A lifelong water-baby, I've been scuba diving since I was a pre-teen. Originally from California, I've been privileged to have lived (and dived!) all over the world. Four years ago, I met Don - and together, we're designing a future that moves away from the 9-to-5, white-picket-fence we thought we wanted, and builds in freedom, adventure, and flexibility. At OurKeysEscape.com, we're chronicling our journey, covering topics ranging from finances, side-hustles and debt payoff to fishing and boat repair. Join us as we embark on a journey to the lives of our dreams.
*Update – Rover and DogVacay merged this year, eliminating the need to decide which is better! I will say, since the merge, we’ve had a TON more traffic; all of which helps us hit our goals faster.
A little under three years ago, we decided to explore dog-sitting to bring in a few extra dollars. It made sense – we were regularly fostering dogs for a couple of local rescue organizations, and so had plenty of experience with dogs coming in and out of the house. In addition, our three older dogs were used to accepting new dogs into the house, and were stable enough to accept them.
At the time, we were only aware of DogVacay.com, because we had used it to find sitters for our own dogs. So, we signed up and created a profile, without much thought as to whether it was the best site for us.
Fast forward a year and a half, and though we’d had some success (and a lot of 5-star reviews) on DogVacay, we were never fully booked. While searching for boarding options for our own dogs, we came across Rover.com. We met a wonderful sitter on the site – who, after bonding over dog rescue horror stories, asked why we weren’t also listed on Rover.
So, we copied our DogVacay profile over to Rover, and off we went accepting clients from both platforms. From then on, we received about 75% of our bookings from Rover.com, and only occasional clients from DogVacay.
Accordingly, we thought we would put together a side-by-side comparison of the two sites from a host’s perspective. Keep in mind this is all our own experience, and your experience may vary based on region and other factors.
Site Traffic & Alexa Rankings
As you can see above, Rover.com’s Alexa ranking in the United States is much higher than that of DogVacay. And, our results on both sites have been consistent with these rankings; we get more than ten times the traffic from Rover versus DogVacay.
Host Pricing & Service Fees
This is the part all new hosts want to know about – how much money do you make? Well, hosts set their own prices, so it’s up to you how much you make. However, if you price too high, you’ll get fewer bookings, and if you price too low, you’ll be leaving money on the table.
With both DogVacay and Rover, their service fee (cut of your booking price) is 20%. This means you take home 80% of whatever you charge. In my opinion, the 20% service fee is well worth it for the traffic they bring you, insurance provided (see sites for details), and support offered. For example, with Rover you get access to a Veterinary Help Line that can assist with any medical questions that come up during a booking.
So, in this arena at least, the two sites break even.
The next question new hosts have is usually “How do I get paid?” Because all bookings are required to be done through the sites, you won’t have to deal with cash or accepting credit cards. However, the two sites do vary somewhat in this area.
Rover.com releases the funds to you in your Rover.com account two days after the stay ends. So, if a dog goes home on Friday, the money becomes available on Sunday. It stays in your Rover.com account until you request a payout to either Paypal or via check. Withdrawing funds to Paypal is free. If you request a check, there is a $2 processing fee, and it can take a couple of weeks to arrive.
DogVacay.com, on the other hand, automatically pays you after each booking on the following business day. So, if you complete a booking on Friday, you get paid on Monday. If you finish a booking on Monday, you get paid on Tuesday, usually in the morning. There is no need to request a payout, you automatically receive money via either Paypal (free) or check ($5 fee) based on your settings. Again, a check takes a couple of weeks to arrive.
We don’t have a particular preference in this area, both sites’ payout methods are close enough that there isn’t a clear winner. However, if you plan to get paid via check, Rover is less expensive.
Incidentally, Rover lets you decide to send a percentage of your earnings to your favorite animal charity. We donate 3% of our earnings, and love how easy it is to do!
Ease of Use
Between the two sites, functionality is very similar. Both offer an app for Android and iPhones, which is our preferred method of communicating with clients.
And the Winner is…
We prefer Rover.com, purely because we get more business on Rover. Depending on your area and the advertising efforts each site is making, this could vary dramatically.
How Much Money Can You Make?
We’ve been using Rover.com for just under a year now. In 2016, from July – December, we made $3,849. We’ve been with DogVacay.com for a couple of years, and in 2016, we made $1,503.
The beauty of using either or both is that you can set your availability as you please. We’ve chosen not to travel during peak holiday times, and to take our vacations during off-seasons, so as to earn the most (hint: there’s a holiday rate setting for both Rover and DogVacay). However, if you only wanted to watch dogs one weekend a month, or some other schedule, you can – it’s all up to you.
DogVacay vs. Rover: Overall Impressions
We love dog-sitting because it’s flexible, we choose what days to do it, and we can accept or decline clients depending on their needs and ours. In addition, we get paid to watch and play with dogs – something I’ve been doing for free for years anyway. You have a million choices when it comes to bringing in additional income, but I have to admit – I really love this one because it’s so flexible. Also, we’ve met some great people, many of whom live nearby, through dog-sitting. Not surprisingly, people typically choose us because they have similar dogs and are nearby, meaning most requests we get are a good fit for our home.
As to which site you should use, it’s really a toss-up; we love them both. We suggest you start with one and get comfortable before adding a second site. In fact, I would probably start with DogVacay vs. Rover, simply because it’s been around longer and starting slow is probably a good thing to gain experience.
We’re busy working on a tips-and-tricks posting to help you learn from some of our mistakes, so check back! In the meantime, whether you’re considering hosting dogs yourself, or looking for dog care, you can get a bonus by signing up with Rover through this link and promo code TAMPAPUPPVACATION20, or on DogVacay using this link.
Have you decided to try out dog sitting to earn extra income? Download our tips for new dog sitters to ensure you’re making the most of your dog sitting business!