What make a great Dog sitter? Housesitmatch members share ideas

What makes a great Dog sitter?

16 May, 2018

What makes a great Dog sitter?

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 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?

KemKem (Dog owner) – The first thing I look for is what they say in their application in response to my advert. A lot of 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. It makes me feel that they care about the exchange and they are not just looking for a place to stay.

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 dogsitter.

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

TimandLou (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.

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. 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).

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.

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 Sitters to have an honest approach. We appreciate when 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 the advantages (receiving). We disagree with that, as housesitters ourselves as well as HOs, we see it as an agreement for mutual benefit.)

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

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 of mutual respect prevails. As HOs, we hope the same consideration is consistently given.

 TimandLou (Petsitters) It’s a big responsibility to handle someone’s dog. We use our 40-years of experience to provide the dogs with firm but loving leadership. 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.
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
Daily walks are bonding opportunities
Dog sitters
Affection for dogs goes a long way to build trust

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

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.

TimandLou (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.

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

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

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.

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!

Do you like to keep in contact during the housesit?

Kemkem (Dog owner) – No..no..no! I hate helicopter hosts who insist on hearing daily news and pics. I trust the sitters 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.

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

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.

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.



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