This may be a bit controversial, but we feel it needs to be said. With folks still working from home, the temptation to hold meetings, chat with friends and family or catch up on your social media while walking the dog is very high. But we’re begging you; please put your phone away while you’re walking your dog! We don’t allow our staff to use their phones while walking dogs for multiple reasons --all of them having to do with safety. Our jobs as pet sitters (and your job as guardians) is to keep your pets safe while in your hands. Your cell phone is a total attention sucker. There’s a reason why driving while holding a cell phone is now illegal in all 50 states. When you’re engaged with your cell phone, your attention is split and you aren’t fully engaged in either activity (chatting on the phone, driving, walking, etc.) And you may say, “I can multi-task”, sorry to say that multiple research studies debunk the myth of multitasking. You’re either doing one thing at a time well, or doing multiple things at the same time poorly.
The number one reason why we don’t allow our staff to talk on the phone is so they are alert to potential dangers while walking. Those same dangers we encounter, could happen to you too. Dangers such as cars backing out of a driveway, or pulling into a driveway, loose dogs, crazy cyclists, kids on skateboards on the sidewalk. If you’re engaged in conversation, you aren’t fully aware of these things and prepared to keep your dog safe.
Also, when your attention is focused on your phone, you’re not paying attention to what your dog is doing. Are they eating something they shouldn’t? Did they step in something? are they drinking fetid water from the gutter? We’ve seen people walking their dog so unaware of what their dog is doing that they didn’t stop to let the dog potty. Isn’t that the whole point of the walk?
The walk is time your dog has to bond with you and explore its environment. You’re together in this activity. Frankly, the walk is for the dog; not necessarily for the human. We’ve seen people so keen on speed walking, they don’t allow the dog to sniff or leave their mark on the neighborhood. Remember, you have the freedom to leave the house whenever you please. The walk is probably the only time your dog gets to leave the house and explore anything outside of its home.
The walk is mental stimulation for your dog, its exercise, it’s bonding time. Enjoy the outdoors with your dog. Take in the sights, the smells, the sounds. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of busy life. Learn from your dog. They are amazing teachers.
Professional Pet Sitters week may be over, but we always want to keep the conversation going about what it means to be a professional pet sitter; what you should expect from one and the advantages of hiring one. Let’s start with the definition of a pet sitter. In 1997, Patti Moran was successfully added “pet sitting” to the Random House Dictionary with the following definition “the act of caring for a pet in its own home while the owner is away”.
In a nutshell, that’s what we do best! Pet sitting includes the actual care the pet gets while their pet parent is away (feeding, giving medications, playing, etc), but it also includes dog walking as well “since it involves coming to the pet’s home to provide exercise and companionship." according to www.petsit.com.
So what does it mean to be a professional pet sitter? It means that we have chosen this as our career. We have dedicated ourselves to the betterment of our clients’ pets. And while a love for pets is a perfect way to start, it takes much more than that. There are so many things we need to learn and study to become the best professional pet sitters we can be (and the learning never ends).
We study animal behavior, best practices, the needs of different species of pets, signs to look for if something seems off, pet safety, personal safety, differences between various pet products/brands, plus the nitty gritty business and legal details. A professional pet sitter will dedicate themselves to excellence, continued education and great customer service. They will also be bonded, insured, have a local business license, client contracts, certifications in pet care/behavior/etc and have chosen pet sitting as their main job.
Ryan and I have taken our quest knowledge even further and have become Certified Professional Pet Sitters (CPPS) through Pet Sitters International (PSI). What does a CPPS entail? To “maintain the CPPS-Certified Professional Pet Sitter designation, pet sitters must:
What then should you expect from a professional pet sitter? A professional pet sitter will require a meet-and-greet before service begins so they can get to know you and your pet, as well as ensure they are the correct fit for your needs. Typically a meet-and-greet will last about an hour in which the sitter will ask many questions like, what is your pet's usual routine? What are they afraid of? Where does your cat hide? How is your dog on leash? What is your pet allergic to? How does your dog react to seeing other dogs on the walk? How do they react to loud noises? Any many more.
A professional sitter will also be willing and able so show any credentials they have such as business license, insurance, CPPS and more. And a professional sitter will also have a contract ready for you before the meet-and-greet or will be presented at the meeting.
This is the time for you to ask any questions you have and a professional sitter should be willing to answer any of them. We really want to form a relationship with you and your pet for many years to come, and we want you to be completely comfortable with us in your home and caring for your pets. You are entrusting us with some of your most precious things, your pets and your home and we take that very seriously.
What are the advantages of hiring a professional pet sitter? Including all the things above, a professional pet sitter provides peace of mind that your pet is in the best hands and will be cared for as you have instructed while you are away. If something were to go wrong, a professional pet sitter will immediately communicate with you and take necessary immediate action. A professional pet sitter will often go above and beyond for the pets they are caring for, simply because we love what we do!
Jennifer, CPPS has loved caring for animals since childhood, and she’s had quite a few throughout the years. From cats to dogs, to birds, hamsters, fish, guinea pigs, and even a horse; she’s had more four-legged family members than two legged ones!