🌟Pet-sitting: More than Just Cuddles, Communication is Crucial


🌟Pet-sitting: More than Just Cuddles, Communication is Crucial

## One more way to be a great petsitter

_If you are a pet or house sitter, considering becoming one, interested in what we do, or even a pet or home owner, this publication will give you valuable insights from someone who has been a full-time pet-sitter since March 2019._


# What would you do…

One of the most important things to do as a pet sitter is to keep the lines of communication open. Keeping the pet owner informed is crucial. Imagine you were babysitting a human child. Would you withhold from their parents that they’re sick or hurt themselves, or seem ‘off’? If you said yes, then perhaps you shouldn’t be left in charge of children or animals. But I’m going to assume most of you said, “No, of course not.” So, don’t do that with animal children either.

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# How much is too much?

Personally, I’d prefer to be annoying and over the top, checking with everything, than to take any risks. In my experience, homeowners appreciate that. I’ve only ever been thanked for keeping homeowners informed, I’ve never been told that I was annoying them or it was too much — not when it came to their babies.

> When it comes to those you love including pets, there is no such thing as too much!

But I have heard homeowners complain that their petsitter didn’t keep them informed. They didn’t know their pet was sick, or they didn’t know their pet had gone off their food, or they didn’t know their pet hadn’t pooped for three days.

# Establish boundaries upfront

Of course, communication isn’t limited to emergencies and health issues. I ask my pet owners how often they would like updates, in what format, how often, and through what platform. Whatever they request will be my minimum because most pet owners respect my time so what they ask for is the bare minimum they need to feel safe. I give them a little more than what they ask for.

I also get emergency numbers including the vet and at least one person nearby. Then, the tricky one — I specifically ask if they would like to be contacted if… you know, their pet dies. It sux to ask, but it establishes upfront that you take every aspect of your role seriously.

# It’s not your decision until it is

It is not up to us as pet sitters to make a decision about any pet’s health. If you don’t know without any doubt what to do, ask the pet owner. Don’t be afraid to — they’ll appreciate it! Of course, you won’t always be able to get ahold of the pet owner immediately, but you can seek advice from the vet or emergency contacts. Never give a pet any medication or take any action until you check with the pet owner. Not only are those decisions not your responsibility, but they are not your right either.

> Emergencies can happen.

Of course, in an emergency, you won’t have time to ask and you’ll need to act. Emergencies can (and if you are a full-time sitter, eventually will) happen. Your best option here is to be prepared. Know how to handle a situation before it arises.

# My experience as a pet sitter

I’ve completed a pet CPR and first aid course and it’s helped me save pet lives. The most prominent was a horse with colic. When I noticed he was lying down in the paddock, I contacted the owners to ask if it was abnormal behavior. After a short wait and no reply, I called the vet. Colic can be quick and deadly and even with my fast action, he wasn’t expected to survive. The pet owners thanked me for doing all that I could.

> It’s always best to err on the side of caution!

But that horse damn well survived because I followed the vet’s advice and kept the homeowners updated. I stayed up for 24 hours through a freezing regional Victorian winter night because he had to stay on his feet. The next day, the vet checked the horse’s vitals- all back to normal. The vet patted me on the back and said well done because not even he thought the horse would survive the night. I’m so proud that I kept the animal alive for his family.

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# Takeaway for all pet sitters

Things don’t always go as planned. That’s life. And when you’re a pet sitter, there will be emergencies, there will be incidents, there will be accidents, and there will likely be deaths. But remember why you are there in the first place and always communicate with the pet’s human family. Let the pet owner tell you how to proceed and when that’s not possible, know who you can contact. Be prepared for the unexpected by doing at least one animal first aid training course.

> Remember: A great pet sitter does their research, constantly updates their skills, and most importantly, communicates with the pet owner!

Contributed by PETSITTING

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