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.
Unprofessional sitter, had the cops called
My neighbor used the app to sit her dog over the holidays. The sitter was a young man that played not great rap music into the common areas. He let the dog use the common areas to pee, which is fine, but that dog generally goes for long walks with the owner.
The Rover sitter sat and blew smoke out of the screen door and just made my dog bark over and over. There is no professionalism, and I did not feel safe with him there. I refuse to come outside at night and my other neighbor called the cops on him for not turning down the music and just being unprofessional and rude in a complex he did not live in.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend
My dog is blind in one eye
I really try not to complain or give bad reviews. But after a few weeks of this stewing in my head, I decided I have to warn other doggie parents.
Ever used the dog watching/walking app Rover.com? I would suggest you don’t or you stop. I found a sitter that I really, really liked. I booked her multiple times on the app. However, the last time my dogs were there, my poor Monty was bitten by another dog. On the eye. This is in NO way the sitter's fault.
After taking Monty to the doggie ER because his eye was bleeding, they said the bite went through all three eyelids and were concerned that it hit his cornea. However, due to the extremely bad infection, they couldn’t tell until that was taken care of. So off we went with some meds for my pup. Needless to say, I was devastated.
Then Rover contacted me and said they would pay for the medical expenses within a 30-day period. Somewhere there must have been some miscommunication because I was under the impression that because this was going to need time to be properly diagnosed they were going to pay it all minus the $250 deductible. This was GREAT news.
I took Monty in for a follow-up. His eye was still bleeding, only it was on the inside and not draining. My vet recommended I take him to a doggie oncologist. I did, and they said he had an ulcer that needed to be taken care of before she could tell what the damage is. I went home with more meds.
A few weeks later we had a follow-up appointment and sure enough, he was blind in his left eye due to retinal disconnection from the dog bite. We may even need to have his eye removed depending on pain level.
From the day of the injury until the discovery of his official blindness, was just over a month. So Rover.com reimbursed me the costs within the 30 days and denied my costs outside the month window. In my opinion, this is flat out wrong. Some may think otherwise, but Monty is my fur-baby, he’s my “firstborn." I treat my dogs like they are a part of the family. Now due to an injury he got while under the care of a Rover sitter, he is permanently blind in his eye and I’m expected to pay for the rest of the medical expenses accrued due to this dog bite. Not cool.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend
Pet torn CCL after left in Rover care
Our experience was terrible! We left my 5-month-old puppy with a sitter who was perfectly fine when we left. We picked him up and he had a limp! Their company has an insurance policy for pets that are injured, so we took our dog to the vet to be checked out. He had a torn CCL that was due to a trauma from the sitter's care. Rover refused to cover any expenses of a $4,000 specialty surgery on my poor puppy.
I will never use them again. Make sure you look at their terms and agreement before you leave your puppy! Their insurance doesn’t cover hardly any injury that may occur in a pet sitters care and they look for any way where they don’t have to cover it.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend
1 out 1 people found this review helpful
Just say NO to Rover
So very random but BEWARE because I just used Rover.com to get a sitter and here's my experience. Just say no. I know this is long but y'all should be aware. Rover is ignorant once they are paid. They tried telling me their sitters are independent contractors, but the reality is I paid Rover and they took 20% of this job, so my contract is with them not the contractor. I warned them this would be posted.
Dec 1, 1:40 AM PST
I already called you when I was away based on what I was seeing through my home cameras. This first question to all sitters I did meet and greets with (8-10) was I needed someone to stay at the house. Xxxxx my sitter told me everything I wanted to hear and that she would only be gone on Thanksgiving for a few hours but the rest of the time she would be here 24/7. She wasn't and on many days she was gone for 6 - 8 hours. Additionally, these are issues I had with the stay:
Xxxxx brought and unfamiliar dog into my home from 11/16 through 11/22. I am not sure if she was doing two jobs or this was her dog but while this dog was here my dogs got very little attention and were not fed or loved with regularity. There were 60 packets of food made so each dog could be fed once a day either fresh chicken or hot dogs. They were rarely fed and when they were in many cases there were given two packets to share for 3 dogs. There were way too many extras when I got home and there was no evidence that treats were ever given to them yet two full bags of treats are gone. Additionally, I know nothing about this other dog nor was I ever asked for permission to allow another dog into my home. Does this dog have flea and heartworm protection? My dogs do. Dogs especially in this area carry many illnesses, especially parvo and I don't want my dogs exposed unless I personally know the history. This dog also ate a LOT of my dogs food. I watched it and have video footage.
I had two meet and greets with xxxxx to go over camera on the house, alarm system, etc. So there was no question she knew there was a living room camera. I have a problem that the first thing did after I was gone was to open and look into all of my living room closet doors. She used my coat by the door to go in and out. I probably wouldn't have noticed or minded except that I'm frustrated by the amount I paid to have my dogs ignored. I got only 2 Snapchats and one message with her holding one dog during the entire 12 days I was gone. She promised communication and there was none unless I saw something on the camera when I popped on every few days and called her.
Additionally, upon leaving the house I handed xxxxx a $100 bill to be used for anything dog related or an emergency for my dogs. When I came home that $100 was gone. There was no emergency and when I texted her to ask her where the $100 was I got no response. She may have put it upon herself to make this her tip but after seeing the footage I would not ever tip her nor will I hire her or recommend her.
I literally just watched 12 days of video camera footage to document all of these issues and I can produce tons of footage and or photos if necessary. They are all dated and time stamped by my cameras. I called you on the 26th but I didn't want to upset the apple cart too early because I didn't have a backup in place. I learned a very hard lesson here and spent a ton of money to do it.
There were several times I called Xxxx while watching video footage and she would tell me she was loving on Jezebel. I could see clearly she wasn't. She was loving on the other dog she brought to my home. I explained to her when I left that the most needy dog was Delilah and that Gidget was easy. Delilah got pet once and so did Gidget. Jezebel the least needy got the most attention.
I don't think she shouldn't get paid but it should be at a reduced rate and I most definitely should get the $100 she stole. That's a lot of money when she was already well paid. Additionally, on our first meeting she tried to have me move this from Rover and private pay her for the same price. No way but you should be aware that she is making other deals outside of Rover, which may be why there was another dog here during her NOT 24/7 service.
I need to know that Rover will help with these issues and take action. I went through Rover because I had glowing reviews from friends on using Rover and now I have no respect for the service now. I also have a hard time understanding why ROVER knowing that I booked her for these dates would still show her as available on the day before I left, especially when I requested house sitting. If you think it's acceptable when I'm paying in full for 3 dogs per day over $75 per day for a house sitter, then there's a problem with the overall service. A VERY bad experience and a VERY expensive one.
I tried to abbreviate this as much as possible but there's no easy way to tell all of the items that were just so wrong. If I do not get some satisfaction I will be posting this not only about my sitter but about ROVER in general.
I will provide attachments when you request what you want to look at because I have clipped most of this behavior. There's just too many to attach to this initial email.
One item I forgot to add was that when Xxxxc was out for these lengthy times Jezebel pulled the stuffing out of pillows because she was bored. I don't blame the dog. I blame the caretaker that promised to be here 24-7 and wasn't. Also even though I provided a thorough walk through of the dog bed requirements (where to sleep, how to keep them there), I was told that Delilah must have jumped down when I saw her roaming in the night. Delilah doesn't jump down she has leg issues a torn ACL and she won't jump down even when I'm here. She also said Jezebel kept knocking down the gate, totally untrue. The only time the gate was put up was when she (Xxxxx) was separating the dog she brought with her, from my dogs. This is another reason why I looked at the tape. Xxxxx never even tried to bed them the way I requested.
Rover's canned response:
George P. (Rover.com Support)
Dec 1, 5:11 AM PST
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I am so sorry to hear about your experience and I hope that Gidget, Delilah and Jezebel are doing well. I want to assure you that this is not the typical Rover experience and that we take situations like this very seriously. We expect a high level of care from all sitters and dog walkers on Rover, however it sounds like this experience fell short of these expectations.
So that we can work towards a resolution, we’d like to find out more about what happened. Please confirm the following in a reply to this email:
Do we have permission to share your experience with your sitter?
What resolution would improve the situation for you?
Is there any additional information or documentation of the stay?
In our experience, some of the best resolutions come about when owners and sitters talk openly and work together. Depending on your response, we may share your response with your sitter or with other teams here at Rover so that we can help make right on this situation.
Again, I’m sorry about this experience. We look forward to hearing from you and working toward a resolution with you soon.
All the best,
My reply to canned response:
Dec 1, 12:43 PM PST
Okay George P. I've had enough. I completely told you what I wanted in my initial email. You want to come to my house and watch 12 days of video I'd be happy to show a Rover rep. I don't care who you share it with because I'm getting ready to share it online because your canned response is ridiculous! I want my $100 back and I want documentation for the uninvited dog in my house. I'd also like some of my money refunded for all of the days my dogs were alone for 7-8 hours. Do you not read? Someone better call me fast and stop this nonsense! You have answered none of my questions. As for me working it out with the sitter that's not going to happen. I already contacted her about my $100 and she didn't reply. My next call will be to Police department for a report and you will be involved because I don't have a last name. This is about to blow up in Rover's face.
Rovers next response:
Hannah M. (Rover.com Support)
Dec 1, 3:04 PM PST
My name is Hannah and I work on the Resolutions Team here at Rover. I'm so sorry to hear about your booking with Xxxxx. I can completely understand your frustration. We expect a high level of professionalism from sitters on our platform, and it sounds like this stay missed the mark.
I want to be as transparent as possible for our options moving forward.
The Resolution Center is a resource we offer to owners as sitters are independent contractors within the site--that is to say, a refund would require their acknowledgment as they are the provider for the service requested (and the individual who received the payment for these services). Please know this is a thorough process, which entails an online chat with Xxxxx facilitated by a neutral third-party mediator and monitored by Rover support. We've seen the highest rate of mutually satisfying outcomes through this process.
A second option we can offer is reaching out to Xxxxx on your behalf to see if she can speak to your concerns and to ask if she'd like to issue a refund. This gives Xxxxx an opportunity to take responsibility for the amount and quality of care she provided with these bookings, and utilize this feedback to navigate her business going forward to avoid similar concerns.
The third option is that Rover can look into issuing you a refund from Rover. Please note we are a little more limited with this option in providing a full refund as the service-provider (the sitter) is not involved in this process. In addition, it would require a more thorough review of any and all evidence you could provide to support the claims around the lack of care. Then we could provide a partial refund in accordance with any Terms of Service violations.
I also want to let you know that if you file a police report, we are committed to working with law enforcement officials should they reach out to us.
Let me know how you'd like to proceed and we can go over next steps.
No matter what you decide, our Sitter Team will conduct a thorough review of this incident and of Xxxx's behavior. We'll do a holistic review of Xxxxx's account, including her entire history on our platform. Results could range from heavy coaching around the concerns to removal from the platform. This is a confidential process, so I'm unable to share with you the actions taken in regard to Xxxxx's account, but please know that we take these situations very seriously and we're invested in preventing incidences like this. In order for us to be most effective in this process, we do need your explicit permission to share your concerns with Xxxxx. If you'd prefer to remain anonymous, we'll honor that, but it does limit our ability to follow up with Xxxxxx.
Let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
All the best,
My last reply has not been responded to yet:
At this point you have my explicit permission to share my observations with Xxxxx. My respect for her and Rover is gone. At this point I don't even care if I ever get a refund....and she should be very grateful for my decision. I care about resolution of these two items:
I want the care record (or vet records) for the outside dog brought into my home including proof that the dog in question is up to date on all shots and receives monthly heartworm/flea/tick preventative and does not have parvo. I need assurance that my dogs were not exposed to something that I normally wouldn't expose them to. To me this is one of the worst violations of my home. She let this dog eat my dogs food and drink it's water. If that dog has parvo, my dogs can get infected. I know my neighbor well but I still don't let his dog inside of my house.
I want my $100 cash back and I'd like to do it without law enforcement involvement. A tip is a gratuity for great service. I received not great service and that should be my option. At this poin Xxxxx has independently decided that I need to pay $100 more than the $961 I have already paid. I would prefer that Rover work this out. I think it's interesting that the instructions left for Xxxxx were not followed and that the $100 left for a doggie emergency was unilaterally deemed a tip by Xxxxx. She lied to to me from the beginning throughout the meet and greet process, so in the end I didn't get what I paid for and it was a very expensive lesson made more expensive by her assumption that another $100 was better in her pocket than being a professional dog sitter.
Either way however this gets handled I want Rover reaching out as I NEVER want to see or speak to her again after watching the entire 12 days of video. That means your second option below. You'd be smart as a vendor to make sure this hurts going forward. You have all of the facts and I am researching a way to get all of the video to you so you can avoid this person as one of your "professional" sitter's. I will be posting my review of both Xxxxx and the suggestion that people defer altogether from Rover as you have added me the same protection (nothing) as if I hired someone off the street.
In a few minutes I am going to send some of the snapshot photos I took of time stamps when she was gone as well as the 3rd party dog but I have to get to another device so it will be added on to here.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend
6 out 8 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 friendView all 1 commentsHide comments
Nov 11, 2017
Yes, I have noticed that they screen but they only want the target words in an online questionnaire. They don’t follow up once the sitter has said all the right things. Beware!