A pet sitter can be a godsend for a dedicated pet parent, but many people are shocked by the cost of pet sitters or are unsure of how much to pay. The exact amount you're charged varies substantially with geographic location, the number of pets you have and the unique needs of your pets. While everyone is tempted to get a good deal with a sitter, it's generally safest to choose an experienced sitter who has made pet sitting her career. This makes it more likely that your sitter will be equipped to deal with any problems that arise and will provide excellent care to your pet.
Daily or Hourly?
If your pet sitter is coming to your house, you will likely pay an hourly rate. At minimum, this rate should include travel time and time spent at the house, and should be no less than your state's minimum wage. Most traveling pet sitters charge anywhere from $10 to $30 per hour, depending on their level of experience. Alternatively, you can have your pets stay with your pet sitter. Generally, your sitter will charge you a daily rate similar to that of local boarding kennels, which may range from $20 to $150 a day. Experienced pet sitters and kennels will frequently charge closer to $150, while neighbors and teenagers are more likely to charge close to $20. Sitters who stay at your house may charge slightly more than this daily range because they must stay in an unfamiliar home, and you can generally expect to pay them $40 to $150 a day.
The amount of work your sitter has to do can vary greatly depending on how many pets you have, how well-behaved they are and how healthy they are. If you have rowdy or aggressive dogs, expect to pay more. Similarly, if your animals need medication, frequent walks or training sessions, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $20 extra per hour. If you have multiple pets, or caring for your pets is particularly challenging -- such as a snake who must eat live food -- you can also expect to pay more. If, however, you have a single well-behaved animal who only requires minimal attention, hiring a neighborhood teenager may be your best bet because she will charge less and will not need to draw on a lot of experience when dealing with your pet.
There is a huge continuum of experience among pet sitters. Some may be local kids, while others may own large boarding businesses with an entire staff of veterinarians and animal trainers. Expect to pay more for more experience. While the cost can be surprising, keep in mind that you're paying for peace of mind. Pet sitters with liability insurance can be especially expensive. However, should your dog harm someone while in the sitter's care, it is likely that you will not be liable. Similarly, if your dog is injured by the sitter, the insurance will probably pick up the bill.
Your specific location may also affect the cost of pet sitters. Rural areas are typically less expensive while large metro areas can be double or triple the price. The location of your home may also affect the price of a pet sitter. If she has to drive a long way or fight traffic to get to your house, expect to be charged more. Some pet sitters offer discounts for extended vacations or offer bulk rates for more than one animal.
- The Dog Walker and Pet Sitter Bible; Josh Schermer
- walking the dog image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com