Diversify your sitting experiences or specialize?

Sitters, do you like to diversify your sitting experiences or do you tend to specialize in one sort of sit, for example large dogs or horses?

Owners, do you prefer sitters with diverse animal sitting experiences or those who are specialized in one type of animal?

After seeing quite a few HO listings requesting “cat lovers” or “dog lovers”, I thought that owners would tend to prefer someone who is specialized.

This forum, however, has a wonderful way of opening my eyes to different viewpoints, like the one presented in another thread by @Düsenzofe. She wrote, “I confess I declined a perfect sounding sitter with 52 x 5* reviews on sits only with cats, because I didn’t want anybody “knowing better” than us how to treat our tom, who has several health issues.” It’s not something that I would have considered but it’s a valid point. Many thanks @Düsenzofe for sharing this particular observation. It made me think that I should try to diversify my sits.

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I mostly do sits with dogs.
Have completed over 40 sits now, and 39 have had dogs, with the occasional cat thrown in. :rofl:
(Actually about a dozen cats now)
I have only done one sit with only a cat, and it was an indoor cat on the 14th floor of a condo in Singapore, but it was good fun.
I just prefer dogs. I enjoy walking, exploring, so look for sits where there are places I can go with dogs. I have done a few city sits - but now tend to go for beach or countryside sits.
I have had my own dogs for 30 years, always larger dogs mostly rescues, so I DID initially look for larger dogs, but after looking after Shih Tzu’s, poodles, Jack Russell, Doodles I realise I just like dogs.

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Great questions!
In my life before THS, my family always had dogs, lots of them. Even though we had a very large home and wooded enclosed property, I enjoyed taking our greyhounds for walks until one day they bolted after a critter and my knee went in the opposite direction.
Most of my sits have been with cats. I do regular sits with large dogs that do not require walking in leads. The property is two wooded acres with invisible fencing.
I love chickens, ducks, rabbits, birds and dogs that are either small or have a space they can run without me.
Would love to expand to sheep, goats (a little experience there) or those mini horses :grinning:

I do have People who love that I do mostly cats and then there are those that have no preference. Those are usually people who have a menagerie of pets.

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We seem to have got a reputation for looking after large dogs. We didn’t ask for it but maybe the fact we love to hike and most of our profile pictures have pointers, labs or retrievers on them.
We love all animals and have looked after dogs, cats, sheep, hens, horses and a field of cattle and of course the indoor runner duck which was hilarious.
I would never say I was an expert. The only person who really knows their own animals is the owners so I always follow instructions and ask their advice first if something doesn’t look right. Most of the fun of this life is you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

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Best quote ever!

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We’ve done more sits with dogs than cats, so I’ve been actively trying to get more sits with just cats so we have more official “THS experience” with both. I love both dogs and cats but I was worried we’d get pegged as “mostly dogs”, so yes, diversity is good in my books. If I preferred one over the other, I might focus on “specializing”, but once again, I think it depends very much on the sitter and their interests and strengths.

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We like to keep an open mind but do tend to look after larger dogs especially Labradors. However, some small dogs are just so cute and the last dog was a border terrier. However, the sitting included a labrador. A combination of small and large dogs works very well.
It also depends on the location - country is dogs, and towns/cities tend to be cats
Add in chickens, ducks and fish and that is it for us.
You can never tell what an owner is looking for though. We were unsuccessful with a sitting for a cat. I asked for feedback and she said that we looked like dog lovers rather than cat lovers. We have looked after 80+ different dogs and over 40 different cats.
Once the sitting had taken place I had a look to see what their sitter’s profile looked like. She had only 3 reviews but her profile heading was “Sitter who loves cats”
Perhaps we should change our profile heading for each sitting.

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We haven’t done a huge number of sits, but have mainly looked after dogs, and cats. Slightly more dogs than cats, and a few chickens. However I recently realised that my profile pictures are almost all dogs, apart from a photo of the kids cleaning a chicken house. I think I need to add a few cat photos!

Also, I realise that most of our sits have been for multiple pets, usually 3-5. These sits appeal to us, as we are a family of 4, so multiple pets means everyone gets to share the love!

We would like to try some sits with different animals, as we love them all. I quite fancy looking after some sheep.

In terms of breeds and size of dogs, our last sit included a chihuahua and our next one has a Great Dane! We love dogs that we can walk and explore with, but we have also sat for some absolutely lovely, affectionate dogs who couldn’t walk far at all. We just love them all!

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As a homeowner with geriatric pets, I am particularly drawn to a sitter with experience in senior care because older pets have conditions not normally seen in younger fur babies. There are things to consider like hearing loss, joint pain, aging eyes, lumps and bumps, dementia, potty accidents, etc.

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The average age of the dogs we have been sitting is 16. We have become adept at administering all sorts of medication in all sorts of ways. We have only sat 2 puppies about 6 months of age who were so exuberant and then crashed for a revival sleep. While they are great fun, the quiet and slower nature of an older pet is something we enjoy.

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As a sitter i did more sits with cats although i love dogs and have owned dogs for ages. Reason why is i sit mostly alone and can,t walk 2 dogs easily with a weak shoulder and a weak knee.
I looked after 3 once because my husband was with me and the dogs were free on a huge property.
I apply even when there is also poultry although i am not very fond of hens.

I’m ready to look after turtles like that i will be able to do more tourism than i can do when a dog can’t be left alone long.
I would never dare sit for horses. Unable to understand if something goes wrong. Or sheep. I’m not a country woman. Pigs ?
I try to enlarge my experience to have new reviews. Old, mature, young animals, in good shape or not. Needing medicines or care.

That’s why i am looking after a golden retriever puppy, 5 months old, in Switzerland next week.
I love pups. Although it means i’ll need to go out at 6 am to let her pee in the garden close to the flat…
As an owner i prefer dogs lovers. Ready to play a lot with a young one : mine.

But i’m fascinated by sitters who have been in charge of alpacas, sheep and horses. By sitters who have a wide range of talents .

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Great question @Mary-Kay - Part of why we love house sitting is because of the diversity of animals we get to look after. I really enjoy learning about each new animal and even new breeds - we have our first Yorkshire Terrier right now… the smallest dog we’ve ever looked after :slight_smile:

We’ve looked after dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, fish, chickens, ducks, parakeets, African tortoises, sheep, pigs, goats, llamas, ponies and horses all of which are within our capabilities (some after “instruction” from owners). However, we do say in our profile that we’ll only look after horses as long as there is an equine expert to call on. We’ve seen how quickly (not on our watch fortunately) horses can deteriorate when poorly and we don’t have the equine expertise or confidence to deal with such situations.

Funnily enough, our specialization for the first few years of house sitting was around the property type, not the pets. We had lived remotely in Panama and off-grid so our expertise in handling rugged off-grid systems was strong and we highlighted that experience. That did lead us to house sits in amazing rural off-grid settings in Mexico, The Caribbean, Nicaragua, Africa and Fiji.

I think we all add lots of new skill-sets through house sitting and not only around the pets. Languages and communication skills come to mind :slight_smile: But… after saying all this, I do think there will always be some owners who prefer someone who “specialises”, for extra reassurance.

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It’s difficult to diversify if 99% of all sits are with cats or dogs. But we’re always excited about new types of pets or even just different breeds of dogs/cats. Once we traveled over 10 hours by bus to cuddle with a Sphynx cat in France ;). We didn’t regret it! The most important thing is of course that you’re sure that you can handle the task, so we might never do sits with horses for example. PS: We have probably done 50% cat sits, 40% dog sits and 10% mixed/other sits. A few animals were under 1 year, but most are more mature or even at the end of their live (they are definitely the most challenging ones emotionally). Every animal is different and lovable in it’s own way.

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Thanks for taking the time to answer my question @Petermac @Amparo @ElsieDownie @Kelownagurl @Itchyfeet @Debbie @mattersfact2 @Noelene @Provence @Timmy. For a newbie to THS like myself, your informative and diverse responses are very helpful.

I’m really thankful that this forum exists. I’d write more but I’m using my phone while on the train to the airport. Next stop: the UK for a couple of cat sits.

Thanks again! :grinning:

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And thanks @Vanessa-Admin!

I couldn’t add you to the previous post because the system limits the mentions to 10. That’s what I learned today. :wink:

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Damn limitations eh? :rofl: Travel safe and happy!!

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“Damn limitations” - Exactly! :crazy_face:

Now I know what it feels like when the music plays someone off the stage at the Academy Awards because I really wanted to be sure to thank you, hence the second post.

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I like to diversify, but I also know my limitations.

I have no experience working with horses, so I would be nervous about taking on a horse-sit even if the HOs assured me it was no trouble. I may actually look into doing some sort of workaway with horses just to get the experience, because I’d really enjoy a taste of that ranch life!

So I think having guided experiences first is better for me, then I am happy to mix things up a bit on a housesit. Above all I want the HO to feel confident in my ability to care for their animals, and I want to feel comfortable with the animals in my care. Then we can both have a chilled out time :slight_smile:

I also saw what @Düsenzofe said and it was an interesting perspective. Having grown up with cats I do think I have can recognize certain things such as behavior and health changes, however I would never presume to know more about anyone’s pet than they do. But I could see someone else feeling overconfident about their experience, just like with any job really.

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