How You Can Become a Pet Sitter

Pet sitting is a small business that you can run out of your home with a modest initial investment. You will need to invest in advertising and preparing a contract for your clients.

Getting Started

There is no recognized certification or education for pet sitters at this time. It can be an ideal job for responsible students or for adults who want to work with animals. The need for caring pet sitters is on-going throughout the year which means that it can become a permanent, full-time job for a self-employed individual.

General experience with different types of animals, from mundane to exotic, is recommended, since you may find yourself caring for a dog in the morning and an iguana in the afternoon. If you are not comfortable with certain types of exotic pets or have no experience tending them, you should be clear about your concerns in the initial contact with the owner. If you arrive at the owner's home thinking that Sam is a finicky cat, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise when Sam turns out to be a python that eats live mice and needs his bedding cleaned.

In-home or at Your Home

Decide which animals you will care for and where you will care for them. Some pet sitters will sit in-house, meaning that they come to the client's home and either stay for a few hours or make one or two visits a day to the client's home to feed the animal, take it outside or give the pet medication.

If you travel to the owner's home, you will have to explain how long you will stay, how often you plan to visit the animal and that you will not smoke in the home if this is the owner's preference. The advantage is that you can have more pet clients during the day and evening than you could take into your own home, without a kennel license.

Some pet sitters will take animals into their home, though this usually depends on whether or not you have small children, or if you are a smoker. The advantage to this situation is that the pet gets constant human contact, just as if they were in their own home, and you do not have to travel to multiple client sites throughout the day.

Whether in-home or at your home, most clients will supply their pet's food, dishes, favorite sleeping mat, crate, litter box or other related essentials.

Finding Pet Sitting Jobs

Most people get started as a pet sitter by running a classified ad, placing a poster up in a veterinary clinic or by placing an ad in an online classified ad service such as Craigslist.

You should also ask previous clients to write you a letter of reference if they were satisfied with your services or if they would recommend you to friends, since word of mouth is another way to get clients. Prospective clients will usually ask to see at least one letter of reference since they will be letting you into their home while they are absent.

Considerations

You should also use a client contract which will ask the owners to supply emergency information, including the name of the pet's regular veterinarian and contact information. If there is an accident, the contract will also determine how much you are responsible for in damages. Most pet sitting jobs will probably be very simple, but if an accident should occur or if the pet becomes ill, you need to know that you will be reimbursed for any unexpected medical expenses.