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The concept of pet sitters isn't really new; rather it is just something that people did for each other without thinking about giving it a formal name. In the good old days when you went on vacation or had to leave your dog alone for the day you could always ask a nearby family member, a friend, or your trusty neighbor to come over and take care of things when you were away. In today's world it is rare that people have this level of comfort with their neighbors and in general most people don't want to impose on anyone else. Plus, of course, more and more people live in apartments or condos and are constantly facing new neighbors and new people within their complex all the time as old tenants move out and new move in.
Seniors, on the other hand, are often very familiar with the community and have been long time residences. Often seniors have moved from large homes with big yards to apartments or smaller living spaces that just make more sense. These smaller livings spaces, senior complexes and even assisted care homes can provide a bit of support to older adults that are otherwise very independent and capable. This often leaves a gap in an individual's life where pets are simply not present, however much the person wants them to be. While some of these facilities do allow pets, a great many don't. Seniors that are used to dogs, cats and other household pets may feel a real void in their life without animals, plus they may really miss spending time with four-legged friends.
Finally, many seniors miss having something to do and a bit of extra income from a part-time job. Most don't want to have a regular full time career but would enjoy a bit of extra cash plus an opportunity to be active and engaged in the community. Starting out with a little private business as a pet sitter may be the perfect match for seniors that find themselves in this situation.
Getting StartedPerhaps the greatest thing about starting a pet sitting business as a senior is that you don't have to have an office, a place of business or even any office supplies. Basically you will need a method of transportation, although if you are working within your own apartment complex or neighborhood this may not be a necessity either, as well as a phone that can be used for business and perhaps a computer and internet connection. If you want to advertise using very low cost methods setting up a website or even advertising online through Craigslist or other marketing websites may be an important consideration.
Keep in mind that word of mouth advertising is often the best, so by provided prompt, reliable and efficient service you may find you get all the referrals and customers that you need. Start by talking to friends and family members and let them know you are interested in pet sitting, and what services you offer. Some pet sitters will drop by and spend time with the dog; playing, feeding and providing water and attention. Other services may offer the options of having the pet sitter actually staying at the dog's home while the owner is on vacation. Typically with the live in arrangements the pet sitter may also have additional responsibilities such as watering plants, bringing in the mail or basic household maintenance. Of course there is also the added benefit of getting a chance to stay somewhere else for a few nights, which may be a perk in its own way.
Knowing what rate to charge for offering in home or daily pet sitting services is going to be somewhat a factor of where you live. You can always check the internet or call around to other pet sitters in your area that offer the service and find out what they charge. You can then set your price based on the market, or you can establish your own pricing if you are the first person opening this type of business.
Pet Sitting In Your Own HomeFor seniors living in their own home that don't want to have a dog but love a dog's company, offering pet sitting services in the house may be a good match. It is important to realize that some dogs, even if they are housetrained in their own home may react differently at yours, which may be an issue.
Another consideration is to carry some type of liability insurance if you are offering pet sitting services out of your home. This insurance would come into play if a dog was injured on your property or in your home. It would be important to talk to your insurance agent and local government business licensing agency to make sure you have all documentation and paperwork completed to avoid any possible problems.
TrainingFor those seniors that may wish to take specialized training such as pet first aid and other pet sitting related courses there are some great organizations to join. Pet Sitters International and the National Association of Pet Sitters provide professional level courses for pet sitters as well as certification options. For those people thinking of starting a larger sized business or hiring others to work for them, going the route of becoming certified can help in expanding and marketing your business.
Just To Help OutMany seniors would just enjoy the opportunity to help out a family member, neighbor or friend by caring for their dog over a holiday, vacation or while the person is at work. Seniors can benefit from having time to spend with a dog without having the responsibilities of everyday care for the canine. In addition the pet isn't left alone or shipped off to a boarding kennel.
If you are interested in becoming a pet sitter for profit, a bit of extra money or just to help out, the first step is in talking to people and finding out what is available in your area.
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