Did you know that the first week of March is Professional Pet Sitter’s Week? Don’t worry, you don’t have to go pro to give the pets you watch great care. With this checklist, you can learn how to be a good pet sitter to all the cats and dogs in your life.
Are you a go-to pet sitter?
Before you find your forever friend, you may play the role
of pet sitter in the life of your friends, families, and neighbors. If you love
cats and dogs, then you’ve probably had the call come through many times before—can you please watch Fluffy for two weeks?
There’s pizza money in it for you.
For many of us, the opportunity to spend quality time with furry friends is enough incentive to say yes. But being a good pet sitter takes more than refilling water bowls and tossing a ball around.
The pet sitter’s checklist
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re watching someone else’s pet:
Be sure that the animals you’re looking after are safe whether or not they’re in the same room as you. That means double-checking that rooms are pet-proofed, there isn’t any food or food-like materials within reach, and there’s no chance that pets can escape to somewhere they shouldn’t. Indoor cats should stay inside at all times, and when dogs go outside they should be either kept on a leash or safely play in an enclosed space.
Get the right contact info
You’ll definitely need the contact information of the pet owners. That includes cell phone numbers, as well as the place that they’re staying if they can offer that information. We also highly recommend that the owners provide you with their veterinarian’s information (address, phone number, and hospital email address), as well as a close friend or family member that’s in the area. Finally, check with the owners to see if the pet has medical insurance. If something happens while they’re away, it’s good to know if the pet is protected.
Make sure instructions are written down
While it may seem like enough to get a few verbal instructions, it’s always best to request that the owners write down specifics. This can include when and how much to feed the pet, what their normal potty routine is, and what medications they may need. Luckily, it can even go beyond these basics! If possible, ask the owner what park the pet likes to visit, if they like going to any pet-friendly businesses, or how to make them the most comfortable when you leave the house for a while.
Ask if the pet plays well with others
Inevitably, we are guilty of making assumptions. If you had a Golden Retriever in the past that loved other dogs, you may assume that the Golden you’re looking after behaves the exact same as your pet. Of course, we recommend not to assume all pets are the same. Make sure to ask the owners if the pet you’re watching gets along with other pets or people. Inquire if they’re shy, or if they like doing new things and meeting new friends. You can even ask about leash manners—can the dog you’re watching go right up to other friendly dogs on walks, or do the owners prefer you cross the street to avoid interactions?
Playtime is important
Before you think watching pets is all serious business, remember the importance of playtime. A pet will bond with you if you meet them on their terms, whether that’s flinging around a feather teaser for a cat or playing tug of war with a puppy. Sure, keeping on a consistent feeding schedule and taking the dog out for scheduled walks is important, but so is spontaneity and fun! Remember why you took this gig in the first place—because you love pets.
Each pet is unique
Remember, these are tips to help you start out on the right
foot. Each cat and dog is unique and requires different types of attention and
care. Work closely with the pet owners to determine what their pet needs.
Do you have any great pet sitter tips? Comment below and let us know!
Marissa knows almost every dog's name in the Trupanion office and is working on learning their owners' names. She is a lover of all animals but has a special place in her heart for anything with a long snout - she could spend all day watching videos of elephants, aardvarks, and tapirs. When not at work you can probably find her watching a soccer game, making short videos or searching for the greatest sandwich in Seattle.