Many pet lovers who have perhaps had dogs and cats while growing up at home, consider the idea of petsitting. I know this because people ask me if a childhood love of pets will be enough to start petsitting. You absolutely need to love pets, there is no doubt. However, think about how else you can gain experience of caring for pets before you try petsitting regularly. My response is always encouraging and measured in the same breath. Hence my writing this article, to offer a beginners guide to petsitting. In this blog I offer a guide for the uninitiated into what it takes to start petsitting from a no-experience position, to get to professional standing.
Petsitting for real beginners
If you really have no experience of being left alone to care for a domestic pet for any period of time, but love animals, read on. You can build some experience with a little guidance and perhaps with the help of neighbours who know you.
Get some petsitting experience
- Ask a relative or neighbour who knows you well if you can care for their pet when they go away for a short break.
- Make sure they write out a set of instructions so you are clear about the pet’s routines, and any special care the pet needs.
- Different pets will need different levels of care
- Learn exactly where their local vet’s surgery is so that in the unlikely event of anything happening you can go quickly.
- If the short break works out well and you enjoyed petsitting then volunteer for a longer stint when they travel again.
Petsit to exchange your services for free accommodation
If you are feeling confident and have some petsitting experience, then why not try expanding your horizons. You can exchange your petsitting experience for free accommodation. Start locally first, and once you have a couple of good reviews or references you can go further afield, perhaps travel to another country. Petsitting offers an active holiday and a fabulous way to visit a new location. And you can live like a local with the pet’s owner as your expert guide to their specific location. Here are the steps we would recommend:
- Get an up-to-date police and background check.
- Secure references from your most recent petsitting experiences for friends and family.
- Take a pet first aid course – this is really useful to have so that you are able to act should you need to.
- Register with a petsitting platform like Housesit Match and build a good profile that describes who you are and your motivation to petsit.
Watch this video interview with housesitters Bev and John. In this chat they tell us how they started petsitting and housesitting to travel in retirement, how they prepared for full time travel, and how they fund their travels.
Petsitting professionally – How to get started
This beginners guide to petsitting gives an introduction to your next steps. Preparing to start a career as a petsitter you should at the very least follow these steps. If you have a good petsitting experiences under your belt and are keen to go professional, then go for it.
- Ensure your police and background check is up to date and ready to present to either an agency or the petowners.
- Undertake some pet first aid training to ensure you have confidence to care for the pets on your own.
- You could also take it more seriously and do a 2year animal care course which gives you more career options in animal welfare
- Build an online profile or website where you can share your testimonials, your experience and reviews.
- Consider registering with a professional agency like Animal Aunts to help you get petsitting jobs. Remember they will take a cut of your fees.
- Keep track of your clients and communicate with them regularly by email. Many people will become regulars and the pets will become firm friends.
A word or two to close our beginners guide to petsitting
Preparing a short guide to anything is a challenge. What do you include? And what on earth to you leave out? It’s never easy to decide. Moreover when planning the welfare of domestic pets that are entirely reliant on their carers, you need to be careful and vigilant and as attentive as possible. Depending on what you intend to do with your petsitting, whether it is to become a professional or simply to exchange your services when you travel make a plan. This beginners guide to petsitting is only a start. We hope you love all the pets you meet and they bring joy into your life.