I’m a dog sitter. Just this morning, a very well-behaved and loving Lab was picked up. He’s a regular client, and, like always, his dad slipped me $20 while saying he appreciates how I take care of his baby boy. My response is always the same: “Thank you so much. I really appreciate it, but please never feel obligated.”
What exactly is normal tipping for that crew of individuals that you rely on to keep your furry baby safe, well-exercised, looking good, and happy? I reached out to dog sitters (both overnight and day care), dog walkers, groomers, and trainers to find out what they expect from their clients.
It turns out that people who provide services to your dog are a rare breed. Overwhelmingly, the typical response was that tips weren’t expected but appreciated. As a group, their love for your dog and his happiness is what matters most. Anne Bright from K9’s Unleashed Dog Hiking in British Columbia, Canada, told me, “My reward comes in doggie kisses, tail wags, and a happy, tired pooch that sleeps for the rest of the day.”
Does that mean you’re off the hook? Not quite.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Loyalty is a thank you
If you feel that your dog sitter, groomer, trainer, or walker has done a good job, don’t just let them know — let everyone know! A Yelp or Facebook review not only makes the professional feel appreciated, it also helps her get new clients. If you have left a review already, don’t let that stop you from adding a few nice words to the company’s social media sites.
When asked about the tips she has received, Lori Genstein of I’ve Got the ‘Scoop’! LLC, Palmyra’s Professional Pet in Palmyra, New Jersey, pointed out, “Referrals, testimonials, and reviews are the most meaningful and heartfelt. I find them humbling and extremely uplifting … and one can never receive too many.”
Cookies, wine, and tasty treats
If I’m your dog sitter, you can’t go wrong with handing me a bottle of wine or homemade cookies. Doing that will bump you to the top of my best friend list for at least a day!
If you’re looking for a healthy treat example, Jordan Di Marco of Dogma Catma Pet Sitting, LLC in Boulder, Colorado, has clients who welcome him into their vegetable gardens.
Gift cards work
If you’re hesitant to hand over cash, try a gift card. Anything dog related would be appreciated, although something for the human is almost better. Recently, a doggie mom handed me an envelope while picking up her pup. When she told me it was for a massage at a local spa, I had to control myself from wrapping her in a big bear hug.
It’s always a treat when a dog parent thinks about what I need to do my job well for his or her dog. One of my favorite gifts was a giant box of poop bag rolls. I’m not alone in my appreciation for sensible items.
Matt Seng, owner of Paws in Motion Dog Running & Pet Care in Altadena, California, has received running gear and trail mix — the perfect thing to get the guy who wakes up early to run the local trails with your energetic dog.
Diane Whyatt of Pet-Agree, LLC Pet Sitting and Dog Walking in Grand Rapids, Michigan, once received a Bissell carpet-cleaning machine. I don’t want to know what she went through to deserve that, but I admit I’m a little bit jealous!
Tipping someone who provides a service for your dog is not required, but it’s a way to show appreciation for a job well done. For those who did receive tips, 10 to 15 percent was the average.
Who exactly should get tips?
Because tipping is so infrequent, the answer to this is “it’s up to you.” I found that dog walkers and sitters were tipped the most often, with groomers and day care providers close behind. Trainers were usually left out of receiving anything extra for their work.
Helen Cariotis at National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors explained, “The consensus [based on an outreach to their members] that as professionals, the NADOI member should never expect a monetary tip, just as you would not offer a money tip to your physician, veterinarian, or your child’s teacher.”
I’d point out that you do give your child’s teacher a special gift or treat on holidays and special occasions. Those individuals whose job it is to teach, walk, and love our pets should be given the same respect and offered a token of our appreciation.
What do pet caregivers expect when it comes to tipping?
- “None expected but all appreciated,” Rick Tierney, Paw Prince Pet Care, Cortlandt Manor, New York
- “I expect nothing but appreciate any type of gesture that says my client is delighted with our service. That includes compliments!” Rob Nager, Decadent Dog in San Diego
- “It’s nice to receive them, but I don’t expect them. Having them call on our services each time tells me they are happy with the service we provide,” — Crissy Gilbert, Agape Pet Sitting Service LLC, Queen Creek, Arizona
- “I have no expectations. I feel I’m doing a job and getting paid for it. Therefore, any tips I receive are a happy surprise and very much appreciated,” Darlene Ehlers, Pampered Pets Home Care, Kettering, Ohio
- “Tips are certainly wonderful to receive. It’s very nice to know that your customers appreciate you and are pleased with the service we provide. We don’t expect them, but we sure do love receiving them!” Robyn White, Me You and Lu, LLC, Brookline, Massachusetts