Make Money by Letting Your House Go To The Dogs

by Becky BlantonDecember 22, 2016

Are you trying to pay off a mortgage, or earn extra income for home repairs or remodeling? Consider putting your house to work for you. Maybe an Airbnb isn’t an option for your home, but a Dogvacay may be. Think of Dogvacay as an Airbnb for your dog, or cat, or birds, fish, snakes or hamsters. Why? Because having your pet stay in someone’s house is so much better than putting them into in a concrete kennel or a cage at your vet’s office. On the human side, being the homeowner who works from home watching other people’s pets is also so much more rewarding than a minimum wage job with a long commute. “Who wouldn’t want to stay home playing with puppies all day?” said Dogvacay founder and owner Nicole Ellis.
“We’ve had a lot of sitters quit their day jobs just to become a full-time Dogvacay sitter.” Pet sitters, dog walkers, and kennels aren’t new, but the concept behind Dogvacay is, Ellis said. “We pair pets with people who love them and want to take care of them and spend time with them.”

Does Your Home Have What it Takes?

Not every home can be a Dogvacay home. “We only approve about 15% of the people who apply to be a Dogvacay sitter,” Ellis said. “We personally visit each home. We do background checks on people depending on what services they offer, and we encourage ‘meet and greats’ between sitters and animals before the actual vacay stay to ensure everyone gets along. We’re available 24/7 for our hosts, and we stand behind them 100%. That’s why we go through the extensive application process. We also provide insurance for the pet during the vacay. We help the sitter find a vet if there’s not one the owner prefers. The pet’s safety and comfort is very important to us.” Dogvacay has more than 40,000 sitters in North America with more than a million nights of pet vacays. It’s a fast growing business with a demand for sitters. “People love their pets, so there’s a definite need,” Ellis said.

Features to Consider If You’re a Home Owner Considering Becoming a Pet Sitter


  • Fencing. Do you have a fenced yard with a locking gate that dogs can’t escape? You’re watching someone’s pet and you don’t want them getting out or roaming free. The size of the fence, the perimeter and the security of the yard has a lot to do with what kinds of dogs you can safely watch, Ellis said. A little Yorkie can’t scale a 10-foot fence, but a large Doberman might be able to.
  • Size and features of the home. A high energy dog needs room to run around. “You probably don’t want to watch a 100-pound Bernese Mountain Dog in a two-bedroom condominium,” Ellis said. On the other hand, you may not need a yard for a Chihuahua or toy poodle.
  • Your personal energy levels and access to outlets for the dog. “Maybe you’re a runner who goes running four-miles a day. A larger dog would be fine if you have a smaller home,” she said. Then again, maybe you’re elderly and want older dogs, or maybe a greyhound who likes to sleep all day.
  • Breed of dog. Some people like big dogs, some like tiny ones. Knowing what kind of dog you like and can care for is important. Do you own your home, or do you rent? If you rent, will your landlord let you sit for other’s dogs? “A big part of watching dogs in your home is understanding what kinds of dogs you want to care for. Watching a little four pound Yorkie is different than watching a super-energetic Australian Shepherd for example. Knowing that will help you decide if your home is a fit for the dog you want to watch.”
  • Zoning. Laws regarding pet sitting vary across the country. You’ll need to check with your local zoning office before sitting any animal. “Zoning in Kansas is going to be different than zoning in Los Angeles,” Ellis said. “Restrictions are determined by your county. Most limit the number of dogs you can have to three pets at a time, which is really perfect. You probably don’t want to watch more than three at a time.”
  • Doggie daycare or long-term overnights. Dogvacay sitters don’t have to watch a dog 24-hours a day. There’s a variety of services homeowners can choose from — including daycare, where a dog spends the day with you but goes home with their owner at night. “Some people want someone to take their dog running every day, or check in on them, give them food or water, or walk them,” Ellis said. “We have several options we offer.”
  • Experience. Dogvacay is looking for homeowners who have owned dogs or had pets in the past so they know what to expect. Current ownership isn’t an issue, but experience is.

Benefits for Home Owners

The joy of dogs without the lifetime commitment to one dog. “Dogvacay is a great opportunity for people who love dogs, who enjoy spending time with dogs, but who love to travel and don’t necessarily want their own dog. They may travel too much to have their own dog, so it’s a chance for them to take dogs in, have fun with them, play with them but at the end of the week or month they can still travel the world, go on vacation and do whatever they want to do without having to worry their own dog,” Ellis said.
Added income. Pet sitters with Dogvacay set their own rates, similar to the Air BandB process. The average is $30 a night with higher and lower ranges in cost depending on the city and the size/type of dog. The cost of each vacay sitter is listed on their profile on the Dogvacay website.

“Most dogs are so excited to be with someone who’s giving them attention,” Ellis said. “It’s like dropping them off at your cousin or brother’s house. The person you’re leaving your pet with actually wants to watch your dog. If you prefer your pet stay in your house, sitters can come to your home as well.”

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About The Author
Becky Blanton
Becky Blanton is a full-time ghostwriter and writing coach for Fortune 500 companies, CEOs, and business speakers. In 2009 she spoke at TED Global at Oxford University, her first ever public speaking gig. When she's not writing, she's kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay. Her dream home is to live aboard a sailing or houseboat.