I’ve covered the nuts and bolts of pet sitting rates and more things that are factored into the cost of pet sitting, but here is yet another popular question my furry crew, my colleagues, and I have to field:
Are pet sitting rates flexible?
The short answer: yes and no.
It depends on your situation. You may need overnights or live-in stays for a period of time, while you need only dog walking or hourly visit at other times or a combination of all of them. Pet sitters offer different packages and tiers to suit those occasions.
However, due to the exclusive nature of professional pet sitting in your home, expect to pay full price to compensate for limited availability. Sitters reserve a good block of time in their schedule to ensure that your pets and your home are best taken care of. Solo sitters like me in particular can only be in one place at a time. In addition, a slot can’t be easily replaced in the event of cancellation, especially in extended stay, overnight, or live-in arrangements.
Pet sitting in your home is the best all-inclusive option out there at a premium, but if you still insist on getting the lowest rates or even freebies, here are a few suggestions:
International house sitting platforms
- Here’s a list of several house sitting platforms or online directories where you can find experienced, responsible globetrotting professionals and retirees who pet sit and house sit mostly for free or occasionally for a small fee in exchange for your accommodation. Travelers get to skip expensive hotel rates and experience total immersion in the authentic local scene while you save a bundle on pet care and housekeeping. International house sitters are known to leave gifts or prepare a home-cooked meal upon your return as a token of gratitude. With these clear advantages, it’s no wonder that international house sitting has become a very popular arrangement nowadays. This is my number-one recommendation for maximum savings and peace of mind at the same time.
- Homeowners post their availability for free on the platforms. House sitters are often charged for membership there to apply for posted assignments.
- For long-term sitting lasting for weeks or months, you may even ask sitters to help out with the cost of utilities.
- You’re much more likely to get house sitters quickly if you live in a tourist town or a major metro area. However, if you live in a small town like mine, you may find travelers who are willing to come your way. A number of them prefer to go off the beaten path, while some of them simply have grown tired of popular tourist destinations. It wouldn’t hurt to let international sitters know about your availability while continuing to look for local sitters just in case.
- International house sitting is not a last-minute solution for pet care. There’s a good amount of prep work involved. You should post far enough in advance to give travelers ample time to plan their trip, prepare for a video interview with you, and draft a contract with you.
- You must ensure that your home is tidy and in good working order for your sitter.
- Be willing to have the sitter spend the night with you before your departure date to get to know each other better and to familiarize the sitter with the home routine and the locale.
- A good number of sitters prefer long-term stays. Some accept short-term assignments, so be sure to check with them first. Some may not be comfortable with paying utilities and rightfully so since they provide extensive care of your household. Come up with an arrangement that all parties can agree on.
- Since boarding facilities can accommodate multiple pets and little or no travel time and expenses are required of pet care providers in this setting, you get a considerably lower “bulk” rate. Your pet also gets playtime with other pets as part of boarding or daycare packages, making it a very good choice for puppies and active dog breeds.
- It’s also easier to board because of more available slots and more staff members in the case of commercial boarding and pet sitting companies with employees.
- No appointment is necessary to tour most commercial boarding facilities.
- If you have a pet with health issues, veterinary boarding provides medical supervision and medication administration to put your mind at ease.
- If you’re squeamish about having people visit or stay at your place, boarding is a practical choice for you.
- Immunization is required for commercial boarding facilities, so boarding is not advisable for pets with autoimmune disorders that contraindicate vaccination. Some commercial boarding kennels and professional sitters who also offer boarding in their homes may accept titers instead.
- Most commercial and residential boarding facilities only accept dogs and cats. Some do accept caged, small exotics.
- There’s always the risk of your pets contracting diseases from other animals in the facility.
- Pets may not get along with each other. Trial stay or visit is recommended.
- As creatures of habit, pets, especially cats, generally don’t do well in strange places—with cages, no less! Pets with separation anxiety do best at home.
- Quality of commercial and residential boarding facilities wildly varies, so do your homework.
- Unlike the convenience of around-the-clock access to your home if/when a sitter cares for your pet there, you can only drop off and pick up your pet at specified business hours. You also run into a hassle of making additional arrangements for home checks and housekeeping duties.
- A deluxe cage-free boarding space with all the bells and whistles resembling a hotel or a residential environment is considerably more expensive than an overnight or live-in pet sitting in your home. With the same price tag (or less) of premium boarding, you also get security checks and light housekeeping services for pet sitting in your home.
Caregiving directory and sharing economy sites
- If you need pet sitting in a pinch, posting on sites such as Care.com, Sittercity, Rover.com, and DogVacay is a quick solution.
- Posting on Rover.com and DogVacay is free for both pet care seekers and sitters.
- You must pony up some cash to set up an account to post a request for pet care on Care.com and Sittercity.
- Bargain-basement prices are often listed on these sites, so you’re more likely to find kid-next-door types and young adults who may lack maturity—not the kinds you want to go for! Young people should practice taking care of their own family pets first before taking on responsibilities in other households. As minors have limited ability to enter into a contract and make good judgment calls, parental supervision is necessary in case they do take up pet sitting jobs. This may complicate matters as you have to deal with more people in your pet sitting arrangement.
- People generally have no incentive to do a good job when there’s little compensation involved. You get what you pay for. There has to be a fair exchange of energy. Be sure to scout for mature professionals by perusing caregiver profiles carefully. Yes, those folks do exist there!
Friends, family, and neighbors
- Obviously, it’s easy to reach out to them, especially if you have friends and relatives living nearby! If you have a very good, trusting relationship with them, a pet sitting arrangement may work well.
- Nextdoor, a free, private social network, is an easy way to find free or low-cost pet care in your neighborhood.
- At the time of writing, a new startup called Dogma, a pay-it-forward sharing community of free and paid sitters, is an alternative worth trying. You and your neighbor may choose to pet sit for each other at no charge or you can hire a sitter in your neighborhood.
- Quality of care can’t be guaranteed or predicted. Choose your person very carefully. This option should be a very last resort if you’ve exhausted all others or if your regular sitter can’t complete the assignment for good reasons.
- Remember that caring for your pets and home is a huge imposition on others. Asking them for favors too often may cause resentment, so be prepared to make some investment. Give them gift cards or take them out to eat to show your appreciation.
The final word
Now that you have enough information to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of different pet sitting arrangements, you should be well informed to make your decision in choosing the best one for your specific situation. Here’s hoping you’ll find an experienced sitter within your budget!
If you feel so inclined, feel free to drop me a line, and I shall get right into it!