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Have you ever skipped a weekend away at your friend’s country house because your dog suffers from separation anxiety? Or maybe you wanted to go for a 2-week long vacation to Southeast Asia, but there was no one who could take care of your dog while you’re away.
The good news is that lately some great pet sitting websites have appeared which are like Airbnb for dogs. These provide pet sitting, walking, and grooming services. So, you can leave your pooch in trustworthy hands without having to worry about boarding her in a soulless kennel.
Rover is certainly one of the top sites offering services like dog boarding and dog walking. There seem to be many people who wonder “Is Rover legit or a scam?” In this article, we will find out exactly what the Rover website offers both customers and sitters and how this particular pet sitting service compares to others out there.
Rover and Dogvacay merger
In March 2017, Rover acquired its biggest competitor DogVacay, and in June 2017, all DogVacay users officially made the move to Rover for good. As a result, Rover now offers the largest network (100.000+) of 5-star sitters and walkers, plus more options for those looking for a pet sitter and in a wider range of areas - all across the US and Canada (10.000+ cities).
Let’s take a look at what’s the same and what’s changed since the merge:
What’s the same?
- Free to join.
- Keeps 20% of the sitter or walker’s earnings.
- Charges the owner a 5-7% service fee which cannot exceed $25/booking. (If you created your account prior to September 2015 you are exempt from this fee.)
- Requires background checks on sitters (Rover was first to do this).
- Insurance coverage (claim must exceed $250 and vet bills are covered up to $25,000 per occurrence. A deductible may apply, but will not exceed $250).
- As a sitter or walker you can set your own rate.
- Payments go through Paypal.
- You can chat to customers/sitters over the app.
- The app sends you a text when you have a new message or notification to ensure quick response.
- Legit reviews from actual stays where a guest has paid.
- 5-star rating scale.
- 24/7 emergency customer support.
- Sitters and walkers decide their own cancellation policy
- Rover has a “RoverGo”which is a premium option, where a sitter must be able to work at least 4 times a month.
They receive an expertly written profile, a session with a professional photographer, a background check, a boost in search results when a new member, and a RoverGo banner and badge on their profile that proves they have been visited in person by a Rover representative. These sitters pay a 25% service fee on each booking.
- Rover also has a Rover Match option for busy bees or for those looking for a sitter last-minute. Rover will do the legwork for you and put you in touch with sitters they think are a good match for you - at no extra cost.
- Rover releases payment 2 business days after booking completion, while Dogvacay released it after 1 business day.
- The Rover app allows you to send pictures and videos through the chat, while on Dogvacay pictures and videos would go straight to the client’s email account.
What happened to my Dogvacay account?
If you were previously on Dogvacay, don’t worry - you haven’t lost everything! You can sign in to Rover using your Dogvacay email and password, and, lo and behold, all your information, messages and bookings will be transferred over.
Rover for customers
Rover connects pet parents with local animal lovers who will treat your pet like one of the family while you’re away. The aim of the site is to make pet care safe, easy, affordable, and most importantly, personal.
There is a range of services available, from dog walking to drop-in visits, to suit your and your dog’s needs. So, whether you work long hours, you’re going away for a day trip or you’re jetting off for a few weeks, there’s a pet care option for you. And you don’t have to feel guilty! Remember, it’s basically Airbnb for her.
What I like about Rover is that it offers 24/7 support, reservation guarantee, as well as premium pet insurance (up to $25,000 per claim, with a maximum of $250 deductible).
There are no fees to set up an account as a customer. The only money going out of your pocket will be towards the care of your little one, with a 5-7% service fee for each booking that goes towards maintaining the site. Once you’re registered, you can start looking through profiles for a suitable sitter.
Sitter and walker profiles will feature:
- Their location
- Photos of themselves and their home (if a sitter)
- Availability and pay rates
- Accepted dog sizes
- Cancellation policy
- Description of themselves
- Preferences as to what type of dog they care for (e.g. only crate trained)
- Details of their experience and qualifications
- Reviews from previous jobs (if applicable)
The company also carries out thorough background checks on each member, which is displayed as a badge on their page.
Once you’ve made contact with someone, I strongly recommend you set up a “meet and greet” with your potential sitter or walker. This way, you can make sure they’re a good fit for you and your pet. Once you’ve made a decision, you simply confirm the booking, and all payments are made through the platform.
Through the Rover app, you can chat with your sitter or walker, and they can send you updates as well as photos and videos of your pet, helping you to keep in touch with her.
Let’s take a look at all of the services on offer from Rover:
Rover Service #1: Dog Boarding
~Price: $35 per night on average
If you’re looking for a loving alternative to putting your dog in a kennel while you’re away, boarding her with a sitter in their own home is a great option. Whether it’s just for the weekend or over a few weeks, you’re sure to find someone who’d be happy to take her in and treat her as one of the family.
Every sitter has been reviewed and approved by the Rover team, and what’s really impress me is that 95% of stays have received a perfect 5-star rating.
Dogs of all ages can benefit from this service, and it’s great for those who socialize well with other pets.
If you just want to book your dog in for the day, see “Doggy Day Care.”
Rover Service #2: House Sitting
~Price: $30 per night average
If your dog prefers to stay on her home turf, you can opt for a sitter to look after your pet (as well as your home) while you’re away. This is also a good option if you’re on a tight schedule and you don’t have time to drop off your dog to someone else. Simply leave them with a key in advance, and job done!
A sitter can also help break up the day for your dog on a normal work day, particularly if she suffers from separation anxiety.
Rover Service #3: Dog Walking
~Price: $15-20 per walk on average
If you simply want a dog walker to stop by during the working day and take your pooch to stretch her legs for half an hour, Rover offers this, too. Through the app (iOS and Android), you can see a map of the route taken, the duration of the walk, along with photos and a personalized note.
This is a good option for active dogs that need to expel some energy throughout the day. It’s also great for puppies still going through potty training - it will certainly reduce the number of accidents!
Rover Service #4: Doggy Day Care
~Price: $20-30 per day on average
If you’re away for the day, or you work long hours, and your pup needs special attention, you can drop her off with a sitter at their home. This way, your furry friend will get frequent potty breaks, lots of play, and one-to-one attention. This is a good choice for puppies, senior dogs, dogs with special needs, and dogs with separation anxiety.
If you want your dog to go for an overnight stay, see “Dog Boarding.”
Rover Service #5: Drop-in Visits
~Price: $15-20 per visit on average
Drop-in visits are ideal if your dog is the happy napper-at-home type and just needs a quick visit once or a few times a day, whether for a play date or to be let out to do her business. It suits low-maintenance dogs who aren’t very active as well as elderly pets that are just happy with cuddles.
What we do like in Rover for customers
- Personalized care - great alternative to crowded kennels
- You can find sitters in your area
- Can be more flexible on pickup dropoff times than a kennel
- Various types of services to suit any owner and all types of pooches
- Option to upgrade to RoverGo to get more business
- Rover Match service finds matches for you at no extra cost
- Thorough background checks
- Reservation guarantee
- Free to join and use
- Easy payment through the site
- Offers a free face-to-face meeting with a sitter before booking
- Provides insurance
- 24/7 customer support team
- Handy app allows you to communicate with your sitter with text, photo, and video sharing
What we don't like in Rover for customers
- There’s a 5-7% booking fee
- Customers sometimes report problems with the app
- Some find the website difficult to navigate
- Not possible to review sitters based on “meet and greet”
- Many sitters only take crate trained dogs
How to use Rover the right way
To get the best experience out of pet sitting websites like Rover, there are a few steps to take to avoid the most common mistakes.
- You should be honest on your profile about your dog’s age, personality, any health issues, and training. You should thoroughly read the potential candidate’s profile and make sure that your dog matches the type of dog they are willing to take in (e.g. house trained, socialized with children).
- Check that you agree with the sitter’s rates and cancellation policy.
- Always meet the person before booking to make sure they are the right for the job. (Ask questions. A lot of questions!) If your dog will be staying in the sitter’s own home, you should visit to see where your dog will be staying and, if there are other pets or children, how your dog gets on with them.
- Finally, give your pet sitter all the information they will need. For example, if your dog requires feeding, explain how much and at what time of day. Does your dog have allergies to anything? Does she take medication? Will she need grooming? Leave clear written instructions so that your sitter knows exactly what’s required.
Also, if the sitter will be at your home, make sure to include how you wish them to look after it.
For sitters and walkers
- You should be upfront on your profile about what kinds of dogs you are able to look after. If you are unable to take dogs who are food aggressive, for example, you should clearly state this in your profile. You should also state if you have other pets or children at home.
- When meeting a potential client, make sure you find out exactly how they want you to look after their dog and comply to this. You should get a contact number in case of emergency.
- Try to explain to the owner what they will get and will not get as a service from you. Forming the right expectations will help to avoid any misunderstanding and potential bad ratings.
- While in care of a client’s pooch, you should send updates to the client along with photos through the app. As for the frequency of updates, you can decide this with the owner beforehand.
- If you are staying in a client’s home, you should ensure you keep it secure, leave it as you found it, and carry out any small household tasks if this has been agreed upon*.
*When house sitting, clients may ask you to water their plants or collect their mail, for example.
Rover For Sitters And Walkers (Earn Money For Pet Sitting)
If you are a dog lover with experience caring for canines, you can earn some cash as a sitter, or dog walker. You will need to fill out your profile, including high-quality pictures of you, your pets, and your home, as well as detailed descriptions of previous experience and any qualifications.
After this, Rover will manually review your profile, and, once approved, you will be live and able to start working.
You choose your own services, schedule, and rates, and after a job, you’ll get payments through their secure platform.
What we do like in Rover for sitters and walkers
- Free to join
- Freedom to choose services, rates, and schedule
- Secure payments through platform - ensures payment guarantee and no delay
- Access to 24/7 support, including vet assistance
- Opportunities to help build your business (through becoming a Premiere Member)
- Easy-to-use app and website
- If you’re a new user, you can request testimonials from friends or family to give you more credibility
What we don't like in Rover for sitters and walkers
- Company receives 20% of each booking, which can mount up. If you plan to do a lot of work, other sites that charge one-off yearly membership could leave you with more money in your pocket.
- Competitive - some find it necessary to buy advertising products to get enough work
- As with any pet sitting website, some clients may not be upfront about their dog’s behavior - all the more reason to meet the pup prior to confirming a booking
Alternatives to Rover
Alternative #1: Fetch! Pet Care
If you don’t feel you have the time to trawl through sitter profiles, I think Fetch! Pet Care is a great option - it does it all for you! Call, email, or submit an online request, and they’ll personally match you to the most qualified sitter on their staff who lives in your area.
Each sitter is background checked, insured, and has great reviews. Just in case your pet carer can’t make it, they’ll also assign you a backup sitter, which really gives you peace of mind.
Fetch schedules a free in-home consultation for you and the sitter to meet so you can see if it’s the right person for you and your dog.
While you’re away, your sitter will keep you updated over the phone and via text so that you know how your pup is doing.
As well as sitting, Fetch! also offers dog walking, overnight visits. A real plus of Fetch! is that they offer specialty services, such as being a pet taxi and administering pills or injections. This last service is great for those who have dogs who need medical care and need a trained specialist to care for her.
There is also a puppy care service dedicated to providing you with trained and experienced sitters who can help keep your pup on the right track to learning good behaviors.
I think Fetch! is a great choice for those who require specialist services such as those listed above, as well as for those who want the company to do the legwork for them. Rover does offer this type of matching service, too, but for me it’s lacking in the specialized services department.
- Range of services
- The company does the searching for you
- Sitters are background checked and insured
- They assign a backup
- Free consultation
- Updates from sitter
- Some people may prefer to personally handpick candidates
- No app for easy chat and photo and video sharing
- Not as large a range of services as Rover
Alternative #2: Care.com
Care.com offers pet care as well as other types of care (senior care, child care, etc.). For pets, the most common services offered are pet sitting and dog walking.
So how does it work? It’s a lot like placing an advertisement in the paper. Sign up for an account and create the job listing you need, e.g. “A dog sitter for 1 week”. In this way, it’s tailored to you and your needs. This is a real plus for me, as as you can be specific about your personal requirements rather than being limited to the services offered by the pet sitting website.
Care.com guarantees you will get replies within 3 days after posting a job. Once you have potential candidates, you can review their profiles and check their references. Then, when you’ve narrowed it down, you can set up a few interviews and request any background checks and hire the person who impresses you the most.
Basic Membership is free, which allows you to post and view jobs. If you want to see references, contact information and make contact with a potential client or caregiver, however, you will need to become a Premium Member, which costs around $37 for a monthly subscription to $147 for an annual one.
As far as I can see from my research, there are no extra service fees per booking when paying a caregiver through their secure Payment Center. So, if you’re planning to use the service a lot, paying for membership could be worth it.
For me, the major downside of Care.com is that for caregivers, premium membership does not include insurance, nor does it include background checks, (though with the upgrade to Premium they give you the option to purchase one yourself through the site.) So, compared to Rover, it’s more hassle and extra cost for the caregiver, and it doesn’t bring peace of mind to the owner, either.
In my opinion, Rover and Fetch! Pet Care are superior to Care.com, as they are dedicated solely to pet care and all sitters are background checked and insured from the beginning. Plus, their customer service is rated much higher than Care.com, which has lots of customer complaints.
If you’re looking for various types of caregivers, or if you’re a caregiver that can offer different kinds of services, from pet care to child care, this site could be well-suited to you.
- Basic membership is free
- Allows you to request exactly what service you need
- Payments made through the site
- Requires sitter to run their own background check
- A paid membership still requires you to pay additional for a background check
- Many people report scam messages
- Customers also say that their customer service leaves a lot to be desired. For example, their systems are automated and it’s difficult to speak to a real person, plus many complain that they don’t respond to complaint emails.
- Some report being billed for services they didn’t sign up for and others say the company starting randomly charging them again after months of having cancelled a subscription
Dog watching services are a great way to leave your dog in a loving environment where they can get personalized care while you can’t be there to give it to them. Many pet sitting websites offer various options to suit your needs.
Rover.com is our number one choice for its range of options, thorough background checks, insurance, and a useful app that helps you keep in touch with your sitter (and your furry friend) easily.
There are other options out there, however, that also provide a good service. Fetch! Pet Care, for example, may suit people who don’t have the time to go through the searching and hiring process themselves. Care.com is another option which could tempt some if they have a particular request that doesn’t quite fit services offered by other sites.