Making a successful pet-sitting relationship
One of the best things about pet sitting, other than making a lot of truly special 4-footed friends, is chatting with other pet sitters. Swapping stories can be hilarious - most of the sitters I know (or like…) have wicked senses of humor. But some of those stories can make your fur stand on end. And they’re not always about the animals…
Pet sitting, can be hugely rewarding, but understand that it’s a lot more than just channeling Goldilocks – playing with someone’s pets, eating their food and sleeping in their bed. (And hopefully never wearing their clothes… but admit it, that’s a funny mental picture). You’re solely responsible for the care and well being of the pet(s) in the home. Make sure you know what you’re getting into first. Do your homework - charge a fair price. Don’t sell yourself short, but don’t get outrageous if you want more business.
INSURANCE & FIRST AID TRAINING: If you’re serious about pet sitting there are two things you should never be without. Ever. Pet Sitting Insurance and a current Pet First Aid Certification. And you should always carry a pet first aid kit/bag in your car. Make sure you flip through your Pet First Aid guide at least once every other month. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll retain from doing that simple task.
THE MEET AND GREET: E-mail or deliver your contract and intake forms ahead of time and ask the client to complete them PRIOR to your initial visit. Do not commit to the booking until after you’ve met the client face to face, the animals (snout to face), seen the entire layout of the home and heard what the expectations are of you during the clients’ absence and are okay with the arrangment. Ask questions. Get Answers. Most clients appreciate the opportunity to be clear about their expectations. But if you don’t feel comfortable with their requests, speak up, ask questions, clarify the conditions, and don’t be bullied. We have all encountered the rare client who asks too much, won’t be satisfied, wants a discount or is too busy to answer questions. They will be more confident with you if you show confidence in yourself. Trust me on this one. The ONLY time I have ever had issues with clients have been when my heart and the voice in my head told me (screamed!) not to take the job in the first place. The money is not worth the bad press that can be generated by a client that sets you up for failure. I’ve learned to say “you know, I just don’t think this is a good fit for either of us. I don’t know why, but it doesn‘t feel right for me,” with a very sweet smile on my face, and a look in my eye that says … ‘it’s not negotiable.'
THE VISIT: Send e-mails or texts to let the clients know how it’s going. Tell them unique things you’ve noticed about the critter. E-mail pictures. And always leave exit notes - what you all did when they were away, how the pets played. That you really got to know their four-footed family members. Thank them for the opportunity. And before you leave, make sure the house is tidy, the shower & sheets are clean, dishes washed & put away & the bed’s remade.
Lastly, for overnight sits, remember, if something happens to you when the pets are home alone, and you are unable to return in a timely manner or contact the clients’ backup, someone still needs to care for those pets! They still need to be fed, and let out. I never carry the clients intake forms with me when I’m out and about because if I get mugged, the perp will know there’s a home with no humans just waiting to be burglarized. So what I do carry in the pocket of my jacket, or pants (not my purse because it can be snatched or lost) in a little plastic pouch, is a copy of my driver license and a current business card and written on the reverse: IN CASE OF EMERGENCY I’M WATCHING: “pet’s name(s)”, species (dog/cat/cow, ok, just kidding about the cow)… dates of my visit, clients name & contact numbers if reachable, back-up person with phone number from intake form, their Vets number, my emergency contact and phone number, and my Dr. phone # (write small…). Now I know you’re probably all thinking, how anal can you get!? But seriously, wouldn’t you feel pretty darned comfortable having me watching your pet? Which, in the end, is what is most important.