Be the Pet Sitter Everyone Wants

Be the Pet Sitter Everyone Wants

by Kathy Green

As with all employment, to be the best, there are certain standards and qualities to your work that must be present..and then you go one step further! This is certainly true with the job of pet sitting. The animals in your care are very important to their owners, like family, and in order to build a thriving business you need to build a good reputation based on trust and client satisfaction.

What exactly does this look like when you are a pet sitter?

Tips to Be an Excellent Pet Sitter

  1. Be reliable and responsible in all aspects of your job.
    • The animals in your care are relying on you and there is no room for error. If there are schedules to be followed regarding exercise, food, play or meds, these must be carried out exactly.  
    • Have a contingency plan in case of personal emergencies (illness etc.) Share all of this information with the owner. They would never be happy with strangers they had not met coming into their homes and caring for their beloved pets.
  2. Build an impressive resume.
    • Have you applied for liability insurance? (to cover accidents and negligence)
    • Are you bonded?(to protect against theft by a pet sitter or her employees)
    • Have you had any training in first aid or pet care that would augment your qualifications?
    • Include letters or testimonials from happy clients.
  3. Communicate expectations clearly.  
    • Both the owner and the pet sitter must be honest in stating their expectations of the job. The owner must be thoughtful and fair when explaining what the job will look like and the pet sitter must be honest as well in the promises they make. Do not agree to something that you can not deliver.
    • A contract is always a good idea. This will clearly outline the job, pay and dates. It should be signed by both parties. A willingness to sign a contract gives the owner peace of mind that you are honest and serious about the job.
    • A cancellation policy for both sides should be agreed upon and be in writing.
  4. Always be open to a trial day.
    • This benefits all concerned--pets, owners and you.
    • To show good will, this could be done without pay. You can have a 'walk through" of the house, asking any questions that may come to mind. This gives everyone the chance to feel great about the partnership or decide against it.
    • How comfortable were you with the pet? Did the owner like what they saw?
    • As well, it gives you the opportunity to ask any questions that arise from the experience --details often about the animal's behaviour that can be helpful to the job going pleasantly.
  5. Gather as much information as you can about the pet(s) in your care.
    • Prepare a set of questions for each type of pet that you look after and have it ready every time you interview for a new client  
    • For example, it is not just enough to know feeding schedules, but what are other details regarding feeding? Is the bowl to be washed between feedings? Often older pets have their food warmed from the refrigerator if they are eating wet food. As well older cats sometimes have their food, especially kibble, mixed with water to aid in chewing.
    • Puppies or kitties that just gobble their food may need to have their food put down in two portions with a few minutes in between so they do not regurgitate. There is so much more to feeding than just the amount of food and the time of day.
    • And, of course, fresh water should always be readily available for the pet.
  6. Emergency information should be clearly written and placed by the telephone.
    • Names and phone numbers of the veterinarian, the after hours emergency clinic and close neighbours or family that can be used if needed should be readily available.  
  7. Communication with the owner while he is away should be talked about and agreed upon.
    • Be prepared that you may be asked to send a short email occasionally to assure the owner that all is well and to give her peace of mind.
    • The best sitters also include a picture of the pet, easily done in this age of smart phones. It is these little touches and high accountability that will ensure repeat customers.
  8. Show genuine enthusiasm and affection for the animals in your care.
    • If you are truly an animal lover this should not be difficult. If it does not come naturally you are probably in the wrong line of business.
    • You do not engage in this type of business because you think it is easy money, but rather because you enjoy being around animals, and love looking after them.
    • Nothing warms the heart of a pet owner more than seeing a genuine, loving rapport between their pet and his sitter.
  9. Expect a fair rate of pay.
    • The pay rate should be fair to both you and the pet owner.
    • Do your due diligence and research what the going rate for pet sitting is in your city and under what circumstances. Things you would need to consider would include:
      • the number and type of animals
      • whether care is given in their home or yours
      • number of tasks
      • time on tasks per day
      • any extra responsibilities (lights, watering etc.)
  10. Have references readily available.
    • Do not wait to be asked, but have a copy of these ready for your prospective client.
    • Ensure they are truthful and current.
    • Ask former clients if you can include their phone number--shows transparency and honesty.
  11. Exceed expectations.
    • Extra effort does not go unnoticed. If you see something that needs doing, just because it is not in the contract is no reason for letting it go. Do not expect extra money for this, but take pride knowing that you are doing an excellent job and that the animals in your care are safe and well.

Pet sitters do much more than provide a pet with food and water while their guardian is away from home. A good pet sitter also spends quality time with the animal, providing affection and trying as much as possible to keep the pet healthy and happy while her owner is away. An excellent pet sitter exhibits enthusiasm, responsibility and reliability. For a true animal lover, this is the best job in the world because you are spending your days ensuring the well being of your four footed friends and allowing happy clients to leave home with a smiles on their faces.