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Publié le by NmNomador

Ask the Experts: What To Do When Pets Misbehave Or Get Sick

Nothing compares to the peace-of-mind that can come with leaving your pets at home with someone to care for them when you travel. There is less need to worry about how much quality time and attention they are receiving, and no need to worry about their interactions with other animals. This added level of comfort is why the issue of what to do when a pet misbehaves or becomes ill during a housesit is often overlooked during the initial communication process with housesitters, and yet these are important issues to discuss before leaving someone with your keys and your precious pets.

To answer some of these difficult questions, we’ve asked five of our favourite experienced homeowners and house-sitters about their stories and advice for What to do when a pet misbehaves, becomes ill, or even passes away during a housesit.

Leigh McAdam, Homeowner

Last year I actually agreed to sit for a friend’s pet in my own home. Our arrangement was for 3 months, but the dog was so poorly behaved that after 2 months, we had to come to an agreement about taking it to a kennel. Unfortunately the owners hadn’t prepared me for the destructive behavior and fact that it wasn’t housebroken, and I wouldn’t have agreed to providing 3 months of care if they had been honest about it up-front. In this case the onus is on the homeowner to pay for a backup solution.

Pete Heck, Housesitter

Our last petsit was for a dog who was, for the most part, really well-trained. But then she would go through bouts of excitement and play-biting and jumping, which could be painful and irritating. It’s difficult to discipline someone’s animal without knowing how they normally handle it. Do they scold? Send it outside? Discipline differently? We asked the homeowner and they advised us to ignore her, which we were hesitant to do as dog-lovers, but it worked! It was important that we as pet-sitters didn’t re-enforce any bad behaviors by handling them poorly, which is why communicating with the homeowners was imperative in dealing with the issue.

When we were pet-sitting in Turkey, we had to put a sick dog down. We were on the phone with the homeowners, both crying together. It was awful, but the homeowners were glad we were there with their dog, were able to arrange payment with their vet, and it was something that we as pet-sitters agreed to take on as part of the role. It’s unfortunate, but these things can happen. It’s best if the homeowner can address any potential issues before-hand, but always a good idea to clear it with them, if possible, before any major health or financial decisions are made.

Josie Schneider, Housesitter

We were taking care of a horse and a sheep during our last housesit in France. I’ve had experience caring for horses, but never sheep. It turns out that the sheep was consistently head-butting me to the point where I was getting bruises! The homeowner helped me solve the problem with discipline, but it was a funny and eye-opening experience.

If anything housesitting to me has proven that most people in the world have good hearts. And when there is an emergency of any kind, we have found neighbors/strangers/homeowners to be exemplary human beings. Again, if you’re in good communication right from the start, it’s easier to understand each other and maintain the beauty of this sharing community.

Dani Heinrich, Housesitter

On my very first day at a housesit, the owner’s cat ran away. They had told me when I arrived that it had run off before and disappeared for 3 weeks before someone found it. Regardless, they told me they had bought an electronic tracker and that it was okay to let it outside. It disappeared within an hour! Unfortunately the tracker only told me that the cat was out-of-range, but not its location. I searched but ultimately had to wait for the owners to return 3 days later to find it, but since they previously knew it was an issue, they were not upset.

One time an owner warned me that his dog was ill-behaved, but he offered to have a trainer come to the house while I was there to help. Another time the owners downplayed the fact that their dog wasn’t trained, and the entire experience turned into a nightmare. I’ve also had homeowners inform me that their pets were very old. They were up-front in telling me that the pets could pass away while they were gone and asked if I would be comfortable dealing with the veterinarians and other issues that caring for an older pet might entail, and they made sure the vet had their credit card information in case I had to take them in. Dealing with old and sick animals took me some time to get used to and I’m fortunate that a pet has never passed away in my care, but I realized how important it was for owners to be honest when it comes to their pets’ health and behaviors so that the sitter isn’t surprised.

Mariannig Ferrari, Homeowner & Housesitter, Founder of Nomador

Unfortunately in our business we’ve heard many stories of pets becoming ill or even passing away during a house-sit, but the feedback we’ve always gotten from homeowners is that they were relieved that the pet-sitters were home and that their pets were not alone. It helped them to know that the pet-sitters had been loving their pets as much as if the homeowners had been there themselves. This is why the homeowner and pet-sitter arrangement is such a wonderful relationship.


This is Part 3 of a series in which we “ask the experts” about their experiences with some common -- and not-so-common -- housesitting issues. Many thanks to our house-sitters and homeowners for providing valuable insight!

Pete Heck, HeckticTravels.com
Josie Schneider, HouseSittingTravel.com
Leigh McAdam, HikeBikeTravel.com
Dani Heinrich, GlobeTrotterGirls.com
Mariannig Ferrari, Nomador.com

You may also enjoy: Part 1, “What to do When a Housesit is Not ‘As Advertised” and and Part 2, “What to do When Schedules Change.”

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