Dear PoPville – How Much To Pay a Pet/House sitter?


Photo by PoPville flickr user [F]oxymoron

“Dear PoPville,

I am going to be out of town for four days and was wondering what I should pay per day for a house/pet sitter? I live one block from 14th and U and I was going to ask a couple of kids in my office (OK kids to me) who are in their 20s if they would be interested. They live in the ‘burbs and I know they like to come into DC on weekends.

First of all maybe I’m biased but my little dogs are the best dogs ever and the cat is way cool so really I think people should pay me to take care of them but I guess I am being unrealistic. All I am asking is that they walk the dogs once a day and let them out a couple of more times into the back yard to do their business. The cat of course is self sufficient. I expect them to do nothing for the house except to clean up after themselves. I have a guest room they can use.

How much should I pay per day? Should I pay in advance or pay half up front and the rest on return? Is there anything else I should consider?”

37 Comment

  • We pay our dog sitter $50 per day, he is awesome. He takes the dogs out three times per day and brings in the mail.

  • Shoot, I’ll do it for free if I can crash at your place while I am having some contractors create a bunch of dust at my house up in Petworth! ;-)

  • We need a PoP house swap, pet sitter, bike finder, classified ad listings site add-on.

  • $50-75 a day is the usual for two dogs. We usually pay when we return. Bon Voyage!

  • I’ve been on both sides of this and, if you have a good relationship with the people who are house sitting, you may not need to pay them. When I’ve house/dog sat for friends for weekends it was just nice to have the space and the dog/home owner would also make sure I knew I was welcome to enjoy what was in the fridge and would leave a bottle of wine or two, or a case of nice beer. Now, when we have people watch our dogs, we leave about $50, adult beverages and free reign to the kitchen. This obviously works best when you have friends watching the animals and neither I, nor those who have watched my dogs, have ever felt any additional fee was necessary.

    • Second this. If you consider them friends, then a nice gesture like beer/wine and maybe $50 is all that’s necessary. Its more like a favor than a job. Or at least I was entirely satisfied receiving that for my efforts.

      Otherwise $40-$50 a day – esp if its over Thanksgiving weekend when it might not be as enticing to stay in a strange house.

      • +1 – For friends or acquaintances, students escaping dorms, people escaping group houses etc. when you are giving them a cool place to stay – $50.00 and a bottle of wine or beer.

  • I have done pet sitting on the side in the past and my rate was $50 per day. I would also get mail, water plants, and spend play time with the dog as well. Although I was paid in advance.

  • $50 per day. you may want to add $10 to that since you have two dogs and a cat.

  • I pay friends $35/day in advance to stay overnight with my cat, feed him, and clean up the litter box. Dogs are much higher maintenance and it sounds like the $50 mark is reasonable.

  • Capitol Petsitters only charged $22/day for my two dogs.

    • To stay with them overnight? That’s incredibly inexpensive! (Compared to other places in the area.)

      Were you happy with the service?

      • No, to feed/walk them twice a day, play with them, water plants, bring in mail, etc. They’re not puppies so they don’t need overnight stays.

  • I had referred my cousin to my neigbors when they were out for a period longer than what the small coalition of ‘pet sit for free because we’re awesome neighbors’ could deal with. I suggested $15-$20 per day, where she would housesit, playing with the cat, feeding the cat, letting the cat out, bringing the cat back in, and cleaning the litter box. They threw in permission to eat their food. I don’t know what the settled price was. There are other places that will charge $20 for 1 hour of interaction with the cat per day.

  • While we’re on the topic, anybody have any suggestions for dogsitters in Petworth? Just moved to the neighborhood and will need somebody for week soon.

    • janie4

      I’m available. Are you talking full-on stay at the house, or come by twice a day or three times a day for walks?

    • Hi JD,

      Welcome to the neighborhood! I live in Petworth and I dogsit quite regularly. I’ve toyed with the idea of starting my own business but, for now, it’s a fun side-gig. Anyway, I love dogs and I come with references since I have a handful of ‘clients’ (which feels weird to say!). :) I usually get $40/day (for overnight stays) but that’s negotiable. Let me know if you’re interested.

    • JD,

      Our dog walker/sitter is awesome. She just finished a week at our place while we were in the UK. Her Name is Laura Steiner and if you’re interested I can give you her number. She’s our regular walker/sitter and she has lots of clients in the area, so she has plenty of references you can check. I highly recommend her.

      • Whoops…forgot to add her rate is $60 for overnights. And she’s welcome to help herself to anything in the fridge, freezer, cupboards, including wine and booze. We’re more comfortable having her stay at the house in the spare room so that our pup doesn’t get out of her routine and so the house is looked after while we’re gone. Who wants mail piling up in the mailbox letting everyone know you’re gone?

  • We apparently underpay. It’s been a couple of years, but we paid $25-30/day to stay at our house in Petworth (near the metro) with our dog. We hired younger friends who otherwise lived with parents, au pairs who got the holiday off, etc. If you can’t afford $50/day, I would say look for someone who welcomes a break from their current living situation. I also would think you might have neighbors or others not too far away who would love a free place to put up relatives in town for the holidays in exchange for a little pet care.

    • I second this. My partner and I have several cat-crazy friends who can’t have pets themselves and have been happy to pet sit, with or without payment (we always offer, some accept, some don’t, but it’s often a token amount like $50 for a long weekend). We do favors for them too, you know?

      Now we live under our landlords, who have three young children and no pets but the kids are crazy about our cats and home schooled. It’s been great–the mom does the feeding, and the two older girls fight over who gets to scoop the litter, and the little bitty boy chases the kitties around and squeals when one lets him get close. We figure the cats are getting exercise, the mom is happy the kids get to play with pets that she doesn’t have to worry about, and we get somewhat stressful but very caring cat sitting. We always bring the kids back a present or mail them a card from wherever we went. I can’t recommend (supervised) children enough, especially for easy-to-care for animals like friendly cats!

      We also once had a young friend (8 years old) who did all the duties himself (accompanied by his mom, who would have a beer from our fridge) in return for $5 a day. He had never had $20 in cash at one time before–he was thrilled.

  • I pay my dogwalker (includes feeding) $20/visit for 2 small dogs. If the walker only comes for one visit I pay $25.

    To stay overnight at a house it’s typically $50 – $65.

    I personally wouldn’t ask my friends to watch my animals for free, or barter with wine. Maybe if it was a last minute out of town or overnight trip. But if it’s a planned 3 or 4 day trip I expect to pay my friends fairly and they expect to be paid.

    Also, I don’t care how nice someone’s house is, if it’s located in a trendy neighborhood, or if the fridge is stocked with food and beer, it’s usually an inconvenience to spend the night in an unfamiliar house and bed. This is why you pay a fair rate for a “friend” to do it.

    • Wow – you need better friends.

      • I’d like to be notmyfriend’s friend! S/he sounds polite and considerate. I love dogs, I’m happy to watch my friends’ dogs, and I turn down payment when it’s offered, but it’s the polite thing to do IMO. Taking care of a dog is a big responsibility and involves a significant amount of personal inconvenience (waking up earlier than usual, going straight home after work instead of doing happy hour, taking the dog for walks, being ready to rush to the vet if something should go wrong, etc.) so I think it’s really only good manners to offer fair payment. I certainly would, anyway.

    • i’d watch my friends pets for free.

      wouldn’t want to stay at their place though. i never really understood house sitting.

  • I’m a mid-20s Shaw resident with a regular office 9-5, but I would love to pick up the occasional side gig (baby/house/pet-sitting, odd jobs, etc.) for a little extra money. OP, I’d be happy to help you out, and would welcome advice from any others on how to find other jobs.

  • I’ve paid between 20 – 28 per day for cat sitting. Including taking in mail, adjusting the lights, playing with the cat.

    The OP seems as if they are doing the people a favor by allowing them to stay in town. Minimal payment and beers. They are way psyched to be near 930, DC9 and Blackcat.

  • I did a lot of pet & house sitting in my grad school days (and after), and although it was nice to have a break in a nice house, away from my grind, I always was paid and always appreciated being paid. For $50 a day (or so – if you’re in a bind I am sure they’d do it for less) you get people you know and trust taking care of the pets and the house – isn’t that peace of mind worth the expense? And in my case, the beer/wine/what’s in the fridge was always added in with the money, not instead of. This sitting was always for friends; unless there are really specific circumstances, I feel that friendship does not eliminate the offer of money – they can always tell you if they’d rather do it for free.

  • Thanks for the advice! Sounds like $50 per day is a good starter and I’ll have some beer in the fridge.

    RE: PoP / Shaw Neighbor / Others for PoP house swap, pet sitter, bike finder, etc. classified ad listings site add-on

    I could really use this. I have a bad back and occasionally need a “cleaning buddy” for a few hours on the weekends to help move furniture, pull weeds, etc.

  • I think the average is $50 per day. Or at least it was in Boston when I was using a pet sitter. Your best bet is to try to find someone in the neighborhood who would come by but not stay at your place. I have always found that the most convenient. And in fact, do it for friends regularly!

  • No one cares about references, insurance and a license? No way that I’m entrusting my most valuable possession to someone without them.

  • Damn we pay a lot more! $75 per day for overnight dog sitting for our two dogs…but they are both elderly and have a ton of pills and extra care thats needed, so I guess its fair. We probably dont need the overnight service, just day walks, but it makes me feel better (and the dogs too I’m sure) to know someone is there in case of an emergency.

Comments are closed.