Pet sitters are typically animal-loving, caring, and responsible people. They must be dedicated to their clients and their client’s pets. The best ones have a background in animal care, such as vet tech experience or education. Also, they are often professionally certified to prove they’ve received training in responsible pet care, including emergency care. Their responsibilities and tasks are varied. Their rewards come in the form of many happy, well-treated pets and satisfied clients.
But, just what does a pet sitter do? If you would like to become a pet sitter, or if you are a pet owner looking to hire one, then please read on to learn more.
Pet Sitter Tasks
The sitter has to do the following fundamental tasks.
- Make sure the pet has fresh, clean water at all times.
- Feed the pet its usual food according to the owner’s instructions.
- If the pet is a dog, walk it outside for exercise and potty times.
- If the pet is a cat, clean the litter box as needed.
- If the pet is a caged animal (rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, etc.), clean the cage, feed, and water as per the client’s instructions.
- Administer meds per client’s instructions, if needed. Keep a log of all treatments.
- Brush, bathe, and groom the pet if needed or if the client requests it.
- Other duties as requested by the owner like bringing in the mail and alternating lights, setting burglar alarms, etc.
Dogs and cats need playtime and rest. It’s the sitter’s job to be sure they get plenty of both. It’s the client’s responsibility to be sure there is plenty of pet food on hand. The client must be sure there is cat litter (if needed), toys, pet beds, cleaning aids, and any prescribed (or OTC) pet meds available to the sitter. The sitter also must be given the client’s phone number, the vet’s number, and any other emergency contact information.
Many pet sitters will only care for dogs and cats, however, some will care for all types of pets. If a client has cage or aquarium pets, only a willing, qualified, and insured pet sitter should take on the task. These animals require very special care. They are temperamental, prone to sudden illness or death, and they are often quite valuable. If you are unqualified as a sitter to care for these pets, then don’t take the job. If you are a client with small or exotic pets, then look for a qualified pet sitting service.
A written contract that lays out the exact responsibilities, liabilities (if any), and exemptions of the pet sitter should be signed by both parties. The contract should include all client responsibilities and special needs or instructions as well.
Pet Sitter Skills and Traits
- Must love animals―This is key and anyone who does not have an affinity for animals and their well-being should do something else.
- Must be honest and trustworthy―As a pet sitter, you are going to be invited into the pet owner’s home to care for their beloved pet in their absence. They have to trust that you will do the job with professional integrity.
- Must be punctual and reliable―You can be a little early but you can never be late. The pet owner is depending on you to be there to care for their pet(s) in their absence. You should log your arrival and departure time and message the same to your client. If you are pet sitting for a client who is home but bedridden due to illness or injury, then give them status reports “in person”―but still keep a log.
- Must be friendly, outgoing, and physically fit―If you don’t have those traits it is unlikely the pet owner will hire you. An introverted or overly aggressive person will not be perceived well by the client and may not be well-liked by the pet. You don’t have to be an athlete, but you do have to be able to walk, play with, and handle dogs.
Pet sitters are animal-loving people who are caring and responsible. Pet sitters are usually dog walkers or cat lovers who are dedicated to their clients and their clients’ pets. But they are also multi-taskers who will often sit pets in their own home or the client’s home. Some pet sitters will provide care for other pets as well. Regardless of their animal preference, they need the desire, friendliness, stamina, and training for the job. First and foremost, though, it’s key that they have a love of pets.