House, Pet and Plant Sitting
You have questions, and that is great!
Here are a few answers to the questions I receive most often.
House, pet and plant sitting is a mutually beneficial arrangement between two parties – taking place between a homeowner and a house-sitter – which enables the home owner to leave their pets, plants and property in the care of the sitter for an agreed period of time.
- No, you don’t need to own the home. In the house sitting community, the home owner refers to the person who has the primary care, control and responsibility of the home, pets and plants.
TRUST! I believe the pet, plant and house sitting community is a community of trust! Every aspect of pet, plant and house sitting is based on trust! Trust that the home owners and sitters will honour their commitments, that pets, plant and home will be cared for and maintained.
Trust is the basis of every sit and without it, it is very difficult for the home owner and sitter to have peace of mind! (and yes, it goes both ways! Both needs to be able to trust the other to have a beneficial experience).
- Home owners trust that:
- sitters will be clear about what they can and can’t do
- for example, I do not sit with excitable dogs over 100 lbs, because it is more than what I can handle.
- sitters will arrive when they say they will arrive, or keep home owners appraised if there are delays (ie: flights, etc)
- sitters will show up!
- sitters say and describe themselves accurately
- For example: loves dogs and actually does love dogs
- sitters will treat their properties with care and respect, making sure it is cleaned and maintained to the same level it was handed off to them
- sitters will use the car, if included, as discussed, and will be careful and clear about what they can or can’t drive
- for example: I can drive manual and automatic cars, right or left hand drive, and small cars to 34 foot RV’s, I have a motorcycle license and have driven gas or electric scooters. Experienced gained in Canada, USA, Europe, England, Scotland, Turkey, Eastern Europe.
- sitters will be clear about what they can and can’t do
- House sitters trust that:
- Home owners are clear about pets behaviours and size
- For example: how do pets react around other animals? are they will trained? toilette habits? health and medication
- Home owners have a space for the house sitter to sleep, work and cook as discussed
- this includes fresh/ clean bedding, space for food and clothes
- Home owners will keep the sitter appraised of any changes to the dates, expectations, or number of animals or care required.
- for example, if the health of one of the animals changes, or holiday time is reduced, the the sitter is advised and options are discussed ASAP
- Home owners will not cancel the sit, especially as some sitters travel internationally for the sit.
- Note: It is true that emergencies happen, the sitter might incur expenses for travel, and additional costs if they need to find alternate accommodations and therefore these should be discussed in advance.
- Home owners will have prepared their home for the sitter
- For example: cleaned a space for the sitters to sleep, eat and work in.
- Home owners will be clear about boundaries
- For example, where you can go, what you can use but also the things you can’t!
- Home owners are clear about pets behaviours and size
For example, I was in a Scottish home and they had Canadian maple syrop (a staple as a Canadian, but a luxury product in Scotland). They requested that I not enjoy it. LOL! Their wish was easily respected because I knew it was something important to them.
It’s always about COMMUNICATION!
Home owners communicating what their wants, needs and expectations. What they can offer, how they can support the house sitter, and the resources available, including an emergency back up, vet information, home ameneties (ex: wifi, laundry) & quirks of the house, etc.
House sitters communicating their wants, needs and expectations. This includes what they can and can’t do, what are deal breakers, and an honest assessment of whether they can complete the sit based on the home owners description. It also includes what they need to occupy the space and meet their own objectives – in my case, I need wifi and the ability to stream entertainment and classes.
So this means that I do ask the questions you will never really need to know the answers, unless you have an emergency. These might include:
- location of water shut off
- location of electrical panel
- Vet phone number, coordinates, and information on payment arrangements
- How the washing machine works if they are in a different language
- what actions do you want me to take if your pet is sick?
In a solid house sitting exchange, NO subject is taboo because without it, there is a risk that someone’s needs, wants and expectations will not be met. And the goals are to:
- Have healthy pets & plants
- Safe and secure home
- Peace of mind for both home owner and house sitter.
So ask away and share! Remember, the more you communicate, the better the experience for both parties as both will know what to expect and you can negotiate activities and responsibilities.
None of these are obligatory, but very, very appreciated:
- A reasonable sized float (for house sits in Europe/ North America, I usually recommend $50.00) so that any immediate expenses or emergencies can be dealt with immediately.
- For example: I had one homeowner who did not buy enough dog food for the house sit, she simply miscalculated the amount needed. So with the float, I was able to buy the food needed (and ensure there was some for her arrival) and leave her a copy of the receipt and remainder of the float in her float bag!
- Note: if a float is used, receipts are provided for items purchased.
- Another example: I did an urban house sit for an elderly and sick cat. No car was provided, and if an emergency occurred, the bus would have taken too long to get to the vet. So a float was left to cover taxi costs to the vet, if needed. Payment arrangements with the vet were also pre-planned. As it was pre-planned nothing was needed but it did provide a sense of comfort for me the sitter and the home owner knowing that a back up plan was set up.
- When a home owner says, “go ahead”, use the perishable food or the dry goods you need. Sometimes you don’t really need much, but to buy everything, every time (because you cant travel with it) gets costly and inconvenient. This also makes me feel better as I don’t like to see food wasted and gives me ideas about what the home owners enjoy eating and this can guide my cooking. Herbs and spices for example – you may be there for 2 weeks and only need oregano 2x.
- Tupperware/ containers – I often cook for homeowners – and it’s nice to have a place to store things to give to the homeowners (either fresh or frozen). In my opinion, it is always nice to come home to a home cooked meal after travelling.
It’s nice if there are basic toiletries such as soap, shampoo/ conditioner, toilette paper!
People’s reasons for getting a house sitter varies, but often include some of these reasons:
- Home security during absences from your property
- Ensures that your home insurance is not invalidated (i.e.: some insurance policies say if the home is vacant for a set period of time (sometimes as little as 3 days) and something happens, then insurance is nulified as the homeowner is deemed to have neglected their duty) So, I encourage you to please check your insurance policy! These types of conditions vary from policy to policy, and from country to country.
- Have someone take in your mail, take pictures of it/ send it to you or process it as instructed
- Have someone water plants or do regular maintenance that you would normally do such as cutting the grass or shoveling snow, or do pool/ hot tub maintenance.
- Have someone in the house at night.
- Provides security & peace of mind without inconveniencing family, friends and neighbours.
People’s reasons for getting a pet sitter varies, but often include some of these reasons:
- You have someone you trust take care of your pets
- Maintains your pets’ habits/ routines.
- You keep your pets in their home.
- Reduces pet stress and anxiety
- Can save you money as compared to pet hotels
- Costs related to pet hotels and boarding services are on the rise and cost of services can add up as additional costs are levied based the type of care, accommodation, play time, number of pets and services required (ie: administration of medications, etc).
- Ensures that pets are fed only what you want them to eat (i.e.: same brand, etc. if they have allergies, etc.) because you have supplied the food & treats allowed.
- Ensures that medications are provided & administrated as instructed because the sitter administers it as you teach them how to do it. So it is pet specific care and accommodates specificities of your pet.
- Pets receives love and attention from the sitter.
People’s reasons for getting a plant sitter varies, but often include some of these reasons:
- They want their plants and gardens to not only survive but thrive during their absence.
- Plants have a consistent watering and/ or fertilizer schedule to remain healthy and to bloom.
- They have high needs plants which need special care to survive and thrive, ie: orchids which are watered by ice and misting
- Gardens need to be watered to ensure fruit and vegetables are productive later in the season protecting the time invested in planting.
- Have full gardens that have fruit or vegetable that need to be harvested to maintain plant productivity throughout the season.
Technically, this is the easy part! You ask questions. But in my experience, you want to make sure you have right person for the sit and the personalities. So ask all kinds of questions and trust your gut when you hear the answers! If it does not feel right, thank the sitter for their time and move on to the next sitter. Trust yourself. Do not accept a sitter you don’t feel comfortable with.
I also strongly recommend a video chat or in person meeting before selecting your sitter. This allows the sitter to see the home and pets and gives the home owner a better feel for the sitter,
Some of the questions you may want to ask include:
- What is your pet, plant and house sitting experience?
- Do you like … Do you have experience with …
- Have you traveled in this country before? What languages do you speak? How have you managed in other countries where you did not speak the language?
- I live in a remote location, how well do you deal with being alone? Isolated?
- Or the opposite, I live in an urban location, how do you deal in large cities?
- Do you have experience with sick pets?
- What is your typical day like? what are the activities you enjoy?
- for example: think about pet and plant routines, does their typical day suit your situation?
- Do you have any requirements or limits for a house sit?
- for example, I work online so a home without access to wifi would have to think about and might be a reason for me to decline a pet, plant or house sit.
There are so many other questions you can ask based on your wants, needs or expectations! So don’t be afraid to ask and keep in mind that this goes both ways. House sitters may have questions for you too!
These are simple and common sense but not everyone knows or does this.
- Leave the house neat and tidy, before leaving AND the sitter will also make it neat and tidy before the homeowners return
- Leave enough food for at least 1-2 meals because groceries may only happen on the day after arrival. If you are unsure what to leave, ask the sitter/ home owner what they would like to have when they arrive.
- Discuss with house sitter/ homeowner about arrival time and any needs they may have on arrival.
- Leave enough food/ medications/ supplies for the animals for the duration of the house sit, and preferably for a longer period (in case of delays).
- Leave car ownership and insurance papers (if applicable), and sitter to provide copies of driver’s license(s).
- A clean space for the house sitter to sleep, including sheets & towel.
- Essentials – i.e.: toilette paper, ideally shampoo, soap, etc. for the duration of a short stay, or if a longer stay, at least enough to get me through until I can get some shopping done.
Have more questions?
Are there other resources I can access?
Oh yes, there are ton’s of resource online! General resources such as
House sitting Magazine – a resource supporting the house sitting community across the globe. It’s available online or by app! FREE
Trusted House Sitters – a house sitting platform that connects home owner/ pet parents to sitters around the world. MEMBERSHIP COST
House Sitting Canada – a Canadian house sitting platform for Canadian home owners and pet parents. Sitters are mostly Canadian, however not only Canadian. * FREE FOR HOME OWNERS/ MEMBERSHIP COST for Sitters
* these are sites that I use frequently because I am a member of these sites as a Sitter. It should be noted that there are many more house and pet sitting websites that are global or country specific, such as: Nomador, House Sitter Australia/ UK/ Mexico, Mind My House, House Carers, etc. You can actually find a comparison and discount codes for these other sites through House Sitter Magazine.
However, if you would like to join these sites – let me offer you discount/ referral codes! If you join using this code, I get a bit of extra time added to my membership!
- Trusted House Sitter: RAF174251
- House Sitter Canada: X9Z5HQ (this code changes frequently so if you need a new one, please let me know)