Am I being too sensitive?

Hi all,
I’d love a bit of advice. My partner and I have been housesitting for a while now with 26 sits under our belt. To date, we have had really lovely feedback from HOs, often being asked us to return and sit again. This was all going swimmingly until our last sit, I actually met her while sitting for her neighbour, had a lovely chat, exchanged details and before you know it, we’re sitting for her.

We did the usual - sent regular updates and pics of her dog and the adventures we took her on, greeted her home with a freshly cleaned home, bunch of flowers etc.

I requested a review through the website but nothing so a week or so later, my partner text her a very polite message asking if she’d mind leaving one. 4 days later and she has left a pretty lack lustre sentence for feedback (although not negative, so short and not really saying anything that I think it would raise alarm bells for me seeing it on someone’s page) and although an overall 5* review, marked us 4*s for cleanliness and pet-happiness.

Although a little frustrating as I had deep-cleaned the house top to bottom, I understand some people are very particular about their homes and maybe we’d moved things slightly or I hadn’t made the bed the way she likes…

However the 4* pet happiness has really upset me - like many people on THS, animal care is absolutely my top priority, we care for the pets we sit for as if they are our own and build real bonds with them. The thought of a pet being unhappy in our care breaks my heart and I have no idea why the HO might think that would be the case. I have texted her a very polite message to say I was sad to see she didnt feel her pet was completely happy with us and asking if she’d mind providing some more feedback to help us improve. She has read my message and not replied.

So my questions for you, dear reader, are as follows:

  1. Am I being too sensitive?
  2. Would you have done anything differently?
  3. Have you had a similar experience and if so, did you get an explanation?

It is very difficult to know the state of mind of animals anyway.

What other reviews did this HO give (if any)? Are there missing reviews?

Sadly not, we were her first sitters so no feedback to compare us to.

I had initially put it down to being new to THS but before the sit, she had mentioned that she had read our reviews so she knows what kinds of things people usually write and how it can affect potential HO’s decisions…

Sounds like she is put off/miffed about something, and possibly it’s conjecture on her part or she had a nosy neighbor reporting something to her (e.g., that they thought you were gone for long periods or something). So it’s not “proven” and she knows it.

The comments I see like “Pet was out of sorts when we returned” thus concluding that the sitter was cruel or neglectful are ridiculous imo. Maybe they weren’t happy to see the owners back.

In any case, I think you’ve done all you can. I wouldn’t stay in contact or do more back and forth.


How would she know her pet wasn’t happy while you were looking after it? You sent regular updates and pictures, did it look particularly glum in some of them?
I (personally) think she is basing this supposed unhappiness on the greeting she got when she returned which, we all know is usual. There would be definitely something wrong if the pet didn’t get excited when the owner returned.
Notch it up to experience. To be honest, missing reviews are not as important to long serving pet carers as they are to people just starting. You have obviously proved yourself so stop fretting and carry on enjoying the life we all love.


If she isn’t responding to communication, she is wanting control. It would also bother me as a sitter. I can’t see any way a pet could communicate their unhappiness with a sitter to an owner. Seems like a ridiculous thing to rate. You aren’t being too sensitive. Although it isn’t easy, sometimes people have poor manners and the only thing we can do is let it go.


Thank you for your advice @ElsieDownie! I think you’re right… I shall try to stop fretting and not let it get to me. I know she was a happy girl throughout our stay!


This is a good point: it can’t be leaving her alone for long as I work from home… I don’t think she was actually ever left alone while we we there! But perhaps a neighbour heard us playing with the dog and thought it sounded like she was unhappy. She loved a good wrestle and playing with her toys but maybe her owner doesn’t usually play with her in that way and the dog-wrestle play noise sounded alarming… :woman_shrugging:

Thank you for your advice!

We’ve only got 5*, and I’d be gutted if we got less, I feel for you! I’d send her another nice message again to try to find out what was wrong in there eyes so you can improve for future sits, you have nothing to lose and you never know she may re-think her scoring and contact customer services to alter it, or remove it. But you still need to tread carefully.


Hi @ChloeJ. Sorry to hear about your experience. If it were me I’d be so very upset and confused, as the pet’s happiness is my paramount priority and it sounds like it’s yours too.

  1. you’re not being too sensitive
  • she seems put out about something -

It appears a passive aggressive approach on her part. It is either a need to control, or perhaps even being peeved that you did such a great job.

Perhaps the pet is showing signs of missing you, as you gave it so much time and play. (This has happened to me a few times, but thankfully the HOs were just happy the pet was happy with me, rather than wanting jealousy fuelled revenge!)

  1. Based on what you have said I’d have done the same.

  2. My first ever sit my HO dinged me a * to 4* under “self sufficiency” saying that a) I had asked a lot of Qs about the sit prior to arriving (!) I still do that after my 18th sit and always will to be thoroughly prepared and avoid nasty surprises. No one else has complained, in fact they specifically tell me that’s why they picked me, as they were reassured I was thorough and on the ball; and b) that I gave her unnecessary updates every day. Well before I left I asked her (as I always still would) how often she’d like updates. She said every day. One day I was busy with work and didn’t update her first thing and she msg’d me asking if everything was ok! It was. So quite a nonsense review.

I also noticed that she’d respond in a way that suggested jealousy when I sent pics (on her request) of her very happy cats with me - being sooo affectionate. She had said they would not be, as they liked only her.

The locals all said of her that she was really difficult and that she spoke to no one and was causing problems for others. She was on holiday on her own.

Her place had been so filthy that I’d spent 2 days cleaning before I could unpack or eat there. I left her place spotless.

So yes. I was upset to be wrongly dinged to 4* for following her requests exactly. Even though the overall rating from her was a 5*. And I’ve only ever had 5* from everyone else.

I had to learn to move on and try and forget. Which I did. But I confess it did sting for a few weeks first, especially because I was new and naive.

How about you read your reviews from the lovely people who wrote fair and gracious reviews. To take away the bitter taste and restore that nice warm glow.

And perhaps write a response to her review, in a neutral and polite tone, saying that you are surprised, given how happy doggie was, while you were there giving it lots of play and love and you wish them all well for the future.

Best of luck with it all @ChloeJ and chin up! It will fade away in time …

Sending hugs. :hugs:


Thank you so much for your advice @Purdie, and sorry to hear you’ve had a similar experience - docking stars for asking questions, sending pics and winning over cats seems utterly ridiculous!

I think your point about showing signs of missing us is an interesting point. We are very different to her owner - much younger, more excitable/active and she said herself that her dog really seemed to miss her husband when she moved away so I wonder if she particularly liked having a man back in the house… I’m not sure I’ll ever find out but these ideas do help me try to justify the situation so thank you!

I love your advice about reading over old reviews - we have gathered quite a few now from some really lovely people and its certainly an ego boost to read them back!



@ChloeJ I am on three HS sites as I use TH when I sit internationally or if the right ones come up here. Been sitting full-time around the globe since 2019 and part time before that, so I have had the same happen to me once. But I retain a five star rating across all sites regardless. So my point is…

On most, or a LOT, of my reviews, the HO will write that their dog/cat was moping around/wasn’t interested in them on their return, words to that affect. The reviews would state I did such a great job and the animals loved me, so when I left they missed me and it took a day or two for them to return to their normal self. My own dog and I were inseparable, joined at the hip lol But when I returned from an extended holiday, she basically said hi then wouldn’t talk to me for another day or two. I think sometimes they are saying, “Well you left me so I’ll make you pay for it” :joy: This is definitely not uncommon behaviour for a pet.

So possibly this is what happened in your case and the HO took it that her dog was unhappy whilst she was away, when it was probably the exact opposite! The dog no doubt missed you and it showed, but the HO didn’t pick that up.

At the end of the day, this is her issue, not yours. You did over and above and YOU know that, that’s all that matters. We cannot fix other people’s attitudes in life unfortunately so as hard as it is (I’m sure the majority of sitters have felt like you at some point) you need to walk away from this person and look towards your next sit, people like this NEVER understand or change, no matter how great you are or how much you do for them. Move on, karma is wonderful :wink:


Have you written your feedback for the sit yet @ChloeJ? That may appease your upset and put things straight for future people reading your profile. “We met “Bob” through a neighbour and were honoured to be her very first sitters for THS. The pets loved us, we spent all day together as we work from home. The HOs home was left sparkling clean with fresh flowers for “Bob’s” return. As a new owner we hope she has found a wonderful new world of pet care.” Or something like that. It tells me you’re the experienced one, you know the pets were happy, you made sure the house was gleaming and she’s a newbie. Without actually saying anything unkind or inflammatory. It tells me everything I need to know about the sort of sitters you are. Then it’s onwards and upwards :raised_hands:t3:


I don’t think you’re being too sensitive especially if you know for sure the pet was super happy in your care. We’ve had a few homeowners state that after they came back, the pets really seemed to miss us. Maybe a pet is out of sorts because they miss you. In our case, the homeowners knew for sure because not only do we sent written updates and photos, we also regularly send videos so that they can see how much fun they are having. I hope you can provide a good reply to their review. That does suck though especially if you provided top pet care

You’re not being too sensitive at all and I would feel exactly the same in your shoes.
I won’t repeat what others have said here but can only agree with their sentiments.
Try to put it behind you because you know how good you were.

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I think Cuttlefish’s feedback suggestions are brilliant


We had a very similar experience a while back. We have almost 40 5 star reviews and received a “one line” review. I did text the homeowner and asked what she was displeased with and how we could improve. I won’t go into detail as to what didn’t live up to her expectations - it was nothing to do with the pet but it was definitely a learning experience and I’m more cognizant now of the expectations of certain homeowners.

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I am a sitter too, it’s a great feeling to get a 5star review after a sit .

However, I am currently on a non THS sit . I find that I enjoy these more - maybe because I know there won’t be a review - just contented pets and an appreciative owner.

Going forward with THS sits , I am trying not to put so much emphasis in my own mind on the review that I got after the sit but rather on the reason I took the sit in the first place . The places I was able to visit, activities I did . That’s what makes it a good sit and I want to focus on these rather than the review.


I wouldn’t worry about it, your record speaks for itself and you’ll always inevitably encounter something like this at some time.
You know you cared for the house and pet very well, and that’s the most important thing.

You’ll look back and laugh one day :slight_smile:

Hi Chloe,

I think it is easy to become over sensitive with things, as I have in the past. You just have to remember that you cannot please everyone all of the time and these people would likely have found fault with anybody. A bit like Trip Advisors reviews, where you may see all excellent five star reviews and then just one, that only gives one star. Everyone will just believe the five star and ignore the one bad review. I can remember being really upset once as even though I had received five stars for everything there were a lot of negative comments, such as saying they thought I was poor, as I had not even replaced a loo roll etc. I found the implication that I was poor very upsetting and untrue. However the next housesit I did, which was a lovely large house in great area, and the owner actually referred to my last review, saying she could not believe the comments from my previous sit, and she was laughing and joking about it with me, and said who on earth would expect anyone to replace a loo roll? So, there was me worrying I would be seen in a negative light but it turned out it was the other way around, and it was the previous owner who was seen in an extremely negative light instead.
I also had another sit, which upset me as only given four stars for cleanliness. Yet this was somebody who had a cleaner twice a week and had come in to clean on the morning the owner was returning, just before I left. I should have actually recieved extra stars, as the last couple of days I had to put up with her son from Uni coming back but not just him, half a dozen friends as well, who were coming and going and planning and packing up for a weekend away. And I was never informed of his movements, so did not know when there or not, or when traipsing through the kitchen and using facilities etc. Also had him helping himself to my things in the fridge, as though it was all for the taking. And yes I know it is against the rules for him to have been there but I was simply informed of the fact after I was there. I had kept things clean though and all dishes had been put away etc. Getting only four stars for cleanliness did upset me, when I had to put up with so much at the end of the sit.
If you have lots of glowing reviews, people will just ignore the negatives. It really is not worth going back to owners for explanations. It could well be them being seen in a bad light and not you.
Good Luck.