Sometimes our pet sitting clients call with “strange” requests. After the request is made it is followed up by “I’m so sorry to have to ask you to do that.” Or “Sorry for making such a strange request”.
To that I say, “Don’t worry about it! No request is too strange for us :)”
An example of some recent requests we’ve had are:
Our house is on the market…could you please make sure the litter box is cleaned after every visit? And spray Febreeze in the litter box area and surrounding area?
Our kitty is misbehaving and peeing, vomiting and pooping in strange places. Can you please check all rooms, even the ones with the doors closed?
Can you please leave the dog in his crate during the day, but allow him free reign at night?
If there are accidents in the house, can you clean it up the best you can and “leave a square” on the spot so I know where to steam clean?
I’m expecting an important package, can you please text me when it arrives?
I’m going out of town, but don’t want my puppy to miss a training session. Can you please take him to obedience class?
Our trip is so last minute, I don’t have enough time pick up more dog food. Can you pick up a bag for us and we’ll reimburse you?
Our dog piddles in excitement when we first come home. Please don’t acknowledge him when you first arrive. Just walk out in the backyard with him so if he does piddle it’s not in the house.
Do you think any of these requests are strange? I don’t! EVERY family is different. We embrace the differences in each household and are happy to accommodate in any way we can. Don’t be afraid to make those “strange” requests with your pet sitter. They should be more than willing to handle your requests as long as it doesn’t cause harm to anyone or any pet.
What are some “strange” requests you’ve made of your pet sitter?
The 4th of July is a popular holiday for pet sitting in Mesa, AZ. Many of our clients want to get out of the heat to enjoy festivities, which means leaving the state or traveling to a town in the northern part of Arizona. As pet sitters, it is our job to ensure the safety of our client’s pets during this time. Our actions change a little, as do the temperaments of our 4-legged clients.
The mind of a dog during 4th of July festivities:
OMG, OMG, OMG…what was that noise? I’ve never heard that before.
The sky is falling, the sky is falling…hurry, run away and take cover.
If I bark at it, it will go away, right? BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK….
I’m not sure what’s happening right now, but I’m sure if I start drooling everything will be ok.
Mommy, hold me! This is FREAKIN me out!
If your pets are anything like mine, they get really nervous when they hear loud noises. Mostly because this isn’t a part of their normal, everyday life. My dogs will bark, pace, drool, jump in my lap and just generally become very nervous. Here are some precautions we take with our client’s pets on the 4th of July to ensure their safety:
If they have a doggy door, we will close the doggy door before it gets dark. This way they don’t have access to the backyard where they could dig out, jump the fence or bark obnoxiously at the loud noises. Kitty cats are also brought inside (if they are allowed outside) and kept inside for the night.
We will turn the tv or radio on at a higher than normal volume to try and drown out the noise of neighborhood fireworks.
We exercise them more than usual to try and wear them out before we leave them.
If we are spending the night with them, we make sure we are at the home before the sun goes down. Again we make sure the doggy door is closed and turn up some music or the tv to distract them.
We certainly make sure we visit them early the next morning to make sure they are safe and sound.
It’s your turn. What do you do to calm your dog and keep your pets safe during the 4th of July?
We get this call on more occasions that I would like to admit. A pet owner is at their wits end because they had family ready to care for their pets while they are gone and the family ended up bailing on them. Now they are in desperate need to find a professional pet sitter….FAST!
Our latest one was last week. We got a call from a pet parent who was ALREADY out of town. The In-Laws agreed to watch their dogs while they were gone, then all of a sudden, call them to say they are taking a trip to Sedona and are leaving before they arrive back home. REALLY! You KNOW I’m not going to be home until Thursday!!! What am I supposed to do?
That’s when the frantic call comes in.
PTPC: “Thank you for calling Play Time Pet Care. This is Jenna. How can I help you?”
Client: “I am in desperate need of help with my 2 dogs. My in-laws are caring for them right now, but have decided they wanted to take a trip to Sedona and have left me with no care for my dogs. I won’t be home until Thursday and my in-laws want to leave tomorrow. Is there anyway you can help me?”
PTPC: “Well, it just so happens that I have a sitter with availability that lives near you. Her name is Paige. She will need to meet with your in-laws and the dogs before they leave. Can we schedule a meet and greet directly with your in-laws?”
Client: “Oh thank God! You have no idea how much this is going to help me. I just can’t BELIEVE they have the audacity to take this trip when they KNOW I won’t be home until Thursday. I am so frustrated with them right now it’s unbelieveable. I would actually like to schedule the meet and greet with them because they have been so flakey, I just want to make sure they understand they need to be there.”
PTPC: “Ok. I’ll have Paige contact you directly and you guys can work out the meet and greet details. I’m so sorry you are experiencing this. I can only imagine how upset you must be.”
Paige and I never actually met the pet parent, but through detailed updates with pictures and constant communication we were able to put mom’s mind at ease. Check out the review she left on our Google page:
“Jenna and Paige were super to work with. The updates at every visit put our minds at ease. We will definitely be calling them whenever we go out of town!!“
I know it’s the cheap and easy way to ask your family/friends/neighbors to watch your pets while you are away. However, looking at the big picture, considering the worse case scenario, it is way better to hire a professional than to go through the grief this client went through before she found us. You may be thinking, “My family would NEVER do this to me.” That’s great…until they do it to you. This is only one of many stories I could share with you. Think twice before burdening family, friends or neighbors with the care of your beloved pets.
Our overnight pet sitters are one of the most requested services we provide. Pet parents like the option of overnight pet sitters because their pet’s are used to having someone home at night to sleep with or spend time with. Whether it is a luxury or necessity is up to you to decide.
What goes on during an overnight pet sit? A sitter arrives by 8:00 pm and leaves by 8:00 am the following morning. Your pet gets one on one attention for the entire time your sitter is there. We focus on play time, belly rubs, fresh food and water and cuddle time. If your pet is used to sleeping with you, our sitters are happy to cuddle with your babies as well.
The beauty of choosing an overnight pet sitter is your pets are well adjusted when you get home. It’s really as if you never left! The pets that get the most enjoyment out of an overnight pet sitter are seniors, puppies and little breeds. They LOVE the attention and the warmth our sitters provide.
Here is a checklist to see if you would make a good candidate for hiring an overnight pet sitter:
Do you talk baby talk to your pets?
Do you like to snuggle wuggle with your pets?
Do you allow your pets to sleep with you?
Are they used to having someone at home at night with them?
Do you feel more comfortable knowing your pet will have someone with them all night?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions…you would make the PERFECT overnight pet sitter candidate 🙂
While dog sitting in Mesa AZ, I occasionally get inquiries from pet parents who are looking for just one visit per day. The pet parent explains that their pet only eats once per day so they only request one dog sitting visit per day. There are many reasons why your pet needs multiple visits per day (at least 2), while you are on vacation or business trip.
Social creatures long for companionship
They get bored
They get anxious when they haven’t seen their human (or any other) for long periods of time
Pets thrive on routine
Pet safety and home safety
Dogs are very social creatures and thrive on the companionship of their humans. When dogs are used to seeing their human in the morning and evening, they get stressed when they wake up and no one is around. Even if you have a shy or timid dog, having a sitter visit more often will help that shy or timid dog warm up to the sitter quicker and the faster the sitter will be able to play with and exercise your dog so they don’t feel anxious or abandoned.
You never know what they will get into when left alone for long periods of time. A visit in the morning and evening will help quickly assess whether your pet requires medical attention. See pictures below. Multiple visits per day will allow your sitter the opportunity to assess the situation and clean up the mess so your dog doesn’t have another opportunity to ingest something they shouldn’t.
The images below are dogs who “Never get into trouble or harm themselves when we are away.” This goes to show that you never know what your dog is going to do when left alone for long periods of time.
The one wearing socks chewed his legs raw because he was anxious that mom and dad were away.
The other is two dogs that got into the treat stash mom had in her closet. One was so sick she had to have rice and chicken for breakfast and lunch to alleviate the diarrhea. YES, the sitter cooked chicken and rice for the dogs to help make them feel better 🙂
If your dog doesn’t have a doggy door, THREE visits per day is optimal. This way they get their breakfast, mid day potty break and dinner. Did you know that exercise and walks are included in our pricing structure?
If your dog is crated during your absence, AT LEAST THREE visits per day are REQUIRED. Pets should never be left alone in a crate for more than 8 hours at a time. Puppies even less! Your dog needs to have ample time out of their crate to play, stretch and exercise. Your pet should ALWAYS have access to water. Which means they need a water dish in their crate and will need to go potty. Dogs that have been crate trained will not want to eliminate in their crate and it adds additional stress to your pet when they have to hold their bladder for long periods of time.
The optimal schedule for a dog that is crated during your absence is this:
AM – Breakfast, potty & play time
Afternoon – Potty & play time
PM – Dinner, potty and play time
Bed Time Tuck – in – Last potty break for the night and play time.
The bed time tuck in is scheduled after 8 pm and offers your pet an opportunity to go potty and get ready for bed and their time in the crate overnight. Your sitter will arrive early the next morning for their breakfast visit allowing for less than 12 hours alone in their crate.
I talk to pet parents every day. Sometimes I talk to pet parents who have used pet sitters before and were disappointed in the service. Once I ask discovery questions to better understand why they were disappointed, 9 times out of 10, I find out the pet parents weren’t using a PROFESSIONAL PET SITTER. Their “pet sitter” was a hobby sitter.
What is a hobby pet sitter?
A hobby pet sitter is someone who doesn’t care for pets on a full time basis. Someone who may love pets, but doesn’t make it a priority. The most common hobby pet sitter is a teenager…the kid that lives down the street.
How do people find hobby pet sitters?
The most common places you will find hobby pet sitters are Craigslist, Care.com, Sittercity.com, Petgigs.com just to name a few. Check out this ad from one of the mentioned sitter websites:
My name is (removed for protection), I’m actually 14, I’m very honest and u can trust me with your pets, I love animals of almost all kinds , I’m not looking for a crazy large pay, and there a variaty of things I’ll do for your pets for even 5 Bucks Like I’ve said I love animal.I have a few myself.
Can you predict the problems you would have if you hired this person?
What are the top complaints about hobby pet sitters?
The top 2 complaints I hear from my clients is:
I came home and found a several piles of poo and urine stains throughout the house.
I never heard from the sitter and assumed everything was ok.
These clients wondered if their pet sitter ever actually came. And if they did come, why didn’t they clean up the mess?
Never hearing from your “pet sitter” may be a good thing, it may be a bad thing. But wouldn’t you want to hear from your sitter…just for a little peace of mind?
How is a Professional Pet Sitter different?
A professional pet sitter would certainly clean up any messes that were made in the house. They would also communicate their findings with the pet parent. Maybe the pet needs more visits, or the timing of the visits needs to be adjusted. A professional pet sitter will have no problem communicating with the pet parent daily, even if it’s just to let the parents know everything is okay and to share a cute picture.
I’ve talked to and gained 2 new clients in one week who had similar experiences from different “sitters”. Unfortunately for hobby sitters, this happens more often than you’d think. In the long run, it’s better to hire a professional pet sitter from the start. It will save you heartache, stress and time finding a new sitter after the hobby sitter let you down.
How do you find a professional pet sitter?
There are several ways to find a trusted, professional pet sitter.
Ask your vet, groomer or pet supply store for a referral.
Google “pet sitters (your town)”
Check out the top 3 sitters who show up on Google and review their website, find them on social media outlets like Facebook and Google +
Check review sites
Have you ever had a bad experience with a hobby sitter? Share your stories with us…
Guest Blogger – Starla Clark – Vet Tech/Pet Sitter Extraordinaire
As a Play Time Pet Care pet sitter I am of course a bit biased when it comes to in home care for pets. As a long time veterinary technician I feel I have experience to back my biases.
Overall I think pets do best when they are able to stick as close to their routine as possible. This being especially true for a cat which I believe always does best in its own home. For me the biggest concern is the trust you have with the person doing this care. Having been in the veterinary field for so many years and seeing things that go terribly wrong, I became very selective about care for my own pets. This is the number one reason I decided to accept pet sitting clients from Play Time Pet Care, and also use them for the care of my own animals…TRUST. Jenna has carefully created a business that is held to high standards and limits potential problems.
While keeping pets in their own environment may be the ideal situation there are times this is just not feasible. I have two large dogs that are prone to disagreements between themselves and cannot be left at home unattended. Play Time Pet Care does offer live in services but I generally elect to use a boarding facility for one of my temperamental dogs while away.
When looking for a boarding facility be certain to see where your pet will actually stay. There may be times that the area is unavailable for viewing but never except that you cannot actually see the kennel. Many kennels sound terrific on paper but fall sadly short when actually viewed.
When touring a facility:
1. Look for where the dogs are taken to relieve themselves (do they have grass, dirt, cement, etc.)
2. Temperature control in the area they stay (do they have any, is it swamp cooled or air conditioned)
3. Ability to escape the gaze of other dogs (to reduce anxiety and possible fighting)
4. Overall care of other boarders
A kennel that requires documentation for current vaccines and negative stool samples is generally a higher quality kennel looking out for the best health of your pet. While not guaranteeing your pet will return free of parasites or viruses, it does generally indicate a higher caliber of pet owners and pet health of the boarders. The same goes for doggy day care.
Many kennels allow dogs to exercise or be cared for in a “cage free” environment. This is an area I have seen countless times go bad. Dogs are usually stressed in a new situation and may not behave as expected. It’s hard to predict which dogs will get along and an ever present pecking order just causes more stress to an already anxious pet. Be sure to tour these facilities as well and ask them how they handle dog disputes. If their answer is to throw food all over to distract them, that is a HUGE red flag. Talk about creating another issue between possible food aggressive animals. Ask them what they do to protect your dog during sleeping hours. Is the night shift allowed to sleep? If they sleep, where do they sleep and can they get to, or even hear, a problem as it’s arising?
Do your research. You will enjoy your time away from home more thoroughly knowing your pet is well cared for. You can trust that if left in the hands of a Play Time Pet Care pet sitter, your pet will be treated as if it were their own.
Play Time Pet Care offers many options for pet care. From once daily visits to complete live in care and many choices in between!
Your Mesa pet sitter offers tips on how to keep your home safe while you are on vacation. Pet sitters at Play Time Pet Care take our jobs very seriously. Not only are we responsible for caring for your pets as you would when you are not home we also look after your home. We got some tips from our insurance agency so we knew what to do to make your home appear lived in even when you are not there.
Here are some questions that were asked of an ex burglar and his answers to each.
FACT: According to the Insurance Information Institute, the majority of home break-ins occur during the prime vacation months of July and August.*
Q: What’s the first thing you do to get inside?
A: “I head straight for the front door. I always knock, just in case. If you’re home, I’ll ask for directions or make up some other excuse. If you’re not, I’ll try to pick your lock. If you want me to avoid your house, make it look like someone’s home. Turn up the TV or radio. Park a car in the driveway.”
FACT: According to a survey of convicted burglars, 70% prefer to use the front door.**
Q: What about doors and door locks?
A: “I pick whatever takes the least time. So if I see a double lock, especially with a dead bolt, I’ll skip the house and move on to one with a single lock. A flimsy door that’s not hardwood or metal is a piece of cake to get into. I can kick the door down.”
FACT: According to the FBI, a burglary occurs every 14.6 seconds in the U.S.***
Q: If I have a sign that says “Beware of Dog,” will that stop you?
A: “That’s a giveaway that you don’t have an alarm system, so boom! I’m in. Besides, it tells me there might be a doggie door in the back of the house. I’ve gotten in that way a hundred times.”
FACT: A Rutgers University study scientifically proved that 30-40% of burglars tend to avoid homes with burglar alarm systems.****
Q: What if I come home while you’re inside?
A: “There’s an old trick. I put a bottle or broomstick on the handle of the front door. If the bottle breaks or the broom drops, I know you’ve come home.”
Q: So what do you go for first on the inside?
A: “The small, high-ticket stuff—jewelry, credit cards, keys—the grab-and-run items. I look for bank statements because they tell me about your habits, and the better I know you, the better my chances for a heist. I’m also sizing up the bigger stuff you have. When it looks like the coast is clear again, I’ll be back for the TV, computers and antiques.”
FACT: If you’ve had the misfortune of being robbed once, your chance of being robbed again is higher.†
Q: Do burglars ever hit the same house twice?
A: “You bet, especially if you don’t get your locks changed right away. When people come home after a burglary and the house is a complete wreck, the last thing they think about is their keys. People are more worried about the expensive or sentimental stuff that’s missing. I take the keys, and after a few days, I come back because odds are the locks haven’t been changed yet.”
With all that being said:
Leaving the radio or tv on isn’t necessarily for your pets entertainment. Although they may get a kick out of it, or not care at all, it may be the one thing that will save your home from being robbed.
A good burglar will know how to handle a dog and will probably befriend them while they are taking your personal belongings, so lock up the dog door and have your sitter come more often. It’s cheaper in the long run.
Whether you have an alarm system or not, it’s a good idea to put an alarm companies stickers or yard signs by your front door.
Don’t make your home an easy target!
* usatoday.com; iii.org
†† crimestoppers-uk.org; fnnc.org; easier.com
Guest Blogger – Starla Clark – Pet Sitter Extraordinaire
Ever struggle with getting your cat into a carrier and out the door? As your professional Mesa pet sitters we are often asked to transport pets to vet appointments, groomers and day care.
Most anyone who is owned by a cat knows the secret telepathy that a cat possesses in regards to that scheduled appointment to the veterinarian, groomer or other time specific date. Many a cat is nowhere to be found when it comes time to load up into the car or if found, refuses to cooperate with the plan.
Cats are often not seen by a Veterinarian because the pet parents don’t know HOW to get that darn cat in their carrier. Starla has offered a few tips to help with transporting your furry friend.
Be certain to have a sturdy carrier in which to transport your pet. Plastic carriers are generally the safest, but a cardboard style carrier can also work fine for a normal weight, non-escapee variety of cat. If using cardboard, check to be sure it has been correctly assembled. You don’t want to lift kitty only to have him fall out of the bottom.
- Always confine your cat in something for the ride, even a pillowcase will work in a pinch. The most docile cat can exhibit super cat strength and escape your hold when being transported to an unfamiliar place.
- When attempting to collect your cat to put into the appropriate carrier, be sure to have the cat contained first before bringing out the carrier. Many cats are very effective hiders when they spot that carrier first.