What Is Rover.com?
As the nation’s largest network of its kind, Rover.com is an award-winning technology business that promises to help match you and your four-legged friends with more than 85,000 pet sitters and dog walkers in over 10,000 cities. Specifically, the site provides easy access to services like:
- Dog boarding, where your dog stays overnight in the sitter’s home
- House sitting, where the sitter stays overnight at your home
- 30-minute dog walks
- Doggy day care, where your dog only stays at the sitter’s house during the day
- Drop-in visits that allow sitters to check in on your pet during the day
To use the site, you’ll need to choose a service, browse different profiles, and then connect with any professionals you’re interested in. Then, you can book the appointment and pay securely.
There’s no doubt that you love your dog. But will Rover.com help you live your life easier than the competition? Are there any important considerations to keep in mind? Let’s start off with how you’ll use the site and app.
How Does Rover.com Work?
We found Rover.com extremely easy to use. We just entered a zip code, chose the service we needed, indicated the start and end dates, and selected dog size (small: 0-15 lbs, medium: 16-40 lbs, large: 41-100 lbs, giant: 100+ lbs).
From there, we were shown a list of potential matches, along with their name, general location, price, star rating, and recent reviews (if any available). To the right of these results, there was also a map indicating each person’s location.
From there, we could further filter these results by the rate per night, sitter information (e.g. whether or not they own a dog, have children, have a house, hold a dog first-aid certification, etc.), and other services like puppy care and bathing and grooming.
Rover.com allows users to quickly search for dog care professionals within 10,000+ cities and filter results based on important criteria. Image credit: Rover.com
Clicking on any listed profiles will display the professional’s reviews, prices for other services they offer (if available), response rate and time, preferences, availability, and the ability to contact them.
There were dozens of sitters listed when we searched and across all kinds of price ranges, so it seemed to provide a meaningful array of options.
How does the app play into all of this?
Taking a Closer Look at Rover’s App
It appears that Rover’s iOS and Android apps are largely an extension of the website’s dashboard, so you’ll be able to book and track services, list your dogs, and view your available balance. You’ll also be able to communicate with and receive updates from your sitters, including receiving service report cards, which are accompanied by maps and photos.
As a service provider, you’ll also be able to provide your customers with the duration and distance of your walks, any pee, poo, food, and water breaks, as well as any additional notes.
The Rover app allows service providers to send report cards to clients, including distances and maps, notes, and pictures. Image credit: Apple Corporation
What About Safety & Insurance When Using Rover.com?
As a dog lover myself, one of my first questions when researching Rover was, “How will my buddy be protected?” Furthermore, since they’ll also likely be in my home, “How are service providers screened? Is any insurance provided?”
Rover Service Provider Screening
According to the Rover website, sitters are required to complete an in-depth profile, “including details about their pet care experience, upload photos, request testimonials, and pass safety quizzes and a background check.” Based on this alone, we’re told that less than 20 percent of people who start a profile are approved.
Furthermore, all new sitters and dog are subjected to a background check, which will be displayed as a badge on their profile. Here, you’ll also find photos of their home, pets, and past stays, as well as reviews from past clients.
Even before booking, you can schedule a meet and greet through the website, where you can have a face-to-face meeting and ask questions about important topics to you. This service is completely free and does not obligate you in any way.
Pet Insurance & Other Services Provided by Rover.com
All services booked through Rover are automatically covered by pet owners insurance, which is valid “for injuries to the pet owner's pet(s) in the sitter or dog walker's care, custody, and control.”
Coverage is also available for “injuries to the sitter or dog walker's resident pet(s) as a direct result of contact with the pet owner's pet,” as well as general liability for “bodily injury to a person other than the sitter, dog walker, pet owner.”
Despite this coverage, the Rover website emphasizes that there are several exceptions (e.g. damage to the sitter or dog walker's personal property, damage made or medical care required as a result of meet and greet, etc.).
Furthermore, this coverage is considered secondary, which means it likely won’t kick in until other insurance (such as liability available under a homeowner’s or renter’s policy) is exhausted. Or, if underlying coverage is non-existent.
In addition to insurance, Rover’s sitters and dog walkers have access to veterinarians and other pet care professional if a health or medical issue arises, along with a dedicated Trust & Safety team who’s available 24/7.
How Much Do Rover’s Services Cost?
As a client, the exact price you pay will depend on the service you need, as well as the specific prices of your chosen provider. During our research, prices ranged anywhere from under $20 to well over $80.
However, clients can book and pay directly on the site or through the app, where all credit card information is encrypted and never shared. This way, you won't have to worry about tips, writing checks, or having cash on hand.
Each sitter will classify their cancellation policy as strict, moderate, or flexible. Depending on this, your refund—if any—will be applied to your account within one to three days should you need to cancel. The company also offers a Rover Reservation Guarantee, which means if your provider cancels at the last minute, they’ll work to find you a new one.
As a service provider, the company claims you could earn $1,000 per month, with payments that are automatically applied to your account. Rover will take 25 percent of your earnings as a fee.
What Are Rover Clients Saying in Their Reviews?
We found a whole lot of online customer feedback for Rover at the time of our research. For example, on TrustPilot, the company had more than 3,300 individual reviews and an average rating of 9.6 stars (excellent).
There, most compliments appeared to revolve around ease of use, as well as the quality of the service providers and the peace of mind they provide. Complaints (what few there were) frequently referenced poor service and dog injuries.
Among more than 6,000 combined reviews across iTunes and Google Play, the Rover app had a similar average rating of about 4.5 stars, with many of the same compliments found on TrustPilot. Many older complaints (again, of the few listed) referenced functionality concerns, which admittedly could have been addressed in more recent updates.
From a company perspective, Rover had an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, based on 38 reviews (92 percent of which were negative) and 33 closed complaints as of 8/9/17. These ranged from customer service and provider issues, to injuries and refund problems.
What else do we know about the company?
Who Founded Rover?
Based out of Seattle, WA, Rover was founded in 2011 by CEO Aaron Easterly, board member Greg Gottesman, and Director of Software Development Philip Kimmey.
Previously, Aaron graduated from Harvard and worked as a General Manager for Microsoft, and Philip was a Technology and Public Policy intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.
Currently, Greg also works as Managing Director for Pioneer Square Labs and as a Venture Partner with Madrona Venture Group.
Most recently, the company reported a $65 million round of funding led by Spark Capital.
Our Interview With Rover
We had the opportunity to email several questions over to Rover’s Community Manager. Here’s what we learned from their response:
What kinds of background checks are run on new sitters and walkers?
Furthermore, what kinds of information might disqualify an applicant? After initial hiring, are service providers’ backgrounds re-screened at any point?
Although few specifics were provided, they told us that all “background checks are completed via Checkr and include the national criminal database, sex offender registries, and global watch lists."
Compared to the competition, what are the top three factors that differentiate Rover?
In a nutshell, they told us Rover’s main difference is that it “connects pet parents with dog people in their neighborhood.”
Anyone looking for a pet care provider can easily find, message, and book through the company’s straightforward website and app, and the sheer number of sitters available means it’s “easy to book pet care you can trust, no matter where you go.”
They also emphasized that every service provided by Rover is backed by premium insurance, 24/7 support, and the company’s reservation guarantee.
What’s the biggest challenge that Rover currently faces?
The manager let us know that the company’s biggest hurdle—and their biggest opportunity—is to increase awareness that solutions like Rover exist.
“Generally, dog owners only use a commercial solution 10 percent of the time when they travel,” they noted. “The majority relies on friends, family, and neighbors. However, that is changing, since our data shows 65 percent of users are people who, prior to Rover, would not have used a commercial service to watch their pet.”
What updates/additions does Rover have in store for the future?
While they didn’t note anything specific, the manager emphasized that Rover has “a number of things in development, and we plan to grow our suite of offerings that make it easier than ever to be a pet parent.”
Rover vs. Other Dog Sitting & Walking Services
While Rover claims—and certainly seems to be, based on our research—the “largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers,” there were several national search engines competing for the same customers. These included:
WagWalking – Perhaps the service most similar to Rover, they also offer site access, iOS and Android apps, and the ability to search for walkers and sitters and filter results. Users can schedule meet and greets if they need recurring walks, track walks via GPS, receive reports (including pictures) after each one, and book overnight stays.
WagWalking is insured and bonded, although it doesn’t appear they perform background checks on their providers like Rover. However, they do claim to “thoroughly vet and test all our walkers on dog-handling experience.”
Based on a cursory review, though, they don’t appear to be as extensive as Rover.
Care.com – Another extensive site that allows users to search by location, browse profiles, view rates, learn about a provider's years of experience, as well as their qualifications. Most ranged between $10 and $15 per hour at the time of our research.
DogWalker.com – While searchable, this site only relates to dog walkers (no sitters, day checks, etc.). Furthermore, they seemed to be more of an advertising service, since providers were required to pay to list their services.
How to choose the right option for you? Writing for CesearsWay.com, Josh Weiss-Roessler indicates that, when searching for a dog walker, sitter, or other professional, you’ll want to:
- Ask for recommendations and read online reviews
- Meet with potential candidates, including with your dog
- Ask logistical questions, such as where your dog will be walked, how long they’ll be, if they can accommodate special needs or requests, and so forth
- The provider’s training and background experience
- Finally, go for a test walk
Our Final Thoughts About Rover
Given these criteria, it seems like several of the competitors we mentioned in the previous section could fit the bill, although services that allow you to read reviews and detailed profiles, such as Rover, WagWalking, and Care.com, might make the process easier.
And the fact that many professionals are screened and/or tested prior to being employed can be a bonus.
But if you’re looking for the widest number of professionals across most aspects of dog care while you’re away, it might be difficult to beat Rover. We found their site easy to use and their service completely free, so you won’t have much more to lose than a few minutes of your time by giving them a try.
In addition, based on our experience, their willingness to answer questions and openness indicates they place a solid emphasis on creating informed customers.
1 out 3 people found this review helpful
Do not use!
This was the worst experience I have ever had! We usually board our dog with a private sitter while on vacation.
This person has no business being a dog sitter. Her home is completely unfit for animals. The entire property is covered in trash and debris. The inside of her home is covered in trash, urine and dog feces. There was no air conditioning (it's in Las Vegas!). She had ten dogs in a one bedroom, one story apartment.
When I dropped off my dog, she was at the curb and seemed so nice. It was dark. We were in a hurry, so I didn't think about it. I must have caught her off guard when I came to pick up because I came to the door and actually had to come inside to get my dog. The most horrific conditions I have ever seen in this place. My dog wreaks of urine, was completely dehydrated and seemed so traumatized. The sitter tells me during pick up that one of her dogs picked multiple fights with my dog. The crate that I brought is completely covered in urine. The sitter clearly left my dog in there for long periods of time without potty breaks. I had to beg for updates and received only a few out of focus photos during the four-day stay. The sitter would not respond for hours.
I am in shock and disbelief that this happened. Willow is resting peacefully now, but I am traumatized and appalled that this person is watching dogs in those conditions. I am so disgusted. There aren't enough words. Customer service at Rover.com is a joke. They won't do anything. There is no screening of their sitters. On top of everything, she caught a mild case of a kennel cough! DO NOT USE Rover.com!
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend