How Much Should You Pay a Pet Sitter?

How much to pet sit for this "pack of wolves?" Gabby's trying to come up with a number.  (Waiting patiently to come in as they are in and out all day long)
How much to pet sit for this "pack of wolves?" Gabby's trying to come up with a number. (Waiting patiently to come in as they are in and out all day long) | Source

Paying for Pet Sitters

Anyone who knows me knows that my dogs are like family to me. That being said, if I'm not going to be available, which is rare, I want to know first and foremost that my dogs are being taken care of.

However, in a very tight economy, everyone's looking for the best prices on everything--or at the very least how to save money.

One thing that isn't suffering in the economy much though is how we spend money on our pets. While people are cutting corners left and right, our precious cats and dogs (among other pets) seem to be weathering the economic storms pretty well.

But if you're a shrewd person when it comes to money, you'll want to know what the bottom line is when it comes to paying someone to sit for your best friend.

As in most things these days there are many things to consider about not only how much you're going to pay for a pet sitter (is it reasonable or outrageous), but what will you be getting for your hard-earned dough.

What's a Pet Sitter's Wages Based On?

The most important information you'll have to have at hand when figuring out how much a pet sitter will cost you is what he or she will actually be doing.

This definitely matters as most pet sitters charge more for certain tasks than others.

For instance:

  • How far is from their place of business to your home?
  • Will the pet sitter be staying or visiting x times per day?
  • If visiting, how many times per day? (and this adds up fast)
  • How many pets do you have?
  • What kind of pets do you have? Obviously cats are a little easier to sit than dogs but horses are also high maintenance like dogs
  • What are the ages of the pets?
  • Are there medications involved?
  • Number of feedings per day is really important--and if the food is homemade--or special diets--add on more cost
  • Will there be exercising involved? How many pets will need to be exercised?
  • Other "chores" such as playing with the pets, bringing in the mail, picking up pet droppings, cleaning up messes--these things all usually cost extra
  • Grooming of any kind will also be added into the cost
  • Any trips to the vet will cost extra as well
  • What is the pet sitter's age? If you're hiring a teenager to pet sit for you, you'll probably get off way cheaper than hiring a professional service

While my daughter's puggle Molly is 1/4 the size of my dogs---she requires extreme exercise so pet sitting is relative.
While my daughter's puggle Molly is 1/4 the size of my dogs---she requires extreme exercise so pet sitting is relative.

Pet Sitter Pricing

As we can see, pet sitters base their pricing on many factors. Here are some good points to make about pet sitting and pricing.

Most often for dogs, pet sitters will either come and stay at the residence or they will come at least 2 times per day.

For cats and other animals, usually a pet sitter can get by with 1 time per day or even longer depending on if the pets are indoor or outdoor.

Some pet sitters base their fees on 15 or 30 minute increments and this can equate out to $10 to $20 per hour. However, if you calculate the per hour rate on the one facility below, they make quite a bit more than $20 per hour.

Mind you this is not in an affluent area, but Central Oregon is totally pet/dog friendly which means that folks are willing to spend more to keep their pets healthy and happy.

You can also see that if you have someone coming multiple times per day or performing multiple tasks, it can add up in dollars very quickly.

With the price of gas being astronomical, many pet sitters have started also charging a fuel cost for making multiple trips--or even single trips (see below).

For many reasons, sometimes having someone be a "live-in" pet sitter/housesitter is the better option. Especially if you have multiple pets and/or you have very social pets such as our 3 malamutes. They could no more be left alone to their own devices for an entire day than fly to the moon. They could..but it would be a disaster when we returned--if they were still in the yard!

Some dogs (like ours) have no kennels and are used to being inside/outside dogs all day long. You have to remember that when you're gone, your pets will accept "business as usual."

Walking pets costs extra because of the time involved and the additional risk. Some pet sitters won't feel comfortable even attempting it because they don't know the neighborhood or the dog well enough to know if there are any hidden dangers.

Think what would happen if they took Fido for a stroll and he bolted because he got scared by a neighbor's bullying dog? Lots of stress for everyone--and pity the dog sitter who has to call the owner and say "I lost your dog."

If you are having someone house sit/pet sit don't try to get them to clean your house while they're there. It's reasonable to expect them to leave the house the way they found it. Sometimes even providing a well stocked fridge is a great tradeoff and can lower your pet sitting price a little--especially if they happen to love your dogs or your pets! Just don't try to get them to mow the lawn or wash the car unless you've worked this all out with them ahead of time and it's part of the "package."

You have to consider the WHY for getting a pet sitter and then don't go to cheap mode. You want what's best for your dog--it's not a time to negotiate more out of the situation or get something for nothing.

Most housesitters and pet sitters don't mind taking the trash out, bringing in the mail and picking up pet droppings. Stress the important stuff and let the little stuff go--it's of major importance that the dogs have water whereas if a plant croaks from lack of water or the grass turns a little brown--it's nothing compared to losing your pet.

If you don't like strangers in your house, then boarding or kenneling is probably your better option. If you have someone stay in your home, be sure and set down rules about where the dogs sleep and also where the pet sitter sleeps! Things are always better if worked out beforehand so no misunderstandings.

Consider too that some pet sitters will pet sit for less in THEIR home--but make sure that you've checked it out and that their home or situation is compatible with your pet's needs.

For instance, there is a wonderful pet sitter about an hour from here that my dogs would love to go visit--but she doesn't have a secure fence. She lives right on a part of the Deschutes National Forest. I can't take the chance that my dogs would/could get out and disappear. With her fence, it would be oh so easy! Malamutes aren't like labs and they don't "come back" every time--so unfortunately leaving them with Kristy is not an option for me.

When thinking about house sitting/pet sitting versus kenneling, the confinement factor is one thing to consider too. If you have large animals, keeping them in a virtual closet for a week is in my opinion cruel and unusual punishment--so I opt for a housesitter/pet sitter combo. However, if it's for 1 night, I might consider the kennel even that is very expensive and if comparing the pros and cons of both, I'll opt for a real live-in person every time.

Do the math on it--consider all sides of the coin. If kenneling ends up being as expensive as having a pet sitter, you might as well go for the best option and leave your pets where they feel more comfortable.

I've also found the hard way that the older pets get, sometimes kenneling and boarding really freaks them out--I had one of my dogs die in the kennel while we were gone and that was a horrible experience. She was old (13-1/2) but she just couldn't handle the stress of being boarded somewhere other than home. I have a hard time forgiving myself to this day for leaving her there.

In our case, I usually have family or friends house sit or pet sit for us--it seems like the very best option as our pets are well cared for in their own home and they can stick to their usual routine. Plus most of my friends and family are in love with my dogs--which definitely helps!

Most of our friends and family won't accept money for the job but a job it is nonetheless. There are other forms of payment, however, and we usually either treat them to dinner out, bring them back something extraordinarily special, or take them somewhere as a reward--depending on how long we've been gone.

Several times, it's worked out that friends stayed at our home with a well stocked pantry and fridge and had their own mini-vacation while we were gone. That's a great deal for everyone involved.

Whether your dog is old or very, very young as Ms. Gabby here, your pet sitting prices may go up.
Whether your dog is old or very, very young as Ms. Gabby here, your pet sitting prices may go up.

Sample Pet Sitter Rates

Visit 1 time a day
Visit 2 times a day
Visit 3 times a day
Daily walks (dogs)
Walk (1 dog)
Overnight stay
Pet Taxi/vet trip (per time)
1 trip to vet
Mileage Charge (15-20 miles)
Extra fee
Mileage Charge (20-30 miles)
Extra fee
Extra 15 minutes
Brushing or playing
Extra 30 minutes
Brushing or playing
Late night charge (after 9:00)
Holiday Charge
Extra fee
Key Return or Pick Up
Extra fee
Get Acquainted Visit
This is based on HALF hour increments from a local pet sitting service in Bend, Oregon.
Size matters--when considering boarding especially, the size of your dogs will cost you more money no matter what.  At 80-95 pounds each, our dogs are considered "grande."
Size matters--when considering boarding especially, the size of your dogs will cost you more money no matter what. At 80-95 pounds each, our dogs are considered "grande."

Sample of Pet Boarding Rates

Luxury Suite (8 x 10)
$45 cash per day per dog
2 walks, 2 playtimes or 1 full day of doggie daycare
Regular kennel (6 x 12 chained link)
$16 cash per day per dog
Bring your own pet food
$1-5 extra per dog
To feed your own pet food
$2 extra per dog
Per time
$7 per dog
20 minutes
$5 per dog
30 minutes
Vet trips
Depending on how far/time/fees
Early pick up/drop off
Depending on time/day
May get for extra dogs
Up to 20%
Doggie Daycare
$22-25 per dog
All day (7:30-4:30)
Pet Boarding Facility in Bend, Oregon
A markerBend Oregon -
Bend, OR, USA
[get directions]

Central Oregon

Having a Good Pet Sitter Experience

This author has actually been around the block so to speak with pet sitters for our dogs over the years many times. We've had some great experiences and we've had some horrible experiences.

Sometimes I wonder if it's really "worth" getting a pet sitter because sometimes it seems it was more of a hassle than a help--but the truth is eventually most of us need a pet sitter some time for something! (If I have my way about it, my dogs go with me)

Things to remember:

  • You usually get what you pay for--when hiring a teenager, you might be disappointed in the final result as if you were expecting attention or consistency--it might not show up. We had a teen who was EXTREMELY responsible pet sit for us and found out later that she had neglected to come for 1 full day to let our lab out and feed her. Thankfully she had water--but we came home to a HUGE carpet cleaning bill.
  • Talk is cheap--if you plan on leaving a pet sitter with your high maintenance dogs, it's best to have them demonstrate their abilities before you leave home. We had people who were referred from an agency as "expert" pet sitters who could not handle our dogs. That's not to say that I blame them--malamutes are hard dogs to handle for most people. However, we were assured that they knew how to handle the breed and they didn't--very disappointing experience when they chewed the screens off our windows the entire length of our house because they were neglected.
  • Set the boundaries. If you're willing to pay someone to actually stay all the time at your house, make sure that that is what is expected--not checking in periodically and coming back when they feel like it. Make things crystal clear and if you need to, write up a contract and have them sign it--if they fail to fulfill their end of the bargain, they forfeit some or all of their pay.
  • Keep it simple. I would no more expect a pet sitter to walk my dogs than I would expect them to deliver a litter of puppies. That is just not something I would trust most people with. I would feel that I was putting my dogs at risk were I to expect this from someone. I'd have to know someone REALLY well and have seen them demonstrate that they could walk not only 1 of my dogs but 3 of them--separately or together--before I would ever ask them to do that. I value my dogs' lives too much to put them at risk and I value the pet sitter's mental health enough to not wish a bad situation on anyone when I wasn't there to take care of it. Better safe than sorry. I don't want the call "I lost your dog."
  • Pet sitters for any animal should be able to demonstrate to you what they would do in an emergency--and give you a rundown on the steps that they would take were the pet or pets to become poisoned, should they choke, have a seizure, get diarrhea--whatever. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We left our old dog at home with a pet sitter and when we returned the next day, he had a stroke and died. She told us when we mentioned it later that day that he had been "acting a little funny" the day before but she just never mentioned it. There would have been nothing we could have done to prevent his death--but it was just very unsettling and we wished she had clued us in to the fact that he had been acting like he wasn't well or called us so we could at least have called the vet.
  • Get references! If you hire people for a job, you get references--well, this is a job and a most important job. It never hurts to check people's backgrounds out and make sure they are who they say they are and they know how to do what they say they know how to do.
  • In all instances--go with your gut--and go with your pets' reactions. If your pet or pets act like they don't like this person, there may be something there to consider. Usually animals pick up on vibes we humans miss. My dogs reacted very badly to a prospective housesitter/pet sitter and I went against my better judgment and had her try it for a short period. It was a disaster. My dogs were trying to tell me something!

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Comments 23 comments

akirchner profile image

akirchner 3 years ago from Central Oregon Author

I agree Shannon- thanks for stopping in and good luck~

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks for commenting Ann and for the compliment--aren't I just the luckiest thing ever? They are beautiful--stubborn but beautiful. I agree--if I can AT ALL, I coerce my friends and family into babysitting my treasures.

Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

I've had some good luck with friends and family taking care of my pets when I was gone. I prefer someone I know, like you said.

Your dogs are gorgeous.

Voted up.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks, Kristi---if I didn't have 3 dogs of my own to take care of, I might consider doing it for other folks~

kissayer profile image

kissayer 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

This is a really useful for someone in need of a pet sitter, or looking to become one. Great work :)

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Helen--aye yes...that thing of trusting someone else with your dog--I do trust most of my family with them though and my friends because they KNOW how much those dogs mean to me--and they've also had to be lugged around with us in the car WITH them they are kind of like my new children~~ I had labs once upon a time and they actually made my mals look very bad indeed. Gabby actually had her first "prison break" yesterday and surprisingly CAME BACK to us but it was only on the street by our house--and Griffin was still hooked to ME so I think that that had something to do with it...had they both been free....bye bye---time to sprint and get the car~ I have to say though they WILL jump into the car--anybody's car actually (which is kinda scary) immediately!

Gosh Om--a lot of my family and friends say that too--but I'm only too happy to oblige..I'll make ANYTHING for anyone if they take good care of my pups~~~

Crewman--I know---kinda late to the game I am, eh? Imagine setting boundaries! And indeed...if I can't laugh at things, I'd have been in the nut house a while back--I do get angry about them at times though or just sad---but for the most part I bounce back pretty well and thankfully that serves me well---and those electric shock treatments really have helped~~~ KIDDING!!!!

Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 4 years ago

Wow wow wow... Okay, one thing at a time. The situation with the dogs has happened with us, but luckily, our mean one is just a chihuahau (meaning she probably won't cripple anybody) and the grumpy one is fine as long as she gets a little space. Tootsie loves everybody always.

As to the rest of the story, I don't know how you can make me laugh and cringe all at the same time. But if you can laugh about it, I'd have to say your coping mechanisms are working well. I'm not that advanced... some issues I just can't discuss without getting angry. I'm working on it.

And the idea of giving your own dogs priority in their own home... stroke of brilliance. What a great idea! Especially the 'BYOK' part. All in itself, that's worth a full write-up as a hub. Double vote-up!

drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

I was thinking of getting a dog again, Audrey, but after reading this thorough hub about dog sitters and related escapades, I will wait until I am not traveling and away from home so often.

So your dogs once destroyed the screens along the whole length of your house as a result of being neglectged by a dog sitter? Sue the fool.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

Very interesting. I used to have a dog but never had to hire a pet sitter. I usually just left him with one of my relatives whenever my mom and I had to be away. I like your charts for pet-sitting and pet-boarding rates. Well done! If we were neighbors, I would pet sit your dogs for free....well, nah, I take that back. I might actually ask you to pay me in cookies and muffins! hehehehe

Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland

Fabulous hub Audrey! I'm very like you in that unless it was a dire emergency I wouldn't have anyone other than me or close family looking after my dogs - and definitely, as you say, not walking them!!

I was laughing at you saying about your malamutes not coming back on recall - neither do labradors!! Especially when they are 6 months old and they've just spied another dog to play with!! I'm used to the collie breeds and they are so easy to train and want to stay with you. This little horror that I've got is driving me nuts!!!LOL!

Anyway, this hub was excellent and I agree on all points with you. I would need to see my dogs reactions to them as well as some good references and credentials.

Excellent hub + voted up and shared.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Indeed, Crewman--we seem to be the pet motel for everyone and their dogs...last October we had my daughter's puggle, my 3 wild things, and my mom's older lab...who proceeded to snarl at Griffin UNDER the table---and little Ms. Gabby had just gone into heat.

In retrospect, I should have known better--after a fabulous Audrey style meal with food all over the table, I had just made the comment "OMG--can you believe these 5 dogs getting along so famously." Egads--all you know what broke out under our feet. Griffin didn't like SOMETHING Osko said to him obviously~ I think it was about his butt being too big. Luckily Griffin is a pussy cat with very big incisors I might add--he bit my stepfather in the ankle because Bill stuck his foot in the way---I wish I could say that I was sorry for that but unfortunately...the past rears its ugly head...ha ha--- I figure Griffin knew somethig deep down and thought he deserved a bit of his "own medicine" for beating me as a teen...sure thing Audrey--don't give up that counseling just yet.

At ANY rate...all calmed down but it did kind of make me think my house really the best place for all dogs to congregate---especially under the table~! So we've kind of tightened up our policy...people can bring their dogs (which they ALL seem to do to Audrey's house) but they must bring a kennel and be able to put their dog in it no questions asked--it after all is MY dogs' home and I have grown a bit tired of watching them sit outside in the pouring rain while my daughter's dog runs on my leather couch! I can tell you Griffin's not impressed~

I do prefer the dogs being here though than in a boarding kennel so I guess that's why I put up with "extra company" rather than not---and I had to laugh like crazy when Griffin jumped on my DAUGHTER's couch when we took him for a visit---he was just following Molly but the look on his face was priceless as in uh oh--my mom is gonna KILL me!

Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 4 years ago

There are some great points here. With Monique always home, we often turn out to be the 'sitters of choice' for friends and family. With 3 dogs already, it's not that difficult to add one more (though some are indeed tougher than others).

I can really appreciate the distinction between a pet sitter, and someone to actually walk your dogs. That makes a lot of sense. And just a side note, very very beautiful dogs and wonderful photos!

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Great writer 20 - glad it helped!~

writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

This information was very good because I've been thinking of getting a dog.

Voted up and awesome, Joyce.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks, Maddie--it was an after thought as I was thinking "how ethereal this all sounds---I need some concrete pricing here!" Lucky for me there's always the Internet and surprisingly, the numbers were right there for me to calculate~ Even though I'm not a "math girl" it was easy to figure out~

Maddie Ruud profile image

Maddie Ruud 4 years ago from Oakland, CA

This is a great resource for all pet owners. Like you, I often do trade with family and friends, rather than paying my pet sitters, so I wouldn't know where to start if I needed to hire someone. Thanks to the awesome tables on this Hub, I have a much better idea.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Exactly, Lela--too many things have gone wrong for me to feel THAT comfortable unless it's family or friends most of the time--though I have recently met someone who might just work out--although affording her is quite another thing~ It's just SO much simpler to keep them with us wherever we go....we haven't tried a motel yet but we're close...we've actually taken them to other people's homes (unbelievable that they would accept us) ---and it always goes really well. I just feel better when I'm watching them--not that I do the best job but at least I don't have to come back to tragedy or "oops"--like all the screens missing!!!

Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Bob and I have decided that there will be no more vacations for us, we are turning our little ranch into a vacation spot that we can enjoy forever. That way, we don't have to leave the dogs alone again. This may be a problem for me as I love to travel. But the funds are better spent at home.

With dogs like yours, I don't know why you would ever want to leave them either. Good pet sitters are worth their weight for sure.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks so much Nettlemere--and I indeed am blessed beyond measure...I have 2 females (knocking on wood) who get along famously as our young Gabby knows how to bow to authority...and a very large wooly male. Griffin and Gabby are related - uncle and niece and 3 and 1 respectively--and quite the handfuls just in terms of needing exercise but sweet, sweet personalities. Denaya is 13 or 14--we aren't sure--she is a rescued malamute who is "the boss"---again knocking on wood--we have had no fights and no troubles with the 3 of them--just that they need socialization with people all the time. That's just the nature of the breed--and of course walking about 250-300 pounds of dog is a lot for anyone~~ So we tend to only entrust our special friends to very special people indeed! Thanks so much for stopping in!

Carol - that sounds VERY reasonable but cats are (I think) a little easier to care for which is a good thing. I always worry about my dogs so take extra care with leaving them for any length of time.

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

These little pets are pretty costly today to leave. I have a woman who lives about two miles from my house and she takes care of my two cats--one visit per day. She occasionally does a few other things..$12.00 a day.

Nettlemere profile image

Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

Wow your malamutes are stunning - when I glanced at the picture small on the hub feed I thought it was a picture of a koala and thought that's an unusual pet to have. Quickly realised my mistake! Very impressed that you have three living together as the owners i've spoken to in the UK have indicated that they're not so easy from that point of veiw.

Very informative article and your experience really shows and makes it valuable reading. Pinned

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Ha Jaye---I'm becoming more and more that way myself and I have three of them~ Although we take 2 of them everywhere--absolutely everywhere with us. I'd rather stay somewhere with my dogs than have to stress about what's happening to them while I'm gone to be honest~

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

There would be so many "extra" charges for someone to pet-sit my dog, I'll just have to stay home with her! Good thing I'm a homebody, anyway.

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