While she’s never used TrustedHousesitters (my platform of choice due to its plethora of international opportunities), she has used the American site Rover to find a pet sitter when she traveled abroad for a month!
House sitters from TrustedHousesitters aren’t typically paid, but are able to get free accommodation (and often, all the food the homeowners leave behind!). House sitters for Rover are paid. Housesitters will typically watch people’s pets while they’re away on vacation.
Here’s what my aunt recommends for hopeful house sitters.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF IT’S YOUR FIRST HOUSE SITTING EXPERIENCE?
You should be upfront about it being your first house sit, and not try to pretend you have more experience than you do.
Mention things that would make you a good house sitter, like your experience with animals, and anything that would indicate that you were trustworthy and responsible.
WERE YOU NERVOUS TO LEAVE YOUR DOG WITH A HOUSE SITTER?
Sure it made me nervous! Our pets are our babies, and we want to know they’ll be cared for and not mistreated!
(Author’s Note: This is why it’s extremely important to make sure that the person you’re house sitting for feels good leaving their pet with you, and why it’s important to follow their rules with the pets! More on helping keep a homeowner comfortable below.)
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN PHOTOS?
Photos are important because they give a feeling for what that person is like. Pictures of you with animals helps the homeowner get a feel for who they are, and shows that you that enjoy spending time with pets. This is important since, after all, they’ll be looking after pets!
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A PROFILE?
Ultimately, humans often operate on their initial gut feelings. Since you don’t know the person, all you’re going off of is their profile, so it’s really important!
If you can’t tell what someone is like from their profile, it’s hard to connect with them. So, I personally want to feel like they have something in their profile that I can connect with.
I want to understand where they’re coming from, where they are in their lives, and why they’re house sitting right now.
So, as a summary: State why you’re house sitting now, have some good photos that convey personality, that you’re an authentic person, and that give a feel for things you like to do and who you are.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A MESSAGE?
I suggest making the message 1-2 paragraphs.
You should share a little bit about yourself, write about your circumstances, why you’re doing what you’re doing, and what your interests are.
I look for a reason why the person wants to house sit. Why is this something that is part of their life? Is it because it fits into their lifestyle and is a way to supplement money? I’m looking for a good reason and want to understand their thoughts, and to see a clear idea. I want to know what they get out of the exchange.
There isn’t really a right or wrong answer, but I just want understand why they’re house sitting, and feel like they’re being authentic and honest.
I feel like I can trust them if they’re definitive about it. For example, they can say something like, “I do this because I get ___ out of it, and this is what I can bring to the table for you.”
I look for a message that’s warm but not too personal. A casual message is fine, as long as it’s authentic, honest, and straightforward.I also like to see they have an interest in animals and genuine love/concern for animals, and that they’re comfortable with animals.
I’d also add that I’m open if you want to video chat, too, that way we can get to know each other better.
WOULD YOU CHOOSE SOMEONE WITH NO REVIEWS?
Reviews are helpful if I’m feeling a little uncertain about the person, but to me, the message is more important! I would consider someone without reviews if felt like I connected with their message and what they were doing.
WHAT MIGHT MAKE YOU CHOOSE ONE PERSON OVER ANOTHER?
I’d choose one person over another if the available dates were better, or if they were a little more flexible and could accommodate my schedule.
If I was able to meet with potential sitters beforehand, I might choose the person who I felt connected better with the animal.
HOW CAN YOU BE A GOOD HOUSE SITTER?
Sending photos of pets is absolutely important! For most people, pets are like babies so they want to see pictures while they’re gone. This also shows that whoever is taking care of them is paying attention to them.
You should also be sure to put things back the way they were when you leave, and ensure everything is left neat and tidy.
Nothing should be out of place or broken. I want to see they’ve taken care of the house and the pet as if it were their own.
(Author’s note: I’ve accidentally broken a few things while house sitting – it happens! One time I accidentally peeled a chunk of paint off the wall, another time I broke a paintbrush. In both cases I just told the owners about it and offered to leave some money. Neither of them were upset, and they were grateful that I’d said something instead of just leaving.)
DO YOU THINK IT’S NECESSARY TO SKYPE OR MEET BEFOREHAND?
I would have a Skype date, it’s not absolutely essential but I have done them. However, I’ve mostly just messaged the person and then met them in person beforehand. I would do an out of town person, but everyone that has applied is more local, so it’s easy to meet in person before the sit starts.
MY AUNT’S HOUSE SITTING DISASTER (WHAT NOT TO DO)
Here’s an example of what NOT to do as a house sitter!
Backstory: My aunt and her family went abroad for a month. They left their dog in the care of a house sitter they found on Rover during that time.
So, we told the person we hired that it was fine if she wanted to have a friend over in the evening, especially since it was such a long house sit. Although we didn’t have cameras set up inside the home (Note: it’s illegal to have cameras inside the home with TrustedHousesitters), we had the Ring doorbell system installed. We weren’t trying to monitor her, but it notifies you when someone enters your home. A couple weeks after she started sitting for us, we saw parade of people coming with suitcases through the front door!
It turned out that she’d been moving and had invited her roommates to stay the weekend at our house with their dogs. She brought 3 people and 3 extra dogs without clearing it with us.
First of all, you cannot predict how other dogs will behave and get along with your dog, so that was not ok. And we weren’t ok with her having so many other people in our house that we didn’t know anything about!
(Author’s Note: My aunt asked her to have everyone leave. She finished the rest of the house sit since my aunt didn’t have anyone else available, but the girl left before they came back so they didn’t actually cross paths again in person.)I hope this interview has been helpful for you to see what a house sitting homeowner might look for!