Have you ever had a pet sitter that didn’t show up? I’m sure you’ve at least heard of pet sitting stories where they forgot to come or their qualifications turned out to be less than appropriate. In this article we are going to discuss some of the signs of a bad pet sitter so that you can ensure your pet is safe next time you leave them in the care of someone else.
Here are the tell-tale signs of a bad pet sitter:
- Your pet’s feeding area is messy
- Your pet is having frequent ‘accidents’ inside your home
- Your pet sitter has a lack of respect for your property
- Your pet has unexplained injuries
- Your pet is increasingly scared or hostile
- Your pet shows evidence of lack of supervision (being left outside too long)
- Your pet is thirstier than normal
- Your pet refuses to eat their regular food
- Your pet eats everything in sight and/or their food very fast
- Your pet has an insane amount of energy when you come home
- Your pet has separation anxiety and/or refuses to leave your side
- Your pet has changes in its behaviour
- Your pet doesn’t greet the pet sitter when they come in (or hides)
- Your pet’s food bag remains full or unopened
- Your pet sitter provides untimely responses to phone calls and messages
- Your pet sitter doesn’t provide a free meet and greet
- Your pet sitter lacks credibility
Your dog/cat’s feeding area is messy
A mess in your pet’s feeding area shows a lack of care from your pet sitter that you would expect. Are you continually noticing dirty water bowls? Would you want to be drinking water that looks like it has been sitting for days? Or filled with hairs and/or dog food?
What about the food bowl? If your pet sitter doesn’t show enough care to clean up the spare pieces of food that your pet has kicked around on the floor, what does that say for the level of overall care they are showing your pet and their home? An unsanitary feeding area for your dog can quickly become a new home for bugs and disgusting smells.
Your dog is having frequent ‘accidents’ inside your home
Do you continuously come home to carpet stains, or troublesome odors? This is often a sign that your pet hasn’t received a regular potty break or that they were neglected for too long. Symptoms that this is the case with your dog include scratch marks on doors (from trying to attract attention that they need to go outside), as well as the previously mentioned stains and odors.
When cats are unable to access their litter box, or it is unkept, will seek out alternative areas to relieve themselves.
On top of the obvious, regular cleaning duties that result of your pet having accidents inside, it can also lead to bladder and behavioural issues if left unresolved.
Your pet sitter has a lack of respect for your property
If you can’t trust your pet sitter to care for your things while you’re away then they shouldn’t be looking after your pet. If you consistently find that your pet sitter doesn’t respect your rules for taking off their shoes, not inviting other guests into your home it doesn’t bode well for the long-term relationship for both you and your pet. Chances are, if they aren’t respecting your property, they also aren’t respecting your furry best friend — and after all that’s what you’re paying for!
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Your pet has unexplained injuries
Animals are curious creatures by nature. They are bound to get a few bumps and bruises along the way. However, if your pet sitter can’t articulate why your dog/cat is limping or has a cut sustained while under their care, this is a sure-fire way to identify that you need to hire a new pet sitter.
Your pet is increasingly scared or hostile
It kind of goes without saying, but we are going to say it anyways. Your pet should get along with your pet sitter! If your pet suddenly shows a pattern of fear or hostility towards you, it’s potentially an indication that your hired help is abusing your pet.
Pet sitters should be making your life easier, making your pet act as if you never left. If that’s not the case, find a new one ASAP!
Your pet shows evidence of lack of supervision (being left outside too long)
Do you come home from a long day of work only to find holes have been dug in your backyard or a destroyed garden? These are more signs that your pet has been on the loose without proper supervision/stimulation from a human presence and they’ve instead resorted to their own devices.
If this type of behaviour is especially uncommon for your pet, you’ll want to raise it with your pet sitter and make sure they aren’t leaving your pet outside for too long. If the activity continues, you’ve found yourself a bad pet sitter. Move on accordingly!
Your pet is thirstier than normal
Is your pet (uncharacteristically) drinking from the toilet bowl? Or downing a full bowl of water before you’ve even got a chance to set it down on the ground?
Both may be signs that your pet isn’t receiving adequate hydration while you’re away. If you’re dog exhibits signs of reduced appetite, lethargy, excessive panting, sunken eyes, dry nose and gums, or low skin elasticity there is a chance they are dehydrated.
Obviously, if your pet sitter is causing your pet to incur illness they are costing you more money and putting your dog’s health at risk.
Your pet refuses to eat their regular food
Has your pet gotten a bit snobbier with their diet lately? It could be due to your pet sitter overfeeding them with treats while you’re away. Obviously treats are meant to be a way to reward good behaviour, but if it comes at the expense of their regular nutrition you will want to cut out this behavior as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’ll be soon be owner to a picky, overweight pet.
Your pet eats everything in sight and/or their food very fast
If your pet is gobbling up an entire bowl of food in record time, it can be a sign that your pet sitter is underfeeding them and/or spacing meals too far apart. Often times this can be due to miscommunication between the owner and pet sitter on the feeding schedule. However, if it becomes a regular occurrence it may be due to negligence on the pet sitter’s part and should be dealt with swiftly.
Your pet has an insane amount of energy when you come home
Typically, pet sitters are there to stimulate and exercise your pet while you can’t be there to do it yourself. If this isn’t the case, you may notice your pet bouncing off the walls because it’s expecting to receive the adequate exercise you expected your pet sitter to provide.
We suggest you provide your pet sitter with effective ways to handle your high-energy dog while you’re away. If you continue to come home to a dog that goes bezerk, seek out a new pet sitter that is capable of keeping your high-energy pet busy.
Your pet has separation anxiety and/or refuses to leave your side
Piggy backing off of the previous sign of a bad pet sitter, if your furry best friend refuses to leave your side, this may be another indicator that you should find new help.
Cats and dogs require certain levels of mental and physical stimulation and they may cry when you leave or refuse to leave your side when you’re there. Chances are they recognize that you are their only source of attention and are clinging on to you because they know they are in for a period of low activity once you do leave.
Your pet has changes in its behaviour
Is your affectionate pet suddenly weary of strangers? Or no longer adheres to a routine that they’ve had for years? This can be an indicator that your pet sitter is altering their usual routine or environment. If you feel that this is negatively impacting both you and your pet’s quality of life be sure to bring it to the pet sitter’s attention.
Your pet doesn’t greet the pet sitter when they come in (or hides)
A great way to really get a sense of the relationship between your pet and the pet sitter is to monitor your pet’s reaction when the pet sitter walks in the door. If your pet runs and hides in their crate this should be an immediate red flag. You can tell your pet likes your sitter if they greet them with lots of tail wiggles and sloppy kisses.
Negative Pet Sitting Qualifications – Move On Immediately If Your Pet Sitter Has These Traits
Your pet’s food bag remains full or unopened
Either your pet sitter is neglecting to feed your pet while you’re there, or they aren’t even showing up in the first place. Both of which are immediate concerns and obvious signs that you’ve found yourself a poor pet sitter.
It might seem like overkill, but it is definitely worth monitoring these things with security cameras or making note of the change in food levels over time.
Your pet sitter provides untimely responses to phone calls and messages
Lack of communication is one thing that a pet owner should not stand for from their pet sitter. There are plenty of pet sitters out there like (not-so-subtle self promotion) that pride themselves on extremely quick communication. Don’t settle for someone that is flakey and unresponsive. This is a member of your family they are taking care of – if you want updates on every piece of kibble they eat and every potty break, it shouldn’t be a chore for your pet sitter to provide this information!
Your pet sitter doesn’t provide a free meet and greet
If your potential pet sitter doesn’t provide a free meet and greet to get to know your pet, how can you know that they’ll make a good fit for one another? Another reason these meet and greets are so important is that you (the pet owner) can get an indication for their personality and whether or not they are someone you can trust in your home while you’re not there.
Because these have become the industry norm, if your pet sitter doesn’t provide a meet and greet prior to being hired, it’s a surefire way to identify they aren’t experienced and/or professional.
Your pet sitter lacks credibility
Another sign that your pet sitter lacks professionalism, is if they don’t have anything tangible for you as the pet owner to view before hiring them. A pet owner without a website, social media or formal documents such as waivers, contracts or invoices likely is inexperienced. Are you willing to leave your furry best friend in the care of someone that lacks credibility? At the very least browse the web for performance reviews, positive word-of-mouth prior to committing to them long-term.
If you’re interested in hiring a pet sitter in the Kelowna area with proper pet sitting qualifications, be sure to contact us at Tail Waggers. Fill out the form below and we’ll get in touch with you to arrange a meet and greet.
What to do with bad pet sitters?
Just like a band-aid, it’s best to move on quickly. Your pet’s health and well being isn’t something to be toyed with. Neglecting to take necessary action can have a far-reaching impact on both your psyche (i.e., guilt) and on the happiness and security of your pet.
What’s the best way to find a great pet sitter?
- Ask your friends for their pet sitter
- Ask your veterinarian
- Ask your groomer
- Google reviews
- Do your homework (don’t necessarily go for the first pet sitter you find)
- Prepare questions
- Ask for references/relevant experience
- Arrange a meet and greet prior to hiring
- Get a signed agreement
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