Starting a Home-Based Pet-Sitting Business: Tips and Considerations

In this article: We provide guidelines for starting a pet sitting business in your home and important risks and costs to first consider, especially if you have children.

by Andrea Norris-McKnight

Tips for Starting Pet Sitting Business photo
Starting a home-based pet-sitting business may seem like the ideal money-making opportunity for an animal lover looking to turn a passion into a profession or side gig, but it isn’t the right business for everyone. Here’s a quick guide to offering pet-sitting services in your home and some things to consider to determine whether it’s the right home business for your family.

A Quick Guide to Starting a Home-Based Pet-Sitting Business

1. Understand the Responsibilities

Before diving in, it’s essential to understand what pet sitting entails. It’s not just about playing with dogs and cats; it involves feeding, walking, administering medication (if needed), and ensuring the pets’ overall well-being in your care.

2. Legal Considerations and Insurance

Check local regulations and zoning laws to ensure you can legally operate a pet-sitting business from your home. You may need a business license and should consider liability insurance to protect yourself in case of accidents or damage.

3. Prepare Your Home

Your home needs to be a safe, secure, and pet-friendly environment. Preparation may involve puppy-proofing areas where dogs will be allowed, setting up designated feeding, sleeping, and play areas, and ensuring your yard is securely fenced if you have one. If you intend to welcome dogs, cats, and other animals, make sure you can safely keep them separated as needed while still providing proper care.

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4. Gain Knowledge and Skills

While formal education isn’t required, knowledge of animal behavior, training, first aid, and CPR for pets can be immensely beneficial. Consider taking courses or certifications to boost your credibility and skills. (See Unlocking New Skills on a Tight Budget: A Guide to Affordable Learning.)

5. Set Your Services and Pricing

Decide what services you’ll offer (e.g., overnight stays, daycare, additional walks) and research local rates to set competitive pricing. Be clear about what your services include and any additional fees for extra care or services.

When setting pricing, consider the cost of any supplies you might need, such as food, treats, food and water dishes, etc., and insurance to ensure profitability.

6. Marketing and Promotion

Create a marketing plan to attract clients. A plan may include:

  • Building a website
  • Creating social media profiles
  • Listing your services on pet sitter directories such as and
  • Networking with local veterinarians, pet stores, and dog parks to help spread the word

7. Customer Service and Communication

Excellent customer service is vital to a successful dog-sitting business. Be proactive in communicating with pet owners, sending them updates, and addressing any concerns promptly.

8. Booking and Management Tools

Use scheduling and management tools to keep track of bookings, client information, and pets’ medical details. These tools will help you stay organized and provide the best care for each dog.

9. Collect Reviews and Testimonials

Positive reviews and testimonials from satisfied clients can be powerful tools for attracting new business. Encourage happy clients to share their experiences on social media or review sites.

Special Considerations Before Starting a Home-Based Pet-Sitting Business With Kids

Starting a dog-sitting service in your home when you have kids requires careful consideration to ensure the safety and well-being of your children and the animals. Here are key factors to keep in mind. Many of these considerations are regarding dogs since this will likely be the primary type of pet you will sit.

1. Children’s Ages and Temperaments

Assess whether your children are old enough and mature enough to be around animals safely. Young children may not understand how to interact with dogs or cats appropriately and could inadvertently provoke or harm an animal, or vice versa.

2. Educating Your Children

Teach your children about safe animal interaction.

For instance, they should learn not to disturb dogs while eating or sleeping. They should also know how to approach dogs calmly and the importance of avoiding rough play.

3. Pet Temperament and Compatibility

Carefully screen the dogs you agree to sit for compatibility with children. Some dogs may not be used to children or have behavioral issues that make them unsuitable for a home with young residents. Be upfront with potential clients that you have children in the house who will be around their pets.

4. Health and Safety Precautions

Ensure all animals you sit are vaccinated and have a clean bill of health to protect both the pets and your family. Establish strict hygiene protocols, like washing hands after playing with the dogs and keeping dog feeding areas separate from family eating areas.

5. Designated Dog-Free Zones

Create areas where dogs are not allowed in your home, providing a safe space for your children to play without the risk of accidental injury or disturbance.

6. Supervision

Never leave children and animals together unsupervised. Even the most well-behaved child or dog can have unpredictable moments.

7. Emergency Preparedness

Have a plan for emergencies, including knowledge of first aid for both animals and children. Make sure you know how to separate dogs and children.

8. Legal and Insurance Considerations

Review your insurance policy and local regulations to ensure you’re covered for incidents involving dogs and children. You may need additional liability insurance, and it likely won’t be cheap. Make sure the cost isn’t prohibitive to making a profit.

9. Introducing Dogs to Your Home Environment

Have a controlled introduction process for new dogs to your home, your children, and any other pets you may have. Observing how dogs react in a controlled environment can provide insights into their behavior and compatibility with children.

10. Trial Periods

Consider having a trial period or short visit before agreeing to a longer pet-sitting commitment. A trial allows you to see how the animal interacts with your children and home environment.

11. Parental Involvement and Responsibility

Ensure an adult is always the primary caregiver for the pets. While older children can help with specific tasks, the responsibility should not fall on them.

Is a Home-Based Pet-Sitting Business Right for You?

Starting a home-based pet-sitting business requires careful planning and dedication, especially if you have children. By ensuring you’re prepared, legally compliant, and committed to providing excellent care, you can build a successful business that brings joy to you and your furry clients. But it’s essential to balance your love for animals with the paramount importance of your family’s safety and comfort.

If you’re still on the fence as to whether this is the right home-based business opportunity for you, read the following advice from some of our readers who are pet sitters and pet experts.

Safety First

I’ve been a dog breeder for many years and also sometimes work at a local kennel, as well as volunteer at our shelter.

First, before anything else, talk to your homeowners insurance company and then ask your fire department to do a safety check on your property. Both these things are free, but they are the most important steps you’ll take. You want to protect yourself, your family and your potential customers.

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Get To Know Groomers

I located my pet sitter by asking my groomer. Get to know the groomers in your area. Also, get your name out in small, privately-owned pet stores if you have any in your area.
Debbie Is a Good Place to Start

Go to and join as a pet sitter in your own home. It is free and easy. It may take a while to get clients, but I joined and got a client the very next day. The holidays were as busy as ever!

Children and Dogs: Huge Red Flag

At the very least, you need to check your homeowner’s insurance to see what they cover and probably get a pet sitter’s policy as well. Some insurance companies may not cover you if you take in certain breeds of dogs. You may want to look at something like Pet Sitters International to see what information they have, as well as join the organization for further education and marketing.

As a professional dog trainer and parent who also does dog bite prevention classes, the presence of children and dogs together raises huge flags. I love them, I know them better than anyone else knows them, and I don’t trust them, which is probably because I know them and love them! Many children love dogs, but far fewer know how to be appropriate with dogs and read dog body language. Actually, few adults know how to read dog body language, either. Even though your children love dogs, I would never, ever leave them alone together, not even to answer the phone or grab a drink of water. Too much can happen too quickly, especially considering how impulsive children and dogs can be.

If you want to be better versed in dog-children interactions, I strongly recommend investigating for some excellent articles and graphics. Raising Puppies & Kids Together by Pia Silvani is one book in particular I’d look at and anything by Dr. Patricia McConnell is very informative and readable and she does get into reading dog body language a bit.

When in-home boarding is done well, it is a very valuable service to pets and humans alike. You are completely responsible for someone else’s family member who is not able to communicate with you easily, and when you add children into the equation, it becomes a more challenging job to do safely and well. It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy, either.
Jill in Madison, WI

Check About Any Licensing or Other Requirements In Your Area

Before you begin this sort of business, it’s best to check with your state licensing because many of them have regulations regarding what you can and cannot do, including where animals can be kept and the temperatures at which they have to be brought into the house. Also, check with your insurance agency, because traditional renters’ or homeowner’s insurance usually doesn’t cover this, and a pet you don’t know can snap and bite without any warning. You may want to increase the liability coverage to make sure the value of your entire equity and personal possessions are covered.

Also, make sure you have a written contract on what you will and won’t do, who pays for the pet’s food, when payment is due, and what happens if an animal gets abandoned at your place because, sadly, it happens all the time.

That being said, I have found most of my pet helpers from their ads online. If you really want to expand, you can put together an inexpensive website. One thing that pet parents love is for you to provide them with either a webcam and/or photos of their pets while they’re away. It gives them a sense of comfort.

Consider Pet-Sitting Smaller Animals

My daughter, who is a vet tech, looked into starting this type of business but found out it would have cost way more to sit dogs in her home than it was worth. The most important thing is to see how much your homeowner’s insurance will cost. If a dog were to bite one of your children or a stranger, you could be held liable. My daughter found out her insurance would increase by more than $3,000 a year.

Instead of sitting dogs, she sat small pets instead. Many people have difficulty finding someone to watch animals such as guinea pigs, hamsters, lizards, and birds (although the large ones require special handling).

Reviewed February 2024

About the Author

Andrea Norris-McKnight took over as the editor of The Dollar Stretcher and After 50 Finances after working under the site founder and previous editor for almost 15 years. She has also written for,, and The Sacramento Bee.

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