By Mel Lee-Smith
Published: 01/06/2021, edited: 10/26/2022
Pet sitting someone’s precious fur-baby is a big responsibility. Not only do you need to form a relationship with the pup you’re minding, but you also need to know exactly what you need to do to provide them with the best possible care.
To ensure that every pet sitting booking runs smoothly, it pays to prepare for your first meet-and-greet with the pet parent and their pup. Keep reading for our simple checklist of the questions you need to ask, and the details you need to provide, to help you tackle your first pet sitting job with confidence.
First things first: it’s time to say hello to the pet parent. Remember, this person is looking for someone they can trust to look after their fur-kid, not to mention welcome into their home while they’re away, so making a good impression is vital.
First meetings with strangers can always be a little awkward, but just relax and be yourself. If you can show that you’re friendly, organized, and a bona fide dog lover, you’ll go a long way towards putting the client’s mind at ease.
The pet parent will also want to know a bit more about you, so you may want to fill them in on:
Any pets you have (or that you have had in the past)
Your experience caring for pets
Any special experience or qualifications you may have, such as pet first aid training
What you love about dogs and why you’re excited about starting as a pet sitter
If you’re starting your career as a pet sitter, we’re willing to bet that you absolutely love meeting new dogs. This will no doubt be the part of the meet-and-greet you’re looking forward to the most, so feel free to shower the pup with lots of attention and cuddles.
The pet parent will have already provided you with details of their pet’s personality and how comfortable they are meeting new people. If the dog is anxious or unsure, watch their body language closely and don’t rush them — let them get to know you at their own pace.
Play your cards right and you and the pup will be best buds in no time.
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of your upcoming pet sitting booking. Looking after someone’s dog and their home is a huge responsibility, and there’s a lot of information you need to know to ensure a safe and stress-free sitting experience.
The pet parent will provide some of this information for you, but you’ll also need to be prepared to ask lots of questions to make sure you’re completely prepared. To help make it easier, we’ll break this up into a few different categories below.
Hopefully you won’t have a single problem while the pet parent is away, but the safest approach is to prepare for any potential worst-case scenarios. Here are some of the key questions you’ll need to ask:
Who should I contact in case of an emergency if I can’t get in touch with you?
Where does your dog go to the vet? What are their contact details?
Does the dog have any health issues I should know about?
Is your dog currently taking any medication? If so, can you please talk me through the dosage amount?
Does your dog have any allergies?
Can I take your dog in the car if there’s an emergency? How do they respond to car rides?
How will I pay for veterinary treatment if your dog requires attention while you’re away?
Is there anything else I need to know about your dog’s health before you go away?
In many cases, you won’t ever have to use this information. But arming yourself with these details means greater peace of mind for you, and for the pet parent.
Next, it’s time to find out more about what you can expect from your new furry friend in terms of behavior. Some dogs are perfectly-behaved angels when their humans are away but others have a nose for mischief, so it’s essential that you have a clear picture of any behavior quirks or potential problems.
Some questions you may want to ask include:
How comfortable is your dog when meeting new people? How are they around children?
Do they get along well with other dogs?
What about if we meet a new dog while out walking — how do they react when meeting an unfamiliar dog when on a leash?
Are there any unfriendly local dogs we might encounter while out walking?
Do they have any behavior issues I should be aware of? (For example, are they prone to counter surfing? Do they bark at the neighbor’s cat? Are they ever protective of their food or toys? If you’re looking after more than one pet: how do all the animals get along, and are there any potential triggers that can cause problems between them?)
Does your pup suffer from separation anxiety when you’re away? Do you have any tips on the best way to settle them down if this occurs?
Does your dog have any unusual but perfectly harmless behaviors that I may notice?
What sort of training methods work best for your pup? How do you reward them for good behavior?
With these questions sorted, you should have a much clearer picture of the pup’s temperament and what to expect once you start minding them.
The beauty of pet sitting is that it allows dogs to stay in a familiar and comfortable home environment. To further limit disruptions to the pet’s routine, you’ll now need to find out about what their average day entails. This will also help you provide the “ultimutt” care for your four-legged client.
You’ll need to ask questions like:
When does your dog eat? What food do they need and how much? Do you have enough food for me to give your dog while they’re away?
What about treats? Which ones do you use and how often do you give them to your dog?
Where does your pup sleep? Do they sleep in a crate or somewhere else? What is their usual bedtime and when do they wake up?
Where are their food and water bowls, food, leash, and other necessities located?
Where do they go to the toilet? How do they let you know when they need to go potty?
Does your dog require any regular grooming?
What about exercise — how often do you walk your dog? When do you usually walk? How far do you go? Do you have any favorite routes or destinations?
Does your pup spend much time at home alone? How do they respond to this?
Does your dog enjoy playing games? What games do they like? Do they have any favorite toys?
Do they have any other favorite activities I should know about?
Are there any areas of the home or yard where your dog is not allowed to go?
Last but not least, it’s time to move on to all the practical details of minding the person’s house while they’re away.
What are your exact departure and arrival dates and times?
How will I get into and out of the home? Where will I find the keys and what does each one of them open?
Are there any alarms I need to set?
Where will I be sleeping?
Which areas of the home can I use?
Am I allowed to welcome any visitors into your home?
Are there any visitors or tradespeople that might turn up while you’re away?
Is there somewhere I can park my car?
Are there any instructions for setting the thermostat?
Do you want me to check the mail, water the plants, or take care of any other basic maintenance tasks?
And that’s pretty much it! We know that’s quite a lot of information to take in, but it’s always best to prepare for a wide range of eventualities. And with all this information at your disposal, you know everything you need to ensure a safe and relaxing pet sitting experience.
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