Pop quiz time! What’s got four legs, lots of fur, and can help you make some sweet side hustle money while getting lots of slobbery kisses?
If you guessed dogs (I’m not even entertaining any other answers here, people), you’re onto a very lucrative new side job. While there are several pet sitting services out there, one of the most popular is Rover.com. Not only can you hire someone to watch your pup while you’re out of town, but you can also work for Rover as a sitter or walker.
If you love animals more than people, chances are you’d be a great pet sitter. So how does someone start working with Rover? And more importantly – what’s it take to learn how to be successful on Rover?
How does Rover Work for Dog Walkers?
Getting started as a pet sitter on Rover is very easy and only involves a couple of steps. Start by creating a Rover account and building your profile. Within five days Rover will run through a quick background check and you’ll be ready to start your sitter side hustle!
Clients will contact you based on your profile, and then you’ll do a meet and greet. If it’s a match, the client will book you and you’ve got your first client on Rover!
If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a full-time dog sitter, learning the ins and outs of how to be successful on Rover can help all your frisbee throwing dreams come true.
I wanted to know how it is to work for Rover – so I turned to Mark MacLean to answer these very questions for me. Mark has been with Rover for over two years and is in the top 1% of all the sitters in the Greater Toronto Area. He’s not only figured out how to be successful on Rover, he’s also has created a course is called “Mastering Rover” that runs for five weeks with each enrollment period.
Mark’s knowledge of how to be successful on Rover helps him to teach his students the keys to becoming well earning Rover pet sitters as well. Mark’s course topics include how to make a good Rover profile, as well as how to get your first client.
Mark was kind enough to talk through how Rover works and how to be successful on Rover. Keep reading to learn more!
1. Tell me a bit about yourself. How long have you been with Rover.com? How did you start your course to train dog sitters that want to work through Rover.com?
Hi there! My name is Mark MacLean. I live in Markam ON, (just north of Toronto, Canada), with my wife Lorena, and our dog Charro (a Minature Schnauzer). My wife and I first joined Rover when we wanted to find a place for Charro to stay during an upcoming trip. We found Rover and then interviewed about 5-6 dog sitters before we finally settled on one we felt comfortable with.
Shortly after we came back for our trip, we had a conversation about getting a second dog (as a companion for Charro). Then we remembered Rover and started discussing the idea of becoming part-time dogsitters ourselves. Having grown up with dogs, we decided we might be able to provide a great guest house for the occasional well-behaved visiting pup. Dog sitting would also give Charro an extended family of friends to socialize with and, of course, put a little extra money in our pockets, which we often joke is Charro doing his part to help out with the rent.
Fast forward about two years, and we had (rather quickly) become one of the top 20 most reviewed sitters on the site in our city, which put us (by the total number of reviews) within the top 1% of all the sitters in the Greater Toronto Area.
Being in the Top 20 didn’t necessarily mean that we were the best dog sitters in the world, or even in our city. But what it did mean (at least from a sales and marketing perspective), is that we were doing enough things right on the platform. In just over two years, we were consistently standing out, being found, and booked to dog-sit on a site with over 1200 other dog sitters competing for the very same business. And we now have more reviews than people who have been on the site 2-3 times longer than us.
2. What’s the hiring process like at Rover.com? Are there background checks? How long does it typically take to get approved?
Because Rover operates in many areas, the hiring process varies. In some places, a person can simply sign up; in other cases, a member of the local Rover crew will come to your home and do an in-person interview and leash test. In all cases, (to my knowledge), they do run a police background check on the person applying. When we joined the site, we joined doggy-vacay.com, (which was later bought out by Rover, and we migrated over). But in general, it doesn’t usually take very long to get approved (a week or two at most).
3. What type of work is typically available through Rover.com? Is it more than dog-sitting?
Yes, it is more than dog-sitting. Rover offers, a) walks, b) doggy-day care, (for just a single day), c) dog-boarding (overnights/dog-sitting), d) drop-in Visits, and e) house sitting. That said, except for some major urban cities, most sitters on Rover are making most of their money from overnight stays (aka dog boarding). For those in urban centers, the very best and busiest Rover workers can do well, walking dogs, doing drop-ins, and the occasional house-sitting gig, (instead of, or in addition to, overnight stays).
4. Can you set your schedule? Is there a minimum of hours required each week/month to remain active?
Yes, you can absolutely set your schedule, which makes working on Rover great for when you want to take time off or do some traveling of your own. You can even restrict the size and number of dogs you take, and the types of bookings you are willing to accept.
There also are no minimum hours required to work to remain active. If anything, one of the major issues most people on starting on Rover face, is the huge amount of people on the ‘supply’ side of the equation, and not nearly enough demand for everyone who would love to be busy dog-sitting.
What this means to the average sitter on Rover is they will typically receive just a handful of requests per year, (usually in the summer and during the holidays), when there are far more bookings to go around. And (more importantly) when the sitters with the most reviews are already booked solid and filled to capacity.
In fact, from nearly every sitter I’ve talked to on Rover, all could use (and would love to have) more bookings. The lack of bookings also means that plenty of people (with big dreams of becoming full-time dogsitters) will eventually end up abandoning this dream, and the site, or (at least visiting very irregularly).
5. How much do you make on Rover, and how much does Rover take out of your pay? How long does it take to get paid?
While Rover does make some recommendations on setting your rates, you can set your schedule and your pricing, and Rover handles all payments. Both clients and dogsitters set up their payment details with Rover, and Rover takes care of the rest.
At the time of the booking, the payment is charged to the client. 48 hours after the booking is complete (to ensure that everyone is happy), the money for that booking is then released to the dogsitter.
Rover does take a cut, both from the dogsitter and the client at the time of the booking. The amount they charge varies (depending on when you joined the site, and whether you signed up for Rover or RoverGO (more on that later), but in general terms, you keep 75%-85% of the booking fee, and Rover charges something like 2%-7% to the client at the time of booking.
Now, while many dogsitters grumble about the size of Rover’s cut, Rover does provide a ton of value for that slice: a steady stream of clients, an app, 24/7 support, and handles all payments. I don’t for a second begrudge sharing that revenue with them. As I see it, we work as a team.
6. Are there ways to boost your earnings? Is there any way to earn bonuses or tips?
Yes, there are ways to boost your earnings! Most people who join Rover LOVE dogs and the idea of taking care of them for money. Unfortunately, they don’t have a background in sales and marketing, and therefore, aren’t doing many of the things that could or would boost their earnings.
I’ll give a quick example: many people include in their profile a list of questions that they want answers to about the dog that they may be sitting. Is it old? Does it need medication? Does it get along with other dogs/children? And, of course, all of these things are important to know and find out about from the prospective client.
However, unless you are a dog sitter who is already booked solid, your profile is probably NOT the place to include all of these questions. Providing all of these answers (before they’ve even met the dog sitter) probably comes across like a lot of ‘work’ to someone just browsing through dogsitter profiles. Who wants to write an essay to answer questions when they first make contact and are checking your availability?
As I share with my FB group, Top Dog Sitters of Rover, step one to boosting your earnings is cleaning up your profile. These small changes will start to increase the number of people who are likely to contact them in the first place.
Any client can tip their dogsitter with cash at the end of the stay, but this is really at the client’s discretion. Whether it happens or not has more to do with regional/local attitudes towards tipping. In some cases, some dogsitters will imply that it is expected (or at least welcome).
We personally tell all of our clients that Rover handles the money, so there is no need to tip. We do this just to take that pressure off them with the whole question of ‘should we’/’shouldn’t we’ and wondering how much to tip. Most people don’t like that feeling, and who wants to be thinking about that for two weeks while they are on holiday? That said, we still do often receive generous gifts over the holidays from some of our regular and happiest clients.
7. Is there support if there’s a problem with a dog or owner?
Yes, there sure is! Rover has a 24/7 support line that is very good at supporting their dogsitters and deals with these types of situations every single day. If a dog gets sick, hurt, or runs away, or there is any kind of issue with an owner, their well-trained call center staff are excellent at providing answers, solutions, and suggestions to remedy the situation to the benefit of all involved.
We don’t need to call it often, but when we do, they have been amazingly helpful. Now, of course, your mileage may vary, and you may end up on the phone with someone new to the call center. I’ve had conversations with dog sitters who have had things go badly with their clients, Rover customer service agents are not miracle workers and can’t always iron out every situation. However, they are excellent and experienced, and they do work hard to solve whatever the issue is for both the dog sitter and the client.
8. What’s the difference between Rover and Rover Now?
Rover is the original profile type that a person can set up.
As for Rover Now, it is an on-demand dog walking service designed to match someone who wants their dog walked or a drop-in visit for their pet with someone available right now. Rover Now has been set up to compete directly with WAG and other similar apps. Also, at present, Rover Now is only available in just over a dozen major US cities.
9. How do you get popular on Rover? And what the most significant mistake potential sitters make when trying to find jobs through Rover?
As I see so many mistakes being made, it is hard to pin it down to just one. That said, let me expand my answer to three broad categories of major mistakes that I see made most frequently, as well as some advice to address each one.
Make sure you have a Rover profile that stands out.
First, probably the very biggest category of mistake I see day-in and day-out on the site is people not spending nearly enough time setting up their profile properly. It’s important that it is attractive and inviting to potential clients (but just like a dating profile, there are hundreds of small ways to get it wrong). Of course, when people set up an online dating profile, they’ll usually post the very best image of themselves that ever taken, and will endlessly tweak and re-write their profiles.
And yet, on Rover, we consistently see blurry pictures of dogs, spelling and grammar errors, and essays detailing the dogsitter’s entire life story that no one has the desire to read. Doing this is like pilling rocks outside your front door, just to make sure no one comes knocking.
A bad profile is often also the hardest (for most people) to fix or clean up without an outside perspective. People often think that their profiles are ‘just fine’ and don’t see anything wrong with them. If they knew a little more about sales and marketing, they would realize that they are probably turning off some number of people who are visiting their profile.
The best advice I can offer here is to visit and/or join my FB group, Top Dogs of Rover and get the 100+ Tips of the Day, (dating all the way back to April of 2019). Go through them all looking for opportunities to make all of these small but necessary improvements to their profile.
Fix your pricing to be competitive in your market.
The second category of mistake is setting prices. Here again, we see an issue that springs from how people (who typically don’t have a background in business) think about pricing. Most dog sitters, when setting up their profile, ask themselves, ‘How much do I want to make from each booking?’ And then they just set their prices accordingly.
Unfortunately, they aren’t thinking about the far more important two questions that they should be asking themselves. “What is my time worth to a potential dog-sitting client?” AND “What are their other options in my area?” By not doing this critical comparison and pricing themselves somewhere in the neighborhood of their competition, they are dramatically decreasing the number of requests that they are likely to get.
Without enough reviews to justify a premium price, why would any client choose a far more expensive dogsitter, when one with far more (and seemingly better) reviews, is available for a significantly better price? Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that people should price themselves as the lowest in the area (as this sends a less-than-ideal signal all of its own), but certainly what a dogsitter thinks that they are (personally) worth, is one of the worst ways for someone to price themselves when they first start.
Invest in learning about sales, marketing, and/or running a business.
And finally, the third category of mistakes has to do with how people who join Rover choose to invest in their dog sitting business.
When many people join Rover, they have big dreams of becoming full-time, well-paid dog sitters, and would love nothing more than to retire to take care of dogs around the clock. While spending time with dogs is certainly one of the greatest joys available in life these days, it is still a business, and therefore requires a certain amount of ‘business thinking’.
As such, before they’ve even booked a client, often the first thing many dog sitters invest in is dog stuff. They are not out buying a book on marketing or sales, or even how to write a compelling profile. Now, of course, some of this dog stuff (like toys) may come in handy, but without clients, it’s probably NOT a great (early) investment.
Consider investing in a Rover specific course like my Mastering Rover Course. This course covers all the best practices and sales and marketing strategies to climb to the top of the search results across the platform.
The Mastering Rover Course also includes:
- A personal review of their Rover profile with feedback
- Helping them set their prices
- What to do and say during the meet & greet
- Best all the practices for both during and after the stay
- A private Facebook group to talk with other course members and Mark
We help Rover dog sitters have better stays – which leads to better reviews, more repeat bookings, and increased requests.
Bonus Tip: Reply quickly.
People are always impressed when you respond to their requests quickly. If the sitter is fast enough, they can start a conversation with the potential client before they’ve even sent out their request to another sitter!
10. Can you tell me more about your course and what students can expect?
The individual modules break down as follows:
Module 1: Mastering the Profile. As the front door to connecting with you, clients need to have as many reasons as possible to contact you and, as few reasons (as possible), to be turned off by your profile. This module is a deep dive into everything related to building YOUR perfect profile.
Module 2: Mastering the Marketing Mindset. Now we’re ready to meet some new potential clients! But just before we do that, it’s time we talk about pricing, positioning, and starting to understand Rover’s search algorithm so that you can increase your chances of actually showing up when people are searching.
Module 3: Mastering The Meet and Greet. A critical step for most sitters and clients is a quick Meet & Greet so that owners and dogs can get to know each other and give each other a quick sniff. But underneath all this sniffing, this is an important marketing and sales meeting. Therefore knowing what types of things to say and do (so that you can consistently close these meetings) is essential to growing your Rover business.
Module 4: Mastering the Stay. While many dogsitters just wing it, here again, there are several ‘best practices’ that will dramatically improve client satisfaction with your dog-sitting services.
Module 5: Mastering the Follow-up. Perhaps the single biggest way a sitter stands out on Rover is by their number of reviews. In this module, we will explore strategies for increasing reviews (in ways that you don’t have to feel icky about), and cover extremely ethical ways to follow up with clients, turning potential one time clients into regular clients, and/or repeat bookings.
In addition to these modules, there is a private Facebook group. Students will be able to ask questions, get advice and feedback, work on exercises together, and have a little bit of accountability with one another, as they move through the course. I designed it this way (rather than just letting people start whenever they want) because this type of ‘cohort learning’ is known to increase student outcomes significantly.
Also, I will personally be working one-on-one with every student to ensure that we maximize their chances for success. I view my job as an instructor to help my students do just about everything related to improving their Rover business – except come to their house and care for the dogs myself.
11. Where can students sign up for your course on how to be successful on Rover?
Note: All applicants must have an active Rover profile, and as I keep my class sizes very small, every profile will be reviewed prior to acceptance into the course to ensure that every student is, in fact, a good fit for the program.
At present, I’m running a new class, with a new batch of students every 2-3 months (depending on how quickly we fill the class), so if you’d like to learn more, (and/or be added to the wait list for the next enrollment window), please get in touch. Whether your brand new to Rover, or you’ve been on the platform a while, but haven’t seen the success you had hoped for, I’d love to help you take your business to the next level.
Dog-sitting is a fantastic business opportunity IF you do enough of the right things to be successful at it. Everyone LOVES dogs. Dogs are easy to love. We bred them to be lovable over ruffly (pun intended) 20,000 years.
But, what makes you good at loving dogs, doesn’t necessarily make you good at running a dog-sitting business on Rover. So, if you do want to spend a lot your time loving dogs (in the future), then I would strongly urge you to spend some of your time investing in yourself. Gain a little bit of business knowledge and invest in learning how to be successful on Rover.
By doing so, you’ll be one of the few that really can spend a lot more of your time hanging out with these beautiful animals (and getting paid to do so). And look, I do realize I’ve spent a lot of time talking about ‘the business’ of Rover, but the bottom line is that it has to be that first and foremost (and you’ve got to figure that part out somehow) before it can (or ever will) become anything more.
In closing, I’d just like to say that this has been a great chance for me to reach an audience that is working on becoming debt-free while navigating the gig economy that we now find ourselves in. I’m happy to share a little of my wisdom with you all (from my small personal corner of expertise with Rover).
I also just want to thank Tana for this fantastic opportunity. As a forty-something-year-old person myself, Rover has made a HUGE difference in the life of my wife and I…and Charro (our dog) if we’re honest. The difference is both financially and in the quality of our life (as we’ve always got an extra pup or two running around adding a little entertainment into the mix!).
When I think about the joy that it has brought us, I now wake up each day eager to share what I’ve learned about Rover with those that want the same success, and I look forward to hearing from anyone who may be interested in learning more about how to be successful on Rover.
Thanks again, and if you like what you’ve heard, and think I can help! Get in touch, (and please mention Tana and this site when you do)!
Now that you know how to be successful on Rover, click here to get started creating your Rover profile!
Standard Disclaimer (and in the interest of full disclosure): Tana approached Mark MacLean, the course creator of “Mastering Rover”, to answer some questions about working on Rover, and his course, to share with her audience. Mark agreed. No financial relationship exists between these two parties and all answers provided by Mark represent his own personal views, experiences, and expertise, and are not (necessarily) the views of Rover (which he has no formal relationship with other than being an experienced dogsitter on their site), or Tana.