When you’re a professional pet sitter, you have to protect yourself just like any other professional would. If you aren’t sure where to start with that, here is a list of essential items that you absolutely must have on your list before you take on your first client. This protects you and them from risk and harm. Keeping yourself safe on the job is about a whole lot more than just physical safety (though there is some of that, too). Take a look!
Top tips for professional pet sitters
Here are some of the best, most important tips to help pet sitters protect themselves and their business on a daily basis as well as long-term. Most importantly, it helps them to protect their charged pets if something were to happen. Top focus points include:
- Professional safety
- Environmental safety
- Pet safety
When you focus on those three details, your job and your pets will be as safe as possible. Some of the most important items are below.
Have a “boilerplate” pet-sitting contract
It seems strange at first glance, but having a contract for a pet-setting contract is not just smart; it’s essential. You should focus on putting everything in there that you can think of. This includes what roles you will fill, what roles you won’t fill, and what your boundaries are (ex: times of day you can be reached, how often pet owners can check on pets).
Don’t forget to put into place that you can choose to opt-out of the contract if any of these boundaries or rules are not met. You can then stipulate whether you will be paid in full, or add on extra charges to complete the contract, etc.
The goal of this is to have every potential client read it, understand it, and agree to it so that there’s never any misunderstanding of your role. This also helps them realize that you are a professional pet sitter, not just some kid from the next house over.
While this doesn’t seem to relate to pet safety, it does! If you aren’t clear on the contract, or your pet parent isn’t, then it could mean inferior care for the pet!
Do an on-site visit before the pet parent leaves
This is convenient for things like trying to find pet supplies and also understanding the general layout and condition of the house. This will help you to recognize if something is amiss after you start working there. It’s also good to see how different the pets are with their parents there versus without them.
Don’t forget to check for things that could end up causing trouble for you. For example, a hole in the fence could mean an escaped pet. Or, a ripped curtain could end up with a cat stuck in the curtain and in need of vet attention.
Point these out to the pet parent respectfully and work on having them address them. This further pushes your professionalism to the forefront, too, which is always good.
Be familiar with basic pet first aid and CPR
Because you’re a true professional, you should take the time to learn basic pet first aid and CPR for dogs and cats. You can search online for high-quality training you can take locally or online, or ask your vet if they know a good reputable source for this.
Both are great to put on your resume, and it also means that you can intervene if you find that a pet is in distress. Be prepared with a list of vet emergency numbers, and get owner permission to act on any pet emergency if you spot one.
The more that you know about pet emergency care, the better prepared that you’ll feel to intervene if something pops up. Clients will also learn about your professionalism, too, that way.
Have all of your pet care instructions in writing on-site
While you should have the pet care instructions with you as well, it’s always a good idea to make sure there is another copy of them on site. Why? Because life gets busy and you have a lot of clients. So, it’s always a good idea to run through a refresher on what jobs you’re supposed to be doing for these clients when you arrive. It’s also good to have a backup copy in case you forget or lose your own copy. After all, life happens, right?
Always have backup leashes, harnesses, etc. with you
While using what pet parents have is always recommended and often preferred, there might be times when you have an emergency, and something doesn’t work correctly, or you just have an old-fashioned break happen to the leash or a harness. Have your own with you that you can use in a pinch. It beats trying to walk a dog on a collar, leash, or harness that isn’t safe.
In case you need to take a cat somewhere, always have a cat cage in your vehicle. Even if you know that they normally free-ride in the car, transport them in a way that you, personally, are comfortable with and is safer for you both.
Trust your gut — always
This is perhaps one of the most important details for professional pet sitters. You need to always pay attention to what your gut is telling you when it comes to any part of a job. From accepting a contract to working with a pet, to even something like pulling into the driveway and feeling like something just isn’t right. You are a professional, and you should remember that the professionally-trained gut may be able to spot a problem even if you aren’t sure what it is.
If you feel like a pet needs an emergency vet, even with no proper proof other than a bad feeling, call your client and explain. Most will find it reasonable to err on the side with your professional judgment. Your professional gut is a valuable tool, so pay attention to it.
Keeping your charged pets safe is about taking a wide-spread approach to your role as well as your preparation for a job well done. Safety on the job is important for your sake and the sake of your business, but also for the pets that you are tending. When you take their safety seriously, it helps prospective clients trust you, and they’ll recommend you to those who are looking for a true professional.
If you want to be treated like a professional, focus on the right preparations and actions that transform your work into that of a professional!