What to consider before offering pet sitting services in your home
.... and what pet owners need to consider too ...
There's a lot to think about before opening your home to other people's pets. Not every pet sitter can, or should, pet sit in his/her own home.
Pet owners should also consider certain things before leaving their pet in a pet sitter's home, rather than keeping their pet at their own homes.
For Pet Sitters:
Before making a decision to take pets into your own home, consider the living arrangements you will be providing for your pet clients. Is your home a suitable and adaptable place that can house pets that are not yours?
Talk to your town. Different towns have different ordinances when it comes to offering pet care in your home. Some only allow a couple of pets and beyond that, you'd have to register as a "doggy daycare" or pet boarding facility. If that is the case there are usually a whole host of changes you'll have to make to your home, including perhaps zoning changes. So, talk to your town first and foremost before making any grandiose plans for pet care in your home.
Do you have pets of your own and if so, how do you know your pets will get along with a guest pet, and vice versa? Will other pet owners want their pets mixing with other people's pets?
Are you able to be home with your guest pets for a significant amount of time each day to provide them with the services they'll need?
Do you have other people living in the home with you - a spouse, children (how old and how many) that will impact the quality of care for a guest pet, and are they on board with this decision too?
Do you rent or own your place? If renting, you'll also need your landlord's permission and I strongly recommend a written agreement between sitter and landlord. (When I was still a renter, I wrote a formal proposal for my landlord and needed town permission to house pets that were not mine in my apartment.)
You may also (and most likely) have to upgrade your pet business insurance to include the care and custody of pets in your own home.
Are you planning on caring for more than one person's pets at the same time and what are the logistics in place to make that work successfully?
What will you charge per day?
What types of pet supplies will you provide and what supplies will you require the pet owner to provide? Ex: pet beds, toys, etc....
How will you screen if a pet is suitable for staying in your home or not? (Will you accept elderly pets that tend to piddle all over the floor or a cat with a frequent vomiting problem or who likes to kick kitty litter a couple of feet from the litter box?)
For Pet Owners:
Why are you considering having your pet in someone else's home while you are away, and would that be the best arrangement for your pet?
Have you visited the pet sitter's house beforehand to make sure it would be a peaceful and good living arrangement for your pet?
Have you brought your pet to visit the pet sitter's house before the first solo visit or overnight happens to make sure your pet is happy there?
Can you bring all your pet's supplies with him/her or is the house too crowded for more pet beds, toys, buckets of food, etc...
Is it a pet-safe home?
Does the pet sitter have other pets in the home - their's or someone else's - and how comfortable are you with that arrangement?
Did you ask the sitter approximately how much of their day they will be home with your pet?
Did you ask the pet sitter what the daily routine is around the house and what your pet's activity and attention level will be throughout the day?
Would you want your dog/cat to sleep in the pet sitter's bed and is the pet sitter okay with that?
Did you have a complete walk-through of the house? Have you met the family if there is more than just the pet sitter in the house?
Think about your pet's personality and how they might like living in the home for a short or long time?
Does the pet sitter have adequate insurance in case something goes wrong while you are away?
I hope this information and questions will be a good help to my dear pet sitter and pet owner readers. In between the decisions of owners and sitters is the sweet furry or feathery pet whose needs must be considered most of all in an arrangement such as this.
There are great perks and added attention given to pets if they can stay in a sitter's home, but it is also an adjustment for a pet and that must be considered.
Personally, I would not accept all pets in my apartment/home and if the answer on my part was a "no", I would explain to the owner why I thought it was better if I just went to their home while they were away. I also made a few mistakes when I said "yes" and I should have said "no". Things worked out in the long run, but it was so much extra work on my part to have a pet that really wasn't happy anywhere other than their own home.
There is also a lot of sanitizing and cleaning in between pet stays. I would only take one person's pets at a time within my home, and I didn't have pets of my own so that worked out great. However, pets are sensitive to scents so I had to make sure to sanitize my home very well between the time one pet checked out and another pet checked in. This included cleaning anything a cat might have rubbed their scent on - table and chair legs, etc...
There are certainly perks and lots of fun when we take pets into our homes, but sitters must think things through before saying yes and do their due diligence when it comes to town ordinances, insurance, preparation and clean up. Owners too must consider all these things I've mentioned here before placing their pet in a home other than their own.
A thoughtful pet sitter is a prepared pet sitter and a prepared pet sitter makes a great pet sitter!