The holidays are fast approaching — which means for some people, it’s time to book those pet sitters.
Finding the right pet sitter can be tricky, but keeping the right one can be even tougher. Good pet sitters are usually in high demand, allowing them to be just a bit choosy when it comes to jobs they’d rather take or leave.
But fear not — there are certain things you can do to make sure your pet sitter loves you and never wants to leave you. Here is this pet sitter’s personal top 10.
1. Plan Ahead
Calling a pet sitter a matter of hours or days before your vacation is not recommended. Chances are, they will be booked. But aside from that, your pet sitter also needs to be able to plan their days with precision to ensure no animal gets cheated out of their quality time.
Best practice is to call your pet sitter as soon as you make your vacation plans — even if it’s a year ahead. I should mention that emergencies are absolutely a whole different story, and good pet sitters will be understanding and work with you to the best of their ability.
2. Be Honest
Let your pet sitter know if your dog has a tendency to mouth, nip or bite.
Many pet sitters will work with you and your pet to ensure the safety of all involved during visits, but hiding this information will usually not end well. A pet sitter is well within their rights to refuse to approach a dog who is clearly showing aggressive tendencies, meaning your dog may go un-walked/uncared for. At worst, your pet sitter will be bitten and require medical treatment.
3. Leash Training
Walking a dog who constantly pulls is not fun for either the dog or the walker. Proper leash training makes a walk more enjoyable for your dog and your sitter. It also makes for a much safer walk; dogs who pull hard sometimes do snap their leashes or harnesses — and then run into traffic.
Dogs who get loose can also fall victim to other animals, disease and life-threatening injuries. Spend a little time every day leash training your dog, and feel free to bring your pet sitter in on it! They’ll be happy to help maintain consistency with your training.
4. Grant Parole
Pet sitters often spend the night in your home, fulfilling the dual role of pet sitter and house watcher. But they do have lives and properties of their own that need tending to.
Be aware that your pet sitter does need to step out during the day. If you have specific time requirements, discuss this with your pet sitter before they take the job. Be aware that very few pet sitters are going to accept a job that does not allow them to leave the home from time to time.
5. Be Detailed
Pet sitters love notes — we thrive on them, in fact. Never hesitate to leave a note relating all pertinent information, such as:
- Veterinarian’s name and number
- Dietary requirements
- Anxiety triggers
- Pet’s routine
- Medication requirements
- Emergency contact information
Good pet sitters will have notes about your pets (I have files on each individual pet I care for, even if they’re from the same household), but a handy reminder never hurts.
If your pet sitter does a great job for you and your pets, let them know! Constructive feedback is always welcomed, but so is a “great job.” Your pets are so important to your pet sitters, and they love to know that they’re meeting and exceeding all of that pet’s needs.
7. Time Mindfulness
Being available to clients whenever they need us is an important aspect of being a pet sitter. However, do try to keep contacts to a reasonable hour. Unless there’s an emergency, your pet sitter will appreciate you keeping their schedule in mind and not calling in the middle of the night.
I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve gotten non-emergency calls and texts between the hours of 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. That’s kind of mean.
8. Pay on Time
There is little that is more awkward than having to chase a client down for payment. Pet sitters understand if you just didn’t make it to the bank or are having a rough week, but don’t make them chase you for services rendered.
Be up front and just tell them that you’re sorry — you didn’t make it to the bank, but you’ll have their payment on X day (then — please — actually have said payment on X day).
Eventually, as attached to your pet as your pet sitter may be, they will be forced to remove you from their client list, which hurts your pet more than anyone else.
Learn a little more about a pet sitter’s job in this video:
If you find that you don’t need your pet sitter on a regularly scheduled day, be sure to reach out and let them know so they can adjust their schedule.
Most pet sitters, myself included, will always show up if we do not hear from the client, even if school is canceled or the weather is bad. We don’t know your schedule — perhaps you needed the time to go and do errands, for example. We never assume you don’t need us.
If the weather is terrible, we will reach out to you, but if we don’t hear from you, we’re going to do everything in our power to get to your pet, because we assume they’re home alone. There have been several times I’ve shown up to a visit and the client is on hand with a “Whoops, sorry, don’t need you!” I — and likely many other pet sitters — will usually charge for these visits if it is a recurring issue.
10. Bad Things Happen
Losing a pet is so heartbreaking. If you lose your pet, when you feel strong enough, reach out to your pet sitter and let them know about the sad circumstances. They will appreciate it.
If the end of your pet’s life is a planned thing, offer to let them say goodbye. I have so many pets whom I care for, and all of them have a place in my heart, from the wacky spaniel to the standoffish cat (whom I am determined to make love me).
When it is their time to cross the rainbow bridge, I’ll be almost as devastated as their parents, but I will appreciate either the offer to say goodbye or the contact to let me know what has happened. We love your pets and will grieve with you.
Great pet sitters carry all “their” pets in their hearts. We fall in love with your pets, and being lucky enough to be part of their lives is, for us, absolutely the best part of our jobs. From this pet sitter to all you pet lovers out there, thank you for allowing your personal pet sitter to be part of your pet’s life.