The Ins and Outs of Pet Sitting


manfrys, CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

manfrys, CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

As pet owners, all of us do the very best we can to give our pets the best quality of life possible. In all circumstances, we want assurance that our pets, just like our family members, friends and other members of our community are well taken care of.

That leads to discussion on the sometimes dicey issue of pet sitting. The services of pet sitters become crucial during our little trips out of town, or when we need their help during transitional periods, such as the renovations of our homes.

How do we spot the recalcitrant pet sitter, for there will be those, as in any other profession, who would spoil the pet sitting market? Can we anticipate the times when we will need the services of one? What should we consider in making payment to a pet sitter? What are the considerations for those thinking of venturing into the pet sitting business?

These are just a few things we should think about when we entrust our beloved pets to the care of someone new to us, and to them.

When do we need the services of a pet sitter?

We will need the help of caring individuals who will see to our pets needs at important times and in crucial situations.

Some of these situations would warrant pet sitting services.

When on vacation

Our professions may take us out of town and there will be times when we simply need a break. That includes a short one away from taking care of our sometimes browbeating pets, much as we love them so.

A good pet sitter needs to be relied on for a few days to ensure that our pet’s needs are met.

While you are at work

Some of us commute long distances to work and are at the job for rather long hours. The job might even require you to take up responsibilities abroad.

This is when we might need a pet sitter to take over the reins and responsibilities of pet care for a few hours during the day.

When you need an extra hand

We will sometimes require extra help during gatherings or parties that we might be organizing, and the attendees of such gatherings might have a fear of dogs.

Again, a reliable sitter can supervise our pets while we rest and relax at that party for a few hours.

There is no one else available

You are going to Japan for that all important conference, yet Jake, your needy little terrier, needs you around. Mum and Dad have no space in the house to accomodate him.

It looks like there is no one on hand to take Jake on, so like it or not, we will have to make that all important call to a pet sitter, who should, helpfully and hopefully, save the day!

Pet Sitters 2 (1)

nicolo, CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

Hiring the right sitter-things to consider

So, we know that pet sitting is definitely no mean task. Just how would we choose the right one?

Choose someone who will provide balance for your pet.

Many pets suffer from separation anxiety while their owners are away. Ideally, a pet sitter should be a person with good control and calm temperament. He or she should be calm and assertive with our pets and know the appropriate times to rein them in.

Have a face to face interview.

A pet is as huge a responsibility as a child, so having a face-to-face interview with someone you are hiring to look after it cannot be done without.

Get to know the sitter before entrusting the pet to him, and if possible, think about a list of specific needs before

Consider location.

It would be ideal if the sitter is able to stay in your home while you are away to maintain the pet’s normal routine.

If that cannot be done, familiarize your pet with his new location. Observe the little ways the caregivers behave around dogs and if the place smells. Do they use too much verbal communication with the dogs – remember that dogs communicate with little body gestures.

All this should tell a little bit about how reliable the pet sitter will be.

Set expectations.

Before leaving the pet with a sitter, make sure they are briefed thoroughly about what they will need to do while caring for the pet.

Some of our pets need medication because of health conditions, so the sitter will need to know exactly how to administer it. At other times, our pets will have their own set routines and habits that the sitters need to be acquainted with.

Leave a checklist.

Just as we would do to make sure our vacations go smoothly, leave a checklist for the sitter so that he or she knows exactly what needs to be done.

The sitter may not be so familiar with dogs,so do keep them informed about the things that should not be given to it as food. It would be good to provide a list of foods that are toxic to pets.

Cat and rabbit sitting 1

Ed Brey, CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

Paying a pet sitter

I mention this for those who are leaving your pets with sitters for the first time, or who may not be familiar with how to negotiate with and pay a pet sitter.

Determine the market rate.

Scout the pet sitting services in your area to determine the market rate for pet sitting. The fee, on both the owner’s and sitter’s part, should be reasonable.

Determine how long his services are needed.

Would you want the sitter to visit the home once or twice daily?  Is the sitter just required to feed your pet, or do you need him to stay for a while longer? Is he needed to take the pet for walks?

If the pet sitter is needed during the holiday season, be prepared to pay him or her just a little bit more.

If you are considering being a pet sitter yourself…..

Do a little research.

Find out all you can about the pets you are required to look after. Different dog breeds have different needs, so a little research will always come in handy.

Get experience with animals.

One may have a love for animals, but may not have been exposed enough to enough of them to understand their needs thoroughly.

Get experience volunteering at shelters or even adopting an animal yourself before considering pet sitting.


Hiring a pet sitter or becoming one yourself requires a lot of thought and consideration, for at  stake is the life of another being.

Do take some time to ponder before allocating what is a rather heavy responsibility!

19 Replies to “The Ins and Outs of Pet Sitting”

  1. This is a great over-view of when a pet sitter is needed, and all things that pertain. Well written! I’m fortunate in that I’ve got so much family around that I never need to hire somebody to watch my critters, and then I can repay the favor when others need my help.

    1. Hi Amy, thanks so much. Thank goodness for dependable family, and that they live near! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for the great information. My son in our pet sitter – and he definitely knows the pets and the routine. However, if he is ever unavailable I am now equipped with great information!

    1. Hi Brenda, thank you. As Melanie has said, do remember to interview and get lots of references. We cannot be too careful.

  3. Great article Michelle! I think people need to be extremely cautious when finding a pet sitter though. Get tons of references, etc. There are just too many people out there who couldn’t care less (yet pretend they do…I’ve heard true stories of this and dogs escape from a yard and go missing…owners come back to no pets), or they just aren’t animal people. Not to scare anyone, but honestly – just make sure you trust this person 100%. Personally, I only trust my brother to come stay at our house. If I couldn’t rely on him, I know a few volunteers at an animal shelter I’ve met in person who I would ask. I’d never place an advert or anything like that. That’s asking for trouble. Find people who generally love animals and who can come stay at your house if possible.

    1. I agree. We need lots and lots of references if we cannot help but hire one. If possible, trusted relatives (we are allowing them into our houses after all). If not, do ensure that the sitter comes well accredited! Thanks for sharing!

  4. There are some great tips here, Michelle. I am without a pet right now and am considering pet sitting for a while to help out some friends and share some time with some furry friends. I’ve also considered walking dogs at the local SPCA to volunteer some time as well. Its good to have these tips to help me be a better pet sitter and volunteer as well. Thanks!

  5. I've avoided going places because I don't want to leave my pets with just anyone. Good tips! -Jen Liv, Laugh, Love-A Mommy Blog.

  6. My friend's high school aged son loves dogs. So he started a local dog walking service. He has a gift for dogs – that's the kind of pet sitter I hire. I've taken my dogs to a kennel before, turned around and left because the conditions weren't what I liked. It's a great idea to do your homework!

    1. Correct. Lots of homework needs to be done before leaving a pet behind with just anyone. To make sure it isn’t just anyone! Thanks Karen!

  7. Good post, Michelle! I’ve been doing this since 1994 and wrote a couple of similar articles. Unfortunately, some people think becoming a pet sitter is an easy way to make some money and they don’t really care about the animals. Gives the rest of us a bad name! 🙁 They soon find out there’s much more to it and usually don’t last too long, because they lack the dedication.

    1. Hi Debbie, thank you. No, pet sitting is a lot of work, for those who are passionate about pets. And yes, there’s much more to it than fun and games! Thanks for sharing, Debbie!

  8. Good post, Michelle Liew! I've been doing this since 1994 and wrote a couple of similar articles:
    Some people think becoming a pet sitter is an easy way to make some money and they don't really care about the animals. They soon find out there's much more tto it and don't last long, because they lack the dedication. It becomes a lifestyle – not a mere "job".

    1. Ow! I’d tear up that contract, Joyce and look for someone else straightaway. She is supposed to be THE one responsible if a pet goes missing under her watch! Thanks for sharing, Joyce!

  9. Tons of great points that I hadn’t considered. Fortunately, we only need to leave our two dogs and cat alone for one week each year. We have used the same boarder since we had the animals so they enjoy the time away 😉

    I am a follower of yours via BlogLovin and appreciate that you linked up to my weekly BlogLovin Hop ( Hope to see you this Thursday.

    Looking forward to connecting further.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo

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