Traveling is often a must, even for pet owners. Many people are required to take business trips, and almost all of us need a vacation every once in a while. A pet can throw a wrench into travel plans, especially if traveling with a pet is too expensive of a travel destination isn’t pet friendly. Enter the pet sitter, the saviour of pet owners everywhere. Babysitting requires a whole host of activities, from making sure your charge is safe and happy to removing dangerous objects to keeping the house clean. Pet sitting is fairly similar—your goal is to keep your employer’s animal safe, happy, and comfortable throughout their owner’s trip. Read on for great tips about how to do just that.
Do You Have What it Takes? First of all, if you’re considering pet sitting, decide if you have the right personality type for the job. See if you meet some of these requirements: A love of animals—you can’t spend hours with someone else’s pet unless you really enjoy being around pets of all kinds. Training—it’s one thing to love spending time with animals, and another to know how to understand and meet their needs. Do you know what to do in an emergency situation? Equip yourself to take good care of the animal you’ll be watching. The right certifications—if you want pet sitting to be a career, not just something you do as a teenager to help families around your neighbourhood, you want to have the right qualifications. Especially if you’re an adult with an investment in this career, you’ll want to be licensed and bonded to protect yourself and the pet. If you’re taking up pet sitting as a casual way to make money, especially as a teenager, those employing you probably won’t have strict requirements. However, if you’re planning on pet sitting professionally, have the qualifications, certifications, and training needed to be a quality pet sitter. Educational organizations like Pet Sitters International can provide you with the certification you need. Pet Sitting: The Basics Every pet’s needs will be different, but you can still have a general plan going in to a pet sitting job that will help you effectively meet the pet’s needs and leave the pet owner satisfied. 1. Communicate Effectively First and foremost, make sure you and the owner are in agreement about the pet’s needs. What do they expect you to do, and what services are you prepared to render? Be clear and upfront about what training you have so that you understand each other’s expectations. Also find out what kinds of updates the pet owner would like from you during their vacation or trip. Would they like a daily picture to reassure them that their pet is doing fine at home? Are they comfortable being called for questions? If so, what hours will work best? Again, clearly outline all expectations. 2. Start with a Practice Visit You shouldn’t meet the pet for the first time as their owner is rushing out the door to catch a flight. Instead, visit the pet and owner in advance so you can get to know the environment and animal. Even if you know the pet and owner well, let them walk you through their home so you know where they keep toys and food, which rooms their pet is or isn’t allowed to enter, and where potential pet hazards could be. This visit should also help the pet owner assess how comfortable their pet is with you. If your presence makes the pet anxious, don’t be offended—they might just fit better with a different pet sitter. Remember, the goal is to keep the pet comfortable and happy while their owner is gone; if this pet isn’t the right fit for you, there will certainly be others who are. 3. Ask the Right Questions Pets are like kids in some ways—they have their own habits and quirks that a “parent” needs to explain to an outsider. Get the scoop on the pet you’ll be watching: how old is the pet? What is their medical history? When do they sleep and eat? How well does the pet interact with adults, kids, and other animals? Are there any special concerns you should be aware of? Know as much about the animal as possible—you don’t want a medical or other situation to arise and not know enough about the animal to help. Ask specific questions about dogs (how does he or she do on a walk? what commands does the dog know?) and cats (when should the litter box be changed? where are his or her favorite hiding places around the house?). 4. Write down Emergency Contact Information Beyond the pet owner’s information, get information on their veterinarian and after-hours veterinary clinic. Poison control is an important number to have, as is the number of a family member you can contact in case the owner is unavailable. 5. Take Good Care of the Pet Treat the pet you’re tending like you would your own pet—play with them as often as you can. Make sure they have enough food and water and that they get enough exercise. Your job is to help the pet feel as carefree as possible while their owner is gone. Above everything else, enjoy spending time with another person’s pet! Animals are wonderful, and if you follow these helpful steps, you can look forward to an enjoyable weekend of taking care of someone else’s lovable animal. Feel free to contact our veterinary experts at Bellamy-Lawrence Animal Hospital in Toronto for more tips on caring for your pets.