Our house sitting career has offered us the chance to spend time in the company of a menagerie of animals. Dogs, cats, ponies, alpacas, fish, rabbits …
To date we’ve cared for 52 hooves, 72 paws and 8 gills.
Each furry paw and each wet black nose bring additional character to our assignments, extra responsibilities yes, but for us a much more homely experience. One filled with comedy and quirks.
We’ve spoken about becoming a house sitter and the range of responsibilities we take on, but we’ve not discussed the logistics of pet sitting.
Read on below for our 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.
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.
Taking the time to consider whether or not you’ve the skill set to cope with certain animals can save you a headache mid assignment.
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!!
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?
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.
Determine what financial responsibilities the owner will be passing over to you during the assignment. 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 assignment.
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.
Some of our favourite fellow house sitters, Pete and Dalene wrote a great post about losing a pet while on assignment. A sad tale of loss but one which offers insight into the correct way to handle such a heartbreaking situation.
DURING THE PET SITTING ASSIGNMENT
// 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 us the opportunity to spend time with animals during our travels. Having grown up in households with animals we often miss the companionship of a four pawed friend so pet sitting allows us to get our furry fix while on the road.
For more information on our recent house and pet sitting assignments head over to our house sitting series or get in touch to chat pet sitting with us!
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Are you a seasoned pet sitter? Share your tops tips with us below!