So you love animals and you 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 taking care of different animals all the time, I want you to know what working with pets is all about. There is more than you think.
Do not misunderstand. I love what I do, and I enjoy it. But, most people just don’t realize what it takes to be a professional pet sitter or dog walker. When looking to hire someone to work for me, I look for certain characteristics in that person to see if she can handle the job and how dedicated she really is.
Saying you love animals is not enough. Pet sitters must be dedicated to working through the different situations they will be faced with. And, they must be able to deal with very stressful situations. Any time you hold an animal’s life in your hands, there is stress involved.
I am targeting those who may want to work for a pet sitting company and do the work of caring for the animals, but not have to worry about running a business. Let me tell you what I look for in a pet sitter or dog walker when hiring.
Work for a pet sitting company
As a pet sitting business owner and dog walker, I have worked very 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 everything they can to help maintain that good reputation.
This means I am looking for pet sitters and dog walkers who care deeply about the animals they care for and who treat our clients with the utmost respect and courtesy. This can’t be ‘just a job’ for the people I hire.
When looking for a pet sitter job, you need to decide what type of work you would like to do. Will you just do dog walks at noon, just sit on vacation pets, or do both? Will you be doing overnight pet sitting sessions where you spend the night at the client’s home taking care of their pets and home? This depends on what you want your hours to be.
Will you be willing to work on vacation? The holidays are a busy time for any pet care company. I am looking for nannies who have no problem working on vacation. This means they may not have time for family events, or must work their family time around their pet-sitting schedule.
Some pet care companies will hire you as an independent contractor and others will hire you as an employee. This means that if you are an independent contractor, you are a sole proprietor. You must withhold and pay your own taxes, you are responsible for your own medical care, insurance, supplies and tools, and you must pay for any training you need. However, you are flexible in the way you do your job.
If you are an employee, your taxes will be withheld, your employer must provide you with supplies and tools to do your job, and must pay or reimburse you if you use your own vehicle. As an employee, he must do his job according to his employer’s instructions.
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 work weekends, mornings, afternoons and nights? This is a typical schedule for a pet sitter, week after 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 sitting company. Being a pet sitter allows you some flexibility in your schedule, but you’ll still have a schedule.
Will you be looking for a full-time position or just part-time? You should let your potential employer know how much work you are looking for and see if this fits with what the pet sitting company is looking for. If you only want to do this job for a little extra money, and only plan to serve a few clients, this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be hired by a pet sitting company.
For my company, as long as I know that this is the case, I know that it will only be a pet sitter from time to time. This means that you may not be as reliable as another sitter, but you could be an important backup.
Short List of Pet Care Considerations
As a pet sitter or dog walker, there are many things you need to be aware of and keep in mind. A true professional has to deal with many things. I have listed just a few.
- get up early in the morning
- Make visits later in the evening.
- Visiting in the afternoon
- Having your day divided into segments of visits, leaving little time in between
- walking dogs in the cold
- walking dogs in the heat
- walking dogs in the rain
- Walking dogs in the snow (depending on the location)
- Walking dogs on windy days
- Walking dogs in a combination of the above.
- Sometimes dealing with aggressive animals
- Dealing with other stray dogs while walking your client’s dogs
- Dealing with one of your client’s dogs that gets loose
- Being attacked by a loose dog
- Giving a dog or cat a pill by mouth
- Giving a dog or cat an injection
- Administering Subcutaneous Fluids to a Dog or Cat
- Administering insulin to a diabetic dog or cat
- Scoop up dog droppings with a poop bag
- cleaning a litter box
- Cleaning dog or cat urine/poop off a hard floor
- Cleaning dog or cat urine/poop from the carpet
- cleaning hairballs
- Cleaning up dog or cat vomit
- Cleaning up urine, poop, or vomit on multiple visits in a row (happens)
- Working every day for weeks, sometimes months at a time
- Try to find time for friends, family, and loved ones.
- Handle any pet emergencies, including pet first aid/CPR and taking the animal to the vet
- Being able to walk two dogs at the same time, at least
- Be able to walk dogs up to 150 pounds.
- Basically, be available at all times
- Keep your vehicle well maintained
- Put a lot of miles on your vehicle by 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’s so much more, but I don’t want to go on for days. If you think you have what it takes to be a pet sitter then you are a true animal lover who loves hard work and will do anything for the animals in your care.
If you feel that this list is not a problem for you, then I know that you would 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 this is what any other potential employer will be looking for as well.
The rewarding side of taking care of pets
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’ve made a difference, because you have. When you’re walking a customer’s dog, both of you enjoying the experience, it’ll make you smile a big cheesy grin as you walk by. Cats and dogs have been shown to help lower blood pressure. When the dogs or cats you’re taking care of snuggle up to you, you can almost feel their health improve every second.
This is a quick look at what it means to be a professional pet sitter or dog walker. So do you want to be a pet sitter? I hope this has helped you decide if this is right for you or not. I have either made you realize that you really don’t want to work as a professional pet sitter, or I have simply reassured you that this is what you do because you love animals unconditionally.