Understand the differences so you know which service you need for your pet
I have noticed that it is the pet sitting definition that is most often misunderstood and is commonly confused with either dog walking or pet boarding. I am sometimes contacted by people looking for dog walking, but what they describe in their email falls under pet sitting. Other times new prospective clients will contact me about pet sitting but what they actually are looking for is pet boarding. So here are definitions for common pet services involving sitting, walking, and boarding.
First, let me cover the services that I will define and explain:
The above services are all when someone else takes care of your pet(s) during times and days you are not able to do so.
Pet service companies may offer other services such as a pet taxi and “pooper scoopers” (yes, that’s a thing), but they are not services that I offer plus they are self-explanatory.
Another pet sitting type service is dog daycare. This is when you drop your dog off at a facility while you are at work. I also do not offer this service.
Dog Walking Definition
Dog walking is my main service. This service involves walks scheduled on the weekdays while you are at work, typically mid-day. Most people schedule walks Monday thru Friday and 11 am to 2 pm being the busiest times.
I do have clients who do not need walks every weekday but mostly it’s every weekday, 52 weeks a year. And the fact that it is every week is the reason why it is the majority of my income.
Of course, there are exceptions to the schedule such as holidays, vacations, sick days, etc. And over the years I have had clients who have needed walks late in the day around 3 pm or even as early as 10 am. I currently have a client who regularly works 12-hours a day so I do 2 walks per day.
And then there are puppies.
Puppies require two walks a day as they can not hold going to the bathroom for more than a few hours. The general rule for puppies is the age in the months plus 1 for the number of hours they can go without an accident (8 weeks old = 2 months, 2 + 1 = 3 hrs).
Keep the added expense in mind if you are thinking of getting a puppy and will need walks while you are at work.
Double walks per day may also apply to elderly dogs for the same reason of needing to be walked regularly. So dog walking specifically refers to one, maybe two, mid-day walk during the typical work week.
Pet Sitting Definition
This is the service people get confused with dog walking if they own a dog. Some people may call this service dog sitting, or cat sitting depending on what type of pet they have.
The terms pet sitting, dog sitting or cat sitting may also be used when pet owners actually need boarding or in-house sitting.
Pet sitting is for when you are away for a day or more. Most often this is when people go away for a vacation, usually over a weekend, but I’ve done pet sitting for clients that have lasted 2 or more weeks.
It involves the pet sitter going to your home to take care of your pets. The basic duties are feeding your pets, giving them fresh water, administering medicine or giving them treats if applicable and play time.
If the pets are cats, then cleaning the litter is a definite requirement.
If the pets are dogs then taking them for walks is necessary, typically three walks per day. And this last point is why some people confuse pet sitting for their dog with dog walking. Daily dog walks are involved but the service is pet sitting.
Other duties may be watering plants and collecting the mail.
Then there is pet sitting for fish, rabbits or any other type of pets people may have. But the basics are always the same: making sure they have water, food and are walked (dogs) or have a clean litter box (cats, rabbits, etc.)
Pet or Dog Boarding Definition
This is a service that also involves when you are away from your home, but your pet stays at your pet sitters home. This is most common with dog owners as cats do not like changes in their environment, although I have boarded cats at my place.
The duties are the same as for pet sitting: feeding, fresh water, walks, etc.
Since I own a dog and 2 cats, I require that new clients test their dog (or cat) with my pets. I often do not get dog boarding clients as a result of this, most likely because their dogs either DO NOT get along with cats or other dogs. I would make more money if I didn’t have pets, but then I wouldn’t have any pets!
I believe that this is the best option for dogs because they have a lot of contact with the pet sitter throughout the day. Pet sitting will only give them human contact three times a day.
Your other option is boarding your dog in a kennel, and I personally would never do that for my dog. I do not like the thought of my dog kept in a little room, where he would have to deal with other dogs barking throughout the night. That just seems too stressful, but I am not familiar with how kennels operate so you would need to do your own research on kennels in your area.
In-Home Pet Sitting Definition
Think of this service as a combination of pet sitting and boarding. In-home sitting is when your pet sitter stays in YOUR home. This is obviously the best for your pets because they are in familiar surroundings and they have a lot of human interaction throughout the day.
The duties are the same as for pet sitting: feeding, fresh water, walks or litter changes, medicine, treats, play time, watering plants, mail collection, etc.
An added benefit is the concern of your home being robbed while you are away as your sitter will be coming and going throughout the day.
Hopefully, I have explained the differences between these pet services. Please contact me if you have any questions or suggestions on how to improve my descriptions! Also, check out my Services and Rates page in you are in the Art Museum area of Philadelphia and need my services.