Top 10 Essential Skills For Being a Successful Pet Sitter

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In this article, I’ll provide you with all the tools you need to become a successful pet sitter. I’ve used house and pet sitting websites almost exclusively over the last 2 years to extend and enhance my travel experiences, as I traverse the world as a digital nomad. I’ve learned a lot and had many amazing experiences so far.

Knowing how to get started can be a daunting concept, I remember it well! I have plenty of tips and advice for getting yourself on the pet sitting ladder. Once you’re up and running it’s also important to be great at it. Good, ideally 5-star, reviews are vital for securing future sits. All the skills you need to be a successful pet sitter will be outlined for you here.

What is a Pet Sitter?

pet sitting

Pet sitting is where you live in someone’s home for an agreed period, to ensure their pets (and sometimes plants!) maintain the same kind of lifestyle they’re used to enjoying with their family. It’s a terrific option for hosts too, as it means they save a fortune on kennel or cattery fees.

As a pet sitter, you’ll enjoy the comforts of a home (rather than a hotel room, or hostel), and the companionship of some wonderful pets. It’s a great way to explore areas on your must-visit list and have an enhanced, more in-depth traveling experience. And, you’ll save a ton of money on those expensive accommodation costs.

Requirements to Become a Successful Pet Sitter

sign up

Thousands of pet sitting listings are currently available but you won’t secure any by simply firing off a quick email. Here are a few of my top requirements that all potential pet sitters should consider before diving in head first.

Get signed up: I’ll cover this in more depth later, but first things first, get signed up on at least one pet sitting website. There are many great sites available that come with different prices and subsequent benefits. Trusted Housesitters is my go-to choice but as I said, much more on this to come.

SEE ALSO: How To Join Trusted House Sitters & Get Your First House Sitting Job

Be an animal lover: Perhaps the most obvious thing I’ll say in this post! Being an animal lover is pretty much a prerequisite for pet sitting. For the most part, animals often need a good amount of love and attention. Be sure this is something you’ll enjoy doing for an extended period.

Build an amazing profile: Whichever site you sign up with will have the facility to build a personal profile. This should demonstrate your best traits, experience, and reasons for wanting to pet sit. As you progress, aim to amass reviews so potential hosts can see why they should select you ahead of others.

Essential Skills to Become a Successful Pet Sitter

instructions pet sitting

As well as the all-encompassing requirements, there are also several essential skills pet sitters should possess. I’ll use my personal experiences to show why these skills listed below are essential for becoming a successful pet sitter.

1. Professionalism

During the majority of the pet sits I have completed, I’ve been made to feel at home and welcome, after all that’s part of the bonus of being a pet sitter. But it’s important to maintain an edge of professionalism around the task at hand. Always follow your host’s guidance, house rules, and pet instructions to a tee.

Hosts will generally leave a guidebook that has all the information pet sitters will need. Sometimes they provide these online via the pet sitting websites too. Pets are often routine animals and this is usually the reason why hosts opt to find a live-in pet sitter. Always remember first and foremost you are there to care for the pets, as instructed by your hosts.

2. Reliability

Accepting the role of a pet sitter comes with great responsibility. Someone else’s plans are at risk if a pet sitter bails out at the last minute or decides it’s not for them and leaves early. Being non-committal or flakey with a pet sit can mean bad reviews and the likelihood of not being accepted again for future sits.

I’ve heard from numerous hosts that pet sitters canceling last minute is one of the biggest problems they face. Only apply for sits you are certain you can do. Don’t apply before you’ve thoroughly researched the cost and ease of getting to the sit. Also, consider the length of time you’ll be allowed to stay in an area with your visa.

Having provisional plans in place can set you apart from other applicants. For example, being able to say ‘I am flying to Vietnam on April 1st, so your sit on the 3rd is perfect for me’, will look great as opposed to saying ‘Yeah, I guess I need to look at flights’.

3. Responsibility

trust pet sitting

Responsibility is a big requirement for becoming a successful pet sitter. You will have someone’s whole world under your care and being responsible in all situations is a vital requirement.

It’s not just the pet care where you need to demonstrate responsibility. Ensuring the home is secure whenever you leave, maintaining the weekly trash routine, keeping things clean, and watering plants are examples of things pet sitters need to take responsibility for. As any homeowner knows, things can and do go wrong; being alert and proactive in communicating with the host is a great skill to possess

Failing to show good levels of responsibility could lead to a bad review. Or worse, it could hamper your chances with future sitting possibilities.

4. Flexibility

A pet sitter will need to be flexible in terms of dates and exact locations but also when it comes to the situations they may find themselves in. Every listing can come with challenges and pet situations to deal with. Pet sitters must actively prepare to confidently meet these challenges.

If you’re hoping to use pet sitting to land holidays on your favorite beach or an exact location, maybe think again. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but being open to where you want to stay is vital if you wish to secure regular pet sitting postings. A degree of compromise on your location will go a long way.

I wanted to stay in Nashville, TN for a few months in 2022, ideally somewhere close to Broadway. Very few sits came up for exactly where I wanted to be and none matched my ideal dates. So I decided to apply for one short sit close to Broadway, and then a longer stay an easy 30-minute bus ride into town. It worked perfectly for me and I got to experience a cool new neighborhood too.

5. Sociability

Hosts generally like to have regular communication with their pet sitters. Not only during the sit in the form of updates on their beloved pets but also before and after. I’ve often been invited to stay days or even weeks before a sit starts to learn the ropes. If you’re so inclined, it’s a great way to extend and expand your experience in a new area.

My pet sitting postings have led to many long-term friendships around the world. I regularly stay in touch with people I’ve sat for and get updates on the pets I’ve taken care of. I’ve also been invited back as a pet sitter and a guest to a number of my previous sits.

Being open to new people and social situations is a great pet sitting skill to have. Even with a short handover period, most hosts will want to meet you, walk you through all the details personally, and keep in regular contact during your stay.

6. Awareness

visa application

For those who plan to use pet sitting as a means to travel internationally, be aware of your visa requirements. Trust me, every country has different visa time frames for tourists. Staying on top of, and strictly following the rules of a certain country’s visa requirements is vital.

Your government’s official website is usually a good resource and should provide all the info you need. I also use ivisa.com. It’s a handy website that guides you through the cost and process of a country’s visa requirements and application process. Just be aware, that sometimes applying for a visa is free but Ivisa.com charges to apply on your behalf.

7. Mobility Management

This is less of a skill requirement if you’re looking after cats, or probably the easiest of animals to pet sit for: the pet goldfish. But being a keen walker and having good mobility management is a key skill for dog sitting. The majority of dogs need 2 walks a day, so knowing your capabilities with distance, the terrain you’re capable of trekking, and the pace you can achieve is good to keep in mind.

Some dogs require lengthy 45-minute to 1-hour walks too, and I’ve stayed in some pretty hot places! Dog sitting in Tucson, AZ, and Durham, NC during the summer months springs to mind. Even on predominantly flat routes, I had some tough daily walks. If the listings suggest the dogs pull or are difficult on a lead, this should also factor into your physical considerations.

Being aware and honest about your physical capabilities will benefit both the sitter and the host from the get-go. If you have any physical concerns, be sure to raise them with the host during the application stage. Don’t lie and find yourself locked into a situation beyond your ability.

8. Organization

If you plan to travel extensively using pet sitting opportunities, you’ll need to plan and organize your diary well. As I mentioned in a previous point, being flexible with your dates can be a big help in landing a great pet sit. But, keeping a close eye on where you need to be and when is very important.

If you’re unable to make the agreed time and date for the pet sit, the hosts will likely look elsewhere at the last minute to avoid disrupting their plans. I’ve had hosts message me and want to change the dates after previously confirming them. This is usually only by a day or so, but by being organized and prepared for this, I’ve avoided possible complications.

As an example, when I arrived in Vietnam, I gave myself 2 whole days before my pet sit to get acclimatized and adjust to a new time zone. When I told the hosts I was doing this they invited me over 2 days early! It just gave me a comfortable buffer to arrive in good time and ensure I was there and ready for when the pet sit officially began.

9. Respect for Privacy

privacy

As a pet sitter, you’ll be living in someone’s home with all their worldly belongings and personal information. You’ll probably find many hosts will say ‘Make yourself at home, what’s ours is yours’, but this doesn’t mean you can snoop through the bedside drawers!

I always try to imagine where I would like the boundaries drawn if it were my home. This helps keep things in perspective and reminds me that it’s not a hotel stay, it’s someone’s home. If you have a few days with the host before the sit starts you can usually gauge what’s cool and what’s not.

A couple of my previous pet sits have thrown documents, private info, and general clutter in one room and told me I don’t need to go in there, which again is their right, and fair enough, that’s exactly what I would do. A host recently did this but forgot his driver’s license and another important folder, on this occasion, I was instructed to go snooping!

10. Adaptability

How to put this delicately? A pet sit might not always be as wonderful as a host describes in the listing. Or there may be additional things that crop up that they ‘forgot’ to mention before you arrived. Being able to adapt to these things is a vital skill to have if you want to be a successful pet sitter.

For the most part, pet sits have surpassed my expectations, the houses are often lovelier than the pictures show, and the pets are even more cuddly. But there’s been a few times where that hasn’t quite been the case. I’ve arrived at a very dirty house before where the dogs were young, frisky, and never sat still. Not the ‘delightfully charming little guys’ from the ad.

These situations required the ability to adapt quickly. As I’d committed to the pet sit, there wasn’t much I could do. I used it as an opportunity to push beyond my comfort boundaries, to learn, and to ensure I was more thorough and careful when applying moving forward.

How To Find Work as a Pet Sitter

dog sitting

It often surprises people when I tell them that there are thousands of pet sitting opportunities currently available online. It’s not just isolated to a few countries either, pet sitting is a global concept. Whether you’re dreaming of a stay in Italy, Costa Rica, or the UK, house sitting may be the key to making your trip possible.

Knowing where to find these sits and how to secure them is important information to know. Below, I’ve outlined a couple of my favorite pet sitting websites, and some top tips for landing them that I have learned along the way.

1. Trusted Housesitters

Hands down, the number one pet sitting site out there. Trusted Housesitters has more listings than pretty much every other similar website combined. A quick scan just now brought up 4,000 listings around the world looking for a pet sitter.

I use this site almost exclusively as I love the platform. It’s so easy to use and has great features such as being able to save searches and set alerts for places you want to go.

It’s also one of the few pet sitting websites that has an app and push notifications that help users to apply quickly for sits when they come up. Click here for your free house and pet-sitting roadmap and 20% off the membership fee with Trusted Housesitters.

2. Mind My House

It’s a great idea to have a couple of pet sitting platforms in your arsenal. Trusted Housesitters is my go-to but being the best means it’s also the most expensive with its membership starting at $129/year. A great second option is Mind My House, and at $29/year, it’s a super affordable option too.

Most hosts will only list their sit on one website, so the perfect opportunity for you may be elsewhere. Having a couple of options, especially when they’re as cheap as Mind My House, is the best way to get started as a pet sitter. Hosts join the site for free so they always have a healthy number of listings.

3. Build Your Profile

profile building

Your profile is the first thing that a potential host will view after reading your application. Most pet sitting platforms will allow you to fill your profile with as much information as you like. This can be in the form of written information, photos, reviews, and social media links. I encourage you to utilize this space to truthfully sell yourself as a pet sitter.

Something I did early on to build my profile was to apply for sits in my local area. It allowed me to quickly rack up 5-star reviews whilst still going to work and living my normal life. It showed future hosts that I could be trusted, was reliable, and did a good job caring for previous pets. This early legwork then led to many sits much further afield.

4. Send a Personal Application

When applying for a pet sit, don’t be tempted to copy and paste from a previous application. Many hosts have told me that they can spot generic applications a mile off – and that it’s a huge no-no. I’ve heard stories of applicants getting the pet names wrong, the type of pet wrong, and even talking about the wrong country!

Take a few extra minutes to personally apply for a sit and if possible, refer to things the host has mentioned in the listing. This shows an attention to detail and that you are genuinely interested in securing that post. You’ll stand apart from those who fire off dozens of generic applications just to see what sticks.

5. Be Committed

When you apply for a pet sit, be committed. By this, I don’t mean book your flight and taxi to the house before you’ve even sent the application, but in your mind, be prepared to be accepted. I always like to go in with travel research complete and plans confirmed in my mind. This shows the potential host that I am committed to taking on the role and responsibility.

Rather than saying in my application “I’m thinking of coming to North Carolina in early May”, I say ‘I’ve checked flights and I can land in North Carolina on 3rd May and would love to take on your pet sit two days later’. This commitment could nudge you ahead of another applicant.

How Much Do Successful Pet Sitters Make?

pet sitting free accomodation

A successful pet sitter doesn’t make much money, if any. It’s what you save on accommodation that makes it worthwhile. The real value comes from the experience of staying in a beautiful home, looking after some lovely pets, and visiting places that may never have been on your radar, for free.

My longest pet sit to date was 3-months in Durham, North Carolina. This was a beautiful house in a stunning neighborhood. It included the use of 2 cars, a bike, collection and drop off from the airport, and a fridge and pantry full of food. Now, imagine the cost of all that if I’d have paid for it, it would be thousands and thousands of dollars.

I’ve written extensively on my time in Durham, check out this previous article on Where to stay in Durham, NC.

Pros and Cons of Being a Pet Sitter

pet sitting cons

There are plenty of pros to being a successful pet sitter but as with anything, there are a few cons too. From my own experiences, I have outlined all the good and bad below;

Pros of Becoming a Pet Sitter

  • Bonding with Animals: If you love animals, pet sitting allows you to spend quality time with different pets; forming strong bonds with them whilst being able to enjoy all the benefits of traveling.
  • Building Relationships: You get to build relationships, not only with pets but also with their owners. I’ve made some lifelong friends along the way.
  • Good Exercise: Dog walking and outdoor playtime with pets provide an opportunity for physical activity, fresh air, and exploration.
  • Save Money: Pet sitting eliminates accommodation expenses and may allow you to travel further and for longer.
  • Seeing New Places: Pet sitting opportunities are available around the world. With no accommodation to pay for, countries you’ve always dreamed of visiting are much more affordable and accessible.
  • Enhanced Experience: Living somewhere, as opposed to simply passing through, increases the overall experience of travel. Longer sits have allowed me to become immersed in community projects and meet many friendly neighbors.
  • Enjoy Different Accommodation Types: Pet sitting brings with it a variety of different homes. You’ll see everything from high-rise apartments with a pool to sprawling desert ranches with land as far as the eye can see.

Cons of Becoming a Pet Sitter

  • Visa Restrictions: International pet sitters need to be careful with the length of time they can stay in a country. This may preclude listings that want a sitter for longer than a standard tourist visa will allow.
  • Adapting to New Environments: With a hotel, you always have a rough idea of what to expect. It’s different with a pet sit and you may need to adapt to hosts’ eclectic tastes and routines that might be a bit new to you or initially out of your comfort zone.
  • Pets Get Sick – It’s not always smooth sailing. If a pet in your care gets sick you need to be prepared to deal with it. Vet numbers are always given to you by the host and 24/7 vet care is included with most pet sitting memberships.
  • Competition: Beautiful homes in sought-after parts of the world are subject to very quick applications and fierce competition. You’ll need to be on the ball, apply quickly, and have an application and profile that stands out to be in the running.
  • Early Rising Pets: Some dogs, and cats for that matter, wake up very early. If you’re someone who likes to sleep in, this could be something to keep in mind.
  • Emotional Attachment: Looking after a pet for any length of time can cause close bonds and connections that can hurt when the time comes to move on. It can be very sad leaving pets you’ve looked after, unsure of whether you’ll see them again.
  • Physical Demands: A pet sitter can rack up the miles with daily dog walks. Know and be honest about any physical limitations you may have.

SEE ALSO: 15 Pros and Cons of House Sitting and Pet Sitting

How to Become a Successful Pet Sitter: FAQ’s

What qualifications do I need to be a successful pet sitter?

It’s easy to become a successful pet sitter without a degree or any formal qualifications. Most pet sitting websites are review-based and you’ll be able to provide a lot of information via your profile. By giving a thorough and honest account of yourself and your experiences, as well as the reasons for wanting to pet sit, you’ll be able to secure some great listings.

How do I become a successful pet sitter with no experience?

To become a successful pet sitter without any experience you should start small to ensure that pet sitting is something you’re capable of doing, and also something you’ll enjoy. I suggest finding a few shorter, easy sits to test the waters. Look closer to home so you’re not too far from your comfort zone. This will allow you to rack up a few 5-star reviews quickly.

Are successful pet sitters in demand?

Yes, successful pet sitters are in demand, there are currently thousands of hosts looking for pet sitters globally. Check out Trusted Housesitters and Mind My House, which are just two of several great pet sitting websites.

Is pet sitting a hard skill?

Pet sitting can be a hard skill, but for the most part, it’s something that pretty much anyone can do. Dog walking can be quite physically challenging, but there are always lots of sits that involve cats or minimal dog walking. Being open to new challenges and environments, as well as being adaptable to situations beyond your comfort zone are all great skills to have.

How much do beginner successful pet sitters make?

Pet sitting generally doesn’t involve an exchange of money. The financial benefit comes from the ability to travel with free accommodation. Successful pet sitters will also benefit from an enhanced experience of living in homes and neighborhoods that far surpass standard hotels or holiday rentals.

Is pet sitting a stable career?

As there isn’t generally any financial incentive to pet sitting, it would be difficult to look at it as a stable career option. There are certainly plenty of pet sitting opportunities to facilitate enhanced traveling opportunities. Thousands of people around the world are currently looking for pet sitters.

To become a professional pet sitter you’ll need to first build a very healthy profile via one of the pet sitting websites available. Perhaps then you could look to branch out via a personal website and business, setting fees for your services as an experienced and highly sought-after pet sitter.

What skills do you need for pet sitting?

Pet sitting requires of number of skills. A few of the key ones include: Responsibility – being able to take excellent care of someone’s pets and home. Adaptability – being open to new challenges and situations that are perhaps outside of your comfort zone. Reliability – a dependable pet sitter won’t have any problems securing sits.

What are the roles and responsibilities of a pet sitter?

The roles and responsibilities of a pet sitter can vary from sit to sit. It could be as simple as letting the cat in and out a few times a day to several long dog walks and 4 horses to muck out each day. All the requirements of a pet sitter are outlined in the host’s listing. Potential pet sitters can always see what’s involved before applying.

What do you need to be a pet sitter in the UK?

It’s fairly easy to become a freelance pet sitter without any experience in the UK. Find the right pet sitting website for you, and start building your profile – I highly recommend Trusted Housesitters. Take on a few easy local sits to build your reviews, keep your profile updated, and write prompt and personal applications when you see a sit you like the look of.

In Conclusion

Pet sitting has been a real game-changer in my life. It’s allowed me to fulfill my dreams of traveling extensively and living for years as a digital nomad all around the world. I’ve met some amazing people, sat for some truly fabulous pets, and had experiences I simply wouldn’t have had any other way.

With so many listings available, there’s a house sit to suit everyone’s idea of travel. Whether it’s a quiet country retreat with a lively dog or a cool city apartment with a lazy cat. I’m always encouraging people to get signed up and start applying. It’s a great way to save a fortune on accommodation costs and to see even more of the world.

If you like the sound of it, what are you waiting for? Get yourself on the road to being a successful pet sitter today.

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Written by

Hannah Bull

Hannah gave up her corporate career in marketing and PR to fulfill a lifelong dream of traveling the world. As a keen seeker of new horizons, Hannah now lives permanently ‘on-the-road’ as a digital nomad, freelancing occasionally as a content and PR specialist.

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