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Old 27.08.2019, 19:56
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Pet sitting/dog walking

Hello,
I am looking for some advice.
I want to do pet sitting, dog walking, and things like that, and I would like to know what the going rate is for that? Also where would be the best places to advertise?
Any advice or tips would be great.

Thank you
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Old 27.08.2019, 20:10
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Re: Pet sitting/dog walking

Hello, and welcome to the forum.

For advice and tips, including some perspectives on what the job entaials, and mention of qualifications and insurance for pet-sitting, you might like to have a look at this thread here:
https://www.englishforum.ch/pet-corn...ing-costs.html

Also, if you scroll right down the bottom of the page, you'll see that the forum offers you several threads which may be related to whichever thread you're currently reading.
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Old 27.08.2019, 23:11
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Re: Pet sitting/dog walking

Just to clarify, the law has changed since that post in 2011. Dog law is a moving target, changes happen as society's attitudes and political expediency change. So, always go to the three current sources: The BLV, that is the federal Veterinäramt, your cantonal Veterinäramt, and your local Gemeinde regulations.

The SKN classes, the certification referred to in that thread which was previously required for both owners and casual dog sitters, have been abolished. (Much to the regret of many of us in the canine community, but that's another thread...)

Currently the qualification/certification regs are:

A sitter caring for up to 5 dogs does not need classes or registration.

A sitter caring for 6-19 dogs needs the FBA course/certificate, and must be registered with the cantonal Veterinäramt.

A sitter caring for 20+ dogs needs the Eid. Tierpfleger diploma, and registration with the cantonal Veterinäramt.

----

That said, even if the law does not require you to take courses it would be a very good idea to do so. Both for your own knowledge to better care for your charges, and to increase your competitiveness. I have interviewed many sitters, and have to say I am shocked at the lack of basic skill, experience and even interest some pet carers have. You are not a trainer, obviously, no one would expect that. But every interaction with a dog is a training event by default, so a sitter should at least be fairly well versed in the basics. You should also have basic first aid competency. And you must know applicable federal, cantonal, and local regulations. Classes will give you all that information.

As well as introduce you to potential clients.


How much you can charge depends on local market factors, your target customer, and what you are able to offer. Some factors that might affect what you can charge:

First, are you set up as a business, or do you wish to work as an employee? Obviously the former will command higher fees. Some owners prefer a pet carer who runs a business, not only because it relieves them of the hassles of employer/employee relationship, but more importantly because it shows that you are serious, you have ’skin in the game’ and so are more likely to be reliable and responsible.

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Think about your competition:

If you live in an area where there are few pet carers, you might be able charge more than, say, in a large city where there are many casual sitters/walkers vying for the same customer base.

If you limit your clientele to small, 'easy’, healthy, perfectly socialized dogs you cannot charge as much as pet carers who are willing to take on more challenging dogs. Most sitters will only care for perfect dogs, hence you would need to offer competitive rates to get this slice of the market.

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Then think of the kind of service you can offer:

If you walk many unrelated dogs at a time, you cannot charge as much per walk as you could if you limited the walk to one dog or one family's dogs, as you will not be giving each client’s dog your sole attention. Be aware that some cantons and Gemeine limit the number of dogs that can be walked at a time.

If you have your own dog along on the walk, you cannot charge as much as if your attention was solely devoted to the client's dogs. Also be aware that if you have your own dogs you are limiting your client base to dogs who get along with yours.

---

There is a great need for holiday care, but fewer pet carers offer this. Here what you can charge depends of what you offer. BTW, most clients prefer a per day charge for this kind of care.

If you offer care in your home your time will not be devoted to caring for the dog, so what your clients are willing to pay will reflect that. If you take in multiple unrelated dogs, if you have a dog of your own, if you have children, you are also limiting your client base. Taking dogs into your home means you must have a suitable secure home. If there is a garden it should be securely fenced in. If you rent, you likely will need your landlord’s permission. If you own, you need to consider neighborhood sentiment.

If you offer care in the client's home, that is moving in to the client's house including staying overnight, and caring only for the client’s dog, you can charge premium rates. This is an easier start-up as well, as the client’s home is already set up to properly and securely care for the dogs, you do not need further investment. There is more demand than supply for this service, if you are flexible you could do well with this model.



In all of the above options, if you are able to care for 'special needs' dogs - those with either medical or behavioral issues, you likely could charge towards the higher end of the scale. There are very few pet carers who are truly capable of providing this kind of care, and owners of these dogs know that the truly qualified sitter is worth his or her weight in gold.



Whatever model you choose, you need to think about liability and insurance. You need to understand what liability remains with the client, and what liability you take on. Once you have decided on a model, call your insurer and discuss your plans. The insurer should be able to tell you what kind of policy you need to carry. Be aware you might need a separate auto liability policy if you are going to transport clients' dogs.



If you take on unrelated dogs at the same time, you are setting yourself up for increased liability. You need to be quite skilled to do this, you need to be able to assess compatibility and have a physical layout that allows for safe separation if needed. You need to have full agreement of your clients. Consult a legal advisor as well as your insurer if you plan to go this route.

---

If you do not drive and own a car, how will you get an ill or injured dog quickly to the emergency vet? You need to have a plan in place.

---

And speaking of medical emergencies, you need a contract with your clients as to how an emergency should be handled. Consider finances, granting and limiting authority to make decisions, etc.

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So with all those options in mind, here are some rough ball-park price ranges:

Dog walking, per hour: CHF 15-30. Be aware that every client wants a walk mid day, few will want walks early or late in the day. So your earning potential is limited to a few hours per day.
Dog holiday care, in your own home: CHF 50-100 per day.
Dog care in the client’s home, including staying overnight: CHF 200 and upwards per day.

---

To get started, Petsitting24 is likely the most visible platform. It’s free for pet carers, owners need to pay a membership fee to contact you. Take some time and browse the site, see what other sitters have written in their profiles. You will see everything from the clueless to the professional.

Locally, go where the dog owners go:

Do local dog training schools or Hundeverein allow advertising? Do the local vet practices? If so, drop off business cards.

The big box pet stores (Fressnapf, Qualipet) have bulletin boards or pet services tables. Make a flyer, include your business cards.

Casting your net wider, does your Gemeinde website or newsletter feature local businesses? If so, advertise there. Do local churches, local clubs have a newsletter? If so, advertise there if possible.

---

Lastly - dog care is all about earning trust. You need to think about how you present yourself to the owner, how you convey your skill, experience, sense of responsibility and reliability. This should be a given… but you would be surprised at how poorly many of the sitters I have interviewed have presented themselves. Approach a discussion with an owner with the same seriousness you would of any job interview.


Just some random thoughts. If you have further questions, ask away.

All the best with your new venture!
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Old 28.08.2019, 22:04
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Re: Pet sitting/dog walking

Excellent advice, meloncollie!

I'd like to add this:
  1. start small and gain experience
  2. for the case of emergencies, ask the client to supply you with a list of everyone's phone numbers (client, vet, alternative vet, other adults the dog knows well, such a friendly neighbour or dog-trainer, or relatives or friends of the owners, etc.) and keep this list on you, both already pre-programmed into your phone AND on paper
  3. collect reference from satisfied clients
  4. at the end of each assignment, ask the client for anything they would have preferred you do to differently, so you can know this for next time
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