Advice for people seeking petsitters

I’m new to the site, but not new to housesitting, pet care, or home exchanges with a global community. Sharing some thoughts to guide people who are looking for someone care for their pets:

  • the perception of labor on this site is deeply skewed. Yes, it is a position of trust, but it is also an unpaid job, and the labor of caring for your pet (often multiple pets!) 24 hours a day isn’t actually commensurate value to “free accommodation”, as I’m sure anyone who has explored the costs of 24/7 pet care can attest to. This service is meant to be a mutually beneficial exchange - it’s not a handout.

  • I’ve seen listings asking for single daytime or overnight care - that’s not what this site is for. Pay for the labor.

  • Be upfront about your needs/asks/limitations. Declining a listing after 4 days of waiting and multiple messages because the double room “is too small for a couple” is disrespectful to everyone’s time and a bit odd. If you don’t want people from out of town, say so. Respect people’s time as well as your own.

  • Have the basic human decency to send a message when you decline their personalized and well-written request.

  • Arrange for a cleaner before and after to avoid any discrepancies about cleanliness. Again, you’re saving a huge amount of money with this arrangement, simplify it for a better experience for everyone.

  • Have a written guide for your home - Wi-Fi code and router location, trash days, quirks of the house, locations of supplies, contact info for repairmen and neighbors

  • Have your payment info on file with a vet and share their info with the sitter in case of emergencies. If you don’t have funds for vet care, you should not be employing a sitter.

  • If you are coming into this experience through a lens of suspicion - this isn’t the place for you. Pay a pet sitting or daycare service, or pay to take your pets with you on vacation.

Edited to meet posting guidelines


So correct.


I disagree.
It is NOT a job, because the sitters do it voluntarily. Nobody has to agree to care for multiple pets at the same time. If pets need medication regularly, want to sleep in bed or might wake the sitters up, should be made clear in the listing and from then on the sitters decide for themselves if they are up to it. They don’t have to apply.

Therefore the "you save a lot of money " also applies to the sitters, who otherwise would not stay in nice and well cared for houses. It doesn’t count that sitters normally wouldn’t rent places like this, but they get to stay there in exchange for the pet care.
If they feel that in some cases the care is too extensive then they should not apply. It only works if both parties feel they benefit on the same level. If a sitter feels like he’s not getting enough out of the arrangement, it’s the wrong sit.

I really wish everybody would stop to weigh one side to the other, because it’s an agreement and therefore both parties have a mutual benefit. Nobody is forced into this.

Secondly, the hired cleaner. No! There are people who clean their home themselves and this can also be expected from the sitters. Everything is about communication. So talk about your expectations beforehand.

I would never expect someone to deep clean the house during a short or holiday sit. I only expect them to leave it behind as they found it.

After a few months this is a different story, because things tend to get dirty (or rather dusty) and need to be cleaned, no matter if they have been used or not. This would also happen in the sitter’s own home and I don’t see the problem in cleaning it up by themselves.
If the sitters don’t want to do it themselves I can arrange a cleaner to come but I don’t pay for anybody else’s dirt to be cleaned.

There are other ways to make sure that the sitters are comfortable, feel welcome and appreciated.



It is a huge responsibility and is of course LABOUR. Just because it is unpaid doesn’t mean there’s no work to do.

It’s all so easy until the worst happens and that’s when you’re so glad that you got a sitter - there’s a leak, the pets get sick, the electricity cuts out, someone tries to break in etc.

Paying someone $10 to drop in and check on your cat once a day for 10 mins is not feasible for a longer sit and is not comparable to the 247 care of a having a proper sitter. If something did happen such as cat got sick, got stuck, escaped it could be 24 hours at least until that was noticed and that could be the difference between life and death.

For a sitter the gain is the experience of visiting a new place, meeting new pets and being able to explore and live in a more homely environment. It is not a necessity for them that they would have paid a lot of money towards otherwise. The real gain is for the homeowner as it is their pets and home that need looking after whilst they are away - they need someone to do a job for them and fit around their requirements - not the other way around


“I’ve seen listings asking for single daytime or overnight care”
Single daytime is contrary to THS rules. Sits are mandatory one night stay. If you see single day time listings you can report them to THS.


Your comment actually has me wonder why you choose to do it “for free”? If you feel so strongly that you’re doing an unpaid job and get much less out of the deal than the pet owners, I wonder why you don’t look for a paid pet sitting job.


@Pawtastic I do both paid and unpaid sitting - it depends on the situation.

I don’t sit for owners with unrealistic demands of a volunteer petsitter or expect me to pay their bills whilst I do them the favour of taking on the responsibility for their entire house and pet care whilst they are on holiday.

THS offers an interesting unique experience for me and likely most other sitters. I sit voluntarily in new countries because it’s nice to stay longer in a place and live more to a normal home routine with the opportunity to experience new cultures and personally I love animals so I like the bonus of getting to know a nice pet also. For this situation I don’t mind not getting paid similar to the way I volunteered for 2 months on a turtle conservation or working as an au pair for a year.

It’s not a necessity for me to NEED to live in someone else’s house and look after their animals unlike the homeowner who NEEDS to sort out pet care whilst they are away. I have my own house that I am responsible for.

I don’t consider pet sitting to be a holiday or an alternative to air bnb - I book hotels separately when I want a holiday.


I did see a few as I was browsing, and I first thought to myself that this wasn’t ok, that I needed to go the extra step to flag them. I would personally, obviously, not apply, but then, I realised: isn’t THS software not capable of picking up on a repeat date? Say you need a day sitter for October 31st, because you want to go trick or treat with your kids but know your dog and cat will be frightened by the possible ringing of the bell, you’ll enter start day: Oct 31st, end day Oct 31st. Then how come you have the option to do so? If THS is based on no payment but in return, at least one night of sleep, then you’d think they would have made sure their platform rejected less than 24h sits, automatically, as built into the system.
So instead of manually flagging them, one by one, @Ben-ProductManager could we work on a way the system didn’t allow these in the first place? The system would automatically set the end date to a minimum of 24h later, and capable to push it forward, but not backward?
That would avoid manually having to report one by one these, by sitters, as there are other sits that need reporting for other reasons, more serious than dates (payment asked for more than utilities, unreasonable asks, harmful pets, etc.)


I’ve got to disagree on the cleaner thing, if a HO has an animal/multiple animals that shed alot, gets mud on the floor etc and are allowed on furniture, all over the house etc - and they already have one coming regularly to help manage this - why should I be expected to do more cleaning than the home owner? If a HO already have a cleaner coming weekly/fortnightly then they should continue to have it that way if a house-sitter is staying. They same with a gardener etc. Otherwise it does feel like you’re wandering into the “unpaid labour” territory. I’d say about 50% of my sits have had a cleaner, and the other half haven’t had pets that needed it, or the standard of cleanliness it was left in by the HO was easy and realistic to maintain.
It’s the consensus that you should leave the home how you found it, and should be prepared to clean up after yourself. Absolutely. And I’m reluctant to mention moneys, but I do feel that if a HO is already saving money on petcare, and then decides to scrimp on a cleaner that is unfair to housesitter. It would be like turning off the heating completely whilst you’re away and letting a sitter freeze because you want to save on the bills.
I do agree, that you have to be clear what you are signing up for, and for longer sits in bigger houses, with multiple pets or shaggy cats etc, I do check the listing to see if a cleaner is mentioned - or will ask what the expectations are.

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At my own place, I am not dusting. Or only rarely. Yes, tops of cupboards etc are very dusty. I don’t care :slight_smile:

Mopping is almost equally rare here. It has been ages since I looked behind my fridge :scream:

It would mostly be your pet’s dirt. And the sitter would already have been picking up after that pet every day.

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I take on house/pet sitting as though it were my own house and/or pets. If things happen, I fix it or work out an alternative. If something happens to a pet, I fix it or work out an alternative. I never EVER look at a sit as their home or my home, whilst I am there it is MY home and whatever happens inside the confines of that home is my responsibility. I just don’t get people thinking either the HO or the HS is entitled. It is a mutual agreement to sit and whilst you are in someone else’s home, that is YOUR home so you do what you would do as though it actually was. You clean your own home, clean the HO’s home, it was yours for a period of time. Treat it accordingly.


@Pawtastic seems like such a weird view that just because you are not being paid that petsitting isn’t a job.

Just because in the context of THS people are happy to trade their labour for experience doesn’t mean that in other contexts it’s not normally a paid service.

Job Duties of a home/petsitter might include:

  • clean up poo and pee or whatever else exits your pet on a daily basis
  • cleaning litter trays, cages, aquariums
  • exercising/ walking dogs multiple times daily
  • preparing and offering pet food to schedule plus cleanup and changing water bowls/bottles/milk for young pets
  • Grooming pets as required, which include bathing them, cleaning out their ears or eyes, brushing their teeth and coats, and trimming their nails.
  • monitor health of pets and escalate as necessary in event of illness which could include anything from emergency critical care to flea/worm treatment.
  • keeping to pets with ongoing issues daily medications, inhalers even handling injections such as insulin
  • keeping tabs on animals that might come and go making sure they are indoors at night and not lost
  • should an emergency happen then being a point of contact to coordinate the veterinary treatment, taking the pet to/from the vets and potentially 24 hour care to bring pet back to health.
  • Providing regular updates to pet owners, which include communicating with them telephone or via email as well as sending video clips and photos.

Homecare duties might include:

  • home maintenance such as running air purifiers, air con, heating, dehumidifiers.
  • collecting mail
  • providing security from break-in
  • responding to home emergency and coordinating fixes such as pipe burst, fire, water leaks, electric fault, hurricane safety if in a particular area, flooding prevention etc.
  • watering plants
  • if no cleaner then mopping, vacuuming, scrubbing, dusting as necessary.
  • potentially performing pool maintenance tasks, which includes skimming leaves and debris off the surface, scrubbing the sides of the pool, cleaning out the filter basket, as well as testing and adjusting water chemical levels.

I could literally go on and on these are off the top of my head but a petsitter offers a very valuable peace of mind service allowing you to leave your pets and home as you need to.


Good point!
There are a number of things that I wish the IT department would sort out on the platform.
For example, a HO should NOT be able to post dates for a listing that does not adhere to the required photos of ALL living spaces a sitter will be using. It would not be that difficult. Just a box they must check (like “terms and conditions”) that they confirm they have supplied all the required photos (with a list of what those are AGAIN bc so many still seem not to know or care).
It would also be very nice to include a filter of “non smoking homes” so we aren’t having to ask that question after applying.


I have two short haired cats, which go outside. They hardly use the litter box and they go through the basement and three cat flaps to get inside. They don’t make dirt. You are judging the situation in my house without knowing anything about it.

You don’t care about your dirt behind your fridge. That’s completely up to you. Actually my cleaning lady also doesn’t care about this kind of dirt and neither should the sitters. I don’t expect them to rip apart the kitchen to find the last scraps of possible dirt.

I know by now how you feel about me not paying the cleaning lady during our absence and I would appreciate if you stopped mentioning it again and again.

I don’t mention the cleaner in my listing and I don’t always tell the sitters. My cleaning lady is happy if she doesn’t have to come regularly, because she has another job and she squeezes my dates into her schedule if necessary. She doesn’t rely on the money so depending on how long the sit is I don’t even mention her to the sitters.
There is no general right or wrong with this subject.

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Whoa! I do not value the pet sitter?
Sorry but you actually have no idea what I do to make my sitters welcome and appreciated. The sitters who have stayed in our house didn’t feel that they had to do a job.

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I really object to the combative tone of this post. It’s not even that I disagree with all that is said, it really is the tone.

If the sitter isnt happy with the arrangement, then walk away. You are not obliged to agree to a sit. (And vice versa of course.)

I cant make the maths on this work. Where I am, a paid sitter is in the region of £30 to £50 per night. I would struggle to get decent accommodation for that price. A hostel dormitory maybe, or a room in someone’s house. Definitely not sole occupancy of a whole house.

That said, price is not the same as value. I really value having a pet sitter, paid or not, and I try to make that clear.


Maybe this was a response to a review by a home owner?

I could have written something similar after my most recent sit. For example, the complaint about dealing with the recycling trash. Totally obvious to the HO, but there were no clear written instructions on what to do with the yellow bag, and it was different from other sits in the same country.

My efforts to take good care of the pets and of the place were not appreciated. It was what I spent really almost all my time on. I even had to spend money to buy food for the pets! Rickety furniture, and the place had no real shower. I also found it difficult to use the kitchen.

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@Pawtastic well sounds like you’ve been pretty lucky so far that nothing has gone wrong whilst your home and pets are in the care of a sitter.

I’m also pleased too when a sit goes perfectly and there isn’t an emergency - yes fantastic all seems soooooo easy then.

Should the worst happen, something goes wrong in the house or the pets are poorly or injured then certainly the job of a petsitter is a lot more stressful and demanding and that’s wherein lies the compromise and the duty to the responsibility you have undertaken.

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“Job” probably doesn’t mean the same thing to me than to you.
I find your judgment about me, my sitters and my sits very offensive, because you don’t know anything about it.