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accountant advice

How to Start a Pet Sitting Business

This is part of a series on 65 small business ideas in 7 categories with 3 questions to help you decide. I wanted to identify businesses that people can start from home, with little or no upfront money needed.

Last time, I showed you QuickBooks® Online for a personal shopper. Today, I want to show you how to set up QuickBooks Online for a pet sitter or dog walker.

In both cases, we want a database of our clients and their pets. In fact, there is other information we want to track about this.

One thing you have to decide first is how you want to track the pets. My suggestion is to make the pets a sub-customer of the customer. This means that you will have to bill separately for each pet. If you want to use a single customer for all pets, there is no way to track the pets, other than in the notes, and then you can enter the pet you are billing for in the description.

Any other list you could use in QuickBooks Online is a global list, such as classes, or even a drop-down list as a custom field will be global.

If you set up each pet as a sub-customer, you can track good, detailed information about each pet, and that can be really useful for anyone who wants to use QuickBooks Online Advanced for their pet sitting business.

So, let’s focus on a few lists in QuickBooks Online, and I will show you how to set this up.

We have the following lists to focus on:

Once you understand the components of how these lists come together, you will be able to see why QuickBooks Online Advanced makes this so much easier.


As I mentioned above, we’ll want to set up customers with each pet as a sub-customer. This will allow us to track detailed information about each pet. If you are invoicing for two of the pets at once, you can invoice one, then make a copy, change the customer to the other pet (sub-customer), and click save.

Custom fields (only available in QBO Advanced)

If you don’t use QuickBooks Online Advanced, you will not have access to this part.

The best thing I can suggest is that you can rely on the “Notes” area of the customer set up to record and track this information. You can use “Customer Type” for the breed.

Another thing you can do with the “intake” form (which hopefully you have) is to save it as a PDF and attach it to the pet’s profile in the “Attachments” tab.

If you’re using QuickBooks Online Advanced, then you’ll want to set up custom fields as follows:

These are very easy to set up once you are in the custom fields area.

Chart of accounts

Next, you’ll want to make sure you have the right things set up in your chart of accounts. When you set up your new account in QuickBooks Online, you will be asked what industry you are in. This is to help QuickBooks start you off with a list of commonly used accounts.

Now, let’s go in and set up the accounts we need. If you are offering dog walking, pet sitting, and training services, then you will probably want an income account for each of these.

Most of what you need for expenses should already be there, and, of course, if you haven’t already gone into your banking area and set up your bank feed, do this now as well.

Products and services

Here, you are going to set up your products and services (i.e., the things you sell).

If you have different services such as dog walking and training, and then you sell products, you will probably want to use “Categories” to keep your products and services list organized.

For a dog walking business, you’ll probably want to set up a product for a 15-minute walk, a 30-minute walk, and a 60-minute walk, or however you sell that service. You will set up a different product or service for each of these, but they will all be mapped to the income account named “Training Services.”

It probably makes a lot of sense for you to sell merchandise, such as leashes and collars. Set those products up accordingly. As your business comes together, make tracking receipts, income, and bank transactions feel more simple with a small business accounting software.

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