Am I Overpaying my Dog Sitter?

I’ve been paying 2010 prices and hiring friends or relatives. The pet-sitting market has changed dramatically since then—prices have decreased and services have increased.

But what do you really want in a dog sitter?

Cocker spaniels behind a door
Leaving Chipper and Buffy behind while I go on vacation.

Seven years ago, when my elderly father-in-law lived with us, I needed to find someone to walk my energetic springer spaniel once a day while my husband and I took a one week vacation for a wedding and sight seeing. John could let Cassie out into our yard and feed her, but his frail condition and shortness of breath prevented him from exercising her and I figured Cassie would go crazy without a good long walk at least once a day.

I found the price in 2010 for a 30-minute visit at $28. Since Cassie had an autoimmune disease and was an anxious dog, I did not want to hire a stranger who had been exposed to many dogs. I wanted to hire a friend who knew and liked Cassie. I finally convinced her at $25/day to drive Cassie to the local forest preserve for a 1 – 2-mile walk. She brought her dogs for a group outing and everything worked out well.

My concerns when hiring a dog walker included:

  • Someone who knew my dog
  • Someone who could take my dog for a long walk, preferably to the forest preserve
  • Price

Notice that price was the lowest item on my list.

I had not needed to hire a dog sitter again until 2015, for another out-of-town wedding and vacation. Now I had two cocker spaniels since Cassie had passed away, and I had inherited my Mom’s dogs. Based on the rate I found years ago, I offered a neighbor $75/day to walk the cockers 3 – 4 times a day, feed them and let them out one additional time before bedtime. Everything went well and our neighbors cared for the dogs several times over the next few years. This last vacation, I hired my oldest granddaughter, now 21, to stay with the dogs for five days, mostly since she was in need of the money.

My concerns for a dog sitter included:

  • Someone who knew my dogs
  • Someone who could take good care of them
  • Someone I could trust with a key to my house

Price didn’t even enter the equation for a dog sitter.

During that trip, I spoke with my retired sister, who said she had dog sat a few people for $20 – $35/day. Wow, that was a lot less than I was paying. In researching this article, I decided to find out the going rate. For my area, the price for dog walking has decreased to about $15 – $20/walk and $30 – $50 for overnight stays.

What a shock—especially in the days of professional dog walking services and doggie day care centers. Many dog walkers and pet sitters now also have insurance!

This research has opened my eyes to the wide range of services available in my area, although I will probably still hire our neighbors, or my granddaughter, at $75/day since I trust them to do a good job and they could use the money. But if my usual dog sitters are not available, I feel a lot more comfortable knowing I have many other options—likely for a lower price.

What do you do with your dog when you go on vacation?

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