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Monday, July 11, 2022 - House-sitters

Pet-Sitting 101: 5 Things You Need to Consider

There are a variety of reasons why a homeowner might need someone to stay in their home while they’re on vacation. They may have a garden that needs tending to, or they simply don’t want to leave their home empty. But many are in need of a pet-sitter to care for their pets.

You don't need to be a professional pet-sitter but being a reliable pet-sitter comes with responsibilities. Sure, sitters get the bonuses of companionship and fluffy animal snuggles, but unlike an empty home where you can come and go as you please, pet-sitters are there for dog walking, feeding the animals, and ensuring the pets are given the utmost care. So before you book your first pet-sit adventure, it is important to be aware of what you are committing to.

1. The Type of Animal You Will Be Watching

Before accepting a house-sitting assignment, be sure to know the type of pets or animals you will be caring for and the responsibilities that come with them. Animals vary, but in general, dogs will need more attention and exercise than cats. Livestock such as goats or horses that (likely) live outside will need less of your attention. In these cases, there will be specific instructions on how to feed and care for them and what to do with them at night.

If you plan on getting your daily exercise with dog walking then an energetic dog that needs regular walks may be right up your alley. If you want to spend your days in a more relaxing manner, then perhaps pet-sitting an energetic dog that needs lots of time outside may not be ideal for you. Similarly, if you hope to enjoy the company of a cat during your pet sit, a home with an anti-social feline might not be the best fit.

When applying and interviewing for a house-sitting job, ask questions to find out what the animals are like and learn what pet care they need. Knowing all of this in advance can save both you and the homeowners, and most importantly the pets, some potential future headaches.

2. Being a Committed Pet-Sitter

One way pet-sitting is different from house-sitting is that you’ll have to consider everything the animals need. It is unlikely that being a pet-sitter will mean that you are able to spend nights away from the home while you’re on assignment, unless you’ve arranged secondary care with the pet-owners in advance. Besides, if you prefer slow travel and enjoy connecting with people, places, and animals, then being a pet-sitter is a great way to travel and become intimate with a locale.

3. The Amount of Pet Care and Maintenance level For the Pet

Being a pet-sitter carries an enormous amount of responsibility, especially if there are special instructions for the homeowner's furry best friend. For cats, most stay inside and have little in the way of needs, besides keeping the food and water bowl full and the litter box empty. There may be times, however, that cats come with special instructions or medication requirements. Make sure you discuss this with the homeowners during the pre-house-sit interview to know everything before assuming that all cats require little attention. If the homeowners require care for their dog, find out exactly what they will need. How many walks daily? How long should each one be? How many times a day do they generally need to be let outside? Livestock have their own unique needs, too. Maintaining an animal’s routine is one of the best ways to ensure a successful pet-sit. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how much time and energy you will want to devote to pets on your trip before you book a pet-sit. Be sure to have these conversations with the pet's family before you commit to anything.

4. Be Prepared - Emergencies Can Happen to Pets Too

Whether it’s a dog picking a fight with another dog, a cat injuring its paw, or a rabbit who’s just acting a little strange, emergencies to pets can happen. As a pet-sitter, it’s essential that you know what to do with the pet(s) in case of emergency. Be sure to have the name and number of the homeowner’s preferred local veterinarian written down or programmed into your phone. It's important to get all these details in advance by either having a house-sitting agreement or house-sitting checklist. It's best to have a clear picture of how to handle the situation, and as well, how you will be reimbursed for such emergency services and expenses.

5. Know Your Limits: How Many Animals Are You Comfortable With?

Sure, you’ve had a dog or two, maybe even a couple of cats. Some animal lovers like to have as many furry friends around as possible. There are house-sit assignments that have solely one animal to care for, and then there are some that have dogs, cats, and farm animals. It’s ultimately up to you to decide how many you’d feel comfortable caring for at one time. Since dogs often require more time and energy than cats, pet-sitting with three dogs will be a very different experience than caring for three cats! Though you will likely find house-sitting with pets to be a fun and fulfilling part of your travels, be sure to learn about house-sitting with difficult pets because it’s possible that you may come across a pet with difficult quirks presenting some challenges.

Whether you’re a veteran house-sitter or just starting out, you’re likely to find that pet-sitting is just a little different than caring for an empty house, but in a very good way. If you’re realistic about your travel goals and the time you can devote to caring for the pet(s) of the house, your pet-sitting experiences can be fun, memorable, and leave you with new human and furry friends!

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Elizabeth Xu

Elizabeth Xu is a freelance writer, traveler, and animal lover. Follow her tweets for all those things and more @ElizabethMXu

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