Become a Pet Sitter, They Said. It Will Be Fun, They Said.

If you love animals, perhaps you have thought about how fun it would be to work with them regularly (without the years of schooling involved in actually becoming a veterinarian). Becoming a pet sitter may seem a logical way to hang out with dogs and cats, and actually get paid to do it! But it’s not just a matter of getting the word out that you’re willing to walk someone else’s dog. Though there are few start-up costs and low overhead involved, being a pet sitter requires much more than a fondness for animals.

You should be insured. Being insured may not seem like a necessary expense, but if there are damages to the home you’re staying in, or something goes awry, having insurance to protect you will be a worthwhile investment. Plus, it’s a tax-deductible way of doing business.

Plan to offer a complimentary meet and greet. Just like some people click better than others, some pets are going to take to you better than others. Investing an hour of your time will give the owners peace of mind before you’re hired, and will give the pets the opportunity to meet you and establish a sense of trust before their owners go away.

Being a pet sitter will require you to step out of your comfort zone. And, specifically, into someone else’s home. Many people opt for an in-home pet sitter to minimize the disruption to their pets. Meaning – you may be staying in someone else’s home for several days or weeks during your service. While this may not seem a big deal, this isn’t a hotel. This is someone’s home and is far more invasive than packing up for a few nights at the local Holiday Inn.

Privacy is part of the deal. When you stay in someone’s home, that’s not a license to go through their things. Being a pet sitter is about being respectful of the home you’re in, including the privacy and security of someone else’s home.

Pet sitting often happens on weekends and holidays. Make sure you’re willing to sacrifice some of your weekends, even holidays, for the sake of pet sitting. And of course, you can’t invite family and friends over to “hang out” with you. Refer to the topic of privacy and insurance! You’ve been asked to be in someone’s home; your cousin or friends haven’t been invited.

Other people’s pets may have habits you may not allow in your own. You may never allow your dogs on the furniture or let your cats eat on the kitchen counter. But if the pet’s owners have allowed those habits, you’ll have to deal with them. It’s part of the whole “minimizing the disruption to pets” reason you were hired in the first place.

Giving pets medication and managing their fears. Giving a pet their medication may not be as simple as wrapping a pill in a piece of turkey. It may require patience and time, especially as the pet may be stressed to be given medication by someone other than their owner. Take notes before the owner leaves, and make notes while they’re gone, too. Is the pet showing signs of distress? Do you need to sit with them and speak soothingly to them to encourage them to eat? Is there anything you need to alert the owner to when they return?

You may be bitten or scratched. Pets who are under stress may manifest it in negative ways, such as biting and scratching – even pets who have never shown aggression. Be prepared with a first aid kit, and don’t react in loud, threatening ways. That would only exacerbate a situation. Make a note of it, and be sure to tell the owner about the incident.

Be prepared to handle the poop. Don’t take on the role of pet sitter if you’re not willing to deal with the ugly, too. Kitty boxes will need to be scooped daily and the floor swept around them. Dog poo will need to be scooped in the yard and disposed of properly.

Being a pet sitter is a great way to earn some extra money, but it’s not without its cons. Consider all the responsibilities before jumping in to offer your services.


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