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How to start and run a pet sitting business

If you’ve always dreamed of working with animals, but need a flexible schedule to fit around your lifestyle – why not consider pet sitting? In this article, we’ll show you how to start and run a pet sitting business, and just how accessible and profitable it could be!

The global pet sitting market is anticipated to reach a massive $5 billion by 2027, as it’s been steadily growing a healthy 8.7% from 2020 to 2027. This is fuelled by a growing number of pet adoptions and the increasing spending of pet owners on their furry friends. Notably, a high level of indulgence in millennial pet owners coupled with a high spending power has seen a rise in demand for boutique, luxury pet sitting services.

It’s also important to note that New Zealand has a very high rate of pet ownership in the world, with over 4.35 million companion animals currently residing here! So there’s never been a better time to consider this sector. 

A pet sitting business is a fantastic way to enter the rewarding Animal Care industry. Not only will you enjoy the company of furry friends around you every day, but as the owner of the business, you’ll be free to set your schedule, define your services, set your prices and expand your income. 

But let’s start at the beginning by asking,

What is pet sitting?

Pet sitting is a service that offers care for owners who cannot be with their pets – either if they are out at work or away on a holiday or other event. They tend to look after a pet in its own home while the owner is away. 

Some sitters choose to offer a range of other services too, such as drop-in visits for 9-5 owners, walking both solo or in a group and even day-care services at their own homes or a purpose-built day-care facility.

How to get into pet sitting?

To get into pet sitting will require a mix of individual traits and professional skills:

  • Passion – You’ll need a strong passion for animals of all shapes and sizes, 
  • Experience – You’ll need familiarity with an array of animals, to enable you to have a confident approach to sitting. You could gain this by volunteering at a local shelter, or by asking in your local neighbourhood for opportunities to care for pets. 
  • Training – You’ll need solid training to be able to show your clients how trustworthy you are with their beloved pets. As well as qualifications in animal care, you’ll need a knowledge of behavioural issues, animal psychology and training methods.
  • Soft skills – To Enable clients to feel comfortable leaving their furry family members with you, you’ll need to have a warm, approachable and caring manner.
  • Business skills – To run a thriving pet sitting business, you’ll need business skills! So that you can keep those clients flowing in and create an evergreen income.
how to start a pet sitting business in New Zealand

How to start a pet sitting business in New Zealand:

Are you ready to start your pet sitting business? Then follow these essential steps:

1. Train

To inspire confidence in your clients, you’ll need relevant training and qualifications they can trust. Plus, you’ll need a strong foundation in animal health, care and wellbeing to provide the best experience and the utmost safety for your furry clients too!

If you are looking for the best, most convenient way to train – check out our online Animal Care Courses. With 24/7 access, affordable payment plans and full tutor support, you’ll be equipped to start your business quickly and efficiently without any excess costs or time drains!

You can give yourself a broad foundation with a Certificate in Animal Care – which will equip you with the knowledge to know any signs of illness or discomfort, as well as how to offer enrichment and care for all kinds of lovely creatures.

Or you could specialize your offering, tapping into a niche market, by choosing to study on our Professional Dog Care & Training Course, or our Cat Care & Training Course. These courses will deepen your understanding of health, nutrition, biology, behavioural problems, psychology and more. Meaning you can offer that extra special boutique services that pet parents are willing to spend more on.

2. Decide on your business name

Pet sitting business names are a key part of standing out from the pack – literally. Choosing the right name can help you reach clients and help them understand the kind of service you offer. You’ll want a name that encapsulates what you uniquely offer your clients:

  • Do you pride yourself on your professionalism and training ability? Perhaps you could offer a ‘boot camp energy’ to your name, giving owners the peace of mind that their pets will be not only cared for, but their behaviour improved too. 
  • Do you specialize in high energy animals? Offering enriching physical and mental activities that tire out energetic animals? Perhaps you could use an ‘adventurous’ sounding name that emphasises the kind of lifestyle your owners might seek for their pets. 
  • Do you help owners with young or shy animals? Perhaps you could focus your name on the confidence-boosting/gentle care niche. Especially as more winners welcome rescues into their lives who may need special attention during care visits.

3. Choose your premises

As we mentioned above, you may wish to be a ‘mobile’ sitter – working from your clients’ homes and sitting for pets in a familiar environment. This, done correctly, could mean you become a professional ‘house-sitter’ – moving from place to place wherever clients need your help. This is ideal for those who wish to see the world on a budget! Or, you could choose to focus your work in a particular area, and even work remotely while you pet sit.

The other option is to run a pet sitting business from your own home, which could work well around family needs or a part-time job. You may want a dedicated space for the pets in your house, to save the whole house from being overrun! Perhaps making use of an outbuilding or garden room. You’ll need to be sure you have adequate space and facilities so the animals in your care are well cared for. 

If you wanted, you could also open a full day-care service – perhaps even investing in a purpose-built space to do so. You could include extra features such as cat furniture, an agility course and more! With this premium offering, you could increase your prices and even work towards growing your enterprise into a multi-venue business.

4. File Your Paperwork

To start your business properly, you’ll need to make sure you have your paperwork in order:

  • Name – Check your business name online to see if it is available for use, and also to see if the domain name is free for your new business website and social media pages too. 
  • Register – You’ll need to register your new business with the RealMe® and set up a New Zealand Business Number. You’ll most likely start out as a self-employed ‘sole trader’, but you can change this as your business expands if you need to. 
  • Bank account – It’s also sensible to set up a separate business bank account so that your tax returns are easier and there’s no confusion.
  • Insurance – Like most businesses, you’ll need to protect yourself against liability. In this case, you’ll need cover for injuries to a pet, a member of the public or property. Public liability insurance is a must, but you might also want to look into professional indemnity and personal accident insurance too. 
  • Regulations – If you plan on working from your home or a premise, get in touch with your local council to find out their regulations and requirements for you to do so. You can also ask them for key information like how many dogs you can legally keep on your property, whether you need to apply for a permit and how many dogs can be walked at one time in your area.
  • Administration practices – Now is a great time to get some efficient systems in place. So get yourself prepared with a client contract, a client record-filing system, reservation software (or a robust diary), an expenses sheet and invoicing software (or a weekly/monthly reminder). This will streamline any paperwork in the future. 

5. Find Clients

It’s time to find your first clients! 

  • Digital presence – You’ll need to set up a website and social pages to reach your target audience and provide them with as much information as you can. Choose a website and colour scheme that reflects your unique offering and brand energy, and then share your pages far and wide.  
  • Family and friends – Ask family and friends if you can use them for initial services to get some reviews and photos of you at work. This can help to get the ball rolling. You can also ask them to share your digital platforms with their followers too. 
  • Flyers – You could drop some flyers at local pet stores, vet clinics, pet-friendly restaurants and local shops. This way you can reach pet owners in your local area.
  • Dog park visits – Why not take your dog to the local dog park and get talking to owners about the services you provide. Or visit a local cat cafe and do the same!

6. Pricing

How much does pet sitting cost? How much should I charge for pet sitting? These are common questions for those looking to set up their sitting business. 

The cost of your services will vary based on your experience, your location, your business offerings and your clients’ needs. For example, a simple 30-minute walk will cost far less than a day-care day involving training and enrichment sessions. 

You could choose to charge an hourly rate for your basic sitting service, a set fee for walks and charge for additional options such as grooming, obedience training, or day-care. 

For a guide here are some average prices in New Zealand from Pet Sitters NZ:

  • Dog boarding: $40 – $60
  • Drop in-home visits: $20 – $70
  • Dog walking: $15 – $50
  • Doggy daycare: $20 – $65
  • House sitting: $35 – $90

​​The best way to set your prices is to have a look at your competitors in the local area. If your costs are competitive, especially as you start out, you should be able to find clients coming your way. But once established, don’t be afraid to raise your rates – especially if you find yourself overwhelmed with bookings and able to offer a truly bespoke or luxury service.

And there you have it! Our full guide for how to start and run a pet sitting business. Are you excited to get started? If so, do check out our Animal Courses, or speak to a friendly team member who can answer any questions you might have. 

How to get into pet sitting