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Dog Sitting: My Two Month Review

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A couple of months ago, I announced that I'd be jumping a new gig - dog sitting. It was a no-brainer because dogs are awesome, they love me, and we have a perfect fenced set-up for it. Oh and I noticed that I could make around $30 a day per dog. As if that wasn't enough, the dogs will be good company for own dog.

It's responsibility, but think it is what some professional athletes think, "I get paid money to play games... life is good!" Unfortunately, dog sitting will not be making me quarterback money any time soon.

I'm on two dog sitting services, Rover.com and DogVacay.com. I prefer DogVacay as the interface is better and the rates for hosting seems to higher. Unfortunately, I seem to find every technical glitch with DogVacay. I got an anxious dog mommy a couple of weekends ago when the DogVacay app didn't send pictures as it claimed to have. Lesson learned: Still with good old MMS or uploading through the website.

The worst part was that their dog Vincent has been by far the most well-behaved we've had. It's not that the other dogs weren't well-behaved, but he was like a movie dog where he'd sit and ask for permission a paw wave before coming into your lap. After their stay, I wrote back that I'd give them a discount. I didn't get a response. Oh well, you can't please everyone.

Enough of that, let's get to some numbers:

How much can you expect to earn dog sitting?

This is going to vary greatly depending on how many reviews you have, how you set prices, and demand in your area. The person I take my dog to when I'm on vacation usually has 4-6 dogs there and her rates are higher because she has awesome ratings and sends pictures about every half hour. (Seriously, I once got at least 20 pictures in the first two hours.) Some of the dogs are her own, but if we just to estimate $40 by 4 dogs and account for a little vacancy, it can be $150 a day. That's more than $50,000 a year. It's a lot of work dealing with that many dogs, but it does have income replacement potential for the top sitters.

But I didn't title this a 2-month review to write about that person. I want to give my own data.

I have a spreadsheet that I set up. Record keeping is key. It has the dates the dog stayed, dog name, dog breed, age, owner information, vet information. I'm tempted to create a little database, just because it would be fun.

The thing I use the most though, is the money columns. I have what owners pay and what my cut is. The services take 15% for insurance and matchmaking. It automatically extends numbers based on the dates of the dogs' stay. I then let some Excel formula do their thing. The result gives the following information:

  • I've netted (including booked) $976.65 through the end of October.
  • In September it was $15.27 per day due to a popular Labor Day with multiple dogs (and a lot of days with no dogs).
  • In October it is $10.97 per day. For some reason, Rover has come up big for me this month.
  • Annually, I am on a pace to net $4,193.85 or around $350 a month.

I think that $350 a month is the number I want to focus on. If that average holds up over the long term, it's like eliminating a car payment. That's not chump change by a long-shot.

Much of my personal finance situation this year has stayed the course. I think I'm going to add a projected dog-sitting income to my annual $200,000 in retirement income next year. I'll probably be conservative and put it at $2,500 in case we travel more in retirement. In either case, it feels good to add another diversified income. Every little bit helps.

Posted on October 14, 2015.

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