Becoming a house sitter: the best job in the world?
As a house sitter, you stay in the house of a pet owner while he or she is away. Who can think of a more fun and adventurous way to discover new places, people and pets! House sitting is also great for the resident pet as they can remain in their own space and fully enjoy the company of a live-in pet sitter. And the pet owner can relax knowing their pet and home are in good hands.
House sitting sounds like the absolute best gig in the world! But what should you keep in mind as a house sitter, and how do you ensure that everyone is happy in the end?
Preparing for the meet & greet
For pet owners, it's a big step to welcome a pet sitter in their house for a period of time. For the pet sitter, it can also be an exciting and daunting experience to stay in a new home! In order for the experience to be successful for both parties, it is important that the pet sitter takes the lead before the booking starts. In doing so, you must absolutely always plan a meet & greet before the booking to have a proper chat and get to know each other. Before the meeting, both of you should write down your most important questions and have a notebook handy to make notes during the conversation.
Get to know the pet
During your meet & greet, you will be introduced to the pet that you will be caring for. Listen very carefully to the pet owner and ask plenty of questions about the resident pet(s). Pay attention to:
- What do you feed the pet, and how often?
- Cleaning the litter box/cage/kennel: what is expected?
- What is the daily routine of the pet? When and how many walks/cuddles/how much play time?
- Where is the pet allowed to be in the house? Where does the pet sleep?
- What are the rules in and around the house for the pet?
- Which cues and commands does the pet know?
- Get an impression of the character of the pet: What is the pet afraid of, what do they like to do?
Read more about: what to discuss during a meet & greet
The tour: check out the house
During your meet & greet, it's important to keep your eyes and ears open. Check out the rooms and ask the pet owner if there any areas they would prefer you didn't enter. Remember that you will stay in the house for a while - sometimes weeks, perhaps longer. So it's important that you feel comfortable and safe. Ask where you will be sleeping, check the kitchen and bathroom and ask what personal belongings you should bring.
In addition, discuss things like locks and keys, alarm systems, garbage cans, air conditioning, appliances etc. Ask where you can find useful items such as cleaning products, first aid and household tools. And find out if you can use a parking space or bike space.
What do you need to provide in your house sitting service?
The owner has certain expectations of you. But as a pet sitter, you also must be clear about what you need to deliver a proper service. For example: should the house be tidied before you arrive? What requirements do you have in terms of hygiene and cleanliness? What do you expect from your sleeping area? What items do you need to take care of the pets? Are you both on the same page when it comes to pet care and well-being? Make absolutely clear what you expect from the owner.
Extra services, such as housekeeping?
As a house sitter, you are not only responsible for the pet: you're also the ears and eyes that keep the house safe. Perhaps the plants need a water, or you should make sure the house looks lived-in by opening and closing curtains or turning the lights on or off. Some pet owners may want you to do extra jobs, like cleaning or gardening. Be very clear about what's included in your services and what is not - and be honest about it. And don't forget: all the tasks that you perform are included in your house sitting price.
Make an informed decision
Was the meet & greet a success? Congratulations! You can now tell the owner that the reservation can be made. Are you still in doubt? Tell the pet owner that you need some time to think things through. If you don't feel comfortable with the request, you can always decline the reservation at this point. Let the owner know ASAP if the reservation can't go ahead and why. Be honest with them, as this will help them find someone else more suitable.