We’re celebrating this week! March 1 – 7th is Professional Pet Sitter’s Week. Richmond, Virginia pet sitters join with pet sitters all over the country to give ourselves a collective pat on the back and also increase awareness about why pet owners should consider hiring a pet sitter.
Today’s blog post assumes you know your pet is a good candidate for in-home pet care. Now I’d like to focus on what you can do on your end to ensure your pet has the best pet sitting experience possible.
Yes, there really are certain things you should do before leaving town in order to make everything go smoothly for your pets and their pet sitter. Most of these suggestions are simple common sense, but they make a big difference in the success of your experience with Pet Pleasers in Richmond — and for that matter, with any professional pet sitting company anywhere in the country.
1. Make your reservation in advance!
Don’t wait till the night before the day you are leaving to contact Pet Pleasers to arrange for in-home care. Your sitter’s schedule may already be full or he/she might be on vacation and unable to accommodate your last minute request. Yes, we have back up sitters, but that requires logistics and pre-planning. On such short notice, we might not be able to to meet with you to go over directions and meet pets because there just isn’t time.
Of course, if you are an existing Pet Pleasers customer and you’re face-to-face with an emergency situation, we will do our best to help. But the more advance planning we have, the better.
2. Confirm your reservation with your petsitter within 48 hours of when you plan to leave town.
This is very important in case your dates of service have changed and you forgot to let the sitter know. During that call, take the opportunity to recap — go over the reservation, dates, approximate numbers of pet visits, any new health issues or special requests and when you expect to be home.
3. Leave everything needed for pet care in an agreed upon place.
It is frustrating and inefficient if your pet sitter has to spend valuable time hunting for the leash, the medications, the litter scoop, etc. instead of spending that time giving love and attention to your pets. Avoid that by leaving all items together so they are easy to find — or a note indicating where certain things are (ie. “string cheese treats in the zip lock bag in the front of the 2nd shelf in refrigerator”).
Some items to leave handy in one place include: medications, leash and harness, towel to wipe wet feet, treats, paper towels, any wet food, a can opener, plastic bags, litter scoop and extra litter with litter box, cleaning supplies, watering containers, broom, dust pan or hand vacuum and all pertinent instructions and phone numbers.
4. Do not leave dirty dishes in sink or food that may rot in the refrigerator. Dirty dishes and fruit on the counter will attract ants and really begin to smell after a few days. Same with refrigerator.
5. Inform your veterinarian that you will be out of town and sitter has permission to bring the pet in for treatment.
Be sure to confirm with your sitter who your vet is. This is especially important if you have changed vets since the last time you used the sitter.
6. Inform the sitter of any new medical conditions your pet may have and medications that need to be given.
This seems to be a no-brainer, but with all the details you’re tending to re: getting out the door and on your trip, this is sometimes overlooked. I wrote about one such situation here. Your pets will thank you for remembering this detail.
7. Prepare your outdoor area.
Put away bikes, toys, yard umbrellas — anything that could be stolen or become a flying missile during a bad storm. Also, mow your lawn (when applicable) and if away during winter time, arrange to have ice/snow removed from walkways while you are gone. Having an outdoor light on timers or motion sensor lights is much appreciated when sitters make their night time visits.
8. Let sitters know if there will be any other people in your home.
You may ask a neighbor, friend or relative to drop by and play with the pets once in a while or you may have an out of town relative who will be staying at your home for a night on the way to Florida or you may have contractors doing work on your home while you are gone. There is nothing worse than opening the door and finding a stranger inside!! You may remember this recent blog post about how this policy came to be – it’s humorous in hindsight, but at the time, no one was laughing!)
Also it should be very clear what the sitter’s responsibilities are and what the person coming in daily will be taking care of. We don’t want everyone feeding the dog and you come home to an overweight pet!
9. Pet Proof pet areas.
Get down on their level and remove any items pets could get into, knock down, chew or eat. Check your yard to be sure fences are secure and gates have locks. Be sure no yard equipment, pesticides, plant food, etc. are accessible in yard or garage if animals will have access. Be sure all windows and doors are locked.
It may be pleasant when you leave, but temperatures may get very warm or cold while you’re away. During your introductory meeting with your pet sitter, show her how to adjust the system in your home for your pet’s comfort.
11. Let sitter know if any areas are off limits.
Sometimes you do not want the cat to have access to computer room or you have a bathroom that is inoperable. Just let the sitter know.
12. Count all pet heads before you leave!
Make sure you see every animal that should be indoors and all who are kept outdoors before you leave so the sitter will know they are all there and accounted for. You’d be surprised how often we encounter problems on this end. I’ve written about two real life stories on the blog – one about cats and the other about dogs.
More than anything, pet sitters want owners to have a worry-free time with no reason to fret about their pets while they’re away. Taking care of these 12 tips (and any others you can anticipate) will go a long way to ensure that happens.
And as soon as you’re home and settled in, make a connection with your pet sitter to let her know the pets are back in your care. If your return is delayed, be sure to let us know so we can continue to make visits until you return.
Carole Tomas is the owner and president of Pet Pleasers, Inc. She is a graduate of Ohio University and a Charter Member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. When she began Pet Pleasers in 1985, business was conducted Old School via a landline, snail mail and an answering machine the size of a breadbox. No internet, email, text messaging, digital photos, social media or mobile phones! What has remained constant over three decades: Carole’s love of animals and an unwavering passion for professional pet sitting.