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So You Want to Be a Pet Sitter?
So you love animals and think it would be great to be a pet sitter so you can take care of dogs and cats every day. While it’s fun to take care of different animals all the time, I want to let you know what working with pets is all about. There is more than you might think.
Do not misunderstand me. I love what I do, and I thrive on it. But most people just don’t understand what it takes to be a professional pet sitter or dog walker. When I’m looking to hire someone to work for me, I look for certain traits in that person to see if they can handle the job and how dedicated they really are.
Just saying you love animals is not enough. Pet sitters must be committed to working through the many different situations they will be faced with. And, they must be able to deal with very stressful situations. Any time you have an animal’s life in your hands, there are stresses involved.
I’m focusing on those who might want to work for a pet company and do the work of caring for animals, but don’t have to worry about running a business. Let me tell you what I look for in a pet sitter or dog walker when I’m hiring.
Working for a pet sitting company
As the owner of a pet walking and sitting business, I have worked hard to earn and maintain a very good reputation for what we do. When I hire someone to work for me, I make sure that person will do their best to maintain that good reputation.
This means that I look for pet sitters and dog walkers who care deeply about the animals in their care and who treat our clients with the utmost respect and courtesy. This cannot be ‘just a job’ for the people I employ.
When you are looking for a pet sitting job, you need to decide what type of work you want to do. Will you only be dog walking at noon, will you only be pet sitting for the holidays, or will you be doing both? Will you be doing overnight pet sitting where you stay overnight at a client’s home taking care of their pets and their home? It depends on what you want your hours to be.
Would you be willing to work during the holidays? The holidays are a very busy time for any company that has pets. Looking for babysitters who don’t mind working during the holidays. This means they may not have time for family events, or that they have to work their family time around pet sitting hours.
Some animal boarding companies will hire you as an independent contractor and some will hire you as an employee. This means that if you are an independent contractor, you are a sole proprietor. You must maintain and pay your own taxes, you are responsible for your own health care, insurance, supplies and tools, and you must pay for any training you need. However, you are flexible in the way you do your work.
If you are an employee, your taxes will be withheld, your employer must provide you with supplies and tools to do your job, and they must pay or reimburse you if you use your vehicle. As an employee, you must do your job as directed by your employer.
Do you like to take a lot of vacations? If you work as an independent contractor, that means you don’t get paid if you don’t work. If you’re an employee, you may not have much vacation time yet. Will you be working weekends, mornings, afternoons and evenings? This is a typical schedule for a pet sitter, week by week.
These are just a few of the many questions you will need to ask yourself and be prepared to answer when looking to work for a pet company. Being a pet sitter allows you to have some flexibility in your schedule, but you will still have a schedule.
Are you looking for a full-time position or only part-time? You should tell your potential employer how much work you are looking for and see if that matches what the pet company is looking for. If you only want to do this job for a few extra bucks and only plan to take care of a few clients, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get hired by a pet company.
For my company, as long as I know that’s the case, I’ll know that you’ll only be a pet sitter once in a while. This means you may not be as reliable as another caregiver, but you can be an important supporter.
Short list of pet sitting considerations
As a pet sitter or dog walker, there are many things to consider and be aware of. A true professional has to deal with many things. I have listed only a few.
- Wake up early in the morning
- Making visits later in the evening
- Making visits in the afternoon
- By dividing your day into visiting segments, leaving some time in between
- Dogs walking in the cold
- Dogs walking in the heat
- Dogs walking in the rain
- Snow Walking Dogs (depending on location)
- Walking dogs on windy days
- Walking dogs in a combination of the above
- Sometimes it has to do with aggressive animals
- Dealing with other loose dogs while walking your client’s dogs
- Dealing with one of your client’s dogs getting loose
- Being attacked by a loose dog
- Giving a pill orally to a dog or cat
- Hitting the dog or cat
- Administering subcutaneous fluids to a dog or cat
- Giving insulin to a diabetic dog or cat
- Picking up dog waste with a poop bag
- Cleaning a litter box
- Cleaning dog or cat urine / feces from a hard floor
- Cleaning dog or cat urine / feces from the carpet
- Cleaning fur balls
- Cleaning up dog or cat vomit
- Clearing pee, poop, or vomit on several visits in a row (this happens)
- Work every day for weeks, sometimes months
- Try to find time for friends, family and loved ones
- Dealing with any pet emergency, including pet first aid/CPR and getting the pet to the vet
- Be able to walk two dogs at the same time, at least
- Be able to walk dogs up to 150 lbs.
- Basically, be on call at all times
- Keep your vehicle well maintained
- Putting a lot of miles on your vehicle driving from customer to customer
- Be professional and courteous to your customers
Like I said, this is just a small list of things a professional pet sitter has to deal with. There is much more, but I don’t want to go on for days. If you think you have what it takes to be an animal caretaker, then you are a true animal lover who loves hard work and will do anything for the animals in your care.
If you think this list is not a problem for you, then I know you will truly go above and beyond the call of duty to care for the animals in your care. These are the type of pet sitters I look for when hiring and I know that’s what every other potential employer will be looking for as well.
The rewarding side of pet sitting
This job can be very rewarding. When you do everything in your power to make sure the pets you care for feel loved and happy, you’ll feel like you made a difference, because you did. When you are walking a client’s dog, with both of you just enjoying the experience, it will make you smile a big soft smile as you walk. Cats and dogs have been proven to help lower blood pressure. When the dogs or cats you care for cuddle with you, you can almost feel your health improving every second.
This is a quick look at what it means to be a professional pet sitter or dog walker. So you want to be a pet sitter? I hope this has helped you make your decision on whether this is right for you or not. Either I’ve made you realize that you really don’t want to work as a professional pet sitter, or I’ve just reaffirmed that this is what you want because you love animals unconditionally.
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