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.
- 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”.
- 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
- 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.
- Give them as much love as you can muster while you’re together. They appreciate it and will let you know.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Spoil them. Play with puzzle toys and stuff peanut butter in kongs. Make them love every minute you’re with them.
- 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.
- 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.