Think Airbnb – but for dogs.
Deborah Uhlig has been a DogVacay host for the past three years. She first used the service herself to book a stay for her rescue mutt Louie, when the family was traveling to Disneyland.
“We left the dog there for four days, and in the back of my head, I thought, how nice: Be at home, bunch of dogs … so I called up DogVacay, and made arrangements to be a host myself,” Uhlig said. “I was able to buy a new car. So that’s how much money I made.”
Shannon Robinson’s story is pretty similar. First, she used Rover for her three senior pugs. Then, the state employee decided to try it out herself as a way to make extra cash on the side.
“During the holidays we were super busy, and we took on more dogs during that time,” Robinson said. “It was high demand, and we made $1,500 in two weeks over the holidays. But consistently, I’d say it’s $400 to $500 a month extra.”
Both Rover and DogVacay now take a 20-percent cut of the booking fee, which can add up.
Would-be pet-sitters might be able to earn more money setting up their own small dog boarding business, but the apps can make it easier to find new customers. Dog owners can download the app and search for hosts who live in the area. They can also see the price of the stay. Robinson charges $25 per night, and Uhlig charges $30.
To set up a profile on either site, potential hosts have to fill out an application, upload photos of their home and submit to a background check. Even though both Shannon and Deborah were already dog owners, they eventually realized they had to make some changes at home to accommodate their new furry guests.
“One of the areas of the backyard is set aside for small dogs, so if they want to be apart from larger dogs, we’ll separate them,” Robinson said.
Uhlig says she loves dog sitting, because it allows her to earn money while she’s at home working on a homemade crafts business. But she says it’s not for everyone.
“They think it’s going to be easy, but the first time the dog jumps into the garden bed chasing a squirrel, tearing up flowers, you have to be patient," Uhlig said. "So I’m not sure it’s for everyone."