Publié le by NmNomador
How to Ease Anxiety for People Using House Sitters for the First Time
As one might imagine, handing the keys to their home to someone who is essentially a stranger, especially for the first time, can be quite nerve wracking for home owners. Add the fact that they’re entrusting the care of their furry family members to us, and it can be a recipe for major anxiety. However, there are some things a house sitter can do to help the homeowners feel more at ease.
We start our relationship with the animals we’ll be caring for as soon as we walk in the door. If it’s a dog that does well with introductions, my child immediately gets down to their level and begins playing with them. I remember a recent sit we did in the UK where they did this, and the homeowner said, “Well, now I’m not worried!” Her two dogs were younger and needed someone who would get down on the floor with them, so this was perfect. They were able to leave the next day without a single concern.
As the homeowners are reviewing the routine, location of treats, the schedule, etc., it’s great to let them see you taking notes. I do this even if they have prepared a manual for me. Besides being helpful to you after they leave, it helps to show them you’re serious about caring for their treasured critters.
If you’re a house sitter taking care of someone else’s pets, you’re most likely an animal lover and understand how often a pet is a true member of the family for people. One thing that really helps a homeowner is getting daily updates from the sitter. These emails are even better if they include at least one photo of their beloved pet.
The best photos are those that show their furry kid being loved, interacting with you, and/or being completely relaxed. For example, a shot of Fido sleeping on its back with his belly fully exposed tells them their dog feels safe and secure.
This is especially important if their pet is known to be shy or nervous. During a house sit in Brussels, we had a cat who typically hid from new people. It took her a couple of days, as her humans had predicted, to come out from her spot in the closet and interact with us. So every photo we sent of her in the living room, being pet, using her kitty condo, etc., helped them know she was okay.
Before sending them a short video, make sure they’ll be in a place with adequate internet. It can be pretty frustrating trying to download an email with a large attachment when you have speeds that are worse than dial-up.
Offer Times to Skype
It may sound silly to some people, but it can be helpful for people who are new to using house sitters to be able to interact with their pet while away. A Skype call is free and lets them talk to the family member they left behind. Obviously, this is something that works better for dogs and some birds than for pets like cats and rabbits.
Follow Their Routine
Some animals have specific routines. These offer the pets a sense of security as well, so it’s important to keep tradition, so to speak. In Morocco, we cared for a dog who was a bit . . . cheeky, one might say. He could also be quite stubborn. In order to help encourage him to behave and to not fight returning home at the end of his walk, the owners wouldn’t feed him until they returned to the house. We followed that same practice so he knew what to expect from us, which also made things easier when he was feeling perky.
During another sit, we had a birding dog. I had noticed that when I opened the door for her to go outside to "take care of business," she would just stand there pointing. At first it freaked me out a bit since it was dark and I couldn’t see anything outside. I tried different cues and commands but nothing seemed to be the right trick. I messaged the owner and sure enough I discovered she was waiting for me to bang on the rail on the steps to “flush out” nonexistent birds.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to help people know their family members are in excellent care. From sending the home owner an occasional photo to sticking with a pet’s tried-and-true routine, easing the mind of home-owners is a simple way to ensure a successful house-sit.
What tips do you have to help people new to house sitting feel more at ease?
Talon Windwalker is a single dad traveling the world slowly with his young child since 2011. He is an author, scuba instructor, and endorphin addict. He writes about their adventures, travels, and food on their blog 1Dad1Kid.com.