10 Lessons From My Holiday Pet Sits

The minute you get there you can see it in their eyes. They are a little sad to see you as that reinforces their human hasn’t returned. You can turn this around pretty quickly but I could feel that from every animal I cared for this month. It was just a look. After working as Vet Tech I am extremely familiar with this look. Snap them out of it.

I love all my clients and learned a ton from them. Some behavior was similar and overlapped each visit. Let’s be clear though, the role of a pet sitter can be intense. These animals are your responsibility so make every minute together count.

  1. I feel like I’m cheating on my dogs when I leave the house -but then I think my dogs understand that there are dogs and cats that need special human attention and are sad waiting for their owners. “They Get It”.
  2. Animals just want the company of humans and their dog siblings -it doesn’t make everything better but it makes all the difference knowing there is someone that has their back while they wait for their humans to return
  3. Just have patience as each animal has a unique routine and they all told me what works and what doesn’t. For example, one dog just wanted to poop on a walk rather than going in the backyard. And that’s fine! I just had to figure it out.
  4. Give them as much love as you can muster while you’re together. They appreciate it and will let you know.
  5. Don’t sweat little things like – some garbage from a bathroom garbage can spread around the entryway. Nothing was eaten and they clearly got excited. Or some pillow stuffing being pulled out. No dog is perfect.
  6. Get them outside. Whether it’s standing in the backyard or going for walks – outside time is great enrichment and a nice distraction. If you have to, create a routine where every 90 minutes you head outdoors.
  7. Be consistent each day you’re with them. If you show up at 4 p.m. for the evening then show up at 4 p.m., not 5 p.m. Dogs are creatures of habit and want to know you’re coming back so keeping the routine consistent helps.
  8. Spoil them. Play with puzzle toys and stuff peanut butter in kongs. Make them love every minute you’re with them.
  9. Talk to them throughout the visit. Especially cats. Tell them you missed them and make small talk so they get used to your voice AND smell.
  10. Take a ton of pictures from your visit. It sounds crazy but you’ll miss them after a super intense pet sit – all of a sudden on day 5 you’re back home and you’re not sure when you’ll see them again. It feels strange.

The most important lesson? Make sure they’re eating. If you have a picky eater, try an approved topper for their food. Eating is SUCH a basic essential that I found getting creative absolutely worth it and this is also a great topic to over off on with owners before they leave.

So this is for all the pet parents out there that leave their animals with a pet sitter. We love your animals like they are our own. But we’re also very happy when you return as we know how much your animals missed you! It is a privilege to take care of your munchkins.


There are 8 Comments

  1. These sound like great suggestions to keep pets from feeling anxious and sad while their families are away.

  2. Louanne says:

    This is a great article not just for us pet nannies but for the folks who entrust us with their fur kids. It is indeed an honor to be allowed to spend time with these guys and I am glad to hear than I am not the only one who can miss a critter after just a few days. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much! I had no idea how strange it would feel after the pet sit was over! After taking care of them for so many consecutive days and making sure all was well and then…. that’s it! 🙂 I was certainly happy to get back to my guys but I missed them and their sweet muzzles. Appreciate your comment.

  3. Lindsay says:

    Beautiful Weimeraner. 🙂 The pittie is also gorgeous.

    So you had a good time, eh? Anything more scheduled for the foreseeable future? Isn’t it crazy how much you miss them once your visits are over? I looked after 2 cats in a condo two doors down from me for three months straight and I legit missed the crap out of them when their owner finally came home from a long business trip.

    It’s incredible how much animals can teach us. Happy New Year Christy! Wishing you all the very best. 🙂

    • Oh Lindsay! I really appreciate you helping me get started. It was GREAT – kind of intense but overall pretty good. No incidents to report but some funny stories of course. Like when I walked in and garbage from the bathroom was spread around. I panicked! Then took a deep breath. I have two regular clients I see every week and then one of the longer sits is a client that travels a bunch – just like the cats you looked after! THREE MONTHS!!! OH my gosh – I would have felt the exact same way. Devastated and sad! Happy New Year to you! Thanks again so much for your words of wisdom… 🙂

  4. Jan K says:

    Pet sitting is not as easy as it sounds! You have learned a lot and it sounds like you’re great at it.
    I’ve probably told you I did it for a while, but it just wasn’t for me. The odd hours didn’t work for me, but most of all, I just worried about my charges too much when I wasn’t there! I probably worried almost as much as their parents….LOL. I don’t like leaving my own pets, and it was almost as bad leaving others!

    • Oh thank you so much! I TOTALLY get it. Especially as the pet sits went on past a few days – I felt terrible leaving them. 🙂 Honestly that was one of the hardest parts of the job. I felt this every time I left any client – it’s that LOOK they give you. And the odd hours felt funny during December, I had to get used to them. Especially the overnight sits. It isn’t what folks think!!