The Ultimate Guide To Being A Well-Prepared Dog Sitter

Published: 11/24/2020

The fact that you've found this page means you have what it takes to be an awesome pet sitter — dedication. But how can you be a well-prepared pet sitter? One who’s ready to deal with any unexpected challenge that could come your way? We’ve created this guide to ensure you're prepared for any pet sitting fiasco life could throw at you.

Ask for a meet-and-greet and consultation

The first piece of advice for being a well-prepared pet sitter is to always have a meet-and-greet with your clients. Meet-and-greets are essential for so many reasons. First, they’ll tell you if you're compatible with the pets and if you're able to meet their owner's expectations. By meeting the pet beforehand, you'll earn their trust and begin to understand their quirks and temperament — and since they'll have your scent, your presence won't startle them on the big day.

A consultation with the pet parents is key for a smooth pet sitting experience. The consultation part of the visit will allow you to tour the home and discuss your schedule, responsibilities, and pay rate. Take notes during your consultation so you don't forget any vital information. Ask your client about their pet’s routine, favorite sleep spots, and how to work the alarm systems. Knowing these little things can help you from bugging them on their trip and prevent frustration on your end.

Make a pet parent questionnaire

Having your clients fill out a questionnaire may sound excessive, but hear us out. Not only will this act as a reference sheet while you're pet sitting, but it will also reassure your clients that their fur-baby is in good hands. Below are some questions we suggest including on your questionnaire:

  • Are any areas in the home off-limits to pups?

  • Where do you keep the cleaning supplies and towels?

  • How do you dispose of pet waste? 

  • Where is the scooper located?

  • Does your pet have any medical conditions or allergies?

  • Are your pets housebroken?

  • How many walks and potty breaks do your pets usually take each day?

  • Does Fido get along with other animals?

  • Are any of your pets prone to escape attempts?

  • Where is your pet's favorite hiding place?

  • Other than pet care, are there any household duties expected of me? (e.g., cleaning, watering plants, checking the mail, or rolling the trash to the curb?)

  • Do your pets take any medications? What kind and how often? Should these medications be given before, during, or after mealtime?

  • What type of food does Fido eat? How much food is a typical serving for them? 

  • How often do you feed your pets?

  • Where are your pet's food and medications stored?

  • Are they allowed treats or human food? What kinds?

Store the questionnaire and consultation notes in your pet sitting notebook for easy access.

Keep a notebook handy

Speaking of a pet sitting notebook, we highly suggest you get one and keep it with you when you’re working. Your notebook should be tailored for your specific needs and work as a reference for contact info and specifics about the pet's day. Write down important phone numbers of the vet, pet parents, and neighbors you may need to reach out to if there's a problem. 

Use your notebook to log your arrival and departure times, as well as when the pet last ate, took their meds, or went for a walk. Note anything unusual like excessive scratching, non-food eating, or diarrhea. Also jot down stuff that isn't an emergency but is worth mentioning to the pet parents. This log will be an invaluable tool if the owners have questions about their pet's day or want to know when they last pottied.

Bring some healthy treats along

Always have some treats in your pocket, especially when meeting a client. Not only do treats help you make friends with canine clients, but they're "furrific" for bribing hard-headed pups to come inside after backyard playtime. Be sure to ask their pet parents if it's okay to give them a snack. It's a good idea to choose hypoallergenic and grain-free treats since many dogs have allergies.

Work with your client to create an emergency plan

Talk to your client about a plan of action should an emergency arise. Fires, health emergencies, and natural disasters happen — you need to know what to do if they happen on your watch.

Ask your client the following questions:

  • What is your vet's name, address, and phone number?

  • Who should I call if there is an emergency?

  • Are there any relatives, neighbors, or nearby friends I should reach out to?

  • Where should I take your pets in the event of a natural disaster? Is there a storm shelter nearby?

  • Where is your first aid kit?

  • Where is your fire extinguisher?

  • Where is the pet carrier located should we need to evacuate?
Keep an open line of communication

If you take nothing else from this article, let it be this. Communication is crucial when you’re caring for someone else’s pet. That’s their baby, and naturally, they’re going to worry. Keep your notifications on, and don’t hesitate to call the owners immediately if something happens. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need to. Your job is to give their pet the best care “pawssible” — sometimes that means late-night messages or calling someone to lend a hand.

Become a dog sitter with Wag! and let us do the advertising for you

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Need a sitter?

Looking for a sitter? Let us help! Not only will we help match you with carefully vetted dog sitters near you, but we can guide you through picking the best one for your woofer! Already have a sitter lined up? Check out our guide on preparing your home and dog for a pet sitter.