When you’re looking for a place to live for a few days, you go to Airbnb. When you’re watching the match on TV and craving a pizza, you open your Deliveroo app. And you can even find a babysitter online these days.
But what if you find yourself in need of someone to mind your canine friend while you’re away?
Here’s a new app with the bow-wow-wow factor.
When brothers Timothy and James McElroy struggled to find a dog sitter for their family dog a few years ago, they came up with a business idea.
“We have been dog owners our entire lives, and one year the dog sitter we had to mind our dog decided to retire,” says Timothy.
“We had to find someone else to replace her and it took a really long time, asking friends for recommendations and asking our vet and searching through the classified sites and so on.”
That’s why they decided to create HouseMyDog, a service that allows dog owners to search vetted and reliable dog sitters and walkers in their area.
They started in Dublin in 2015 and decided to take the concept all over the UK at the beginning of 2017. They’re also active in Germany, where they have recently acquired one of their competitors.
The brothers have now brought the concept to Manchester, where it has been an instant success.
“Even before we had enough money to spend on marketing in the UK, most of the searches we were getting on the internet were coming from Manchester, and because we had a lot of natural demand coming from here, we decided that this would be the best place.
“This is by far our fastest growing city. We’re expecting that, by the end of this year, Manchester will outgrow all the other cities we’re currently operating in,” says Timothy.
They have a database of people who are either looking to take care of dogs in their own home or are looking to become dog walkers in their spare time.
People sign up for HouseMyDog for a variety of reasons, says Timothy.
“Obviously there are professionals who do it full-time, but there are also people who just love an extra dog around every now and again or a pal for their own dog.
“So we then match the dog owners who come to the platform – based on various factors like location – with the sitters on our database.”
Because they understand that looking after a dog is a big responsibility which needs to be taken seriously, Timothy thinks maintaining trust is more important than anything. So when it comes to the people they accept as dog carers, they always put quality over quantity.
“As a dog owner you don’t really need to do much”, says Timothy. “You simply connect with the sitter you think is a good match and get in touch with him so you can have a chat”.
However, all sitters and walkers go through thorough checks and vetting sessions as well as a quick interview before they are accepted. They also need to complete a full profile that includes pictures and reviews from other dog owners.
HouseMyDog also offer veterinary care and photo and message updates with every booking.
Besides dog sitting and walking they are now in the process of introducing dog daycare.
“We’re a nation of animal lovers – in the UK over 56% of households are pet owners – and pets are very much key members of our family,” says Timothy.
“Naturally, owners want the very best possible care for their dogs. They are now demanding more choice and trust and want their pooch to have their own holiday, too – somewhere fun, safe and where they will be treated like a member of the family.”