If you love pets and earning money, pet sitting can be a fun and rewarding way to do both. Running a pet sitting business means you will be responsible for the care and needs of your customers’ pets, acting as a companion while their owner is away. Whether it’s just for the day, a few more days, or even extended periods, you should be open and willing to take care and spend time with these furry friends. The pet owners should also feel relieved knowing that they are leaving their pets in good hands.
But before you start drifting to daydream land, it’s important to ask yourself, “how do I become a good pet sitter?” You might think that it’s all fun and games, but when you start getting complaints from your clients, you’d soon realize that it’s more than just spending time with pets. At this moment, you should take your time to research how to become a good pet sitter.
You need to consider many things, which can get overwhelming when you try to absorb all the information at once. Fortunately, we’ve done our research and have compiled our entire findings into three main dog sitting tips to become a good pet sitter.
Tip #1: Meet with the Pet Owner
When it comes to pet sitting, it’s important to meet and get to know the pet owner before they leave their pets with you. That way, you’ll get an idea of their behavior and tendencies, as well as how they take care of their pets.
Once you’ve scheduled a meeting with the pet owner, make sure you don’t forget to do the following:
Provide references for your past dog sitting jobs
Provide contact details for owners you have pet sit for in the past. Doing so will show your current client that you have previous experience as a pet sitter. Showing them positive reviews will also boost their confidence and trust in you to pet sit for them while they are away.
Remember to always ask for permission before you share someone else’s contact information. You can do so at the end of a job where you can ask the satisfied client if you can have them serve as your reference to boost your portfolio. Once they agree, you can then ask for their phone number and email.
Please choose clients that you’ve worked with for a long time. In most cases, the ideal reference should be someone you’ve known for at least a year. If you’re new to the field and don’t have any previous pet sitting experiences, you can use past employers or even your friends whose pets you’ve watched while they were away.
Discuss expectations and needs
Another way to know more about the owner and their pet is by asking them directly for their expectations and needs. The pet owner will have multiple expectations of you; so, make sure you know their pet’s specific needs by asking them. Take note and ask questions so that you can ensure that all expectations are clear and understood.
First, knowing the basics is essential. You will need to know where the pet’s food is kept, how much helpings they need each day, and when and where to feed them. It’s also important to ask if the pet is taking any medications. That way, you will also be aware of when they will need to take it.
Another crucial expectation that the client will have from you is time commitment. You might only need to check in with the pet daily or every other day for some jobs. However, in other cases, you will need to stay in the owner’s home and be more hands-on when looking after their pet.
Some important questions include:
- How old is the pet?
- Does it have any medical history?
- Can your pet do well with children?
- Does the client have other animals in the house?
- How often should the dog be taken out?
- If it’s a cat, how often should the litter box be changed?
Some of these questions are self-explanatory. However, it doesn’t hurt to be extra sure about all the questions running in your head. So don’t hesitate to ask away.
Once things are clear about the client’s expectations and pet needs, it’s time to move towards house rules. Make sure you check with the owner to know how often you should give the pet treats. The owner may also allow the pet on certain furniture while restricting them to others.
Ask the owner about the pet’s preferences, specifically their likes and dislikes. The details they provide about this topic will prepare you for any potential triggers for the pet, preventing any issues from happening to the pet while it’s in your care.
Obtain all necessary contact details
In case of emergencies like a medical issue, you need to know when and who to call. In most cases, the owner will readily provide you with the necessary contact information for their veterinarian. If not, then make sure you have the owner’s contact information so that you can reach out to them right away in the event of an emergency.
In addition to the owner’s contact information, you can also ask for the contact details of one of their friends or family members. That way, you’ll have an alternative person to contact if you cannot reach the actual owner.
Determine the pay
If you’re pet sitting for someone close to you – like a friend or a family member, the pay may not be much of an issue. However, if you’re doing it professionally with a client, you need to make sure you get paid at the end of it. Otherwise, it won’t be worth it in the end as much as you care about animals. Your services aren’t free, after all.
The first thing you need to do is research and see what reasonable fees are considered low or overpriced. There are great online resources that will determine the fees associated with pet sitting in a particular location within the country. Care.com, for instance, is a great site to determine the current pet sitting rates for different areas within the U.S.
According to our research, the current national average wage for pet sitters is around $16 per hour. So, if you work for, say, eight hours a day at the said rate, you can potentially make up to $128 per day. The owner might also choose to pay you a weekly wage. That means the average would be around $600 per week. Depending on the negotiation, you may also receive extra money for extra services, like maintenance, house cleaning, or payment in the form of free lodging and food.
Your rate can potentially increase depending on the number of pets you’re sitting, as well as your level of experience. The owner might also want to negotiate fees, so make sure you are courteous during the entire negotiation process. The last thing you want is losing a potential client just because you are being arrogant or argumentative.
If you’re serious about getting paid for your efforts, you can automate your billing process by investing in invoicing software like ReliaBills. With an invoicing system, you can automate your entire billing process. From creating to sending your invoice, you can ensure that everything is fluid and automatic.
Meet and Get to Know the Pet
If possible, you can schedule a practice visit where you will meet the pet beforehand. That way, the pet will get familiar with you before the actual pet sitting, and you will also know where to find all the essentials (food, water, toys, and treats).
A practice visit is essential as there are details about the pet that may have never come up during casual conversation that you need to know as the pet sitter. The owner will also want to ensure that their pet is comfortable with you. If there are potential issues with timidness and aggression in your presence, they may want to discontinue the service and select another sitter – which is a valid decision.
Don’t take it personally if the worse does happen, and they’d have to resort to cut your service. While you do like pets, there will be instances when the pet doesn’t like you back. So be understanding when it happens. The owner might refer you to another potential client.
Tip #2: Pet Care
Once you’ve met with the pet owner and the actual pet, the next thing you need is to formulate a care program for that specific pet. You’ll need to do several things to come up with the most effective approach to caring for your client’s pet. Here are some of the things you will need to keep in mind:
Follow the schedule that the owner provided
Before they leave you on your own, the owner will most likely leave you with verbal and written instructions for pet care and overall upkeep. Make sure you follow these instructions religiously. You may have your program in mind. But at the end of the day, the owner’s instructions come first.
Make sure you feed the pet at the right time and with the right amount. Cat owners, for instance, tend to let their cats have open access to dry food that they can snack on throughout the day. If this is the case for your client’s pet, make sure you fill the bowl at the start of the day. Don’t forget to do refills when you notice that the cat food is almost out. Also, water is essential. Make sure the pet has access to clean water at all times.
If the pet is undergoing medication, make sure you give them according to the time and frequency indicated by the owner. Pets who are on medication usually need to stick to a strict schedule and dosage. So, make sure you are aware of this. If you forgot to put it in your note, or if you forgot any detail for that matter, you can always call the owner for any clarification.
Do some additional work
Most pet sitters would stick to their duty and do nothing else. However, if you want to stand out from the others, you need to do some work in addition to pet sitting. By doing some extra tasks for your client, you increase your reputation, trustworthiness, and overall reliability.
Clean litter boxes regularly or let the dog out according to the number of times the owner allows. You can also do some basic upkeep for the pet owner’s home – that’s if you stay at their home for the duration of the pet sitting job. While you’re there, you can do some general cleaning. You can also water the plants, collect mail, and keep the home neat and tidy.
While you want to impress your client by having the initiative to do additional tasks, keep in mind that they may have specific organizational structures for each part of their house. For instance, if you’re doing the dishes, and the client has a specific way of placing the plates, they might feel peeved if you mess around with their system. If you want to do the dishes, you can do so, but leave them to dry and never put them away.
Give the pet some extra attention
While there are different alternative tasks that you can do, keep in mind that the primary job is pet sitting. So, make sure you give the pet some extra attention. Keep them safe and make sure they are comfortable and not under stress while under your care and supervision. Some pets tend to get nervous when they know their owner is not around. Make sure you show them some attention and affection daily so that they will get used to having you around even more.
Play with the pet, often using their favorite toy. It’s best to do this frequently until the pet runs out of energy and loses interest. By doing so, they will get tired when you leave and will more likely fall asleep or relax until you get back. Or, if you’re staying at the owner’s home, you can also get some much-needed rest of your own.
Once you complete vital tasks such as feeding and cleaning, sit with the pet and show them quality attention. Stroke, cuddle and talk with the pet to show that you care for them even though you are not their owner. Pets like dogs and cats are very social and affectionate. They will crave human interaction, especially when their owners are away.
Tip #3: Preparing for a Pet Sitting Job
Once you land a client, it’s time to know how to prepare for a pet sitting job. Keep in mind that pet sitting is not an impromptu job. It requires extensive planning and preparation. If you don’t follow the tips that we mentioned throughout this article, then chances are you won’t be able to fulfill your pet sitting task successfully. So, to make sure you are 100% ready, make sure you consider the following tips:
Determine if it’s right for you
Pet sitting is both a challenging yet rewarding experience. However, before you take on a job, you need to ensure that you have the necessary qualifications to excel. Love for animals is one of the most essential qualities to have as a pet sitter. Keep in mind that you will be spending a lot of time with your client’s pets. So, if you’re not genuinely into pets, then this job may not be the right one for you.
As a pet sitter, there will be times when you will face challenges along the way. The pet might have gotten out of the house and is out in the open, or you might have fed them the wrong food. Whatever trouble you may face, it’s essential to remain calm. Panicking will only make the situation worse. Make sure you also adjust your schedule accordingly to accommodate the pet sitting job during the day.
Organization and self-motivation are also desirable qualities for every pet sitter. You will need to manage your schedule around one or more clients and track the needs of a variety of pets. So, make sure you are well organized before taking on multiple pet-sitting jobs. If you feel overwhelmed, you can always do it, one client at a time.
Get liability insurance
You can already consider pet sitting as a small freelance gig. That’s why you will need to have commercial liability insurance. That way, you will have the insurance to cover any incidents or accidents while you do your pet sitting job. If you’re looking at pet sitting as a long-term profession, liability insurance will prove to be an excellent investment.
If you’re working through a pet sitting center, the company will most likely cover the insurance for you. Most pet sitting companies have policies in place that will protect their employees. So make sure you check in with the company you work for by asking questions about their available insurance, as well as your coverage.
Consider Pet Sitting Training
If you prove to be a competitive novice in the pet sitting gig, you can always opt for pet sitting training to cultivate your potential further. A certification will also be given to you at the end of the training. While it won’t be necessary to become a pet sitter, it does serve as proof that you have undergone proper training and is more than qualified to pet sit for your client.
A pet sitting certification will let clients know that you are serious about your job and committed to providing the best pet care and upkeep possible. If you ever have plans to work with a pet sitting agency, presenting some form of professional training is an excellent boost to your resume.
Multiple organizations provide pet sitting training programs. Pet Sitters International and the National Assembly for Professional Pet Sitters provide general pet sitting training. You can even download some useful resources on their website.
It takes a lot of effort to become a good pet sitter. However, keep in mind that while this may be the case, it will all be worth it if you truly love pets and want to take care of them. We hope this guide will help you propel yourself towards becoming a capable dog sitting expert or pet sitting guru. Good luck with your endeavors.