Do you have fur babies? Are you thinking of getting-outta-dodge and having a pet sitter host your animals and home? If this makes you crave Catnip or a Chew Toy, read on.
I've been pet/house sitting globally for 3 years now and just love it. Jeff and I recently completed a pet sit for a young couple with 2 rambunctious dogs through TrustedHousesitters. More on that at the end. Our hosts were fabulous to work with and we just loved playing and sleeping together; with the dogs, that is.😂 While this site is the pedigree for the industry, I want to offer some tips for you pet owners new to this type of exchange. Whether they are 2 or 4 legged, swim, slither, or live in a barn, pet/house sitting all about ensuring someone else's babies and home are cared for with a level of excellence that exceeds the owners expectations. So, hold on to your leash, grab your pooper scooper, here we go:
1) Make sure the pet sitter has 2 different points of entry to your home - On our recent sit, we had a garage door keypad and house keys. 👍 We were on a short puppy walk so we didn't bother to bring the keys when, YIKES, the garage keypad wouldn't work, locking us out of the house.👎 Alas, I was able to slither through the doggy door, gaining a few bumps and bruises with Jeff laughing hysterically watching my legs flail in the air as I struggled to gain entry. So, always have multiple points of entry, and remember the house keys Solomonson.🙄
2) How often do you want the pet sitter to update you? You're on vacation, yet you miss Rover and Peaches. Communicate clearly with your pet sitter how often you wish the sitter to check in. My preference is every other day, send a brief update with photos/video. After all, you-are-on-holiday. Let go, trust, enjoy your vacay, and receive updates.
3) Create a detailed Welcome Guide. Sites like TrustedHousesitters rock this task. Fill-it-out-completely. I suggest printing your completed online guide, put it in a simple binder, and leave it for the sitter. They will need to refer to it during your absence. What time does Trixie get her snack? Does Biscuits receive medicine in the morning...or was it evening? What day is trash day? The Mongolian Girbles bite, but the pet Piranha's don't. See what I mean?!
4) Jot down "quirks" about your pets. Your little angels may act differently while you're gone. Shocking, I know.😇 They may get anxious, staring at a foreign humanoid in "their" domain, act out aggressively, or get separation anxiety. Disclaimer - most of the time, pets are just happy to be cuddled, stroked, and be the center of the universe. But, just in case...
a) Simple information about how your pet(s) like to be touched can save a hand getting bit thinking a belly rub is a good idea. Or, Tigger leaping onto your face, claws and all, when you pick him up. Just sayin'... The last pet owners were intuitive enough to let us know their pups don't like hats. That was good information for me, the Fedora queen.
b) Like children, animals may try to take advantage of the sitter or push the boundaries. Don't ever tell your sitter, "Oh, Twinkles always comes home before dark." Trust me, the sitter will be roaming the neighborhood, flashlight in hand, calling your cat who has decided to search for you...on the cruise ship...in the Adriatic Sea. Let your sitter know what to do if your baby goes postal, takes a walk about, or adopts a Silence Of The Lamb personality.
c) The flip side - they may retreat, hide, or decide 3 am is a good time to climb the curtains. Communicating this to a sitter ensures a smooth transition. Optimally, its good for the sitter to meet the pet(s) while the owners are still there; especially dogs. Tell your pet sitter to just plan on extra care and attention the first 24-36 hours. Why, see A and B above you silly bird. As a rule of thumb, I don't go anywhere the first day and a half; instead, I stay with the pets so they're comfortable, can adjust, and know they're safe.
5) Communicate "quirks" about your home. You live there every day and are accustomed to the shower needing a jiggle or a door requiring an extra shove to close. Take a few minutes whilst completing your Welcome Guide, walk around your house, and list it's oddities. This will be helpful and prevent emergency text messages asking why the dishwasher has been running for 8-hours.
6) BONUS TIP: Have a backup plan. Here's a scenario - Your return flight is cancelled, stranding you in a Cleveland snowstorm for 3 days. Your pet sitters still needs to leave to return to their life. Who makes sure Sparky doesn't shred the sofa? Who ensures Buttercup isn't floating in the aquarium? Or, your 2 rabbits got out and now you have 967 rabbits? 😂Always have an emergency backup plan. Life and cat litter happens.
So, there you have it. Six tips for pet owners thinking of sticking their paw, or beak, into the pet sitting pond. If you would like to join TrustedHousesitters as a pet owner, OR, as a pet sitter, just use this link, gain access to a global community, and you'll save 25%.
Now there's something to bark about.
Coming up next, our crash and burn on the Delaware River. Say what?