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A Pet Parent’s Guide to Holiday Tipping

Tipping your pet care providers isn’t often expected, but it is always appreciated.

by Madeleine Aggeler
December 17, 2021
Dog groomer talks at the reception counter with a customer and his dog
SolStock / iStock

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It takes a village to care for a pet. Or at least one or more loving pet parents, plus several experienced professionals who can help make sure that their dog or cat is happy and healthy, while confirming that butt-scooting thing they’ve been doing recently isn’t a problem. But with the holidays around the corner, lots of them have questions about how exactly they should be spreading the holiday cheer. Specifically: Which pet care providers should you be tipping, and how much? We turned to the pros and found that while holiday tipping isn’t often expected, it is always appreciated, and it’s never a bad idea to show gratitude for the people who help you care for your cat or dog.

Pet Sitter

According to Tatiana Maldonado, the owner of Your Paws R My Paws pet sitting service in Miami, “We normally do expect and appreciate holiday tipping. A normal tip amount would depend on the service booked,” she says. “If it’s a one-time, stand-alone reservation, tipping 20% is preferable. If it’s a holiday tip for dog-sitting work over the course of a whole year, Maldonado recommends anywhere from $100 to $500, adding that cash or mobile payments through services like Venmo or Zelle are recommended. And if you don’t have much cash to spare, positive online reviews can go a long way towards making a sitter feel appreciated, and helping them grow their business.

Dog Walker

Dog walkers are essential for both a pet and owner’s well-being. Your dog doesn’t have to be cooped up all day, and you don’t have to worry about them being cooped up all day. So how best to show your appreciation? Maureen Murphy, from Cleveland Dog Walk, says that while holiday tipping is “definitely not expected,” it’s a “very nice surprise” — typically between $15 and $40. For the Cleveland Dog Walk team specifically, cash or a tip added on top of an invoice is preferred, since the team splits the monthly total for tips among all walkers. Murphy adds that they’ve also had customers give walkers gift cards or baked goods. “It’s nice to feel appreciated, no matter the gesture!”

Dog Daycare Worker

Like many pet care businesses, tipping norms for doggy daycares can vary from business to business. Anecdotally, many people I know will tip between 10-20% for their pet’s daycare stays. But the owners of the dog daycare Bones and Bacon in Dallas say that they don’t offer a tip option in their checkout process because, “We charge what we think our service is worth.” If a customer does want to tip, they say that cash is generally the best route. If you’re unsure about what the tipping norms at your daycare are, just ask.

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Groomer

Charles Winters, the president and owner of Bark Place Inc. dog salons in New York City, says that it’s customary to tip groomers for good service year-round — usually 15 or 20% of the cost of each groom. However, around the holidays, some clients will double or triple that amount to show their groomer some extra appreciation. If you can’t afford to give more around the holidays though, Winters says that’s okay. “It’s really just important to let your groomer know that you appreciate them. If you can’t add anything to their holiday tip, you might try putting their regular tip in a nice holiday greeting card with a personalized message telling your groomer how happy you are that they take such good care of your pet. Some friendly, thankful words can go a long way.”

Also, don’t try to get too creative with your show of appreciation. Winters notes that, with a few exceptions, most groomers interact far more with dogs than with their owners, so trying to pick out a gift for them might be challenging. “I would say if you do bring something for your groomer other than cash, such as homemade goodies or flowers, don’t let that replace the standard tip that you typically give for each grooming throughout the rest of the year.”

Dog Trainer or Cat Behaviorist

For most dog owners, a trainer offers an invaluable service that they probably use on a more short-term or irregular basis than, say, dog walking or grooming. Troy Austin, the co-owner and head trainer of Sit Means Sit Dog Training in Austin, Texas, says that their team never expects tips during the holidays or any other time, and that it is not “part of their pay consideration.” When customers do tip, Austin says it can be anything from $5 for coffee, or $100 in cash. “The range is really huge since it isn’t expected.”

However, he added that their trainers do enjoy acts of gratitude such as thank you cards, cookies, a gift certificate to coffee, or, of course, cash. “It just makes them feel especially good when someone goes out of their way to notice and mention the impact we had on their life with the dog.”

Vet Staff

As grateful as you may be to your vet and vet staff for taking care of your dog, tipping is not expected, and may even be seen as a little insulting. Think about it — would you tip your physician or nurse? It’s a similar situation here. If you do want to show your appreciation, perhaps send a holiday card with a picture of your pet on it, and words of thanks for everything they’ve done.

madeleine aggeler

Madeleine Aggeler

Madeleine Aggeler is a freelance journalist and copywriter in Austin, Texas. Previously, she was a writer at New York magazine’s The Cut. She lives with her dog, Cleo, who works primarily as a foot warmer.