Why You Should Pay a Friend if they Dog Sit and How to Do It

Payment is a good and sensible idea for several reasons:

  • Your friend is putting themselves out for you
  • You’d pay a dog sitter, so your friend should be paid too
  • You can pay in cash or via a gift
  • You could also pay in kind by doing the same for them in future

Payments between friends… always a sticky topic. It gets stickier still when you throw a pooch into the mix. Not literally, of course, but you get the idea.

Some people feel awkward paying a friend. However, it wouldn’t be cool to ask them to dog sit without paying them somehow. Even if they love your dog as much as you do, they’d be putting themselves out to look after them.

But is it against etiquette to sort out a payment of some kind with a friend who might just be doing you a favor? Or is that the only way to approach the situation? Does money between friends cause more harm than good?

If you want to ask a friend, but you’re not sure how to broach the topic, much less to sort out payment, I’ve got my guidance and answers you’re looking for. By the time you’ve finished reading our advice, you’ll know exactly what to do.


The Type of Payment Depends on How Long They Dog Sit For

This is a huge question because the answer can influence the outcome.

Asking your friend to dog sit for a couple of hours is different from suggesting they do it the next time you go on vacation for a fortnight.

If they watch your dog for an hour or so, a bottle of wine, some chocolates, or another gift would be a great way to thank them.

However, if they dog sit in your home for a week or more, cash is the best way to pay them for their time and effort.

Charges vary a lot if you get a professional sitter in, with up to around $75 per night a possibility. I’ve seen quotes for about $12 for an hour during the day too.

If you want to pay your friend in cash, it’s a good idea to get a few estimates from professional services first. It gives you a ballpark figure to go on.

Even though you may pay your friend less, it prevents you from going too low.


Think About Whether You Always Help Each Other Out, Too

Payment issues are easier to figure out if you think about the past. How has your friendship panned out so far?

These prompts should help you get some answers:

  • Is this a reciprocal relationship?

Do you help each other out regularly?

  • Do you always do things for each other?

If so, is there a treat involved for the one taking on the request?

  • Do you tend to pay each other back in non-financial ways?

Maybe one of you repays the other by taking on a similar request in future

  • Are you both happy to exchange money, or does it feel odd?

Some people are fine doing this, while it never works for others. Where do you sit in that equation?

Money is a difficult topic. They say you should never lend to friends, but paying them to do something for you can be just as difficult to work out.

If they’re a professional dog sitter, you’d pay… so would it be any different if they’re not?

That said, you could be doing your friend a huge favor. I dog sat for a friend once for five days. I loved it – it gave me a chance to get away and enjoy a different scene near a country park.

Times were tough, and the walks and change of scene did me good. More good than any payment would have done.

My friend repaid me in other ways, but then, our friendship is still going strong 37 years after we first met, so I guess we know each other well enough by now.

For the two of us, repaying favors in kind has always been the way things work. Would that apply to you too?


Is It Going to Be an Easy Task or a Challenge?

Dog sitting for an older dog should be a breeze, especially if they no longer need extensive daily walks.

Compare that to the idea of asking your friend to dog sit your ten-week-old puppy… hmm, that would demand a medal, never mind payment!

Of course, individual dogs are just that – individuals. You know how your dog behaves in company and how big a challenge it would be for anyone to look after it. Remember that when deciding how to pay your friend.

And don’t forget how long you need them watched for.


Make Sure You Both Know What You Are Agreeing To

It’s easy to find horror stories of people who said they’d dog sit or watch another animal… only to find they’ve agreed to do so to cover a two-week vacation.

It shows how important it is to be clear upfront.

Here are some tips that will also affect the issue of payment:

  • How long are they required to dog sit for?
  • Is your friend happy to stay at your home?
  • Would the dog be happy to go to your friend’s home?
  • Are they required to take the dog out for walks?

You need to be 100% clear about what you’re asking your friend to do. It’s also good to mention payment and to say you don’t expect them to do it for nothing.

Remember this: If something goes wrong, your friendship could be on the line. If you’re unsure about anything, pay a professional sitter instead.


How Well Do You Know Your Friend?

If you would trust your friend with your life, chances are you can trust them with your pooch too. That said, they may not love your dog like you do. Have you chosen the right person to watch your pet?

Here are some things to consider before you even ask:

  • How long have you known each other?
  • Has your dog responded well to them in the past?
  • Have they dog sat before?
  • Has your friend shown they can be trusted with other things?
  • Are they great with dogs?
  • Would they know what to do in an emergency?


Top tip: If you’re not sure, don’t ask

It’s best not to take a chance on your dog or your friendship. If something tells you not to ask, don’t.


Do You Really Need a Dog Sitter?

Some dogs cope better with being home alone than others. Only you know your dog, and it’s good to use your pooch as a guide.

If you know your dog is happy to be left at home for a couple of hours but you’re going to be gone longer, asking a friend to pop in is a good idea.

If your dog hates being left alone, asking a trusted friend to come round for the whole time you’re away is better.

In some cases, you may be fine not to ask a friend at all. In other cases, you might prefer to ask a professional sitter rather than relying on a friend. There is nothing wrong with this – providing you choose someone with experience who comes highly recommended.


Staying on Home Turf Is Easier If You’re Only Away for a Short Time

This is another topic that alters the scope of what you’re asking your friend to do. A short stint of a couple of hours is fine – they might fill the time by taking your dog for a nice walk, for instance.

Change that to a fortnight’s vacation and your friend has two options:

  1. Stay in your home – which would be tougher for them
  2. Take your dog to their home – which would be harder for the dog


What Should You Do If Your Friend Refuses Payment?

They’re more likely to refuse to dog sit if it’s for a long time. Paying in gift form is easier if you know they probably won’t accept cash. Who would turn down their favorite box of chocolates or a bottle of that brandy they love?

Treat them to something you know they will like. If they won’t take payment for a longer dog sitting stint such as a weekend, you could always buy them a voucher to take a weekend away.

Other ideas for payment include:

  • Gift basket filled with their favorite items
  • Gift subscription (for a favorite magazine or similar item)
  • A meal out
  • Voucher to dog sit for their pup if they have one (for the same length of time)


Top tip: If they say they don’t want anything, don’t listen

They may be giving up hours or even days of their time for you. Even if they are the nicest person around, they deserve something in return for their trouble.

If they’re staying at yours, fill the fridge with their favorite goodies as a surprise. Add a bottle or two of wine or whatever their favorite tipple is. Leave some cash for a takeaway and to refill the gas in their vehicle. A thank you note and some flowers would be good, too.


The Bottom Line?

You wouldn’t want to take advantage of your friend. Even if they’re tough to reward because they’d refuse any cash you give them, I’ve discovered there are ways to make sure they are reimbursed for their time, effort, and care. Make sure you decide on an approach (ideally cash) and stick to it.

Even if they do say no!


Writer: Allison Whitehead

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