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In-Home Dog Sitting: Dog Sitters That Stay At Your Home

In-home dog sitting is a pet sitting option where your pet sitter stays in your home. Other similar type services include dog boarding and dog sitting.

Dog sitting is when your sitter makes 3 visits per day to your home, while boarding is when your dog stays at your sitters home.

The best option for all pets, including dogs, is in-home sitting. I cover all the duties, responsibilities, rates and surcharges and anything else to help you choose the best dog sitting company for your dog.


What exactly is In-Home Dog Sitting?

There are a number of different type of pet sitting services. In-home sitting is when a pet sitter stays in your home and performs all the duties you would do for your dog or other pets.

This is the best option for dogs that need special care like puppies, senior dogs or dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. It is also a good option for cats, but cats are pretty good with just a single visit per day.


Dog with separation anxiety
In-home sitting is best for dogs with separation anxiety


Below I cover all the details that pet sitting companies in Philadelphia provide for their in-home sitting service. You do not need to live in Philadelphia to get an idea of what to expect from in-home sitters in your city.

If you are not sure if you want dog sitting, in-home sitting or boarding, then read my article Definitions of Pet Sitting for detailed descriptions on those pet services.

Hopefully, you already have a dog walker or pet sitter. If you do, then you know you can trust them and they already know your pet.

If you are hiring an in-home pet sitter for the first time, then your sitter will need all the details about taking care of your dog.


dog sitting
My dog “sitting” in my home


Common duties \ descriptions

Here are the most common duties that in-home sitters offer:

    • Expect at least AM and PM feedings and walks, but ask if mid-day walks are included in the price. Not all companies offer a mid-day walk. You’ll have to pay extra for that.
    • Make sure to ask how long the walks are, especially if your dog takes forever to do his or her business. You may have to pay for longer walks.
    • Meals: feedings and walks should be at the times your dog is used to so he remains on a normal schedule.
    • Make sure you are hiring someone to sleep in your home. Some companies only offer pet sitting, but their services page calls it in-home sitting.
    • Most sitters will also water plants, bring in mail, turn lights on and off, take out the trash, etc.
    • Besides meals, they will also make sure your dog has fresh water, administer medication.
    • For larger companies, you should be able to pick your preferred sitter, especially if he or she already knows your dog.
    • Keep in mind, sitters have other dog walking and pet sitting appointments throughout the day. Most note that arrival time is between 7:00-8:00 for both night and mornings.


Dinner time for your dog
Feed me – then walk me!


Rates & surcharges

There are some companies that simply list their rates and what you get for that. Others have surcharges for everything possible. Here are examples of some of the surcharges.

in-home dog sitting rates


  • Major holidays will have a higher rate.
  • Additional dogs: expect a per-day surcharge.
  • One company in Philly does not include a mid-day walk even though they have the highest rate. Instead, they charge you for their daycare service. Keep that in mind.
  • Puppies: You will definitely have a higher rate if you own a puppy.
  • Surcharge for reserving a spot in less than 24 hours.
  • You may not get your deposit back if you cancel in less than 24 hours.
  • If you want more than 3 walks or longer walks, then expect to pay extra.

Take a look at my In-Home Dog Sitting Rates For Philadelphia to see the actual costs and rates to give you an actual idea of pet sitting costs.



Asking for a deposit is normal to make sure you get a spot and for the company to keep if you cancel within days of the sitting dates.

  • A non-refundable deposit usually equal to one day of sitting.
  • The deposit is applied towards the total cost of sitting,
  • Some companies require the balance in full within 48 hours of the start of the sitting.



It’s always important to reserve your spot well in advance. There are way more dog owners than companies that offer dog boarding or in-home dog sitting.

Schedule as far in advance as possible – 48 hours is usually the minimum to schedule. Some companies ask you to make holiday reservations 90 days, or more, in advance.

Dog sitting in chair
Another dog sitting


I know from my experience that cancellations stink. I’ve lost potential clients more than once when I turned a potential client away because I was already booked – and then I get the cancellation.

Most companies require 24 hours to cancel any services or your deposit may not be refunded. You will need to give at least one week notice if you cancel a major holiday reservation.



This is one of the most important aspects of pet sitting or boarding. Some dogs are easy and the notes are “Please feed him and walk him 3 times”. Other dogs require more work.

Make sure to have a list of anything you feel is important for your sitter to know. Here are some examples of things to communicate with your sitter:

  • Detailed instructions on how to care for your dog, especially feeding notes and any issues with walking your dog. Aggressive dogs or dogs that go after squirrels are a problem. Let your walker know all of that.
  • Location of the leash and collar/harness, toys & treats, bed or crate, etc.
  • If your dog requires medication then make sure to have detailed notes on where the meds are, how much, how often, etc.
  • Also, leave the contact information for your vet.

Take a look at this article from Canine Journal on Dog Sitting Tips for Parents for some great points.


Final Thoughts

Try to find a company that has flat rates with minimal surcharges. If they do a good job, stick with them for the life of your pets. Also, give them some positive online reviews, testimonials, referrals, and bonuses at Christmas or New Year’s Eve.


Jim Kernicky

I have been a dog walker and pet sitter for my business Fairmount Pet Service in the Art Museum area of Philadelphia since 2008.