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This post was updated October 2016

My house sitting career has offered me the chance to spend time in the company of a menagerie of animals. Dogs, cats, ponies, alpacas, fish, rabbits … pet sitting guide

To date I’ve cared for 52 hooves, 72 paws and 8 gills. pet sitting guide

Each furry paw and each wet black nose bring additional character to my house sitting stays, and extra responsibilities yes, but for me a much more homely experience. One filled with comedy and quirks.

I’ve spoken about becoming a house sitter and the range of responsibilities I’ve take on, but I’ve not discussed the logistics of pet sitting.

Read on below for my ultimate pet sitting guide.

WHAT IS PET SITTING?

Much like house sitting, pet sitting involves caring for the owner’s property, in this case an animal, during an agreed period of time.

Pet sitters can also be charged with caring for the owner’s home or alternatively an arrangement can be made where the sitter either visits the animal at the property, or takes it to their own home while the owner is away.

Because I’ve secure pet sits in the USA, New Zealand, Barbados and beyond with TrustedHousesitters, I receive free home-from-home accommodation which drastically reduces the cost of my travels.

It’s important to note that pet sitters are expected to take exceptional care of the owner’s pets and you should not contemplate becoming a pet sitter unless you are both comfortable with animals, and willing to dedicate to them the time they require.

WHO CAN BECOME A PET SITTER?

Again, there are no prerequisites determining who can become a pet sitter. However a love of animals is advisable.

Never agree to take care of an animal which you are afraid of or have no affinity to. Owners want their pets to be treated in a manner to which they are familiar so you must be comfortable stepping into the owner’s shoes and getting your hands dirty so to speak.

WHAT DOES A PET SITTER DO?

Becoming a pet sitter means that you agree to take on the responsibility of caring for someone’s animals for an agreed period of time.

Often pet owners will invite you to stay in their home while caring for their beloved fur children but it’s not uncommon for you to be asked to visit daily or even take the animal into your home while the owner is away.

We have always stayed on location to pet sit as we do not have our own property however there are a few aspects of pet sitting which are consistent regardless of where you’re caring for the animal.

REQUIREMENTS OF PET SITTERS

Find out exactly what each animal requires on a daily basis.

Whether it is a long afternoon walk, lots of belly rubs or a precise feeding schedule, stick to the owner’s routine, animals like familiarity.

COMPATIBILITY

Taking the time to consider whether or not you’ve the skill set to cope with certain animals can save you a headache mid sit!

Make sure you’re compatible with the animals you care for. It’s great to take on new challenges but don’t bite off more than you can chew!!

CONSIDERATIONS

 

Is there a specific feeding schedule I need to follow?

// How much exercise does your pet need?

// What does your pet dislike?

// What does your pet really love?

// Is there anything else I should know, like allergies or special requirements?

RESEARCH

If you’re not overly familiar with the breed of animal you’ll be caring for it is a good idea to spend some time researching how best to care for your temporary room mate. Being in a position to confidently care for an animal will make the experience much more enjoyable.

FINANCE

Determine what financial responsibilities the owner will be passing over to you during the sit. You may be asked to cover any medical bills or feeding expenses, if so ask for an estimate and decide whether or not you’re happy to cover those costs.

We have found most owners cover all costs associated with the animal while they are away but it pays to check before you agree to take on the sit.

WHAT IF … ?

This is obviously something all pet sitters try to avoid but occasionally the unexpected catches you unaware and delivers a plate full of disaster.

If something happens take a deep breath and contact the owner as soon as possible. Explain the situation and ask how they would like you to proceed.

As long as the situation is not the result of negligence on your part the owner should be understanding.

DURING THE PET SIT

// Follow all directions left by the owner.

// Don’t be concerned if the animals seem a little quiet or forlorn when the owner leaves. Distract them with plenty of attention/walks/treats and follow the owner’s normal schedule to try and comfort the animal.

// Some owners like to receive updates informing them how their pets are doing. Remember to take some snaps to email to the owner every so often.

// Don’t worry if the pets don’t warm to you immediately or at all. Each animal has its own character, just like humans, and it might be that that just don’t click with you! Do your best to see that their needs are met but if they don’t want to be petted just see that they are comfortable, fed and watered and leave them be.

Pet sitting is extremely rewarding and has offered me the opportunity to spend time with animals during my travels. Having grown up in households with animals I often miss the companionship of a four pawed friend so pet sitting allows me to get my furry fix while on the road.

For more information on my recent house and pet sitting stays head over to my house sitting series or get in touch to chat pet sitting with me!

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Are you a seasoned pet sitter? Share your tops tips with us below!

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15 Responses

  1. Ridley Fitzgerald

    Thanks for the tips for finding a pet sitter. I like how you mentioned finding someone who is compatible with your animals. It’s best to find a sitter who knows how to care for big dogs, if you have a Great Dane!

    Reply
  2. Frank

    Love those photos. You do farm animals too? I don’t know how I’d feel about pet sitting a Bison.
    Good advice. Do you have any suggestions of getting pet sitting assignments?

    We’ve never really considered it but some fellow bloggers we like recently asked us if we would be interested in taking care of their dogs. We might take them up on it sometime in the future as we love animals and it is something we really miss being on the road. Another reason to connect with other bloggers 🙂
    Frank (bbqboy)

    Reply
    • Charli Moore

      We have looked after farm animals before. Alpacas, highland cows, chickens, and horses. Of course it’s more involved that pet sitting cats and dogs, but equally as rewarding. I think the key with pet sitting is understanding the responsibilities you’re taking on, and making sure you are able to fulfil the daily tasks set by the owner.

      We have found that choosing photos of yourself with your own pets, or engaging in a hobby such as horse riding etc, shows owners your affinity with animals and can help in securing pet sits. Having experience and animal owners able to give you a reference also helps! Consider taking your friends up on their offer, it could be a great way to secure future opportunities!

      Reply
  3. Rachel

    Great tips, I’ve worked as a house sitter for a few years now, it’s the closest I can get to having pets and being nomadic. Mostly, UK based sits, and I have some awesome dog and cat friends that I see a few times every year.
    The hardest thing about the job is that you have to leave them! I become so attached, but it’s amazing when you return and the animals give you such a warm welcome!
    I think it’s important to put the needs of the animals first, those thinking of it need to understand that it can be quite demanding and time consuming (especially where horses etc are concerned).
    It’s the best job I’ve ever done!

    Reply
    • Charli Moore

      Great to hear you’re having a blast house and pet sitting! We always choose assignments with pets, I think because we travel full time it’s nice to feel at home, pets always seem to add an extra dimension to an assignment!

      Reply
  4. Maria from Nerd Nomads

    We are looking into housesitting, when I came across your great blog post about pet sitting! I didn’t know this was even possible. We looooove animals, especially dogs, so this sounds perfect! Have to leave our dog at home with my parents when we go travelling, and miss her so much. Will def check this out! Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
    • Charli Moore

      Great stuff Maria! I’m glad we’ve helped to inspire you to consider house and pet sitting in the future. We’ve had such a superb time at each assignment and travelled the world thanks to the concept!

      Reply
  5. Angela Laws

    Excellent informative article Charlie…. Everything pet sitters have experienced, everything potential sitters need to consider and a useful pet owner’s check list.

    Reply
    • Charli Moore

      Thanks for your kind comment Angela! I hope we’ve covered all the aspects of pet sitting here. Common sense and a caring heart go a long way towards successful pet sitting!

      Reply
    • Charli Moore

      Thanks Bell! We’ve had such great fun with all our temporary pets. We tend to apply for assignments with pet care as both Ben and I grew up with animals and a house can feel a little empty without four paws running around!

      Reply