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  • Writer's pictureKathleen for Paskapoo

Everything you wanted to know about your pet sitter, but were afraid to ask... An answer to all your questions!


A pet sitter working on her computer surrounded by cats

When I made the bold leap from my career as a biologist to embrace the world of professional pet sitting, it felt like entering uncharted territory. Back in the day, pet sitting was often seen as a gig for the neighborhood teens looking to earn some extra cash. Most pet owners defaulted to traditional boarding facilities, dropping off their pets at a location out of town and crossing their fingers for the best outcome.


However, things have started to change, and the limitations of boarding facilities, especially for cats, small pets, and senior pets seeking tranquility and comfort, have become evident. Our pets are now integral members of our families, each with their own unique needs. Consequently, professional pet sitting has evolved into a recognized and accepted vocation.


Yet, for many, the mystery surrounding this profession persists...


Over the past decade, curious individuals have approached me with a bunch of questions (and admittedly, a few misconceptions) about the realities of professional pet sitting. In the spirit of humor and insight, I've decided to address some of these queries right here on the Paskapoo Blog for everyone to enjoy!


Let the revelations begin! 😊


🟠 Do you ever see weird things in people's houses?


Oh, absolutely! Yet, amidst the quirks, there's also an abundance of beauty. It's funny - I haven't stepped into a museum or art gallery in ages, yet every day, I find myself surrounded by captivating paintings and photos adorning my clients' walls. It's like having a private art exhibit at every pet sitting gig. 🤩

I'll confess, in my previous life as a pest control technician, the job description included rummaging through closets and exploring hidden corners, where weird and strange things were par for the course. Fortunately, as a pet sitter, my focus is squarely on the well-being of the animals and the home I'm entrusted with, so there's no need for investigative ventures unless there's a potential threat.


🟠 Is pet sitting your full time job?


Right now, the answer is yes and no, depending on the season. During peak times like Christmas holidays, Spring Break, "Cruise Season", and the summer, pet sitting is undoubtedly a full-time commitment. Visits on Christmas Day and weekends on the road become the norm. Yet, there's a flip side — the low season, say October or January, when travel slows down, offers a breather. It's during these quieter spells that I schedule doctor appointments, plan vacations, and catch up on cleaning around the house and paperwork.


Like many pet sitters, having a casual or part-time job outside pet sitting can help bridge the gap during the off-season, or simply provide a change of pace and interaction with people. However, make no mistake, for a professional pet sitter, their clients remain the top priority.


🟠 Can you really make a living out of pet sitting!?


Absolutely, if you're ready to put in hard work consistently. I'm acquainted with several pet sitters who've managed to achieve a six-digit salary through dedication and passion.


If you're curious about my own earnings, I'll leave that to your imagination! 😆


🟠 Have you ever faced aggression from a pet?

Unfortunately, yes.

Encounters with aggressive dogs, cats and rabbits have happened, but I've been fortunate not to sustain any injuries requiring medical attention. However, I strongly believe that pet sitters deserve a safe work environment at all times.

While working with animals inherently involves some level of risk and unpredictability, bites and attacks should never be considered "part of the job". If your pet has behavior issues such as fear or aggression towards strangers, honesty and communcation is crucial. Seek assistance from your veterinarian or a trainer BEFORE you let a pet sitter walk into your home.


Let's ensure the safety of pet sitters and prevent any unsuspecting caregiver from facing unnecessary risks of injuries and disabilities.

🟠 Can I trust a pet sitter to come into my house? Absolutely, and let's address this directly. Most professional pet sitters operate with utmost honesty, understanding the significance of maintaining trust and safeguarding their business reputation. Just as you place trust in professionals like your real estate agent, plumber, or appliance repair person to enter your home, the same level of trust should extend to your professional pet sitter.


It's perfectly reasonable to do some online research or request a criminal background check for added peace of mind. Additionally, a seasoned pet sitter with a robust clientele is generally more trustworthy than someone newly listed on an app (more on that below).


Trust is foundational in our line of work, and I'm committed to upholding it every step of the way.

🟠 Why should I pay "that much" for your services? Cleaning a litter box is not that hard... This question is a common one and, understandably, can ruffle the feathers of pet sitters. When this question arises, it can inadvertently diminish the perceived value and worth of our services.


The role of a professional pet sitter extends far beyond the task of "cleaning a litter box". I recently penned an article delving into the value behind the rates of a pet sitter. When a pet owner hires a company like Paskapoo Pet Services, they're not just paying for litter box maintenance. They are paying for the experience and training, the time commitment, and travel and gas. Clients benefit from our unwavering commitment to delivering a high level of service and reliability.


Clients also gain the reassurance that if any issues arise with their pets or home while they're away, we'll handle it with professionalism and efficiency. These are elements often missing when opting for the 14-year old next door, who might be more engrossed in their phone than noticing important details like a cat displaying signs of illness, or a leaky dishwasher.


Oh, and did I mention pet sitters work tirelessly, seven days a week, and during all holidays so our clients can go away? This has to be worth something, right? 😉

🟠 Why did you become a pet sitter? Ah, that's the million-dollar question!


As far back as I can remember, my dream was to become a veterinarian. However, four decades ago (ahem... in the good ol' days), breaking into veterinary medicine in the province of Quebec was a herculean task. The vet school was nestled far from major cities, with an incredibly limited intake—only a handful of students were accepted each year (with the consequences we know today...)


Unfortunately, I lacked the grades, financial means, family support, and connections to make that dream a reality. There was also the option of doing a college degree to become a veterinarian technician, but the poor job prospects and low wages at the time were not appealing to me. So, I ventured into biology and embarked on an unconventional career path. It took about three decades for me to decide that I wanted to chart my own course, start my own business, and do things my way. Coincidentally, it was around that time that I stumbled upon the enchanting realm of dog walking and pet sitting, discovering the various opportunities it offered.


And the rest, as they say, is a wagging tale 😋

🟠 Do you have favorite pets?


Personally, I prefer not to play favorites, although there are undoubtedly pets that are easier to bond with than others. I have a soft spot for kittens (and who wouldn't?! 😍), but sadly kittens don't stay young for very long!


During pet sitting visits, I make it a point to provide every pet with the opportunity to interact with me. However, I'm mindful and respectful of their space and their individual personalities, especially if they are aloof or not quite ready to consider me as part of their human family.


Each pet is unique, and I appreciate the distinct connections I form with each of them.


🟠 Is it hard when a pet dies or a client move away?


Experiencing the loss of a pet, and when clients move away, are undoubtedly the most challenging aspects of being a pet sitter. It is not unusual for a pet sitter to suffer from "compassion fatigue".


Losing a pet or a client (through death or a move) goes beyond the emotional heartbreak - it extends to the financial realm as well. When clients move away, it also signifies the end of a professional relationship - and pet sitters will grieve that as well.


While the joy of meeting new furry friends is ever-present in this profession, the inevitable goodbyes bring a mix of sadness and a sense of loss that pet sitters can learn to navigate with resilience.


🟠 Do you really work every weekend and holidays?!


The beauty of being a self-employed pet sitter is the flexibility to choose how much or how little I work. However, akin to certain professions like healthcare, airline, and hospitality employees, weekend commitments come with the territory. While it's not mandatory to work every single weekend and holiday, a certain level of availability is anticipated.


Admittedly, it can be demanding for pet sitters to be on the job when everyone else is off, but it's a commitment most will willingly embrace.


🟠 Why do most pet sitters retire (or quit) before the end of their first year?


That's another million-dollar question, with a myriad of factors that can lead pet sitters to retire shortly after launching their pet sitting business.


Firstly, I have witnessed how a lack of preparation, training, and patience can set the stage for early retirement. Successfully running a pet sitting business demands a certain skill set and understanding of the pet care industry, and those who dive in based on the assumption that pet sitting is an "easy gig", may find the challenges overwhelming.


Financial considerations also play a crucial role. It may take several months or up to a year for a pet sitter to secure enough clients to bring a sufficient cash flow. Without resilience, some pet sitters struggle financially before their business has even a chance to really take off.


The demanding nature of the job can be another hurdle. Hard work, difficult clients, an inconsistent schedule, and the necessity to consistently work on weekends and holidays may contribute to burnout, especially for those unprepared for the rigors of the profession.


Moreover, lacking support from friends and family can exacerbate the challenges. Legal considerations, including the high risk of lawsuits, are additional factors that may contribute to early retirements.


In essence, the first year can be a make-or-break period for pet sitters and dog walkers.


🟠 What do you think of Rover, and other online pet sitter listing websites?


In my honest opinion, platforms like Rover and other online pet sitter listings pose a significant challenge to the integrity of the pet care industry. These platforms, often compared to other "uber-like" on-demand apps, were conceived with the primary goal of tapping into the lucrative billion-dollar pet care industry. Interestingly, those behind the creation of Rover and similar platforms are not pet sitters or pet care providers; rather, they are IT specialists, entrepreneurs and investors with a keen eye on reaping substantial profits from pet owners.


One notable concern is how these platforms dominate search engine results, creating an illusion of being the sole option for pet owners seeking pet sitters. This dominance is meticulously maintained by the substantial investments made by Rover investors to ensure their websites consistently rank at the top.


A critical aspect highlighted in the fine print is that Rover sitters and their counterparts on other platforms are not employees but rather individual subcontractors. This distinction carries implications, as it means there is no liability coverage, no worker's compensation coverage, and no obligation for licensing, training, or experience. Essentially, anyone can list themselves as a pet sitter on these platforms, regardless of their level of expertise or reliability.


Adding to the concern is the encouragement for Rover sitters to have friends and family leave reviews on the platform. This practice, while possibly well-intentioned, introduces an element of bias and potential unreliability in the feedback system, raising questions about the credibility of these "5-star sitters".


In summary, although these platforms provide convenience and accessibility, they impose significant competitive disadvantages on independent pet sitters and local pet sitting businesses. Moreover, they fall short in contributing to the local economy compared to locally owned establishments and lack the ability to nurture meaningful community relationships.


In other words, it is best to avoid supporting these on-demand websites if at all possible.


🟠 Can you go to school to become a professional pet sitter?


Yes and no. In America and Canada, there are no official college or university degrees specifically for professional pet sitting. However, there are now numerous online courses and certifications available! I am personally a certified professional pet sitter through Pet Sitters International. To maintain my certification, I'm required to accumulate 30 education credits every three years. Achieving this involves a substantial commitment to attending various classes, seminars, webinars, and online courses related to pet care.


The resources to become a certified pet sitter are readily available and affordable.


🟠 Bonus Question: Do you "sit" on pets?!


Haha! The innocent curiosity of children! While the term "pet sitter" may conjure amusing images, rest assured, I don't actually "sit" on pets. My role involves providing care, attention, and ensuring their well-being while their human companions are away. No sitting, just lots of love and care! 😄🐾


 

Have burning questions about pet sitting that you've hesitated to ask?


Fear not!


Head over to our Facebook page and Instagram account and we might just include them in our next article. Your curiosity fuels our content, and we're eager to shed light on any lingering queries you may have.


Join the conversation and let's explore the fascinating world of professional pet sitting together! 😋🐾


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