The Professional Petsitter

The "Profesional" Pet Sitter

As pet sitting gains in popularity so do the number of people wanting to jump on the bandwagon and put a "pet sitter for hire" shingle out. Every day it seems there are new pet sitters coming out of the woodwork to give pet owners " the best pet sitting service" ever. What saddens me is that many of these people are just in it because they think it will be a fun job, and an easy way to make money. Unfortunately for them, and for their clients, they do not take the time to learn about the responsibility that comes along with the job. The truth of the matter is that pet sitting can be a tough, tiring, very involved business. Sure, pet sitters get to hang with pets and have a good time, but there's a heck of a lot more to it than that.

Professional pet sitters vs. hobby pet sitters

Pet sitters who contract to care for a client's pets and home when they're gone are responsible for the health and welfare of that pet's life. They are the one who will ensure that pet's life goes on in an uninterrupted manner - making sure he gets food, water, necessary medications, exercise, and that his home stays comfortable and safe. That person is also responsible, in many cases, for all the worldly possessions their client owns - their home and ]all of its contents. Granted, the chances of anything terribly drastic going wrong are not all that great, but they're probably greater than one might think. Many pet sitters, including me, have had to deal with such pet issues as illness and injury, death, dogs getting out of a yard, dog fights, and more. And, when it comes to housing issues, I know of pet sitters who have been faced with break-ins, fires, floods, broken water pipes, etc. Taking these responsibilities seriously and knowing how to handle the unexpected in an efficient, professional manner is one thing that sets the professional pet sitters apart from the hobby sitters, or KND (kid next door).

Other factors that differentiate professional pet sitters from the hobby sitters is that they will understand the importance of insurance (and possibly bonding), they will seek out ongoing training or other ways to expand their knowledge of pets in such things as pet first aid, cat and dog behavior, how to handle birds, reptiles or other animals, etc. They may belong to local or national pet sitting or other business-related organizations. And on the business end, they will operate in a structured, business-like manner which includes having a service contract, obtaining health and behavior histories of the pets they care for, managing keys in a secure way, setting up policies and ensuring clients are made aware of them, and much more. The bottom line is that professional pet sitters operate in a manner that shows their clients they have a good head on their shoulders and are professional, yet caring.

Hobby sitters come and go. As I mentioned earlier, many people get into pet sitting because they think it will be a fun way to make some money. Although their intentions are good, they dive in without doing enough research on the business. Once they get into it and realize there is actual work involved, they lose their passion and it most often shows in the care they give the pets. They may cut visits short, may not scoop a litter box, or unfortunately may even skip a visit because they have something else they would rather do. Additionally, oftentimes they will come across issues they are not prepared to handle and become frazzled, causing them to make inappropriate decisions. Because of their lack of planning, inexperience, or simply because they are overwhelmed they let their clients down, the pets they are caring for, and themselves. Out of this comes the decision that pet sitting isn't for them and they move on to something else. Frankly, at that point, the decision to stop pet sitting is probably the best decision they've made in regards to the business. Had they done some work ahead of time, and investigated the business thoroughly before jumping in they could have saved themselves, and others, a lot of headaches.

First impressions

I see pet sitters popping up all over, especially on the Internet. Quite often it's readily apparent that they have done their research before opening their doors. They have contracts and other forms, insurance, policies that are clearly spelled out, training in pet first aid or other pet care, and present themselves in a business like manner. I see others who list their names on websites and say they will petsit, babysit, do yard work, or other various and sundry errands. They make no mention of any type of insurance or training, and definitely do not come across in a professional manner.

As with any other business there are those who have the appearance of being professional and in the end, are not. However, I believe the vast majority of pet owners would be more likely to interview someone who starts off making a good first impression rather than someone who does not take the time put forth a positive and professional image.

What to look for in a pet sitter

When looking for a professional pet sitter to care for your pets, there are many factors a pet owner should consider during the research and interview process. Listed below are some of the more important points:

Using the Internet as a tool to find pet sitters

When it comes to your initial search for a pet sitter, the Internet is a great place to start. There are some very good websites, such as, that have been established specifically for pet care providers to advertise their businesses. And, because people who know the industry have established some of these websites, they have included valuable information for pet sitters and pet owners alike. Websites such as these are an excellent place to find professional pet sitters in your area and to learn more about the services they offer. They are also a great resource for people who are researching the industry as a possible career.

Most websites that are specifically set up as pet care provider directories, such as, allow free access to their advertisers' contact information. They may charge a fee for businesses to advertise but do not restrict access to anyone who is seeking information on pet care. Others however, require visitors to their websites to pay a fee to access this information. Keep in mind that you, as a consumer, should not be asked to pay to obtain contact information for pet care providers. If a website does not offer you free and immediate access to contact information for these businesses in your area, move on to one that allows you unrestricted access.

A growing industry

The pet care industry is evolving and growing, and because of that, pet sitters, dog walkers, dog runners, and dog daycares who are truly professional are going to raise the bar in the quality of services they offer and in client expectations. Those who are in the pet sitting business simply for the fun of it will either need to take their service to the next level or move onto something that suits their personality better.

There are many excellent pet sitters, dog walkers, dog runners, and dog daycare operators out there who are eager to care for your pets and will do it in a professional and caring manner. They take their career seriously and pride themselves in their professionalism, attention to detail, excellent service, and stellar reputations. With a bit of research pet owners should be able to find someone they feel comfortable with; who suits their needs and those of their pets; and in many cases, exceeds their expectations.