A few days ago, I posted some items that professional pet sitters and dog walkers wanted their clients to know. The feedback has been wonderful and the suggestions from my fellow colleagues kept pouring in, so today we have part 2 of the series!
Once again, all the comments and quotes will be kept confidential. The purpose of this is to inform the customer of items they may not be aware of when dealing with a pet sitter or dog walker. I was once a customer, and I can tell you that I did not fully understand many of these points until I became a professional.
As many of my colleagues have pointed out, any one of these points could be a post all by themselves, so realize that this is just a high-level overview. It is not by any means a fully comprehensive document.
Listen to us:
“Chances are your sitter/walker know a thing or two that about what they are trying to help you understand, it’s for the better of all they are having this conversation if they have they time to bring it up…try to at least half way pay attention….”
As I mentioned in the previous post, professional pet sitters and dog walkers undergo a significant amount of training and education. Many of us are continually watching webinars, attending seminars and reading anything we can about pet care. Many have experience working in veterinarians offices or volunteering with rescues and animal welfare organizations. All of this experience comes together in a unique way and allows your pet sitter and dog walker to recognize potential problems before they are significant.
It is not an easy conversation with a pet parent when a pet sitter has a concern, but it is a conversation that sometimes needs to happen. If your pet sitter or dog walker are addressing an issue with you, whether it is long nails on your dog, behavior issues or feeding instructions, understand that they love your pet and feel responsible to share with their knowledge. Listen to what we have to say, even if you don’t follow our advice, you will have more information and your pet sitter/dog walker will feel respected and heard.
Flea and Tick Prevention
“In my neck of the woods flea/tick/heartworm prevention is 100% necessary for all dogs and cats whether they’re inside only or not”
Every dog and cat needs protection from fleas, ticks, and heartworms, even indoor cats and dogs. All three can cause significant illness and discomfort for your animal. In addition, as professional pet sitters and dog walkers, we are in and out of several homes a day. If your dog gets fleas, and we are not aware of it, we may unknowingly transmit fleas to another home, or our home!
Fleas and ticks both carry diseases and health risks with them. I will have another upcoming post on the dangers of these in the next few weeks, but for now, know that every cat and dog needs flea, tick and heartworm prevention. Why wouldn’t you protect your pets? Typically, the prevention is an oral medication given once a month, or a liquid that is applied to their backs once a month and it saves your pet and yourself from future heartache.
Do your research before you bring your pet home
“Research breed knowledge and acknowledge the breed traits one has….”, “Even though each breed has its specific traits, they can be different also.”
Before you bring home that cute kitten or puppy-do your research. Every breed is different, and as such, they have very different feeding, exercise and attention requirements. Some breeds are not great with children, some require a lot of attention and exercise, some want to be left alone. Knowing what your lifestyle is, what you can realistically offer your pet, and what you want in a pet helps you to find a pet that is suited for your family.
If your pet sitter or dog walker has been with you for a while, talk with them and listen to their viewpoints on breeds that may fit with your family. We care about our client’s families as much as their pets and they want to help you find the best pet for you.
That said, we also need you to realize that while certain breeds have specific characteristics, every dog is an individual with their own personality quirks and temperaments.
When you see us with another dog:
“When we are at an on-leash area I don’t care that your off-leash dog is friendly, mine doesn’t want your dog in her face. No, I am not being mean by having her on a leash- that’s why we are at an on-leash area. Please be kind, do the same and respect everyone’s boundaries”
Every dog is different. They have different temperaments, different past experiences and different social skills. Often when we do an assessment, a family will share with us that the dog we will be walking has issues with other people or dogs. This can be a fear reaction, a past traumatic experience or simply that the dog is learning not to be so excitable. We do our best to keep our staff and the pets in our care safe. For that reason, many of us do not let dogs in our care off leash, and when we do, we are very selective about which dogs we will allow off leash. Please do not allow your off-leash dog to approach our dog who is on a leash- while your dog may be friendly, ours may be stressed and it can cause additional stress and anxiety to the dog we are walking.
Just be honest with us:
“I don’t need your dog to be perfect, but I do need you, to be honest! Please don’t say ‘no she has never bitten’ if she has. I need to know all the information!”, “Sometimes with vacation clients…. we may only see the Pet(s) 2-3 times a year. Sometimes less…. so, their health can change. Let your pet sitter know when you book the sit that Fido hasn’t been feeling well. And give specifics. Or Spot was diagnosed with cancer and we’ve opted out of treatment…”
As professionals, we understand that every pet has a past that may affect them. When we ask about things like a bite history, things that scare your pet, it is so we can properly assess them. A bite history does not necessarily preclude your dog from being a client, but we need to look more closely at it. We need to understand what happened, how to prevent it and how we can keep your pet, our staff, and other pets/people safe. That may mean that we need to carefully select which staff will walk your pet, finds routes that will avoid triggers or request a special leash, muzzle or harness. We cannot do our jobs if you are not completely honest with us.
On the same note, keep us updated on your pet’s health status and any changes. If you notice a behavioral or physical change, please keep your professional dog walker or pet sitter updated. It helps us know what to look for, we may have experience in that area or suggestions that are helpful. We understand that pets react differently when they do not feel well, and we will alter our routine or approach if needed.
A few other items:
“A good broom and dustpan is a worthy investment. Telling your pet sitter where you hide them is priceless.”, “the pets are not human.”, “Have an emergency plan in place with your Vet and an emergency clinic! Most of the time our visits are outside of vet office hours. And, these days…. most vets won’t see your pet without payment that day.”
Oftentimes your pet sitter or dog walker is with your pets outside of normal vet hours, when an emergency happens, it can be difficult to get treatment from a. vet without a signed consent from the owner but check with your vet and local emergency animal hospital. Some will require that you complete their forms, keep a credit card on file or notify them ahead of time. Keep us updated on your emergency plan.
We ask a lot of questions, we are aware of that. Sometimes, clients wonder why we need to know where you keep cleaning supplies, brooms, vacuums, etc. We are not judging your housekeeping- quite the opposite. We want to make sure that we have the ability to clean up any mess we walk in and allow you to return to a clean home. We also want to respect your privacy and are not always comfortable opening closets and going through people’s homes to find what we need. By showing us exactly where you keep your items, we can quickly find them, and clean up the mess. This allows us more time with your pet.
That’s it! Part 2 is in the books! The most important things to remember are that you should be in partnership with your pet sitter or dog walker. Communication, listening, and transparency is key for all parties involved. When that happens, we can provide you with the absolute best service possible!
One more thing, as a side note. If one of our staff has done something that you are unhappy with, please contact us. We do our best to screen and train staff, but we want to know if there is an issue, so we can address it. Whether it seems minor or not, we really do want to know! Happy Walking!