When you have to be away from home for any reason, it’s convenient to be able to pay someone else to look after your pets at home rather than having to relocate them to kennels. Many people make use of teenagers in their communities to do this job, which raises the question of how much they should be paid.
On average, teenage pet sitters can charge around $15 per day. Staying at your home or any other additional tasks will raise this figure. The price of pet sitting varies considerably depending on how many visits per day are required, how many pets are involved, whether they need to be exercised, and what additional responsibilities are expected.
This article will explore what dog sitting should and shouldn’t include and what reasonable expectations are for this role. We’ll also explore the difference between teenage dog sitters and professionals.
Professional vs. Teenage Pay Rates
Dog sitting is an extremely useful service, and the formal dog sitting market has grown considerably. As such, there are industry standards and norms that are applied to professional dog sitters as well as insurance and other requirements.
Understandably, hiring a professional dog sitter will be more expensive than hiring the teenager next door.
Professional sitters are not permitted to collectively discuss pricing to prevent any price-fixing. However, 2021 survey data from Professional Sitters International (PSI) shows that the average cost of pet sitting in the US is $20.71 for 30 minutes (source).
These rates reflect national averages and are obviously significantly higher in certain urban areas and lower in others.
The advantage of paying the teenager on your street rather than a professional is that it will cost you significantly less. Most teenagers seem to be paid $10–$20 per day, depending on the area. If the teen lives close to you, this could include multiple visits a day and is a very good value.
If you require the teen to stay overnight, the rate should be more and could be negotiated between you. It’s best to get indications from other residents what the going rate in your area is because they vary dramatically depending on where you live.
What Does a Dog Sitter Do?
A dog sitter will either stay at the dog’s home or visit daily to carry out basic tasks to care for your pet. This could include the following:
- Give food and water
- Take pet outdoors
- Provide company & exercise
- Check bedding
- Dispense medication
- Pick up pet droppings
Pet sitters generally visit their clients’ homes once or twice a day to perform these duties. Should you require more visits or for the dog sitter to stay in your home, then the fee will obviously increase.
Sometimes pet sitters are also asked to perform small tasks for the homeowner, such as collecting mail, taking out the trash, or watering plants.
Other factors that should be considered and could increase the dog sitter’s fee include the following:
- How many dogs are being cared for?
- How far does the dog sitter need to travel?
- What age are your dogs, especially if very young or very old?
- How many feedings/visits are required per day?
- Do dogs need to be walked?
- Do dogs need grooming?
- Do dogs need trips to the vet?
Advantages of Dog Sitting
Pet sitting has been growing in popularity in recent years as many people choose to have their animals cared for in their own homes rather than taking them to a kennel or boarding establishment.
There are many advantages to this as most animals are far happier in their familiar environment and experience less stress at their owner’s departure.
It also allows for their routines to continue largely unchanged and for their food and exercise needs to be consistently met. It also eliminates the need for travel, which can be enormously stressful for both pets and owners (source).
Finally, keeping animals in their home environment reduces their exposure to illness, which is often a risk when going to venues where multiple dogs are housed together.
Choosing a Dog Sitter
It’s important that you choose the right person to care for your pet while you are away. Not only are they caring for your animal, but they will also have access to your home, so you should be comfortable that they are trustworthy.
The best place to start is recommendations from other pet owners that you know and trust. To guarantee peace of mind during your time away, you should make sure to consider the following pointers.
You must be very clear on what tasks you expect to be performed so that the pet sitter can advise how long they will need to stay in your home and how many visits will be required. Let them know if you expect to receive updates and how often these should be.
Let the sitter know any concerns you may have about your pet so that they can be well prepared. For example, if your pup is terrified during thunderstorms or may get hyper if he doesn’t get enough exercise, it’s important to make sure the sitter knows upfront.
This is obviously easier when dealing with professional sitters but, even with a local teenager, it is advisable to speak to other clients they have worked for and to get a sense of their work ethic.
Meet Them Before You Leave
It’s advisable to meet up well before your departure so you can see how they respond around your pet. This connection is especially important if your dog has any behavioral issues and could react to a particular person (source). It also gives the potential pet sitter the opportunity to meet your pet and assess their own level of comfort.
This meeting is also a good opportunity to show them around your home so that they know where important items such as food, leashes, toys, and medication are located. You can also demonstrate routines that your pet may expect and show them anything in the house that may be necessary, such as alarm systems.
Make sure you’ve asked all the important questions such as what the backup plan is if they are sick or can’t make it to your house and how they should deal with a sick or injured animal. Let them know if you expect daily updates, photographs, etc. so that expectations are clear.
Also, make sure you discuss payment in detail so that everyone knows what to expect.
Setting up for a Pet Sitter
It’s also crucial that you are prepared before the pet sitter arrives. You should ensure that the sitter knows where you’ll be and how to contact you and has access to any emergency contacts should you be unavailable. These should include your dog’s veterinarian as well as another contact person who stays nearby (source).
You should also write out clear instructions regarding feeding, administering medication, or any other details so that your dog sitter has something to refer to in case of need. You could also let a trusted neighbor know that you are away so that they can be aware if any unexpected issues arise.
While you are away, it’s essential to check in regularly with your dog sitter if possible to ensure that everything is running smoothly. You could even arrange to communicate in real-time so that you can see your dog’s face for yourself!
Overnight Pet Sitting
Dogs, in particular, are highly social animals, and they need regular company and attention. They usually get most of their stimulation in the evenings when families are home and have time to spend with them. Having a teenage pet sitter stay in your home offers the added bonus of extra time spent with your dogs as well as the extra security of someone being in your home.
Some dogs may not be able to cope alone for hours on end between visits from a dog sitter. You should think about what will be best for your dog when deciding what care your pet will need while you are away. For further information on this topic, read “How to Leave a Dog Alone for 12 Hours.”
If you are considering having someone stay in your home with your pet, then you may need to pay somewhat more for the convenience of having them on call. You will also have to clarify details around what time they leave in the morning and get home at night, as well as whether you provide food or not.
This may be an option for an older teenager whose family lives nearby. If you are considering this, make sure you also speak to the teen’s parents and are confident that they are happy with the arrangements.
Dog sitters are indispensable if you want to go away and have your pets cared for at home. If you have access to a local teenager who can responsibly provide this service, then it will be a more cost-effective solution than using a professional.
However, you should ensure that you both know exactly what to expect and that there are plans in place if something goes wrong.
It’s also important that you pay fairly, and it’s worth speaking to friends and neighbors to find out average rates in your area. It’s a good idea to tip if the job is done well because that could lay the foundation for a mutually rewarding pet-sitting relationship going forward.