Meeting your pet sitter: here's what to discuss during a meet & greet
Would you entrust your pet to a stranger?
When searching for a pet sitter, you’ll naturally prefer someone you feel comfortable leaving your beloved pet with. A trustworthy person, who also does their best to maintain your cat or dog’s regular routine. It’s important, therefore, to have a good click with your dog or cat sitter. But how can you be sure of that all-important 'click' when booking a pet sitter via Pawshake? That’s precisely the purpose of the meet and greet: an introductory meeting in which you all get to know each other.
Found a potential pet sitter via the website or app? Then it’s really important to arrange an introductory meeting prior to making a booking. The Pawshake meet and greet is always free of charge. The meeting is also non-committal for both owner and pet sitter, so there’s absolutely no obligation. Whilst the overwhelming majority of meetings are a success and lead to a subsequent booking, sometimes it’s just not a good match. This is no cause to feel awkward or embarrassed. It's always better to be safe rather than sorry!
Meeting a new person can be somewhat daunting, especially when it’s a 'stranger' who might be looking after your four-legged friend. Take your time to gradually get acquainted and don't rush. Tell them a little something about yourself and explain exactly what you’re looking for. Ask the pet sitter about their reasons for becoming a pet sitter and their experience with pets. Feel free to ask about personal matters too, such as hobbies or work, and try to ascertain what the pet sitter’s average day looks like.
It’s also important to divulge as much information about your pet as possible. What type of character does your pet have and how do they react around other pets or children? What can you tell the pet sitter about your pet’s upbringing and house rules? What’s their feeding schedule? What’s your pet afraid of and what do they enjoy? Be honest about any 'issues' that your pet may have. Does your dog sometimes become anxious or aggressive, for example? Does your cat require time to get used to new people? It’s really important that the pet sitter is aware and able to cope with this. Ask how they would deal with such challenges.
The meet & greet is also the perfect opportunity for observation. Don’t put your pet under any pressure; instead, allow your pet to quietly observe or sniff the pet sitter in his or her own time. Pay attention to the body language of both pet and pet sitter. It’s natural that your cat or dog may require a little time to get used to someone new.
It’s best to meet at a neutral location to avoid a territorial dispute. Does the pet sitter have a pampered pooch of their own? Then it’s wise to introduce the dogs to each other in advance. A walk is the most relaxed and non-threatening way of getting acquainted.
During the walk, you’ll have the opportunity to talk about your dog - how they react to other dogs, which commands they are familiar with etc. You can also indicate whether you wish to allow the pet sitter to walk your dog off-lead or not. Hand the lead to the pet sitter and let them perform a genuine 'trial run'. Encourage your dog to play with the pet sitter or to fetch a stick for them. That way you’ll quickly be able to detect any problems.
This meet and greet typically takes place at the cat owner’s home. Make agreements concerning your cat’s food, litter box, toys and play time, and discuss any rules around allowing your cat outside. Pay attention to your cat’s body language throughout the meeting. Some cats are extremely curious and affectionate, whilst others actively avoid 'strangers'. Whatever you do, don’t force your cat to approach the pet sitter. If your cat takes refuge under the sofa then leave them be while you chat with the pet sitter.
Key handover: If the pet sitter requires a key to enter your home, then check it prior to the beginning of the reservation period. Let the pet sitter try the key themselves and test that everything works. That way they won’t find themselves in front of a locked door once you’re away.
Addresses and emergency numbers: Provide the pet sitter with the details of your vet and a local friend or family member BEFORE you go away.
Will the pet sitter be looking after your pet in your own home? Then show them which areas of the home your pet frequents, in addition to any rooms that the pet sitter may or may not enter. Share information about keys and alarm systems.
Handy items: Cleaning products, bin bags, extra pet supplies. Show your pet sitter what’s required to keep your house clean and tidy during your holiday.
After meet & greet
After the meeting, take time to allow everything to sink in. Did the meet and greet not go as well as you’d hoped or do you still have some niggling doubts? That's no problem. You can always ask additional questions or politely withdraw from further contact and look for a more suitable pet sitter for you and your pet. Was there an instant click? Congratulations! You can now proceed to a booking. You can do this either by clicking on 'book' in your message exchange or on the pet sitter’s profile. Planning on taking an extended holiday this year? Why not book a trial day or overnight stay beforehand!