NSW Non Professional Dog Sitting - What's My Liability?

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Jessica Farac

19 November 2014
I put up an add locally to look after and walk other people's pets.
I have never done this professionally, just have a big love for animals and want to do it on the side to help me earn a little cash while I'm studying as a vet nurse. I got an offer from someone who goes on business trips a lot to look after their dog while they are gone.

I am a bit worried about what I can be liable for if something goes wrong since I'm not a professional.

What should I know before taking on a job? Also, since I am not professional, what if something happens to the dog? Since I have made it clear I am not professional and they said they were okay with that, would I still be liable if something happened to the dog?

What can I do to ensure I don't get into a sticky situation under Australian Law?

Thank you

Sarah J

Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Melbourne, Victoria
This sounds like a private contractual agreement for provision of services. You should have the owners sign a written contract. The contract should include disclaimers for certain liabilities as well as an indemnity clause in the event you need to take a dog to the vet or seek treatment.


Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Hi Jessica

I agree with Sarah J - this does appear to be a private contract for the provision of services. To cover yourself adequately, you should put together, a basic set of terms and conditions that you get your customer to sign before handing over the dog. These could be similar to those that are agreed when dogs are booked into fully fledged businesses such as dog hotels and boarding kennels.

At the very least this might include things such as:

- Exclusion of liability where the dog is injured, becomes ill or is lost
- Exclusion of liability where the dog injures another person, animal or another individual's property while in your care
- Permission to seek veterinary treatment where the dog becomes ill, and to on-charge that cost to the owner.
- Confirmation that the owner has disclosed all details/conditions about the dog that you should reasonably be alerted to or aware of (such as certain behaviours, illnesses, injuries, allergies etc) that might impact the care you need to provide for the dog or the likelihood of it damaging your property, attacking other dogs etc).

If dog sitting becomes a regular thing, you may also want to consider taking out your own public liability insurance.

Best of luck!