26 December 2015

How to earn money dog sitting and what can go wrong

I am going to write about my experience sitting other people's dogs so that you can learn from it and not make the same mistakes.

Contrary to what it seems, dog sitting can be difficult and dangerous, it will not be easy money, that was my first mistake, thinking that a dog of whom I know nothing about is going to quickly adapt to a new home and a new owner.

I am currently registered with two websites offering services to dog owners in various European countries. Gudog.com and DogBuddy.com, they are both free to register with.

To set reasonable fees, I looked up on the website what my competitors charge around the area I live in and I priced myself slightly below. The most popular service has been dog sitting, I have not had a single dog walking demand.

If you are thinking about building your own website to cut the middle man, it will not work, you don't have the promotional means to attract traffic like big dog sitting platforms do and dog owners need the reassurance of an escrow service, you only get paid after the service, plus those platforms accept credit cards and Paypal.

My dog sitting has been all around Christmas Season and Summer, I have had to turn down customers because they all wanted to book the same dates and the rest of the year I went without a single booking. Money wise, you will not earn a full time living because it is a seasonal business, unless you get lucky and find a customer that travels a lot.

Dog black eye during dog fight
Dog black eye during dog fight
I have explained the beautiful theory, now I will tell you about the real deal...

 If somebody brings you a well behaved dog, it is very easy money, but if they bring you a dog that pees everywhere, feels anxious and bites your pillows or attacks your own dog, it is not worth it, and more often than not you will have misbehaved dogs.

Two days ago the dog I was sitting, a Great Dane, attacked Away, they had a stupid fight over who would get my attention. As you probably know, Great Danes are huge and strong, it does not take too much for him to kill another dog if he wants to, there can be no mistakes here.

My experience is that it is extremely hard to get a new dog and your own dog to get along well, the main problem is having your dog accept that somebody new is going to share the home with him and to get their energy levels right.

 My dog is quiet as a mouse but the other one is younger and he has lots of energy, that is a clash in motion there. If one of the dog becomes protective of the owner, the other wants to be top dog, they will not share toys or all the above, you are in deep trouble. It is difficult to match dogs characters and if they are the same gender even worse. It can be done, but not in the typical three or four days people normally book for, it needs more time.

This week I earned €100 looking after one dog, how much do you think I am going to have to spend taking my dog to the vet? What about the stress of knowing that a dog fight can break any time? What about the risk of getting bitten yourself breaking up a dog fight in between two big dogs inside a small flat? Price of broken furniture anybody?

Really, think about it very thoroughly before you dog sit at home.

You will also have to deal with time wasters, I had one person contacting me to ask for a discount to look after her dog for a SINGLE DAY, and another woman calling me to ask all kind of questions, which is perfectly fine, but after confirming the booking by phone then she decided at the last minute not to book

It all adds up, I value my time, that is like three hours wasted answering questions so that I can perhaps earn €50 for three days of work. And add the time you spend explaining new customers how to get to your home and basic rules. If the customer can't park near where you live, get ready to go and wait for them.

German shepherd dog with black eye after a fight
German shepherd dog with black eye after a fight
Now, I understand why many dog sitters refuse to have dogs overnight and they only work as daycare or dog walkers, those are safer options.

Perhaps you will get lucky, all I can tell is my experience of a full year of dog sitting and looking back, for the little money you earn, the risk you run and all of the problems you have, think about it, this is not easy money. My dog Away could have lost an eye in this fight and I am going to have to spend all I earned at the vet. It feels like working for nothing

 What I learned from this experience is that I will only have overnight dogs if I trust them, before accepting the booking of a big dog over the Internet, I will ask for a trial daycare at home before a full stay.

I can't risk again a situation like this, it is bad for me, for my dog and for the dog I am looking after, nobody wins. It pays not to get greedy and using your common sense, otherwise you lose. By the way, the pictures don't show the full extent of the injuries, I wiped out blood from Away's chin.

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