Matthew Gates https://notetoservices.com 34m 8,466
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Rover Unofficial Pricing Guide
My Experience With Rover.com
Author Disclaimer: One price does not fit all. Be sure to experiment with your own pricing methods.
On some Facebook hustle group that I am a part of, someone suggested trying Rover. I signed up, filled out my information, and even paid for the extended background check, which cost $25 more than the standard background check, which far more people pay for. I believed that because I paid for the extended background check, I would be seen as more favorable than anyone else. I then completely undersold myself, undercutting everyone else, so that I could get clients and reviews. My first mistake was definitely undercutting myself in order to show up in most searches so that I could acquire more clients. Another mistake was assuming that every dog was like my dog, and a piece of cake to walk. My dog walks next to me and I only put a leash on her if I know it is a hotspot time for other dogs to be out and about at that time.
So before I begin, this article is not to bash Rover, and can also be applied to any dog walking sites or dog walkers looking for information on pricing. If you search for information about Rover, you will find very mixed reviews. The mixed reviews are usually from the people who are actually doing the freelancing on Rover, while most dog owners seem to have a generally good experience from it. The biggest issue I can think of why Rover has mixed reviews, including people calling Rover “thieves and exploiters” is simply because these people undercharged for their service. So did I, but my review is not mixed. It is not negative. It is not positive. It is just facts.
Rover does exactly what it was designed to do: it connects dog owners with dog caretakers. What more do you want from this website? They make sure those dog walkers have had a basic to a thorough background check. They try to make sure these owners are actually keeping their dog tags up to date with shots and all that good stuff. Rover is not a get rich quick scheme. It is great for those looking for full-time, part-time, or even weekend work. And there are always dog owners who need all of the services available on Rover at some point or another. It can be a great source of income if you use it properly and charge accurately.
Looking at what Rover is, it serves as a medium that attracts a lot of dog owners looking for dog sitters, dog walkers, doggy daycare, dog drop-ins, and dog housesitting. Each of them come with their own set of pros and cons. It is a great way for people to make some extra money, usually in their spare time and as a supplemental income. It has, however, replaced some people’s full income, and they can often make more than $1,000 a month if they price accurately. Putting that into perspective: 2 walks a day at $20 per walk is $40 or 3 walks at $15 each is $45. After Rover fees, you are left with $18 or $13, respectively, per walk. $18 multiplied by an average of 30 days in a month is $1,080 or $1,170 if you can get 3 walks at $13. This is really the only way you can make $1,000 with dog walking alone.
If you want to provide other services, such as house sitting or doggy daycare, you do have the potential to make just as much, or more. In my case, I only made $272 for about 25 total walks (not including the Meet and Greet walks). Charging so little actually helped me understand the importance of pricing, which I did not comprehend originally, but it did help me to write this unofficial guide.
The price did not affect my generosity and kindness to the owners and their dogs. My customer care and service was exceptional. I do not say this with an ego, or because I think I am better than any other dog walker. Rather, I say it because my Rover scores were 100 and 99, respectively.
So in terms of making some extra money: if you want or need instant cash, Rover will pay you two days after you have completed walking a dog, so long as that was your only walk. If someone happens to schedule for the 1st, the 14th, and the 30th within the same booking, you will not get paid at all until you have completed all three walks.
Reviewing the services:
Dog sitters are normally people that let dogs come and stay at their houses while you go on vacation. It is far better than a kennel because the dog is usually not put in a cage and stays with someone in their home who might have other dogs and provide food, water, and walks, as well as more formalized care.
Dog walkers go to where a person lives and walk their dogs for 30 minutes at a time.
Doggy daycare allows people to drop off their dogs at a person’s home, usually between 7 AM and 9 AM and pick them up between 4 PM and 6 PM.
Doggy drop-ins are more rare and just require that you drop in and check on the dog. Most dog owners don’t even select this option because if you’re going to stop over, you may as well walk the dog.
Doggy housesitting means that you will go over the owner’s house and actually spend the night, sleep there, take care of the dog, etc.
All of these are great options to make extra money. Depending on where you live is where there might be a demand for them. Some of these options are more popular than others. All of these definitely do not come without some added stress. If you’re a natural dog lover, you will already know there are stresses of owning any fur baby, but you deal with it, and you can move past it and do the job without any issues.
Now before I get into the actually pricing out your business costs, let me just say this: kudos to the dog owners who are unable to walk their dogs, temporarily or permanently, who pay for these services because truly: your dog needs to go outside for exercise. Dogs are expensive to own. They are like having a child: you need to feed them, usually twice a day, play with them, pay attention to them, give them love, rub their belly, and take them outside no less than two or three times a day, and clean up after them.
This amount to no less than an hour of paying attention to your dog every single day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Dogs do not take off. They look to you, as the owner, as the pack master, for everything. Owners who cannot afford extra time to spend with their dog should probably not own a dog. Owners who have chosen to hire dog services and ensuring their fur babies have the proper lifestyle that dogs need are doing the right thing.
With all of this said, dog walking is a job that puts stress on your mind and your body depending on the type and size of dog you are walking. Smaller dogs have less stress, while larger dogs come with their own set of stressors, whether intended or not. One dog I was walking got so excited every single time, because I was his reward: he associated me with his walk, therefore he would cry and jump on me and even bark at me if I took too long to put his leash on.
In my own experience for the month I used Rover, the dogs I walked were strong and usually pulled me for a few blocks with anticipation and excitement before I could fully get them under control to walk with me, rather than ahead of me. Some dogs I was unable to get to walk next to me until closer to the end of our walk. While you may think, “How hard can it really be to walk a dog?” Walking a dog comes with a strain on your body. Walking a 90 pound dog is different than walking a 60 pound dog is different than walking a 30 pound dog. Smaller dogs might be eager, but your body weight and strength can pretty much stop them dead in their tracks. 60 pound dogs can also be stopped, but it takes slightly more effort. A 90 pound dog who sees another dog and wants to go sniff or attack is a much different challenge, requiring you to try and push or pull that dog past the other dog it sees, using your own body weight and strength to keep it from getting out of your control, especially if that dog sees itself as an alpha. Tightening the leash certainly helps, but it is your weight and strength vs. the natural predatory, territorial, and natural instincts of a dog.
Many big dogs are often in complete “alpha” mode when they go for a walk and feel the need to try and establish they are the leader of the pack, and this is how their owners have always walked them, so it is almost hard to retrain them right from scratch. It is rare, but sometimes you might walk a dog who has yet to be neutered, and this is when the “alpha male” really comes out. You most likely won’t be able to walk a dog the way you really want unless you are going to be walking that dog for a few months at a time, which still requires a lot of “resetting” and “retraining”, but in most cases, it won’t be possible because you aren’t the only one walking that dog.
Rover takes 20% in fees, something you need to factor into your costs. I went fully cheapo and charged just $10 per half hour walk, which left me with just $8, and less than that, after all was said and done. It is not unheard of what Rover charges, if you think about the fact that Uber and AirBnb take upwards of 30%, Fiverr takes 20%, and other websites take just as much. No one can blame Rover for taking their fees and letting you charge the minimum amount, because Rover really lets you set your own price.
Rover, of course, is geared towards the consumer or buyer, the one who pays for it. So regardless of how much anyone charges: they get 20%, which usually comes out to $2 per transaction. However, they need people cheap enough to attract dog owners, while still making money themselves, so a search of “rover pricing” just talks about their fees, but other than what you find on their forums, there is not much guidance in how to really set your own pricing in terms of knowing your own value when it comes to dog care. That is why I have written this unofficial pricing guide for dog walking and doggy care with Rover.
Pricing For Dog Walks
Looking at the competition of professional dog services, most of them charge $20 per half hour walk and often sell them in packages, usually a minimum of 20-30 days of walking, so the final pricing often comes out to about $600 for dog walking. Knowing what I know now, this is a completely reasonable price. When I first got on to Rover, I saw people charging an average of about $15 an hour, which makes their takeaway $13. Luckily, Rover does cover the Paypal fee. I had the idea of just getting reviews and undercutting everyone, which was definitely not the best idea.
I saw a few people charging as much as $25 per walk and $10 was the minimum, with many people to choose from who were charging the minimum across the board. There were quite a few people charging just $10, and just a few people charging $20-$25 per walk. It is likely that these people charging $10 were simply undercutting everyone else, firmly believing that if they did this, like I did, they would get more walks; and technically, you will — too many. The people who were charging at least $20 were actually the smart ones because honestly: if you are paying for a $20 walk, you ought to expect really great service. If we spoke a decade ago, $10 would be fine, but it just isn’t worth the time anymore to undercut, undercharge, or charge people the minimum. It’s not good for business at all and actually devalues Rover. With a slightly more expensive price tag, dog owners expect great service no matter what, so you may as well charge for great service.
I listed myself on Rover in February of 2018 and did not get anyone even remotely interested until the end of March. I was curious as to why no one was purchasing my services, despite my pricing being the cheapest. The reason? They just hadn’t found me yet. Whether it was because I wasn’t established doesn’t really matter and shouldn’t even affect pricing. I undervalued myself right from the start and because of this, I left Rover.
In a way, Rover has now lost money in the long run because their support isn’t very much in favor of dog walkers or dog sitters, and by that: I mean, had they told me right from the start: “Don’t undervalue yourself, don’t undercut yourself, and by the way — charging $10 per half hour walk is really only a take home of less than $8, which is less than minimum wage in your area, so we don’t advise that you do that.” Had they told me this, I probably would have charged and valued myself better and continued to enjoy my walking while knowing I was providing a value and getting paid for it.
Rover failed to educate me on proper pricing on their platform, and while a month of my service, 25 walks at $10 per walk has yielded them about $2 per walk, or $50 for total walks, the lack of retaining me for the rest of the year has now actually cost them money because it also means my former clients now have to find another dog walker, and might not be able to find one for a few days to weeks, so Rover ultimately loses money by not helping or assisting dog walkers or dog sitters.
My first gig on Rover was actually watching 3 cats for 2 days, just stopping over for a half hour to check up on them and make sure they had food and the litter was cleaned. I charged $5 per cat, so I made about $25 after all was said and done, fees taken and all that. I definitely would’ve preferred to do this more than anything else, as cats are pretty easy to take care of and no big deal to check up on. Cats too would also have their own pricing separate of dogs. If I were to reconsider my pricing, I would charge $10 for the first cat and $5 for every cat after that.
So lets take real-world factors into play for pricing: minimum wage is no less than $7.25 in the United States. Rover’s minimum price is $10 per walk. After Rover takes its fees and you can gain access to your money, you are left with $8 per walk. So you need to justify your costs and your time.
You are charging for a half hour walk, but, in reality, it’s at least an hour of your time. What you need to charge for is:
- Time it takes to establish introductions with the dog (excited to see you, period to calm down)
- Time it takes to put a leash or harness on the dog (sometimes dogs will run around insanely excited to see you and getting their leash on is at least another 5 minutes and most owners do not put anything on the dog in advance because they don’t want to excite the dog before you have arrived or they aren’t even home)
- Time it takes to grab any treats and doggy bags the owner might have left for you, if any
- Time it takes to walk the dog
- Time it takes to count their pees and poops (Rover provides a button and it is common courtesy to provide this count)
- Time it takes to snap a photo of the dog walk (at least 1 photo is necessary to prove you were there to walk the dog; 5 photos yields a very nice looking Rover card which usually helps you get higher reviews as owners actually like seeing the actions of their dogs during the walk)
- Time it takes to clean up after the dog
- Time it takes to unharness or unleash the dog
- Time it takes to say goodbyes to the dog
- Time it takes for any additional owner comments or instruction (during intro or goodbye — owners sometimes want to talk to you)
- Cost of bags (sometimes owners don’t provide them)
- Cost of treats (sometimes owner doesn’t provide, but may not want you to give the dog treats; or okays you to bring your own treats)
- Costs of extra time to walk a dog (Rover does not take this into consideration at all and charges their paying customers the same regardless if you walk 30 minutes or 1 hour)
In almost ALL cases, you are not at a Rover home for 30 minutes, you are there for nearly an hour, sometimes not including the time it takes to drive to and from the destination. Rover advises that you charge when the walk starts, and not a minute before. While you cannot charge directly for it, the list above does not include transportation, as you wouldn’t charge your job for the costs of mileage, gas, and wear and tear on your car driving to and from anywhere. You also cannot factor in the costs of the actual wear and tear on your own body, and believe me, there is some wear and tear on your body, especially if you walk bigger dogs.
You also need to take into account that the owner will almost always want a Meet and Greet which Rover doesn’t in the least bit help you charge for, as they cannot. Meet and Greet is like an interview: you don’t pay a company for their time to interview you. You don’t pay people to interview them. So it is not very proper to charge for your Meet and Greet. In fact, don’t. You will likely offend the owner and they will be going with someone else. If the Meet and Greet doesn’t work out, is it fair to still charge? So it’s considered an unpaid interview and is an hour of time that is unpaid.
Finally, you also have to take into consideration your response time. It might not sound like it is a big deal, but no one wants to wait more than 10 minutes or so for a response. My response time was under an hour, about 53 minutes to be exact. So any owner who contacted me about a possible gig always saw a response within the hour, which was about average. Most dog owners going through a professional service might not be able to even get a hold of a company on weekends or after hours, so getting in touch within an hour is definitely important and adds to your value.
So adding all this up, you need to be aware of these factors. You will burn out very fast and end up being the one who gives Rover that negative review. You need to get paid for your time and if the owner cares, they won’t mind paying you for the value of your service, because they are paying you to care about their dog for a half hour in which they cannot do so.
Consider your time and your ability to care is valuable: it is okay to charge what you believe will make it worth your time. The owners are always going to pay you whatever you charge them, but if you charge less, that is what they will pay and not think otherwise: to them, you’re a great deal, and helping them to save money, but honestly: for every dollar you are saving them is a dollar you are losing. If they want that animal cared for during a half hour walk, charge them for it.
I personally enjoyed walking the dogs I walked — a 1-year old 95-pound German Shepherd male, a 10-year old 65-pound Dalmatian Sha-rei female, a 15-pound three-legged Border Terrier, and a 4-year old 40-pound Pitbull Terrier female. They were non-violent and non-aggressive towards me, with no history of aggression towards any human beings, but it was best to avoid people and other animals as requested by their owners. Therefore, our walks consisted of avoiding people and dogs, something that also must be considered in pricing: custom needs is a big deal. And avoiding other dogs and people is not always possible. These dogs gave me a workout. I returned home exhausted. A few days I had to walk them on the same day, at 9 AM, 1 PM and 7 PM. These dogs were also very excitable meaning the first half mile of our walk was fast-paced. But generally, they were good dogs to walk.
Being over 30 years old, my body ached when I returned home, and although I am quite fit and in shape to an extent. I do live a somewhat sedentary desk job lifestyle, but I make an effort to get exercise for at least 20-30 minutes a day. These dogs gave me a workout and while it was great to get paid to workout, I still should have charged more to help these dogs get the exercise they needed as well.
To end my Rover relationship with my clients, I held up my end of the bargain and finished up my last week (officially ended on April 26, 2018) at my $8 price and I closed my calendar to everyone, including repeat clients. The pitbull I walked would have turned into a summer gig in the morning (I am not a morning person at all nor do I pretend to be), but I was not going to do it at $8 per walk. While pitbulls are like walking any other dogs, they do require extra attention due to laws in most areas, as well as people and other dogs. I told my existing and repeat clients that I was shutting down my own operation for now, due to other life commitments, but might be back. I turned off Rover listing me on their service. I did not delete my profile, as I have some great reviews, and if I ever found myself needing some money, I could always re-list myself at a higher price, complete with positive reviews.
Dog owners are paying for a kind face, a gentle voice, and someone who their dog likes and trusts to come over and be nice to them. When you put this into perspective, justifying the price for your dog care service might be more easy to do. A person who gives a dog a bad experience has the potential of really messing a dog up, including a dog walker who is constantly pulling the dog, “talking down” to the dog, treating the dog with disrespect, etc. Any dog owner can tell whether their dog is acting normal or not and will likely draw the conclusion that any new behavior the dog now has is from the dog walker. Most dog people know that dogs are not stupid. They are far from it and many older dogs who have matured show signs of the mentality of a 7 – 10 year old child. They look at you when you talk to them. They understand words like “food”, “walk”, “treat”, “toy”, “bad”, “good”, etc. They learn your behaviors and patterns. Dogs are very sentient beings.
So when you are charging to walk a dog: you are charging for all of the extra services that come along with it, not just the walk. And as much the people paying for the service might argue otherwise: “It should be a given that when you take my dog for a walk, you provide a professional service.” Yup, you can pay for that guarantee that it will happen. That is why you should charge more for your dog walking. This is not to say that people charging a lower rate are worse or not going to give your dog great care. I charged $10 and I made sure these dogs had everything they needed. I just burned myself out very fast within the month at that price. Had I been charging $15 or more per walk, I may have put up with anything sent my way. The hardest part, really, was saying goodbye to these dogs I had walked over the past month.
The average price per dog walk should be around $15 – $16.
Pricing For House Sitting & Doggy Daycare
The average price most people are charging for doggy daycare and dogsitting on Rover is as little as $23 – $25 a day to as much as $50 a day, depending on your area. While I am not going to get into the depth about the pricing for house sitting or doggy daycare, because I personally didn’t do either, just thinking about the factors come into play. People who are charging $20 – $25 are a steal and undervaluing their time and their service.
Most of the dogs you are taking into your home are going to be walked at least twice a day. A doggy walk by itself is going for an average of $10 – $20, so that already factors into the costs of about $20 – $40 for that day. You are also most likely not putting that dog in a cage. You are taking time out to feed the dog, which can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. You are taking time out to care and love that dog throughout the night which can be as little as 10 minutes every hour to as much as a half hour to more than an hour every few hours, and generally, it is just your presence that might calm the dog too, just having some socialization with a caring human being.
The pricing does not take into account any accidents the dog may have inside of the home, any special attention the dog may need including medications, or their dog just having a kind human around that keeps them socialable. This also does not take into consideration that if you run a doggy daycare or are housesitting several dogs at once, you have to get these dogs to get along with each other, and to eliminate their need for “becoming alpha” in your house. You have to train them to be neutral inside of your house, as this is “all dog” territory. This can take time if you plan to take on multiple dogs at once.
The average price when charging per day to house sit a dog should probably be around $45.
The average price when charging per day to take a dog for a few hours for doggy daycare should be around $35.
Imagine a person having to put their dog in a kennel? Average costs are from $25 – $50 per day. When anyone goes on vacation, they have to plan for the costs of having someone take care of their dog. One dog owner admitted to me that she had her neighbor take care of the dog, but upon our walk, the dog had way too much energy, so we knew that neighbor may have fed the dog, but did not take that dog for a walk once during the week. Knowing that their dog is taken care of is enough to justify a minimum of a $25 – $50 price tag.
Most people who charge this much are likely not going to be considered at all, which is why you may need to start off lower for only the first dog but to be upfront about your pricing from the start, that you are getting experience, but that your pricing will likely go up. You can also coerce the dog owner into paying for a few dozen doggy walks and promise to “lock them in” at that current rate which will give you some guaranteed income to start.
In my first month of Rover, coming in at about 25 walks, I made about $272. I definitely learned that I really did not charge enough. This is not to say that I am greedy. As I said earlier: you are not going to get rich off Rover nor is it a get rich quick scheme. But I did learn I just should have charged what I felt was fair, rather than what I felt would make dog owners want to hire me, due to being so cheap. If anything, it got me out of the business before I really even started. But if I were to ever start it again, I’ve gained the experience, and I can justify my price and charge more. If people want to go with me, they are paying for great care for their dog with someone who cares. They are justifying my time and reason for being there, and for checking up on their dog. You will also want to establish that you will not travel more than 5 miles from your home, and establish early on, if the owner insists on your services, that you will charge them an additional $5 per walk if you must drive further, which can definitely help in justifying your costs.
Rover and other dog walking websites are big business, with Rover alone bringing in over $60 million. People need help with their dogs, it is not easy. For most people, they usually rely on family members, friends, and neighbors, but sometimes they aren’t always able to do so, which has helped Rover become the popular website it is.
Being a web app developer I am, I’d rather be the guy making that $2 per transaction than the guy doing the actual dog walking. I barely want to walk my wife’s dog.. I mean, my dog. It was a great experience. Don’t be afraid to establish your pricing. It might be okay to undercut or undercharge for a few walks so you can build up a review or two, but you are guaranteed to burn yourself out very quickly, especially once you start getting reviews and people see that you are actually a good dog walker.
So it is unlikely that you are going to charge $20 to start and get someone immediately. I do recommend starting at the average of what everyone else is charging. As I said, I started off at $10, but it also means I now need to take a break from Rover and explain to my clients if I choose to re-list myself on Rover why my pricing has gone up. The answer I’d give them would just be that I need to justify all my costs in all areas. The answer I am really thinking: “Your dog is work to walk.” But at least they know they are getting great service from me. A few clients who hired me physically cannot walk their dogs, but aren’t the type of people who are going to give up those dogs either, so they do the next best thing and hire someone who can help them take care of their dogs.
It is all about you valuing yourself as a dog walker or dog sitter. Your clients will pay whatever you tell them your worth, but after all is said and done, they also have to realize that Rover itself charges a fee, and while people might not think it is justified: Rover takes care of a lot of the worry including background check, insurance, emergency phone service, emergency staff members on-call 24/7. This is what they are paying for — so when you come to justify that your price is around $15-$20 an hour, just know that Rover is justified in charging that 20% fee as well. Pass the costs on to your customers and show them just what they are paying for when you decided on your pricing.
Advice For Pricing Correctly
If I had to do it all over again, this is what I would do.
Customized pricing. I would be more upfront with all of my clients. I would have set my base cost at $10 per walk to reel them in. In other words, when you searched for me, you would find me as one the lowest cost dog walkers, which I was. However, Rover does something pretty nice: they let you customize every walk to your own price. I did not really do this.
If I was just starting out and knew what I know now, I would have set custom pricing for each and every dog I walked. I assumed that what I charged was the cost for every dog, but it did not have to be that way. All dogs would have had a base fee of $10. Why a base fee of $10? Because if you go higher, you might be overlooked. $10 is a very attractive price.
Let’s take a look at dog sizes and how we could charge additional fees. For example, you might do a meet and greet with a dog and determine that they are larger and while you can walk them, they might be full of anxiety and nervousness, making them slightly more challenging to walk, so you would evaluate how much your pricing would be. If you and the owner come to an agreement that you will spend more than the half hour walking the dog, you can charge them that as an additional fee.
This is what I would charge doing it all over again.
Base fee: $10.
- Small dogs (0 – 15 pounds): $5
- Medium dogs (16-40 pounds): $10
- Large dogs (41-100 pounds): $15
- Giant dogs (101+ pounds): $20
In other words, the dogs I walked would have actually cost:
- 0-15 pounds: $10 + $5 = $15 per walk
- 16-40 pounds: $10 + $10 = $20 per walk
- 41-100 pounds: $10 + $15 = $25 per walk
- 101+ pounds: $10 + $20 = $30 per walk
I would also charge an additional fee for owners who preferred I go on a route that took me more than a half hour, and some owners, and dogs, are adamant about their specific routes. Every 10 extra minutes walking a dog would incur an additional $5 fee. Some owners may prefer to walk with you and fail to take into account the time it takes them to walk, the time it takes them to get ready, talking to you during the walk, etc. Make sure you charge them for your time.
These prices along with other details are now listed in my profile, which if I ever do go back, are the prices I would be charging. It might be more complicated and force people to leave, and I don’t encourage you to write the guide I did if you really want clients, but you do need to try an establish your rules, as dog owners can and will take advantage of your generosity and kindness if you let them.
These prices would have to be listed on your profile or agreed upon within your introduction message. It is important to spell out any details regarding the walk and ensure that your potential clients understand your pricing. Short, simple, and to the point to just let people know how much they are actually paying after your base fee. It might scare them off, but you need to scare clients off in order to get the best ones.
Before I closed down my profile, I did a search of all in my area who were charging just $10 and the listings, which seemed numerous at once, spanning 2-3 pages, is now down to about a half of a page. This was before this article was published, but most people must have realized that the $10 they were charging just is not enough to make a living. It was a great month of courtesy from me to do this for myself, for Rover, and for the dog walkers, but I do not recommend ever charging the minimum. Burnout will happen fast and you end up hating Rover for it, even though it was you who set the lowest price possible, so please: Whatever you do, don’t charge the lowest price. Charge appropriately for walking or house sitting dogs.
It is a labor-intensive job that everyone thinks is a piece of cake, but it can be tedious and stressful. People who take on large dogs that need additional exercise are special doggy parents. These dogs require more than what their owners can really handle at times, because these people don’t want to see these dogs without a home or destroyed otherwise, they take care of them as best as they can. But I had to get out of this business before it wore me down both physically and mentally. It is also not a job for people who do not love dogs. If you’re in it for just the money, get out now, please. Turn away. There is no money in this field for you on the totem pole unless you love dogs with a passion and choose your dogs wisely. Then you can possibly make it work for you as a part-time, full-time, seasonal, or weekend job.
Gender-Biased Dog Owners on Rover
One of the things I noticed in Meet and Greets and talking to owners was that they actually preferred that younger men (between the ages of 18-35) walk their dogs more than women of any age, so there is some preference for young men by dog owners. Maybe this is just specific to my area, but take into consideration that a man who is charging $15-$20 per walk and a woman who is charging $15-$20 per walk, for which the man may just get the preference over the woman.
Please note: I am not writing this because I think women cannot walk a large dog.
I am only writing this so that women who are pricing out their dog walks are well aware of the pre-biased challenges they already face before even being given a chance. The major concerns from owners was about how some women were no more than 130 pounds trying to walk a 100-pound dog. While it is very possible for women to walk 100+ pound dogs, heavier young men just seemed to be the preference for larger dogs. The idea is that men are likely to be more firm and strict with dogs than women are. This is just a generalization and not a fact, as there are plenty of women who are very good at handling a leash.
However, the opposite of this is that most dog owners who are looking to board their furry pets while going on vacation likely preferred women for housesitting their dog. The idea must be that women are better caretakers and lovegivers for dogs. But the fact is that most women who are housesitting are still walking the dogs, so it is an interesting perspective and really nullifies the original viewpoint of women walking dogs.
Is Rover worth it?
Rover is worth it if you want to supplement your income or start your own business. If you are in high school, you can start your own business immediately. You will need a Paypal account. You can opt to not travel more than a mile or two if you are worried about being unable to get someplace. Or just get a bicycle and ride to the dog owner’s house. You definitely have the opportunity to make quite a bit of money in this field to get a head start on your career and you will learn about running a business in the process. You can also canvas individual dog owners and supply them with a coupon code to join Rover and start using it. You will get $20 plus whatever they are paying you to walk their dog.
Keep in mind that no matter who you are, you will need to pay Rover for a background check, with basic at $10 and extensive at $35. I recommend paying for the more expensive background check to prove you have a clean background, but I do not think having the basic or extensive really made you favorable one way or another. One dog I walked, the owner’s husband was skeptical, but the owner has re-assured her husband that she looked into my profile and saw that I had paid for an extensive background check, for which it obviously came up clean. You should also take this into consideration when pricing out your dog walking or house sitting: you technically can charge an extra few dollars because you got the extensive background check. If I had a choice between hiring someone with a basic background check and an extensive background check, I personally would prefer the person who went with the more in-depth background check, but that is just me.
If you are outside of high school, it can good decent income, but you should know your type of dogs. Even as a younger senior citizen, you can do this job, but know your limits. On Rover, you can opt to only walk small dogs, medium dogs, big dogs, or large dogs. Know your strength. Know your limits. Walking dogs is not for everyone.
Understand that Rover is a tool, like Uber and AirBnb, to help you acquire clients. Burnout can and will happen very fast. Know that you need to charge appropriately for your services and your time. It is unlikely that you are going to get rich from working on Rover, but it is very, very possible to make a decent living working as a freelancer on Rover. I am happy to have the reviews I have and if I ever did find myself out of work and without a job, I would likely turn to Rover again. However, I would absolutely stick to my pricing guidelines as mentioned above, either charging $20 flat rate or $10 with applied custom rates. The $10 base is likely to confuse more people, but it also allows you more freedom to charge on a per dog basis instead of assuming that all dogs are the same.
And as dog lovers know: all dogs may go to Heaven, but they all have vastly different personalities.
How Rover Can Improve
Rover is much more geared towards the dog owner experience than it is for the dog walker or dog sitter. The dog walker and sitter is just a means to an end: money for Rover, and an affordable dog caretaker. At first, it seemed great I could be listed and they were doing me a service, bringing me in money, but in the end, I felt I was really just doing them a great service. Rover is not to blame for how I set my pricing; they did not force me to set my price at minimum, but I did so, and for now, I write it off as my experience.
Rover does not really give much official guidance on pricing and this is something that likely comes with experience. Unfortunately for me, I burned out within my first month of walking and have decided this business is not for me. I believe that if I started out at $20, money would definitely have been my motivating factor. But money only goes so far, and this job really does require you to be a dog person and dog lover. I do like dogs, but I’m not naturally a dog lover. My mother has always owned dogs, which means we always had dogs in the house. I loved them as a family pet, but I’m more of a cat person.
I am not blaming Rover, but the fact that I had no guidance also means that my clients were not too happy when I told them that it was my last week. This takes away from the satisfaction of Rover, and Rover is solely to blame for that, for not really helping me at all in terms of ensuring I was happy being a dog walker. Had I charged more accurately, fairly, and just told my clients there would be extra fees regarding their dogs, they could have agreed to just pay it and I may have been happier to keep doing the job. Sure, it is actually relaxing to walk some dogs that walk with you and are, for the most part, easy to walk, but the dogs that aren’t so easy? Not worth the pain and stress it brings.
From Rover, I got emails about how to keep my customers happy, coupon codes trying to encourage me to get people to sign up so I could receive $20, but no emails about what Rover was doing to keep me happy and no mention about efforts to ensure I was actually walking these dogs correctly so I could be in good shape to actually walk those dogs. No emails about burnout, no emails about reducing my own stress levels, no emails about the fact that my wife could really see me deteriorating because I was exhausted from walking too many dogs in one day. This really lets me know exactly how much Rover is thinking about me. I really feel that I am just a means to an end, a problem that almost all companies face.
So these are just some things that Rover needs to improve upon. They are allowing people to work for them as freelancers, being their own bosses, but still need to treat them as employees that work for them. This should include benefits such as free walks for my own dog, bonus money for completing X amount of walks in a month. How about adding new features to help me upsell my own services beyond just the “default upselling” services Rover offers, and instead of the current pricing system, to actually add a base price plus those additional upsell features I mentioned.
The closest thing Rover offered for something like this was a Spring challenge.
- Book and complete one spring break service between 3/20 and 4/20
- Book and complete one service with a repeat client
- Book and complete one service over Memorial Day weekend
I managed to get 2 out of 3, but ultimately lost. Even if I had gotten all three, it was just “for a chance to win $1,000.”
No real motivation and no real incentives to keep me going as a dog walker, other than to see money in my account and to see my favorite dogs. Money is definitely great. Seeing some great dogs is also great. But if you have been reading this website for a long time, you realize that cash incentive only goes so far for most human beings. Yes, it’s awesome to make money. Money helps and money pays our bills, and there are plenty of people willing to do things for money, even just a little money, but after a certain amount of time passes, the money incentive loses its power and influence, and we seek more than just being thrown money for doing some labor for a company.
Rover has taught me a great deal of many things when it comes to freelancing and running my own business. I appreciate the month-long experience it gave me so that I could write this unofficial guide and tell you exactly what you need to know about pricing your services. If you do follow my guidelines and examples, you will have a better start on Rover than I did. The most important takeaway out of this article is this: Know your value, know your worth, and charge for it accordingly.
You will come across other websites telling you how to charge and most tell you to undervalue and undercut your service so that you can get customers and beat your competition. To an extent, it works and it is not bad advice, especially if you are looking to get a few reviews under your belt, but I suggest you only do it for one or two dog walks, get your reviews, and raise your price to a standard that makes you comfortable.
Rover also tends to consider itself as a 5-star service, but when they have dog caretakers undercutting each other, the service ends up losing its 5-star rating because everyone undercutting everyone else eliminates people who want to provide true value in their service and actually charge for it. What ends up happening is: you get basic service for your buck, and the ones charging only $10, since it become flooded, are going to end up giving quality service once or twice, and then dropping off, only for more dog walkers to take their place.
My advice to you when it comes to figuring out your pricing: charge exactly what you want. If people pay your price, they are paying for your quality of service. If people go with someone else, than that is there loss. If you have no reviews, bite the bullet once or twice and prove you are exceptional. This will help dog owners looking for quality service to trust exactly what you offer.
My own lesson learned was this: Now that I am off Rover and gave my best service, my clients are likely going to truly believe that someone can offer just as great of a service at $10 a walk, and for sure, they will find people who provide fairly equal value. However, if I had started charging $15 to $20 right from the start, they would have seen that I offer great service and likely stuck with me. They will find another freelancer to walk their dog for about the same price, because that is really all they want to pay, but they still expect that same great service no matter what.
Hence, I’ve technically devalued Rover by undercutting and undercharging. Had I just started off with the actual salary I wanted to make, I would still be on Rover and probably could have been pulling in nearly $1,000 a month. For now, I’m taking a break, and I don’t know if I will be back, but it is a lesson learned to all those undercharging and undercutting Rover. Having a dog is really a luxury. Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of dogs that need to be rescued, but the costs of owning a dog don’t come cheap. Everyone who thinks offering their services for cheap are actually devaluing the whole system. There is nothing wrong with a little competition, but to go below minimum wage is really just not the way to achieve your goals in life.
Thank you for the opportunity, Rover, and best of luck to you and everyone on the service.