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Non Sequitur Fridays

The Joys of Dog Sitting

This post is part of our Non Sequitur Fridays series, which will feature a different Wistia team member's take on a non-Wistia-related topic each week. It's like our "employee of the month" but less "of the month"-y. Ezra Fishman is director of marketing at Wistia. His last Non Sequitur was about the Wistia softball team.

I love dogs. They are entertaining, comforting, and above all else loyal. But dogs are also a lot of work. That's why I rent, rather than own.

And by dog renting, I mean dog sitting. What's the difference? Basically, it's just a marketing distinction. The former requires me to pay, while the latter pays me. "I get to play with your dog all weekend and not worry about any vet bills or buying dog food and you want to pay me?" Well, that's just silly, but okay.

In case you need more proof about the glory of dog sitting, I'd like to submit Exhibit 1 for your consideration:

I really wish I could take credit for creating this graph, but Jordan found it online and shared it a few months back. Regardless, I think it neatly summarizes my views on pet ownership, and I particularly enjoy that "babies" are included in the Graph of Pets.

Babies are the "bad outlier." They require lots of work and are no fun at all. Accurate. My Friend's Dog (let’s call him "Lenny"), meanwhile, is the "good outlier." He is super fun (though not quite as fun as a dragon) and requires almost no effort. In other words, the ideal pet.

Starting your own dog sitting business

Despite what you might have read elsewhere, getting your dog sitting business off the ground is actually pretty easy.

Step 1: Identify your targets

Your friends are an obvious place to start. Do any of them have dogs? It's a subtle thing, but owning a dog is a pretty important prerequisite for future clients. Your friend Alyce who also loves dogs but doesn't own one is not a great prospect—in fact, she's your competition. Steer clear.

Step 2: Weed down your prospect list

This is probably the most important step. You want to be pretty selective when evaluating your future clients. This applies to both members of the client pair: the dog and the human.

The dog choices are a matter of personal preference, but stay true to your druthers. If your ideal dog is half bear, loves to hike and wrestle, and chases his tail, then your friend Tim and his toy poodle are not good clients. This isn't about helping your friends or making money. This is about you living your dog owning dreams for a weekend.

The human part of the client pair is equally important. The ideal human client will drop the dog off with a bag of food and say, "call me if anything comes up." If there's a list of instructions, that's a yellow flag. If the list is longer than four items, forget about it. Let's be honest, the dog is going to sleep on the couch and eat a few crackers when he's hanging out with Uncle Ezra—if that's going to undo five years of meticulous training, it's best to pass on that client.

Step 3: Shower that dog with attention

This part should be easy. Nothing ingratiates you to a dog owner more than getting down on the floor to rub his dog's belly. Don't be shy - get in there and show that dog some love. A quick word of caution, however: don't overdo it. If the dog starts to favor you over his owner, you are totally screwed. I call this the Jealous Owner Syndrome. There is no cure for JOS. Just move on.

This is also a great opportunity to evaluate if the pup is more than just an adorable face. He refuses to fetch a ball? Doesn't like to cuddle for more than a minute? These are clear red flags. I would reconsider whether this pup is really an ideal client.

Step 4: Talk about dog sitting a lot

The best way to land that killer client is to talk about how much you like dog sitting. A lot. (Non Sequitur: this is very similar to my secret tactic for getting more pies. Talk about pies every chance you get and soon enough pies will start arriving at your doorstep. No joke.)

Also, this is 2013 (for a few more weeks) so use all that fancy social media to your advantage. Instagram the crap out of that hike you went on with Scout. Remember that time you took Sebastian apple picking? Did you make a Vine? Why not?? And don't dare overlook LinkedIn. How are clients going to find you if "dog snuggling" isn't one of your Endorsable Skills?

Step 5: Buy a dog

Who are we kidding? You want a dog. You need a dog. What are you waiting for?

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