Given the increasingly frantic, responsibility-laden nature of modern life, it's hard to find a household that isn't juggling a kaleidoscope of commitments. To be able to manage their demanding professional lives, family obligations, and precious personal time, it's no wonder that pet owners are increasingly relying on the services of pet sitters. Pet parents can rely on these dedicated individuals to step into their shoes and take responsibility for safeguarding their pets’ well-being while their owners are away on business, travel, and the like.
But the key to a successful pet sitting experience lies in comprehensive communication between the pet owner and the sitter. The more a sitter knows about the pet they're caring for, the better equipped they’ll be to handle any situation that arises, thereby ensuring a stress-free experience for all involved.
This PrideBites blog post aims to provide a detailed guide for pet owners preparing to brief a new pet sitter, outlining five essential steps to take. Have this checklist ready if you’re recently hired a pet sitter and want to prepare them adequately to take care of your pet.
1) Introduce Them to Your Pet
Proper introductions are invaluable for building a bond of trust and understanding between your pet and their sitter. Schedule a meeting before the actual pet-sitting assignment to allow the two to interact and get to know one another. This interaction gives the sitter an opportunity to observe your pet's temperament and behaviors in a relaxed and low-pressure environment.
During this introduction, don’t hesitate to talk to your sitter about your pet and share information about your pet's unique characteristics. For instance, it would benefit your sitter to know about the following:
- Your pet’s personality
- Activities they enjoy
- Their favorite personal items such as personalized dog blankets, beds, or toys
- Any fears or sensitivities they have
- Their medical and dietary needs
Providing this information to your sitter enables them to cater to your pet's individual preferences and requirements, promoting a positive relationship from the outset.
2) Walk Them Through Your Pet's Daily Routine
Much like humans, pets like cats and dogs appreciate routine. Many of them typically feel more secure if they have daily rituals to follow. Your pet may become stressed or anxious about deviating from this routine while you’re away, so you’ll definitely want your sitter to be able to maintain it as much as possible. Make sure they know your pet’s daily schedule, including precise times for feeding, walks, play sessions, and quiet time. If your pet has particular feeding rituals or preferences for certain walking routes, brief your sitter on these as well.
Provide your sitter with a detailed medication schedule if your pet is currently being treated for any kind of illness or injury. Mention the type of medication, the exact dosage, and the specific times it needs to be administered. Demonstrate the process if necessary, especially if the medication needs to be hidden in food or if your pet is likely to resist taking it.
3) Give Them Essential Contact Details
Just as we need a list of emergency contacts for our children, we should also provide one for our pets. Your sitter should have all necessary contact information readily available in case they need to handle an unexpected situation. This list should include your contact details, your vet's number, and the number of a nearby emergency veterinary clinic. It would also help to provide a secondary contact—like a friend, neighbor, or family member—who can step in if the sitter needs immediate help.
In addition to these emergency contacts, consider providing the details of a trusted person who can assist with non-emergency situations. This could be a fellow pet owner who’s familiar with your pet's behavior and can provide advice if the sitter encounters minor issues.
It's important to ensure that these contacts are reliable and that they’ll be available to take calls or messages during the pet-sitting period. Having this kind of support network for your pet and their sitter will make it easier to elicit swift and effective responses in case of any unforeseen difficulties.
4) Show Them around Your Home
Your home is your pet's sanctuary, and it’s where they eat, play, rest, and feel safe. Giving the sitter a detailed tour is thus a crucial step in the briefing process. This tour should include all areas your pet frequents, any specific hiding spots they like, and potential danger zones like rooms where cleaning supplies are stored. In addition, show your pet sitter where you store all your pet supplies, including food, treats, leashes, toys, and medication.
Demonstrate any pet-related procedures that occur at home, such as how to use the pet door, where the litter box is and how to clean it, or where and how to give your pet their medication. If your pet has a favorite spot where they like to sleep or a specific toy they're attached to, point these out. The more familiar the sitter is with your home and its pet-related aspects, the better they can replicate your pet's home experience and keep them comfortable, even if you aren’t around.
5) Tell Them Any Rules You Have in Place for Your Pet
Rules form the fabric of a pet's life structure, and it's crucial to maintain this fabric even in your absence. Start by communicating any house rules you have set for your pet. These could be areas of the house that are off-limits, rules about being on the furniture, or even something as simple as not giving them treats before dinner. If your pet has any specific outdoor rules, such as always needing to be on a leash, or certain areas they should avoid, make sure the sitter is aware of these.
Maintaining these rules is critical because animals thrive on consistency. If the sitter unintentionally breaks a rule, it could confuse your pet and potentially lead to behavioral issues. By informing the sitter about the house rules your pet is expected to abide by, you’ll be able to maintain your pet's usual boundaries and prevent any unwanted behaviors.
Leaving your pet in another person’s hands might seem like a stressful prospect, but a proper briefing and constant, open communication with your sitter will go a long way towards averting any major difficulties. The guidelines listed above should help you create a clear roadmap for your sitter, thus facilitating the best possible care for your beloved pet.