If you’re looking for a sweet side gig, doing Rover dog walking for money might be a great option. (Especially if you’re looking for ways to bring in a little extra cash fairly quickly.)
Rover is an app that makes dog walking and pet sitting super easy. (Or even doing doggy daycare or boarding in your home.) And if you ask me, it’s the best dog walking app to make money.
I decided to try out Rover dog walking myself so I could report back here on what it’s like. (Since I often recommend walking dogs as a way to make extra money.)
If you’re wondering, I didn’t get paid to check out the app, and they don’t even know I’m writing this review.
But! If you use my referral link to get started with them I should get a gift card. (And it looks like you’ll get $20. Win win!)
So with that out of the way, here’s what I learned in the process.
Let’s start with what everyone wants to know.
How much can you make with Rover?
Walking dogs can be a great way to make money while you exercise, and there’s no hard and fast rule about how much you can make. It’s super flexible too.
So I can’t tell you how much you can make with Rover. But I CAN tell you about my own experience bringing in $399.52 in my first month, and go into a little more about the things that will impact your possible earnings. (I’ll give a few tips later on, too.)
Let’s start with the basics about making money dog walking and/or dog sitting, with Rover or otherwise.
In short, the amount you may make is going to vary based on:
- how much time you’re able to devote to caring for dogs
- the number of customers you attract
- how much you decide to charge for each service
- and how much goes toward fees
There’s no such thing as a pet sitting salary with Rover (because you work for yourself!) but their website says that “Once you get your business going, you could earn $1,000 or more a month.”
I suspect the “once you get your business going” part is key there. It likely assumes you’re doing 3 services a day 5 days a week at $20 a pop. That doesn’t seem like a wild claim to me, as long as you are actively working to get clients and live where people need your services.
What does it cost to get started with Rover as a sitter?
Rover does do background checks (via a third party called Checkr) so paying for that is all it costs to start with them.
Worse case, if you got zero clients and did the enhanced check or did not get approved, you’d just be out the cost of the background check.
Best case, if you got a ton of clients and had a lot of time to devote to it? You could make a good amount with them. Sign up here if you’re interested. I was happy with my own earnings for sure!
The bottom line is that it costs very little to get started.
What does the Rover background check cover?
It depends on which one you choose. You can choose the basic background check or the more expensive enhanced one.
According to their site, the basic Rover background check looks to see:
- That your social security number, name, and address match.
- That you aren’t on any sex offender registry or terrorist watchlist.
- And that you aren’t listed in the National Criminal Database for any disqualifying criminal offenses. (But it doesn’t say what those disqualifying criminal offenses might be.)
If you go for the enhanced Rover background check, it verifies all of the above plus they do a manual search of county court records based on your address history over the last seven years.
I chose to do the enhanced background check because it got me a “better” badge on my sitter profile, although I don’t know if that really matters or not. That cost me $35. (The basic one would have cost even less.)
Prices may vary — possibly depending on where you live — so the most accurate cost will be available when you sign up. But it’s likely to be similar.
What about other pet sitting start up costs?
There are additional costs you should consider though, regardless of how you get started with dog walking or pet setting.
You may need or want:
- a business license
- dog walker’s or pet sitter’s insurance (They do have a guarantee, but that’s not the same thing as insurance.)
- to be bonded
Check with your local area and state to see exactly what’s required. Also check with a professional that can give you advice on what’s best for your situation.
No matter what, it should NOT cost you an arm and a leg to get started, even if you pay for all of the above and go all out by forming an LLC instead of just being a sole proprietor.
That’s good news, since if you’re trying to make extra money, you don’t want to spend a ton along the way. But do protect yourself and do it right.
If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry. It’s actually way easier than you might think to start a small business in the U.S., especially if you just want to be a sole proprietor.
My experience making money with Rover dog walking
For me, walking dogs with Rover easily brought in a fairly sizable amount of extra money. I made an extra $399.52 in my first month. All I did was do one dog walk 3-4 times a week on weekdays. That’s it!
I love dogs (and they love me right back) so that was awesome.
I have no idea what the generally expected results are for dog walkers, but no matter how much you personally earn with Rover, remember to set aside part of your earnings for taxes since you’ll be self-employed.
All I did to get my first client was post a notice in my neighborhood Facebook group that I was offering dog walking. Rover does provide a link you can use to give new folks $20 off their first walk, so I put that link in my post. (I still got paid my normal rate.)
In my case, I really only wanted to offer services to people within walking distance, since my personal goal was to get more exercise too. So I made my service area SUPER small by restricting it to within a mile of my home. (I don’t recommend doing that if your goal is to make as much as possible.)
Since I live in a sprawling metro area, this severely limited my potential client base. Despite that, I did also get another client that found me on the site. And that was all it took to earn that $399.52 the first month.
As a bonus, getting paid to exercise and hang out with pups was the best! It actually got me out of the house more than just walking my own dog. I did not see a downside :)
How do you become a sitter on Rover? (Or a dog walker?)
If you want to become a sitter, dog walker, or doggy daycare provider on Rover, the process is really simple. All you do is:
- Sign up here.
- Pay for your desired background check through them.
- Ask for testimonials from people who know how you are with dogs.
- Watch the videos and answer the questions.
- Fill out your profile, provide information about your own dogs if you have any, and add photos that show you interacting with dogs.
Then you wait to see if you are approved or not, which could take up to 5 business days.
Note: Filling out your profile is really important. Be sure to show that you care, provide enough attention and supervision, and are capable. If you plan to watch dogs in your home, be sure to describe how you will be able to keep them safe (and separated if need be) while providing plenty of one-on-one attention.
Also, Rover makes it easy to request testimonials, but be sure to follow up personally with the people you’re asking via text or a call. That way people realize you really do want them to provide one. (You need at least one testimonial before your profile can go live.)
Tips for making money with Rover
Like any business, the key is to get good-paying clients, so that starts with having a good sitter profile.
Describe yourself, talk about your experience taking care of animals, and include pictures of you with a variety of dogs. Rover’s sign up process actually walks you through all of those steps, but remember to make yourself shine.
Think about what you’d like to see in a person if they were going to be walking your dog. What would make you comfortable with letting them care for your pet?
You DO need to have experience with dogs, and to be good with them. Show your experience in those areas.
(And if that isn’t you, maybe check out some other ways to make money in my 101 Ways to Make Extra Money in Your Spare Time idea book instead.)
Once you have a solid profile and are approved, make getting clients your main focus starting out.
You could get clients by:
- posting in your neighborhood Facebook group or forum
- putting a notice up on actual physical bulletin boards (for example, at community centers, grocery stores, and the local dog park)
- telling everyone you meet while walking dogs about your service
- offering to send interested people your discount link
- maybe even wearing a “dog walker” t-shirt to draw attention (since many people will assume you’re walking your own dogs)
- asking any existing clients to refer you to additional clients
And don’t just tell people about it once! People will forget, new people will move into the area, and people will get new dogs. So continue to let people know about your services.
Confirm your availability often and turn on notifications
One other important tip: make sure to go into Rover regularly and update your calendar to confirm you are still available.
They recommend you do it every 2 weeks, but I would do it every day at first, and every 2-3 days after that. It literally just takes a click as long as you don’t need to change your schedule, and doing so helps highlight your profile on the site.
This will help you get clients who don’t already know of you.
Allow the app to send you notifications too, so that you’re notified right away if someone wants to book you.
Decide how much to charge for your pet services
People often recommend cutting your rates until you get a few reviews, but I personally didn’t do that. In fact, I made my rates a little higher than some others in the area. I don’t want clients who are going for the cheapest. I want clients who are going for the best.
A friend did have good luck with pricing her rates low at first, and then increasing them later. She now has some of the highest rates in her area. So that suggestion definitely can work, but it wasn’t for me. I preferred to start out with higher rates to begin with.
You have to decide what rates you want to accept. Keep in mind that you can always raise or lower them too, so it’s not super critical to get it right the first time.
Rover will also suggest a starting rate for you and automatically adjust it, so that’s an option too if you’re comfortable with that idea, but I didn’t do that.
Note that you can have different rates for each type of service. (Dog walking, drop-in visits, doggy daycare, boarding, and even cat sitting.)
How much does Rover pay?
Well, in a sense that’s up to you, since you decide what to charge. However, Rover does charge a service fee for service providers (which would be you.)
The Rover service fee is 15% if you signed up before March 1, 2016. But if you sign up after that, they charge a:
- 20% fee if you’re a Rover sitter
- 25% fee if you’re a RoverGO sitter
- fee that varies by location if you’re a Rover Now sitter
This means that — if you sign up now — the amount Rover pays you will depend on the type of service you are using and the amount you charge clients.
For example, if you charge $20 a walk and are using:
- their normal service, they will pay you $16. (80% of $20.)
- RoverGo, they will pay you $15. (75% of $20)
- Rover Now, the amount will completely vary based on where you are. For example, it appears the fee is 40% in New York City. So in that case they would pay $12. (60% of $20.)
Which service should you sign up for?
It depends on what you’re interested in and what is available where you are.
Personally, I like the normal Rover service where you market yourself and get clients that way. Clients select you in particular, and you can meet with them and decide whether or not to accept.
I didn’t think the benefits of RoverGO were worth the additional 5% they would keep, but I don’t know for sure. Maybe I wasn’t alone in that thinking either, because the link for it just goes to their normal sign up page now.
Rover Now is only available in certain big cities right now. It seems to operate more like a ride-sharing service. Pet owners request services, and available dog walkers provide them. The plus side of that is that you don’t have to worry about marketing yourself, and clients don’t have to decide on a specific person. It could be more convenient, but less personal, for both people. I’m not a fan of maybe earning less though.
With all this money talk, you might be wondering “How do I get paid on Rover?”. Well, first you need to set up a payment account with them.
To do that, login. Then choose withdraw money and provide your PayPal information. (You can choose to be paid by check in the U.S. too, but there’s a fee for that.) Don’t wait to do this step; do it as soon as you get approved. Specific instructions for desktop vs. phone are on their support site.
After that, getting paid with Rover works like this:
- A client books you and pays in advance
- You provide the entire service (for example, a week’s worth of walks)
- 1-4 days after that, the money is in your PayPal account. You can send it to your bank account from there.
It’s pretty simple. For me payments typically appeared the day after the service was completed.
Why chose Rover vs. Wag?
I chose the Rover app because I’d heard about it from a friend, but later realized that it’s a MUCH better option than Wag if you want to make more. (And who doesn’t want to make more money for the same amount of work?)
To be clear: I haven’t tried Wag at all. But that’s because in the Rover vs. Wag debate, there’s an obvious winner when it comes to how much you can make. Basically, you can make a whole lot more doing the same walk at the same price with Rover than you would with Wag. That’s because Rover’s normal cut of 20%-25% is MUCH less than Wag’s 40%* cut of each walk.
*Wag’s 40% cut is my best guess, because there’s no percentage listed transparently on their site like there is on the Rover.com site. Instead, Wag states that “On average, a walker will currently make $12 + tip for a 30-minute walk” while their home page states “Starting as low as $20 / walk”. So $12 divided by $20 = 60%, which means they’re taking a 40% cut. With that same 30 minute $20 walk with Rover, I make $16 + tip. Or 4 bucks more even without a tip.
Also, with Rover clients pick you specifically. Wag is known more as the “Uber for dogs” due to their on-demand walks. Personally I’d rather have scheduled walks and be able to get to know specific dogs and owners near me.
Of course, you could try both to see if you get more clients from one vs. the other. Maybe there are some benefits to Wag sitting that I’ve overlooked.
Why use the Rover dog walking app vs. just going out on your own?
You definitely could just announce to family & friends that you’ll be doing dog walking vs. using an app. And you absolutely should tell everyone you know about it either way! Word of mouth is an excellent way to get clients.
But while I only started using the app to test it, I kept using Rover because it makes managing the walks and communication really easy.
I actually really loved it and would use it again for sure. It’s a lot easier than trying to coordinate schedules otherwise, and I like the information it provides the owners. Here’s an example of what it looks like when you’re using it during a walk:
Benefits of the app
Rover lets you text with potential clients without revealing your actual phone number. So you can ask & answer questions, set up meet & greets, and just generally communicate even before booking. And when it comes to booking, clients can easily see when you’re available for which services.
Plus you can easily approve, decline, or change bookings right from your phone. (Make sure you have notifications turned on.) It’s super handy.
My favorite part though is that when you’re doing the walks, Rover lets you keep the owner informed of what’s going on. You can indicate that you’ve started & ended the walk, mark pee & poop locations, mark if you’ve provided any food or water, and send photos.
Assuming you allow it, the app also creates a map of where you’ve gone on the walk so clients can see it. It keeps track of the time and distance. That’s a big benefit for me so I don’t get sidetracked and accidentally walk too long or too far. For the client, it’s always fun to be in touch with what’s going on with your pup!
If walking dogs using Rover sounds like it could be for you…
Remember, if you’d like to sign up with Rover dog walking, you can get started right here.