Pet sitting is a “live in” service offered to owners while they are away from home.
Most of us love our holidays, but may worry about our pets, especially if they are old or anxious, or we are going to be away for a longer time. Nicole Taylor-Gray explains the benefits and joys of pet sitting – for pets, owners and sitters.
So, why engage the services of a pet sitter?
Well, the first benefit is undoubtedly a financial one. Kennel and cattery fees can quickly mount up, especially if you have more than one pet, or your dogs are large breeds (fees often differ for small and large dogs). If you are going on holiday for a number of weeks, using a pet sitter can save on those fees.
If your furry friend is the fretful type, using a pet sitter means your animals remain in the comfort of their own home.
If your pets are not used to spending time without you, they may “pine” for you while you are away. Having another human around in their own surroundings can be very comforting to animals, particularly dogs, and your pets will generally get plenty of cuddles!
Knowing that your pets are well looked after will give you peace of mind.
While cuddles on demand are a perk for your pets, there are also positives for homeowners. Pet sitters will often take care of your home as well as your animals. Depending on your arrangement, you can ask them to water your garden, collect your mail and generally make your house looked lived in.
Once you’ve made the decision to use a pet sitter, you need to think about the sort of person who might cater for your animals’ needs – if your dog is young, active and needs twice-daily walks, an elderly man or woman might not be suitable. However, if your cat is the quiet, indoors type, someone who is home most of the time (and has a warm lap!) might be ideal.
There are reputable pet sitting services, many of which can be found online. These companies often vet their sitters, completing background or police checks to give you further peace of mind.
Ask around your family and friends. It’s remarkable how many people have used a house or pet sitter, or know someone who has. Many sitters operate by word of mouth and recommendations.
Arranging for your sitters to meet your pets is one of the most important things you can do to alleviate separation anxiety and reduce the likelihood of pets “pining” for you while you’re away. If your furry friends have already spent time with your sitters, they will remember their particular smells and not feel as if a stranger has entered their home.
As all cat owners know, felines can be notoriously stand-offish and will often make themselves unavailable at such meet ‘n’ greets, but dogs tend to be more biddable. They are often intrigued by new people, and are keen to sniff them all over!
You might like to offer your sitters the chance to play with your animals – perhaps give them a favourite toy to encourage your dogs to run, chase and fetch.
If your pooch associates your sitter with a positive, fun experience, this bodes well for when you are away.
A practical idea is to suggest your sitter takes your dog out for a walk. Again, this can be a positive experience for both dog and sitter, as your sitter will get to know him and will be able to practice leash and recall control.
At the height of pre-holiday excitement, it is easy to forget to book your pets in to see the vet. However, this is a crucial part of pet-sitting preparation. It’s the best time to ensure they are up to date with their vaccinations, flea and worm treatments.
Make sure you stock up on plenty of food, or leave enough money for your sitters to purchase it. You should provide clear, written instructions for feeding each of your pets. If any of your furry friends takes daily medication, provide your sitter with instructions for administering this. It’s also a good idea to explain your rules and commands for your pets.
Be sure to have a “handover” with your sitters before you leave. “List the people to contact in case of an emergency and also arrange for credit with your vet in case one of your animals becomes sick while you are away.” This is the last thing you would want to happen, but it is better to be prepared.
Most house sits are good-faith arrangements and money doesn’t change hands. Sitters will care for your pets without charge, and in return, they live in your home without paying rent or bills.
Next time you’re planning a holiday, consider using a pet sitter to care for your furry family members.
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