Pet sitters play a crucial role in the lives of pet parents who wish to travel or need to leave their pets for an extended amount of time. Many pet sitters make multiple daily visits to their clients’ homes and some even sleep over. Your aim as a pet sitter is to provide excellent care to the pet, communicate effectively with the client and make the experience as pleasant as possible for all beings involved.
The difference between a good (or even great) pet sitter and a mediocre one are in the details. Anyone can feed and leave water for a pet but, to be an excellent pet sitter and one that your clients rave about, then you should follow these three rules:
Rule #1: Know before you go! Meet with the client and the pet, in their home, before you begin the assignment. Develop a rapport with both the pet and the pet parent. Frequently, pet sitters are great with pets but not with people. If this is you, step out of your comfort zone and get to know the client. Ask questions. What are their major concerns? Find out their pain points and strategize ways to eliminate them. Interact with the pet. Reassure your client that you’ll attend to and care for their animal in the best possible manner. Be sensitive to the fact that leaving a pet at home can be stressful for BOTH the pet and the owner.
Record all pertinent information, including emergency contacts, veterinarian information, feeding instructions, medications, alarm codes, etc. This might be the last time you see the (human) client, so be as thorough as possible.
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Rule #2: Manage expectations. This is crucial and can be the difference between success and failure at the job. If the client wants something you can’t provide, be upfront about it. Discuss what each visit will entail and go over a typical day in the life of the pet. Be realistic with clients about what time you will be at their home for each visit and for how long. Discuss any ancillary tasks you might be expected to perform such as watering plants, bringing in mail or turning the lights on and off each day.
Rule #3: Go above and beyond the call of duty.
Don’t wait for your client to “check in” with you. Instead, proactively communicate with your client. Text them when you arrive at their house and give a status update, reassuring them everything is in order and their pets are doing well.
Recognize the needs of the pets and respond accordingly. Be patient and calm with pets that are withdrawn or scared. Pets are sensitive to change and may be missing their people; maintain their schedule as much as possible. When the pet is feeling comfortable, send pictures to the client letting them know you’re giving them extra attention. When the client gets that text with the smiling face of their pet, they’re going to know they made the right decision in hiring you.
On your last visit, tidy up the client’s home and brush the pets so they look good for their parents’ return home. Leave a handwritten note sharing an anecdote or two about an adventure you had with their pets. Express gratitude and interest in any future pet-sitting opportunities while assuring your client they can contact you if they have any specific questions.
Remember, leaving a pet behind can be overwhelming, even if it is to take that dream vacation. Use these rules to separate yourself from the average pet sitter and soon your phone will be ringing off the hook!