What makes a great Dog sitter?

16 May, 2019

What makes a great Dog sitter?

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We ask our members on a regular basis ‘what makes a good dog sitter?’ We really think it is important to stay in tune with our pet owner members, and what they and their pets need. Here are some insights offered by our members about what it takes to be a great dog sitter.

Dog sitter
That special something that makes a good Dog sitter

What to look for in a Dog sitter application, or an assignment?

Free dog sitters

Ask about the dogs if you apply as a dog sitter

KemKem (Dog owner) – The first thing I look for is what they say in their application in response to my advert. A lot of dog sitters tell me about their lives and go on and on about themselves. I trash those applications. I only look through the ones that ask about my pets.

This person is about to be my dog minder. They will be responsible for my dog. It makes me feel that they care about the exchange and they are not just looking for a place to stay.

I like to see how the dog sitter is with my pets before I leave

Susan (Dog owner) – Patience for me is absolutely one of the most important.  I have four rescue dogs and these need a lot more understanding. After a year and a half, Perle my most recently adopted rescue dog still has many issues to deal with. But I think patience is paramount in any dog sitter.

Pet sitting friends

Mature pups who need daily routine
Dog sitters
Daily routines are important for dogs

Tim and Lou (Petsitters) – We look for dogs that are a good fit. We do a behavioural assessment to understand a bit of the dog’s history and demeanour. We love helping with young, energetic dogs, but sometimes an older calm dog is the perfect companion.

Housesitter check list for a dog sit

To new sitters we suggest – maybe start sitting in and around your own town/city/country, build up your references and then head out to the international stage.

Consider the details before applying as a Dog sitter

Be careful when assessing what is required in a housesit.  Don’t fix on your ‘dream’ sit, if there are things about it that you have to compromise on (this is where the sit won’t fit you and your experience with dogs for example, you may end up with a bad experience).

Reflect your passion for pets and experience in your application

We often tell friends who are starting out, begin within your comfort zone and you will build your confidence and experience. It will show in your application.

Pet minder

What kind of attitude or approach does a Dog sitter need?

Kemkem (Dog owner) – The second most important thing is attitude. I am pretty easy going and prefer the same type of people. A Skype session is a good way to get a feel for the sitter’s personality and what they will be like.

Mal & Marie (Dog owners & Petsitters) – We prefer for our dog sitter to have an honest approach.

We appreciate when the pet sitters can see the agreement as an equal exchange, no party has the best value.

In some sitters’ groups I’ve joined recently, it amazed me to read that many sitters see themselves as giving the ultimate service (giving) and HOs having all the advantages (receiving). We disagree with that, as housesitters ourselves as well as pet owners, we see it as an agreement for mutual benefit.

Primary dog sitter qualities

For us the Primary qualities in a dog sitter would be: Selfless attitude, loving, respectful, considerate, responsible; honouring the commitment of care with integrity is top priority.

Dog sit

Important considerations in a dog sit

When we are petsitting for others, we always put ourselves in the HOs position and handover properties and pets well looked after with attention to details. (e.g. if we shuffle things around during our stay, we make sure to put it back as given to us; if something gets damaged, we fix it or replace it. If we use say spices, we replace them).

Common sense for mutual respect prevails. As HOs, we hope the same consideration is consistently given.

Live in dog sitter

 Tim and Lou (Petsitters) – It’s a big responsibility to handle someone else’s dog. We use our 40-years of experience to provide the dogs with firm but loving leadership. Most of our dog sitters were live in dog sitting assignments.
Our belief is that if the dog trusts us, we’ll have a better house sit so we work with the dog to develop a bond. That’s one of the great benefits of sitting dogs, the relationships we develop with them.
Common sense, a sense of being of service, a good work ethic and honest communication are all key.

House sitting jobs abroad

Be flexible to different location and pets if you can. You might not get the ideal sit you want (ie: London or Paris), but you might get the sit that suits you best at that time. One of the big things with new sitters (us included) is you decide you want to travel to Bali and house-sit… but there aren’t that many sits in Bali! So be open to finding the sit that you are most suited for.
Dog sitters
Walks are bonding opportunities
Dog sitter
Affection for dogs goes a long way

Pet sitting friend

Should the Dog sitter be respectful of routines you have specified?

We always respect the documented pet routines

Dianne & Mike (Petsitters) – As housesitters and petsitters we are respectful of the daily routines for dogs, as we described in our blog about dog sitting for an Akita he was a large mature dog and needed  his regular three walks a day.


It depends on the routine and how the pet is faring in the absence of the owner

Tim and Lou (Petsitters) – Honestly, the answer is yes and no. We follow all exercise routines but sometimes give a bit more. Their diet is “set in stone” and we follow that to the letter. The ‘no’ part means that occasionally we ask a dog to avoid certain behaviour like jumping up, putting his teeth on us, or dragging us down the road on the lead.

dog sitter
Not wanting to be out of the picture Rex photo bombs a selfie

In house pet sitting

Do you look for dog sitter experience in caring for sick pets?

Experience in sick pet care not necessary – one pet owner

Kemkem (Dog owner) – Not really. If they have experience with sick dogs, l wouldn’t necessarily pick them over others.

I have two Beagles and one dog has occasional seizures, and it has not proven difficult to brief the sitters. However, if it’s a dog that needs shots for instance, l would definitely choose someone with experience. I hate needles myself and while doing the sit would not be the best time to initiate someone.

Good dog sitter experience with dog care is important – pet sitters’ opinion

Dianne and Mike (Petsitters) – It is not only important to have experience with dogs, but I would add you need to be confident with the dogs, especially if there is more than one young dog. Otherwise they’ll “own” you!

Dog house sitter

Do you like to keep in contact during the housesit?

No need to stay in touch – one pet owner

Kemkem (Dog owner) – No..no..no! I hate helicopter hosts who insist on hearing daily news and pics. I trust the dog sitter to be able to handle things. If it’s something that l need to be aware of, fine..but don’t let me know every little thing. Trust on both sides.

Yes absolutely, we love to hear the news and see photos – another pet owner

Mal&Marie (Dog owners & Petsitters) – Yes, we do. We ask for them to be in touch once a week… we tend to travel for longish periods so this is especially important for us. As HOs, we are always within reach for any problems or concerns that may arise.

Dog sitters
Affection for the animals is key
Trust on both sides is key

Your pet sitter friend

Does a Dog sitter need to be a dog lover?

KemKem (Dog owner) – it is important for the sitter to like dogs. We have beagles and I don’t mind if they have experience with just one breed.

I would only want someone who has taken care of dogs and likes doing that, not just cats, if that makes sense. We prefer an experienced dog sitter to care for our dogs.

Trusted pet sitters

Susan (Dog owner) – Another important attribute is the sitter needs to have a sincere love of animals and of course to be attentive to behavioural signs and knowing how to interpret them correctly.

I wouldn’t say this is a “must” but it is definitely important and an added plus to a dog sitter.  Start your housesitting adventure or to find your house and pet sitting solution register with HouseSitMatch:


At Housesit Match.com we like to offer our readers articles related to the blog they have found online. Please find a selection of blogs on similar topics to the one you have been reading. These articles have been curated for you in our list below:

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Preparing a home for a house or pet sitter

The Affordable Alternative to Dog Kennels

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