I will never forget the very first “meet-and-greet” I did. I was very nervous. I had no idea what to expect. I had read blog posts and I had read the “starting your own pet sitting business” books and manuals. But they didn’t really prepare me for what really happened, and what really needed to happen! The client though – SHE WAS READY!
As a pet parent, you need to be prepared too. Yes, you are not the one being interviewed, but it is very much a two-way process for the meet-and-greet to go smoothly. While we (the pet sitters) are the ones that want the job, we are coming to your home to take care of your pets! We need to know about your pets. We need to know how to feed them, how to walk them, where the litter box is, what times you want the visits to occur, and their vaccine and medical history. We also need to know if the pets even like us and will tolerate us coming into THEIR homes!
Here are some things that you, the pet owner, can do to prepare for your pet sitter meet-and-greet:
- Pets – We want to meet the critters. We need to meet the critters. Don’t keep them outside, don’t send them to the groomer or veterinarian and certainly don’t restrict them. Let them check us out. Let them sniff and react. Watch us too! How do we react around your critters? Are we retracting when your 120 lbs pit comes running toward us or do we welcome them with open arms? If we are scared when you are there, imaging what it will be like when you aren’t! If we ignore your critter when you are there, what are we going to be doing when your not? As much as we are there to meet you, we are really there to meet the critters and ensure that we are a good fit for them!
- Vaccines – Have copies of all of your critters’ current Rabies and other vaccines. A professional pet sitter is going to want to know your critters are vaccinated and up to date! This is for the safety of the critters, the pet sitters and any one that comes in contact with your critters on walks. The very first question that any animal control officer, or police officer is going to ask, in the event of an issues, is are the critters vaccinated, and they are going to want proof; they will not take our word for it. This applies to dogs and cats!
- Keys – Have keys ready. If you decide to hire a professional pet sitter, access to the house is a must. Have a copy of, or two copies of the house key(s). Even if there is a garage door with code access, keys are great back-up (if the power goes out and the garage door opener doesn’t work).
- Details – Know your critters’ feeding and medication routine. I once met with an owner that could not give me any information about how the critters were fed (amounts, times…nothing). The spouse was the regular caretaker. I appreciate that one owner was trying to surprise the other, but I really needed to know how and when to feed and medicate the critters. I don’t want to “make it up” – that is what the owner told me to do!!!
- Ask questions – The first meet-and-greet that I told you about before – she was ready. She had about 10 questions that she wanted to ask me. She wanted to know my background. She wanted to know what animal experience I had. She wanted to know how I would handle emergency situations. She wanted to know everything!!! And I love her for that!!! She wanted me to explain to her in MY words who I was and what I was going to do with her animals. Yes, a professional pet sitter should be prepared to tell you all of that, and most will as part of their “spiel”, but if they don’t, be prepared to ask.
- Make us prove it – Do you want a criminal in your house, caring for your pets? Ask for proof. Do you want a professional caring for your critters? Ask for proof. Do you want someone that has been doing this for years and has experience? Ask for proof. You are completely in your rights to ask a professional pet sitter for proof of a clean and clear criminal history, a certification program or work experience and you are definitely able to ask for references. A professional pet sitter will gladly show you all of them!
A professional pet sitter is going to require a meet-and-greet before starting any service. It may seem unimportant and unnecessary at first, but a good deal of information will be shared during that hour’ish long meeting. Don’t be in a hurry. Take your time and get to know the person coming to your home and caring for your critters. Make sure that they are the right fit for your critters, your home and you.