How to become an excellent house sitter in 13 steps

We are fulltime house & pet sitters for almost a year now. In this blog we reveal the 13 success factors for being an excellent house sitter & pet sitter. So you can become one too if you like. Read this blog if you are interested in how to become a house sitter or to discover what it requires to be a good house sitter. Or because you are just curious to learn about the job of house sitting.

Replace the word ‘house sitter’ by the words ’employee’, ‘partner’, ‘lover’ or anything else and create your own “how to” to become a perfect …

 

Vacuum cleaning a cat because he likes it, fixing a broken window, moving chickens to a new coop, mowing the lawn, cuddling with dogs; we did it all.     

Looking for dedicated pet sitters? Check out our house sitters profile and reviews here

What is house sitting?

First of all, what is house sitting? The agreement is that the sitter takes care of the pets and property while the owner is away, and the sitter lives in the home temporarily including the basic facilities like gas, water, electricity, wifi. Sitters do get paid for their care but as often the cooperation between owner and sitter doesn’t involve an exchange of money. Transport like using the owners’ car or bikes is optional.

A pet sitter most often is a house sitter. A house sitter is not always a pet sitter. Some people like you to just sit their home, without animals around.

So let me tell you how to become an awesome house & pet sitter. You can apply this advice to become an excellent lover too!

 It all starts with trust – excellent house sitter #1

Give homeowners reason to trust you.The main value you deliver as a house sitter – to our opinion – is that home & pet owners feel they can trust you. It makes them appoint you with a good feeling, they can be away from home carefree, and when they come back home they are proven they were right to give you all that responsibility in the first place. Trust is everything.

How can you establish and increase trust as a house sitter?

Help people trust you by having a clear online profile. So they can find information about you and can form an impression of you before they have even spoken with you. Arrange an introduction meeting by either video calling or preferably in real life. Get to know the expectations of home & pet owners and introduce yourself. Finally, all 12 steps I am going to explain next contribute to building trust.  

A good preparation is half the work – excellent house sitter #2

Make sure you address all important topics with the home owners before they leave. We recommend to compile your own checklist with items to be discussed for every house sit. Topics include for example: what to do in case of an emergency, the owners need a backup plan for the situation you have to leave suddenly, how to treat the animals, which facilities are available to you, how to stay in touch, any special details. When the homeowner doesn’t have experience with having a sitter you can take the lead in making sure you go over everything that makes the sit a success for both parties.

Improve your pet photographing skills –excellent house sitter #3

excellent house sitter
Djer is a very photogenic Maine Coone cat – we took care of him in Amsterdam for 8 months

Pet owners trust you sitting their most treasured things – their furry babies and their personal belongings – because they feel they can trust you with it. Uphold their confidence and good feeling by updating them how everything goes. The pets are important to them so let them know how they are. You can send images, videos and share anecdotes. Adjust your style of communication, your tone and frequency to the preferences of the owners. It doesn’t hurt to ask them how they like to stay updated in advance. We found we developed a very nice relation with the owners in the period they are away from home.     

Pick up that phone! – excellent house sitter #4

Not only updating frequently, but also responding quickly when the owners reach out to you. Make sure owners can reach you. 

The good and the bad – excellent house sitter #5

Nobody wants to bring bad news, but do it anyway if you have to. Although you have great intentions and are careful, things can go wrong accidentally. ‘Problems’ range from breaking a glass and making a scratch, to more unfortunate events like a pet that has a health problem or severe damage in the house. The chance might be small, but exists.

Don’t try to cover up anything. Don’t try to solve big things without involving the owner. He can make the best decisions, not you. Don’t even think about hiding things. Always be transparent about what happens. Also the bad stuff.

Homeowners won’t be happy in the first moment, but will be thankful for your openness in the end. And they will be confirmed that no news from you is good news. No nasty surprises upon homecoming for them. This is an important trust factor between pet owner and house sitter.  So, communicate honestly when things don’t go perfect. 

 

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Only real skills, not fantasized ones – excellent house sitter #6

Don’t tell you are handy when you are in reality clumsy. Don’t tell you are good with horses when you have never taken care of a horse before. Exaggerating your qualities and experience can end in an uncomfortable situation for both parties. It is nicer for you to be in charge of a situation you can handle, than avoiding the rejection for a sit that is above your league. Only promise things you can deliver. It is up to the home owners to decide whether a absence of a skill is a problem or not.  

Who are those people? – excellent house sitter #7

Who are they? What is important to them? What do they like? Empathize with what is important for the home owners and adjust your behavior accordingly. Naturally the pets are the first most important thing. Live in their home as you would be them. So don’t do things they wouldn’t do. Don’t sit on a table when you know the owners would find it horrible when they would see it. Respect privacy. Only use and open the things that are necessary to do your job properly and to live in the home comfortably. Snooping through things and letting curiosity dictate your actions is an absolute  no go.  

 Love them – excellent house sitter #8

excellent house sitter
Cuddling with this warmth seeking dog in Guatemala

Take care of the pets in an excellent way. Do everything for them the owner does for them. Take care of them like they are your own beloved pets. Realize they have to get used to the new stranger. And enjoy their company, they are your new temporary friends.

Just flowers – excellent house sitter #9

People allow your presence in their home in sake of the best care for their pets (or home). Not because they like it so much you sleep in their bed or use their kitchen. Realize that and don’t leave your marks. You can make owners happy by leaving their home in a spotless state. A house smelling like flowers and without a reference to your presence.  

Do the application test here – excellent house sitter #10

What are your main reasons to be a house & pet sitter? Is your main reason that you like to live there and take care of the pets and home? Congratulations, you have the background to become an excellent sitter. Or is your motivation your desire for a free holiday accommodation despite the pets and tasks? I suggest you search for another way to to live or celebrate holiday on a low budget. The job of a house sitter requires carrying a lot of responsibility, implies you have limited freedom (the pets need regular attention and care, the home can’t be left alone overnight), and should be done with love and commitment. So, be a house sitter & pet sitter from the right motives.   

Follow up – excellent house sitter #11

excellent house sitter
We promised to take care of the chicken. They have to be inside before otherwise they get killed by hungry hunters..

Only promise things you are going to follow up on. Make notes of the instructions and agreements so you won’t forget. Don’t give homeowners reason not to trust you. Breaking agreements is one of them. As a house sitter you should stick to agreements. 

Be an active collector – excellent house sitter #12

Asking for a review after each house sit you did is recommended because of different reasons. First of all, it is a way to learn. It gives you insight in what people think is important, what people value in you and how can you improve for future sits. Second of all, you can use these reviews to expand your (online) house sitter profile. Next time it is going to be easier to be selected for the job since people love the fact you have experience and previous owners were clearly happy with your care.  Make sure you build a track record with great reviews. 

Like a lover in the first year – excellent house sitter #13

Surprise owners with a little extra. My examples here will sound as common sense. But leaving a very satisfied feeling with the home owners is in the details. So I am going to mention them anyway. Prepare a simple meal that the owners can enjoy after their long and tiring trip back home. Help carrying bags up the stairs. Leave a nice note. Anything sincere and attentive will do.   

 

excellent house sitter
We feel at home in our temporary houses, here in Hamburg

 

These are my 13 tips to become an excellent house sitter. Will you use them too for becoming an excellent employee? Or partner. Or whatever .. ;)?

Do you like to read how we experience daily life as house sitters? Read the blog The life of a house sitter.

I think you should give house sitting a try as well

House & pet sitting is a very rewarding job. People and pets are very happy with you when you do it well. You get to live in very special places and circumstances. It is a chance to develop interesting long term relations with people, and pets. It is a way to travel in your own country and even worldwide. How interesting to leave for your job every morning from a new temporary home? Have fun house sitting, and let us know what your tips are for being a great sitter.  

 

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