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 is 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 to it than you may think.
Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do, and I thrive on it. But, most people just don’t realize what it takes to be a professional pet sitter or dog walker. When I look to hire someone to work for me, I look for certain traits in that person to see if they can handle the work and how dedicated they really are.
Just saying that you love animals isn’t enough. Pet sitters have to be dedicated to work in the many different situations they will face. And, they must be able to deal with very stressful situations. Any time you have the life of an animal in your hands, there are stresses involved.
I am focusing on those who may want to work for a pet sitting company and do the work of taking care of 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 I am hiring.
Working for a Pet Sitting Company
As the owner of a dog walking and pet sitting business, I have worked very hard to earn, and to keep a very good reputation for what we do. When I hire someone to work for me, I make sure the person is going to do their best to help keep that good reputation.
This means that I look for pet sitters and dog walkers who take a deep concern for the animals they care for, and that they treat our clients with the utmost respect and courtesy. This cannot be ‘just a job’ for the people I hire.
When you are looking for a pet sitting job, you should decide on what type of work you would like to do. Will you just do mid-day dog walkings, will you just do vacation pet sittings, or will you do both? Will you do overnight pet sittings where you stay overnight in the client’s home taking care of their pets and their home? This depends on what you want your hours to be.
Will you be willing to work on holidays? The holidays are a very busy time for any pet sitting company. I look for sitters who have no problem working on holidays. This means that they may not have time for family events, or that they must work their family time around their pet sitting schedule.
Some pet sitting 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 withhold 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. You are flexible, however, in how you do your work.
If you are an employee, you will have your taxes 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 own vehicle. As an employee, you must do your job as instructed 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 are an employee, you still may not get much vacation time. Will you work weekends, mornings, afternoons, and evenings? This is a typical schedule for a pet sitter, week in and week out.
These are just a few questions of many that you will have to ask yourself and be prepared to answer when looking to work for a pet sitting company. Being a pet sitter allows you to have some flexibility in your schedule, but you will still have a schedule.
Will you be looking for a full-time position or just part-time? You need to let your potential employer know how much work you are looking for and see if this fits in with what the pet sitting company is looking for. If you only want to do this work on the side for some extra cash, and you only plan on taking care of just a few clients, this does not necessarily mean that you won’t get hired on at a pet sitting company.
For my company, as long as I know this is the case, I will know that you will just be a once-in-a-while pet sitter. This means you may not be as reliable as another sitter, but you could be an important back up.
Short List of Pet Sitting Considerations
As a pet sitter or dog walker, there are a lot of things you need to take into consideration and be aware of. A true professional has to deal with many things. I have listed just a few.
- Up early in the morning
- Doing visits later in the evening
- Doing visits in the afternoon
- Having your day broken up 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 location)
- Walking dogs on very windy days
- Walking dogs in a combination of the above
- Sometimes dealing with aggressive animals
- Dealing with other dogs on the loose as you walk 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 orally
- Giving a dog or cat a shot
- Giving a dog or cat subcutaneous fluids
- Giving insulin to a diabetic dog or cat
- Picking up dog waste with a poop bag
- Cleaning up a litter box
- Cleaning up dog or cat pee/poop from a hard floor
- Cleaning up dog or cat pee/poop from carpet
- Cleaning up furr balls
- Cleaning up dog or cat vomit
- Cleaning up pee, poop, or vomit on several visits in a row (it happens)
- Working every single day for weeks, sometimes months at a time
- Try to find time for friends, family, and loved ones
- Dealing with any pet emergency, including pet first aid/CPR and taking the animal to the vet
- Be able to walk two dogs at once, 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 client to client
- Be professional and courteous to your clients
Like I said, this is just a small list of things a professional pet sitter has to deal with. There is 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 think this list is not a problem for you, then I know you would truly go above and beyond the call of duty to take care of the animals in your care. These are the kind of pet sitters I look for when I am hiring, and I know this is what any 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 take care of feel loved and happy, you will feel like you have made a difference, because you have. When you are walking a client’s dog, with the both of you just enjoying the experience, it will make you grin a big cheesy smile as you walk. It’s been proven that cats and dogs help lower blood pressure. When the dogs or cats you’re caring for cuddle with you, you can almost feel your health improve 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 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 just reaffirmed that this is what you want because you love animals unconditionally.