Start a Business Dog Sitting With Rover
Everyone wants to run a business and live on their own terms.
Almost everyone likes to hang out with pets.
Before the internet, your efforts to combine the two could’ve created a comfortable stream of pocket money in the form of watching your neighbors’ dogs.
But now you can start a dog sitting business that grows beyond caring for the next door neighbor’s pooch while they’re on vacation, thanks to a website called Rover.
You could start a business dog sitting with Rover today. Before you launch your dog sitting pursuit, though, you’ll want a bit of background.
Read the rest of this article for a primer on dog sitting on Rover.
What is Rover?
Rover is an online marketplace that facilitates the buying and selling of pet sitting services. It arose in 2011 when the idea behind Rover was proposed at a tech startup event called Startup Weekend.
Two tech industry veterans named Greg Gottesman and Aaron Easterly took the idea and ran with it, growing Rover into the massive online pet-sitting marketplace it is today.
How Does Rover Work?
Rover helps bring pet owners and pet sitters together for safe, fast exchange of pet sitting services. Once you join, you’re connected to a huge network of pet owners in need of pet sitting services.
To start on Rover, you need to create an account and submit a formal application. Be warned: their selection process is strict to ensure only the highest-quality individuals are allowed to care for others’ furry friends.
In fact, they only accept about a third of their applicants.
One way to boost your chances is to use references. If you’ve watched the neighbor’s dogs before, ask them to put in a good word on your application.
Your Account And Client Acquisition
As a sitter, you get to set your own rates and availability. Whether you have a few hours on the weekends or you want to make this your full-time gig, Rover lets you do either!
Don’t forget about the rest of your profile, though. Sitters should upload photos of themselves and/or their families, specify if they have any pets of their own, and inform the owners of the area where their dog will be living.
And of course, you get to define which types of pets you’ll watch. You can use this to narrow down to a particular type of breed if you’d like. For example, if you’re not an outgoing, energetic person, you could mention that you only sit for certain breeds that are more relaxed.
Now, it’s vital to fill out your account as much as possible; it’s also quite important for everything to be extremely clear.
Why is that?
Unlike other online marketplaces, Rover doesn’t let you reach out to clients. You wait until they find your polished profile; they’ll message you if interested.
This might seem inefficient at first.
But think about this: if they’re contacting your first, you’re more likely to land them as a client than if you spammed out 300 proposals.
How Much Can You Earn Dog Sitting on Rover?
Your earning potential dog sitting on Rover varies depending on your time, skills, experience, and how you sell yourself.
Since you get to set your own rates as well, it’s pretty much up to you.
Within reason, of course.
All that being said, one of Rover’s former directors of operations said that part-time (2-3 dogs for 2 weeks a month) Rover dog sitters average about $1,000 per month. Full-timers (2-3 dogs for 4 weeks a month) average about $3,300.
Do keep in mind that you’ll be paying a 20% service fee to Rover on all of those earnings. Frustrating, maybe, but it’s a fair price to pay for access to thousands of dog owners willing to pay you.
Dog sitting is not the best method for getting rich, as you can now see.
But who’s going to complain about getting paid any money to hang out with dogs all day, let alone thousands of dollars?
Thing You’ll Need
Before you take care of people’s pets for pay, there’re a few things you should buy.
If you could only pick one item to buy for your dog sitting business, it should be a leash. Without the leash, you can’t take the dog anywhere.
Simply opening the door is a bit riskier if the dog doesn’t have a leash.
Of course, you’ll also need the leash to take the dog out for exercise, fresh air, or a bathroom break.
Most dog owners have a few toys already. Still, it’s better to be safe and invest in a few dog toys of your own.
As a nice bonus, a dog owner might look more favorably upon you as a candidate to watch their dog. Having toys shows preparation, implying that you’ll take your role seriously.
Even the laziest of dog breeds need their fresh air every once in a while.
If both you and your client live somewhere without a backyard, such as an apartment in the city, you could take the dog to a dog park, preferably one that’s not busy. As long as you keep a firm grip on the leash, the dog can get the fresh air and exercise it needs to stay healthy.
Waste Disposal Items
While you’re taking your clients’ dogs to the backyard for some fresh air, they’ll inevitably need to use the bathroom. To prepare for this, you’ll just need a scooper of some sort and some plastic bags.
If you want to get fancy, you could buy dedicated waste disposal bags as well. Could make for a larger write-off (see the taxes section below).
The Business Side of Things
As a dog sitter, you’re running a businesses. There are a few things that any business, including your’s, must be aware of.
If you’ve ever worked a job, you’re already used to Uncle Sam taking a cut of your paycheck in taxes.
Running a business is a little different. There’s no payroll system to automatically deduct taxes from your pay.
You’re in charge of everything; recording your income, tracking your expenses, and actually paying your taxes.
Recording your income somewhere secure and organized will make paying quarterly taxes and filing your yearly returns much easier. Hold on to any documentation as well (emails, paper checks, payment confirmations). The more documentation, the better in case the IRS ever audits you.
Managing your finances and taxes as a business owner is more work than as an employee, but you do get to write off expenses incurred during the course of business. These write-offs will lower your tax bill come tax season.
Common expenses a dog sitter could write off include
- Supplies – leash, waste disposal tools, toys, etc.
- Distance driven to client home – Check the IRS website for their mileage rate.
- Education – You could raise your rates by learning how to train or groom dogs. If you take classes or read to learn these things, you might be able to write part of them off.
The IRS website contains basically every tax write-off you could think of, so head there for more info.
If you’re serious about expanding your business, purchase some bookkeeping software. Some, like Quickbooks, will actually calculate your quarterly payment based on your total business income and expenses recorded in the software.
Paying Your Taxes
As a business owner/self-employed person, the IRS requires you to make estimated quarterly tax payments. You’re supposed to estimate your income for the year, split that number into 4 equal payments, then send that amount to the IRS on the the 15th (or surrounding days if weekend or holiday) of the following months:
- April (For January – March)
- June (For April – May)
- September (For June – August)
- January (For September – December)
Ideally, you’ll neither owe nor be owed any taxes or tax refunds.
Of course, predicting your entire year’s worth of income and your exact tax situation is next to impossible, so you’re almost 100% likely to either overpay or underpay.
Underpayment can lead the IRS to fine you on top of the extra taxes you still owe. Overpaying by a similar amount is therefore safer because although you lose out a bit from a time value of money standpoint, you’re at least getting your money back without penalty.
Set aside 30% of your income for taxes to be safe.
Dog sitting is a bit risky. The dog could run away, break something, hurt themselves, or hurt someone else/another pet.
Insurance will come in handy here. Without it, any of these events could lead to you having to dissolve your business and even become personally liable for damages if you don’t have a business license.
Insurance policies will also help with client acquisition. It shows that you’re serious about your business and you’re willing to take responsibility for anything that goes wrong.