How to Start Your Own Dog Sitting Business with Rover
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In 2015, Kevin Ha and his girlfriend were playing around with the idea of getting a second dog.
They just didn’t know if they were ready for the commitment.
After a bit of research, they found Rover, a website and app connecting fur parents and animal lovers for pet sitting, dog walking, and more.
“Kind of like an Airbnb for pets,” he said.
Ha and his now wife started dog sitting through Rover and have been doing it ever since. Now they get the benefit of companionship for their pup without the added expense. They actually get extra money out of the arrangement with almost no “work” involved.
What Is Rover?
Rover is the ultimate resource for busy pet owners. It offers sitting, boarding, and drop-in visits for dogs and cats, as well as doggy daycare and dog walking services. It’s a great way for animal lovers to make money offering these services.
“It lets me have that second dog around without actually having to get a second dog,” Ha said. “Some of these dogs are so good I would watch them for free.”
Caretakers set their own schedule, rates, size limitations, and whether they want to watch pets in their homes or those of the pets’. All payment is done through Rover, so the only thing to collect in person are the snuggles.
Related: 40 Creative Ways to Make Money Fast
How to Be Successful on Rover
It’s not that difficult to make money with Rover dog sitting. Pet sitters and walkers typically charge $20-$40 per night and $20-$30 per walk, taking home 80% while Rover collects a 20% service fee.
Rover holds your earnings until the services are complete. You can then redeem payment fee-free via PayPal or by mailed check for a $2 fee.
Ha charges an average of $28 per night to watch small and medium-sized dogs in his home in the Minneapolis, MN area. He increases his rates for puppies and over holidays and has a lower rate for cat care and simple drop-in visits.
“Because I do it as a side hustle, I’ll make $150-$250 a month pretty consistently,” he divulged. “I think last year I made like $3,100 from dog sitting.”
In his experience, most stays are three to five days with three weeks being the longest he’s ever watched a dog.
So if you were hosting dogs in your home, walking more on your lunch break, and stopping on your way home from work to feed one a few times a week, you could expect your earnings to be much higher. Rover also offers ways to “boost” your profile to look more attractive to potential pet parents.
You can request testimonials from friends and family, share your unique promo code for $20 off first-time services, and take the Rover 101 Quiz to earn a badge on your profile.
If you want to book at least four to six stays every month but need some help getting started, you have the option of signing up with RoverGO. Eligible RoverGO sitters have previous dog care experience, a flexible schedule with weekday availability, and offer overnight dog boarding or house sitting.
To sign up, you’ll need to get a background check. After that, you can receive complimentary coaching from the Rover team, a professional photo shoot, and help crafting your profile. The downside is you’ll only be able to keep 75% of your earnings.
Things You’ll Need to Get Started
You don’t need much to start a pet sitting or dog walking business with Rover. You must be at least 18 years old and able to pass a background check through Checkr, which costs $10-$35 based on the services you want to offer.
Other typical pet supplies, while not necessary, do make running a Rover dog sitting business a little easier.
It’s always helpful to have toys without your pet’s scent on them. Just make sure you’re aware of any unique behaviors your guest pets have with toys.
Busy pet parents will love the option of leaving their cumbersome crate at home – but make sure to disclose the size beforehand.
When searching for sitters, pet owners have the option to filter out homes that don’t have a fenced-in backyard. If you have one, be sure to make it known.
If you’re a dog walker, you’ll want to keep a leash handy whenever possible, especially with Rover’s newest service, Rover Now. Rover Now allows owners to request a walk for their dog within 30 minutes to an hour.
Rover Now walkers get alerted whenever a new request becomes available and can accept as many as their schedule permits.
Last but not least, be prepared for the worst part of the job. Poop bags can get pricey if you look after a bunch of dogs. You can buy them in bulk from Amazon, where you can find hundreds for fewer than $10.
If you’re ready to dive into the world of pet care as a side hustle, there are a few important details you’ll want to take note of.
Related: 189 Side Hustle Ideas for 2021
Do you pay taxes on Rover earnings?
Sitters and walkers on Rover are considered independent contractors. If you’re a U.S. taxpayer and redeem earnings via check, Rover will require you to complete a Form W-9. If you withdraw over $600 via check, you’ll receive a 1099 tax form from Rover.
You won’t need to submit a W-9 if you choose to withdraw your earnings via PayPal, nor will you receive any tax documentation from Rover. In most states, PayPal will send you a 1099-K if your gross payment is at least $20,000 and you’ve had 200 payments in the same year.
If you don’t meet those thresholds, it’s still your responsibility to track your Rover income and report it come tax time.
One of the upsides of being an independent contractor is the ability to write off certain business expenses. This includes any items such as toys and leashes you use exclusively for Rover. If you share the use of any items between your pet and Rover Pets, you can partially write off those expenses.
Do I need extra insurance?
You don’t need to worry about buying extra insurance when getting started. Rover offers its own form of assurance called the Rover Guarantee.
In the rare instance that something goes wrong during one of your bookings and the sitter or walker is unwilling or unable to pay those costs, Rover will cover them. Incidents include:
- Vet care to a Rover Pet while in a sitter or walker’s care
- Vet care for the sitter or walker’s pet if caused by a Rover Pet
- Damage to a pet owner’s personal property if caused by the sitter, walker, or their personal pet
- Liability for injury to third parties caused by a “Rover Dog”
Rover only reimburses for claims exceeding $250. Reimbursement per incident is limited to $25,000 for vet care and $1 million for property damage.
How much are Rover expenses?
It’s free to create a profile on Rover, but expect to pay for the mandatory background check — unless you sign up for RoverGO — and service fees with each booking.
If someone approves your profile, those fees equal 20% of your earnings (25% for RoverGO sitters and walkers). The fees cover support, educational opportunities, site maintenance, and benefits for sitters.
Beyond that, you can expect to cover general wear and tear that extra pets will put on your everyday items.
What if I have my own pets?
Having your own pets can make a pet sitting and dog walking business with Rover even more enticing.
“It doesn’t really take up a lot of my time because I already have to do the dog care tasks. I already watch my own dog, I have to feed my own dog,” Ha said. “Putting that second dog in there doesn’t really change my schedule very much.”
Ha’s dog Charlotte is a 19 lb. Beagle/Italian Greyhound mix, so his first priority is making sure the dogs he watches will get along with her. That’s why many pet parents will set up a Meet & Greet through the Rover app or website before booking. This allows everyone to interact and get familiar with each other in advance.
Pet Sitting and Dog Walking on Rover Is a Great Way to Make Money
Whether you’re sitting on the side or boarding as a primary source of income, starting a Rover dog sitting business can be an easy and lucrative way to monetize activities that, as a pet owner, you’d be doing anyway.
“I think of it as my dog paying for herself, because the only reason I’m doing this is because I already have a dog,” Ha said. “It’s kind of like my dog is earning her keep.”
Visit Rover’s website to see which services might be right for you.