Sitting Business.

One of the biggest mistakes new pet sitters make is trying to be like everyone else. Or, they grab the industry standards on “Benefits to a professional pet sitter” and use them on their own website. All that does is sell the industry. The majority of the start up pet sitters say the same exact thing on their website. When you don’t have a strong brand, your value isn’t high. Think about the branding for a Walmart Vs. Sak’s 5th Ave or Barney’s. Different, eh?

Some pet sitting businesses also have the same looking logo made from a stock image and a plain or cutesy name that no one can spell. This is a problem becasue their business won’t stand out from all the others and no one will know how to spell their business name when they go to search for it on Google!

Solution: Take the time to create a great pet sitting logo, choose the right colors on your website, and formulate your unique message and value proposition. 

Personal example below: My own pet sitting company has a saying “We see things a different way” and our advertisement is run UPSIDE DOWN in publications. Everyone see’s it!   = Be Different!

7 problems with starting a pet sitting business


#4  Pet Sitters Don’t Charge The Right Price When Start A Pet Sitting Business:

Not charging the right amount is heavily associated with burn out. A lot of the time pet sitters charge what they “feel” is right but that mentality alone could cost you your business. Looking around at what everyone else is charging and basing your pricing structure off of that is the worst thing that you could do for your business. You are not strategic about it.

Will you have pricing tiers?
What is the lowest you will go?
Will you “discount”?
How many visits do you need to do a day in order to make your personal salary goal for the year?
Do you charge enough to pay someone enough?
Do you know how much you should be paying them?
The business? Yourself?
Will you charge/pay by time or by service?
Are there things you will or will not charge extra for?
What will your cancelation policy be?
Will you list your prices on your pet sitting website? 
These are all things that a business owner must give serious consideration to. A lack of thought in this area will eventually limit the potential of the business.

Solution: Answer all of the questions above and if you need more help consider taking the Pricing Structure and Strategy class. If you need more, hear what one of my clients said about this class: 



#5. Pet Sitters Forget The Important Legal and Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 2.54.26 PMInsurance Considerations

I find that when pet sitters start a pet sitting company they download forms, purchase the cheapest insurance and just go on with life. Many times things like properly classifying your business entity for tax saving purposes isn’t even a thought. Or things like protection of your current or future assets with different classifications like LLC, S-Corp, etc. It is vitally important to every pet sitters present and future to have a CPA and Lawyer on their team from Day 1. Do not be giving our service contracts that might not even be valid in your state! (It really happens)

Your business insurance could be your saving grace or what puts you out of business. It is important to know that you are covered properly for when pet sitting business insurance claims happen.

Solution: Find a CPA and Lawyer you can trust. Or, save yourself the hassle and call David with Business Insurers of the Carolina’s! Thats who I trust!



#6 Pet Sitters Will Miss A Pet Sit or Overbooking Themselves

It happens.

You are trying to keep track of all your new clients on your iPhone’s calendar and before you know it you forget to enter in someone or you promise one too many clients the same time slot and BOOM. You are overbooked. Or worse, you miss a visit.

Clients are constantly changing their travel arrangements and work schedules. It is very easy for a pet sitter to become a professional scheduler. Do not make this mistake when you start your pet sitting business. You are setting yourself up for failure by accepting reservations via phone, text, email, and pigeon carrier! You will mess up. You will overbook. You will miss a visit.

Solution: Get a Client Management System and require that all clients register and book inside of your software system.


#7  When Pet Sitters Don’t Set Good Boundaries

This problem is two fold. First, the pet sitter accepts clients in a large service area thinking that the more clients they can get the better. No matter where they are located. “It is only 10 minutes outside my service area.” becomes a frequent thought.

The second is they let their business run their life. They don’t consider that they need to do simple things like eat, sleep, and visit with their family from time to time.  I have seen people get divorces, have relatives upset at them over the holidays because they aren’t at the celebrations, and more. When I finally get to help them, they are already at the end of their rope. They even start despising this business that they so fondly started because the people who matter most in their life are upset at them for not being present.

Having a business should eventually give you more options in life to do the things you like with those you love. – Bella

Solution: Set strict office hours. Set strict boundaries no more than a 10 mile radius from your home.

In the end, the toughest boundary you need to establish is between you and the business. By having clear goals, objectives, the right people surrounding you, well thought out policies and systems, you will be successful. It is when people try to sacrifice their lives for their business. When they are working for less than they would make working at McDonalds and so tired and burnt out that they start resenting the life they are trying to build.

It is not a pretty place to be. Please take these suggestions very seriously so you don’t become victim to your own business. Start a business so you can work on it. Not under it. If you are going to be under it, why not get a J.O.B. working for someone else and let them have all the headache?

You can do it. It is pet sitting. There aren’t many unknowns. Especially for someone like me who has seen all types of businesses nationally and internationally.

If you are thinking about starting a business, or just feel completely out of control in your business consider hiring Bella to help you avoid all the pitfalls that starting a pet sitting business comes with.


34 replies
  1. Robin Lewis
    Robin Lewis says:

    I had a very successful pet sitting business in SC years ago. I’m thinking about restarting but am limited on funds. Can you help me get restarted the right way. I can agree with all the statements a out burnout, holidays etc. That was the thing I disliked. I’m very confused because the industry has grown so much since I’ve bee. Away. I love all you offer but would be broke if I took everything you offer though I see the valur in it. I just need to talk to some one about where to start.

  2. Leta
    Leta says:

    Hey Im looking to start Pet sitting by myself and sont know where to start or how to start with little to no funds.Can you please give me advice on how I should go about getting started. Thank You.

  3. Gina
    Gina says:

    Hi there !!

    I am the owner of a pet sitting/ dog walking business and I am truly starting to get burnt out. I have been non stop for months and like you said I have pushed so many of my loved ones away and have no time for myself. It has made it that I am starting to resent my business because I have no time for myself. I love the animals but its not a get rich quick scheme and oh I wish I could pay my girls more but then I wouldn’t make any money. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with the personal and mental struggles of this business?

    Thank you

  4. Editor
    Editor says:

    You really shouldn’t be writing articles until you brush up on basic grammar. Your means it belongs to you and you’re means you are. Basics. This is no typo, you do this more than once. Either you have problems with grammar or your editor, or this web site needs an editor if they don’t have one, but it’s an embarrassment that work like this is ever published.
    To quote you: “They think that you get some business cards, tell some vets your accepting clients, Within-“

      • Pete
        Pete says:

        You are assuming that this person has the same sleep schedule as you 😉 Love your tips on pet-sitting and will forward them to a friend thinking about starting up.

  5. Editor
    Editor says:

    Edit your articles!

    Your means you own it
    You’re means you are
    Instead of out you wrote our
    …and many more mistakes, like leaving out apostrophe when you should have used it. It is a shame that in the age of internet poorly written articles get published.

      • Jake
        Jake says:

        I would. “Editor” makes some good points though I would recommend a softer approach perhaps! Bella, you obviously have a good heart and head for the personal services business. Just as you point out the details of your core competency, the details of the editing and proofreading business can be a hang up for some. Sometimes, as Editor points out – the details in your writing speak volumes. . Would be happy to help any way I can.

        • Bella
          Bella says:

          Thanks JD!

          With over 350 blogs, 150 podcasts (and show notes), blogs posting bi-monthly, and weekly emails – we sure try to make it 100%. But, we are human.

          Shoot me an email and tell me what you mean by “help” bella@jumpconsulting.net
          Thanks! 🙂

    • Bryan
      Bryan says:

      This is so common. I read comments and when words and grammar are incorrect I quickly lose interest and respect. It is amazing that people cannot even spell correctly. Ugh!

  6. Christine
    Christine says:

    I use every one of those tips, except the credit cards. I have paper that each one of my clients fill out an keep them in a fill
    I ask for their vets mane an number an have each on call their vet with dates I have the pet , just in case. Anything can go wrong when you keep pets from 10 days to 2 weeks. It’s not as easy as some think. I’ve had a successful business for over 12 years.

    • Kate Owens
      Kate Owens says:

      I live in a small town with a big summer tourist season just outside of Yellowstone Park. I just tried to book a local pet sitter for one visit while I left early and get home late. I want to take a once a year 10 hour day trip and the sitter told me she was so sorry, but she is booked for a year in advance- all summer and for every major holiday. Clearly my town has a business vacuum.
      I want to start a small business within a 10 mile radius of the town center.
      I do not intend to become very busy or large. I have my own dogs to care for and I am retired, so I plan to not book more than I feel comfortable with.

      I know I need insurance and I intend to talk to my home and vehicle agent to see if I can get a rider placed on my policy. I can use Quick Books to manage the paperwork. Many locals will take cash or check as payment for services and refuse credit cards. I am okay with that rather than using the square or PayPal. I agree with Christine, in that I would not want to deal with cards.

      I think I will need to be bonded, as well since I will be going into people’s homes. How is that done?

      • Bella
        Bella says:

        Hi Kate,

        I totally would challenge your thought process on credit cards. People will actually spend more when they don’t see it and a CC is required for airfare, hotel, rental car… it is how we do business. Appear professional and no one will question it 🙂

        Ok that aside, yes bonding is more of a marketing thing. YOU know that you will not steal, but sometimes people feel more comfortable about it. Call up David with Business Insurers of the Carolinas and ask him all about it! He is great! I also have a very cheap guide ($39) on the products tab that is every single step you need to start your business. =)

        Hope that helps!

        • Roscoe
          Roscoe says:

          Absolutely people pay more when they don’t see the paperwork. It’s easier to swipe away money with a card than to sign it off on an invoice or a check. That’s how Netflix makes so much money now is they bill it automatically and you never see the amount except for the reminder via email.

  7. Janet H
    Janet H says:

    Thank you for the helpful info – I am looking to perhaps start a pet sitting business, I’m retired from public safety as of last year but too young to not work lol – the two jobs I’ve had since that time had seriously abusive bosses and I want to work for myself! 🙂 Will be checking out your suggestions! 🙂

  8. Baileyjo
    Baileyjo says:

    What in the world am i reading?? Why all these ugly comments about her grammar? Who the hell cares. Its the content that matters! She’s trying to help! Get off her and be nice. Didn’t your mother ever teach you any manners? If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all… Geeeez, why do people have to be so freaking mean!!!!

  9. Kassandra Morales
    Kassandra Morales says:

    Starting an at Home Pet Boarding business – questions
    I am a young Entrepreneur in the research phase of this venture and have a few questions. I’ve identified (at least I think it is) a great location wide open space. Still tons of research in front of me, but here’s a start.


    Do you have a member of the staff who stay at your facility overnight (so someone is there 24/7)? Does the owner live on the property? I would like insight on how to handle pet emergencies that happen overnight. Dog gets sick and starts vomiting everywhere at 2 am – do you just find out about it in the morning?

    Along the lines of question 1, but has to do with holidays. Obviously the busiest time for a pet boarding facility is during the holiday/vacation times. So when everyone else is traveling, you’ll be working. How do you handle staff during the holidays? Who works Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. Do you have staff on-site during the holidays? Is the owner on-site during the holidays? Also, when is a good time for the owner to travel or take a vacation and do owners have to be on-site 24/7 basically asking if there is a social life?

    Is there a helpful population ratio I can use when determining whether or not I have a good location? Something like, you need X number of kennels per X population within a 10-mile radius. So if you have 20,000 people living in a 10-mile radius, then you need 30 kennels. Or is there a ratio of homes to pet owners – for example, there is 1 pet owner for every 10 homes in a community.


    • Bella
      Bella says:

      Super questions and a long answer. Are you a member of the Jump Start your Pet business I host on Facebook? Look that up and post that in there. I will answer you and so will others! -Bella

  10. Jay P.
    Jay P. says:

    Very well put together topics and details. The pricing one about how not pricing enough hits me, because I’ve never been comfortable with setting prices for any services I provide. It just feels awkward to me and makes me worry about whether or not I have the right pricing. Good article.


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