Do housesitters not read instructions and feeling so frustrated

We have now had our 4th house sitters. We always request that our
house sitters come up to several days early we even collect them from the airport a good 1.5-hour drive away so we can show them feeding. Dog Walking, animal routines, house appliances, rubbish, supermarkets etc. and cover any queries and show the sitters everything plus we give an updated printed copy of welcome guide, printed animal feeding instructions and now i am confused as an owner not a sitter what we are doing wrong. we leave a very generous welcome gift basket and here are our issues.
Sitter one
Our 3-year-old oven was burnt out, meat thermometer broken found in recycling, cooking pans ruined, cups missing found broken in the recycle also food not replaced that was consumed from our freezer. We arrived back late at night, and they were dropped at the airport the next morning great end to a holiday
We gave a 5-star review only to find this after posting the review we only use the stove once every several weeks.
Sitter 2
Staples like flour, butter, breadcrumbs used but not replaced, instructions for animals not followed, we have an elderly dog who needs outside access at night-time and explain this it and is written in the welcome guide and the outside area door to be left open so she can go outside this is a very secure area that is unable to be accessed externally by any outsider and explain if this is an issue both dogs will sleep in the conservatory we came home to soiled carpet where doors had been shut our elderly girl could not get outside, we had to get professionally cleaned. and the animals were left alone for hours while tourist areas were visited, I don’t expect our house sitters to stay at home with the animals constantly and state that they are ok for up to 6 hours occasionally, but not be left alone daily for hours.
Sitter 3
This was a short week sit our sitter Left dogs every day for hours while visiting tourist areas, we had a council complaint about our dogs crying and barking. 4 weeks of animal treats were feed in 1 week. And the dogs were not walked every day. The treat area must have been the only read instruction as I always insist on the girls getting a treat before we leave for several hours.
Sitter 4
This is our most recent sit. We picked them up from the airport they were meant to come as a family only 2 arrived, mum and daughter they had the use of one of our cars which half way through the sit the dad came and the m and d went home we arrived back very late and night and had to take the sitter to the city at his request early the next morning a 1 hour 45 drive only to get back and notice that we have a ruined urine-soaked mat and carpet this time this will be an insurance job, I have messaged and asked why we were not told of this happening and have had a sorry, i did try to clean it but left the door shut for a week so the damage is major. in our welcome guide we insist on the door to outside being left open so that our elderly dog can get outside at night, the conservatory is available or the girls to sleep in our inside cat was left outside at night, he is not allowed outside at night, thank goodness he is ok.
The sitters also went on daily discovery trips leaving at 7.30 and not returning till 6 to 7 pm, our Neighbours have told us as our girls were barking and crying all day.
Can someone please explain do sitters need to buy groceries. I left our sitters some perishables, milk, eggs, vegetables, which I don’t expect replaced, but I do expect at least a bottle of milk.
We are wondering are we giving too much by supplying a car and giving what i would expect from an owner. My welcome guide is always updated with what we need to be taken care of. This time Plants were not watered, showers left dirty, beds not stripped 18!!! towels left for me to wash, sheets off 4 beds, rubbish bins full of sanitary products not emptied am after some input as to what else we can do.
We are away again in 6 weeks so any input welcome.


@cjn Sorry to hear of your experiences particularly in relation to damage done to your property and not following your instructions to allow your dogs access outside at night and for those who left your pets at home alone for an excessive amount of time . This is not the typical of most sitters who take great care of peoples homes and pets .

Who is applying for your sits are they all new sitters or sitters with good reviews from previous THS sits ?

It’s great that you have a Welcome Guide and you keep it up to date. Is all this information also in your listing - how long the pets can be left alone for during the day - that they need access to the outside at night ?

As it seems leaving the door open at night has not been followed by several of your sitters - maybe the sitters have security concerns . I suggest that this is something that you need to discuss and explain to sitters in your video chats before you confirm the sit so that sitters know and can decide if they will be comfortable about leaving a door open at night .

I would suggest going forward with THS that you
-Include in your listing how long the pets can be left alone for and that they need access to outside during the night
-select only sitters with previous good reviews
-have a video call to discuss the important things in your welcome guide before confirming a sitter .

If your listing is not attracting any experienced sitters to apply it could be that the number of pets or location makes it more suitable opportunity for a paid sitter .


I don’t know if this is sheer bad luck with all these sitters, poor vetting before confirming the sit (did you have a video call with any of them?), or lack of clarity in the instructions you left them. Whatever the reason, I feel for you and the dogs.

May I ask how you know that sitter #4 were away for so many hours?
Going forward, are you sure you have had a thorough conversation with your next sitters? Have you asked the hard questions and explained what you expect from them? Some people need very clear boundaries.


There seems to be a pattern so there must be a common cause.
I wonder if you attract a certain type of sitter?
What is your process for selecting/declining sitters? Is it thorough? Do you insist on a video chat to explore what they plan to do whilst sitting for you?
Leaving a door open to your property overnight might simply feel unsafe to these sitters, I wonder why though? It might be worth asking them now to help you going forward?
It’s worth asking advice from experienced sitters here to look at your listing (add your THS profile into your Forum profile) to see if there are unintended ‘signals’ you’re giving out that you’re not aware of that attract these more careless/inept/unreliable sitters.
I hope you can find some answers. Best wishes.

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Communicate a lot in advance of the sit, make clear what you need, read their reviews. Maybe try sitters who work from home.
I do a lot of dog sits and I spend a lot of my time at home with the dogs, or going out with them. It’s pretty rare that I leave them for more than 4 hours, and only if it’s been checked with the owners that this is OK for them, and not for several days in a row. Dogs are great company for me so I want to be with them!
Pretty sure I am not the only one.


Yes, four out of four, that I find very surprising. I am wondering what kind of area this is. Maybe not that much to do close by but lots of touristy stuff at a distance?

Maybe it is that you require arrival “several days” early. A large proportion of sitters don’t like that and would not apply. Certainly not the sitters that need to get some work done.


Thanks for your input. We always have video calls, and we discuss the animals i also have a separate list of dog requirements, yes i did discuss with each of the sitters regarding the outside access for the girls and that if they were not happy with this to leave the girls in the conservatory which has access to outside, it is a high secure area that cannot be accessed from outside. so am at a loss over this.
We also tell the sitter that our dogs can only be left for a maximum of up to six hours and not daily.
We have had 3 new to house sitting sitters who had good reviews, i turned down a number of sitters owing to concerns we both had.
We live in a very tourist and history area and always get a lot of applications, the last sitter seemed to use us as a holiday destination.


We had a Zoom call with a home owner who also lives in a highly desirable area. He asked us the question: “I know I live in a gorgeous place, what is the reason you applied for my sit?”
I found that a brilliant question, which helps to seperate sitters who only want to visit the area and the ones who are genuinely interested in the animals.


in reply to how we knew the sitters were away for so many hours, they left us a list of the trips they had done and what time they had left and returned and when they walked the dogs, plus our Neighbour’s were concerned as our girls were barking all day every day and we have had complaints from our Neighbours,
I am wondering if we are being too nice, I’ve only used trusted house sitters 4 times but have used other sitters for lots of times and have never had these problems, all the sitters we have had are from out of our country. All our other sitters have been locally based.

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I am concerned about leaving my animals with someone i have not meet in person, all the sitters have arrived the day before we leave, this is something my husband and i would not agree to leaving the girls with someone we have only meet on video calls.
We live in a very tourist area known for its beauty, walks, and we are 1.5 hours every way north south east or west from major tourist areas.

love that and am going to ask that question, as i am sure all the sitters we have had have come for the area more than the sit.

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That is typically what a THS unpaid sitter travelling from overseas would expect to do whilst also caring for your pets without receiving any monetary payment as a mutual exchange . They shouldn’t however leave your pets for longer than stated in your home listing .

If you are receiving a lot of applications then choose a sitter who has lots THS reviews not just external ones . There are many sitters with 10+ 20+ 50+ reviews ( and even some with 100+ reviews )

Do include in your listing all the information about how long the dogs can be left alone for ( “up to 6 hours” ) and how often ( “not every day” - be specific - would you be happy with every other day ??? ) . This will help to prevent unsuitable sitters from applying . You can repeat it again in your video call - what are you planning to do during your stay here ? As stated in our listing we don’t want the dogs to be left alone every day so what will you do on the days that you stay home with the dogs ?

Can the dogs be taken out with the sitter to local sites in your car ? If so maybe include these as suggestions for some of the days so that the dogs aren’t left alone every day.

We have enjoyed lots of THS holidays which included taking the dogs with us for hikes and walks in the local area .


With so many bad sitters in a row, I’d reconsider how you screen. That’s because having such bad outcomes repeatedly is not the norm.

If you’re 1.5 hours from major tourist areas, it’s likely that your sitters are spending time getting to and from such places and visiting them. If I were in your position, I’d not mention those areas in your listing, unless you’re open to them actually spending many hours away. And specify in your listing how long your pets can be left so you deter those who want more time away.

For what you described, sitters not letting your pets out, major damage being done as a result, I’d report them to THS membership services. But as someone else mentioned, there might be safety concerns. Maybe consider installing a dog door for overnights?


Im sorry i dont agree with this comment, when we are looking for a sit it is the area we look at first, we travel a lot so why wouldnt we look at an area we haven’t visited before? So first of all its the area, then we would look at the pets and read what was expected of us, of course at the same time looking at the photographs to ensure the property met our standards. I have a nice property so i want to stay in a nice property.


Agree with @Redlady. I genuinely love animals, but I could enjoy them at home, without traveling anywhere at expense and time. I do THS sits so I can visit locations I’m interested in, while taking pet and home care responsibilities seriously.

If not for wanting to travel or experience new or different places, I have nice homes of my own to stay at, and I could care for my own dog, volunteer at a shelter or such.

Even if I didn’t have a pet, I could borrow a dog from friends, neighbors or dog sharing platforms. And I don’t need sitting income, but folks who love pets could charge for sitting and not need to travel.

It seems disingenuous or unrealistic to think that anyone is sitting via THS just for pets. Why pay membership fees, airfare or other travel costs when none of that is necessary if you just want time with animals?

I’ve found all the pets I’ve sat lovable, but I didn’t choose to travel just to sit them. There are loads of lovable animals everywhere, including plenty locally. Even nomads who sit for respite or relaxation are motivated by travel and different places. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be nomads.


I agree it would be very helpful if you link your sit page so some of us who are experienced at picking sits can see it. We may be able to help in understanding why you are not getting quality sitters. We once did a sit where the homeowner insisted we leave the front security door open when we leave so the dog could watch the neighborhood through the glass. Although we were concerned about security, we followed the homeowner instructions. It is unforgivable that your dogs were not let out as they are accustomed to. Perhaps in future homeowners should wait a few days before doing reviews so any issues that come up can help decide review ratings and warn future homeowners not to choose unscrupulous sitters.


You have mentioned that you feel that maybe you have been too nice… what does it mean in concrete? Accepted someone because they said the right thing in their applications and video call? Given newbies a chance? Too accommodating while they are there (use of car, etc)? Left them nice reviews regardless?

I believe that people are a good match for each other if both parties are respectful and don’t take advantage of the situation. I personally wouldn’t behave poorly if someone is very nice to me.

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So…. You might end up declining a sitter if you don’t like the look of them once they show up? Unless there are huge red flags, this doesn’t seem fair. Perhaps you could try with local sitters (people interested in building reviews), asking them to meet first.

After reading your replies to the forum members, I’m under the impression that you should improve your getting to know them process.

  • Get sitters with many positive reviews, especially the ones that received a few over the last 7 months, when the blind review system started.
  • Maybe you should exchange a couple of extra emails before the video call, or have a longer call.
  • Keep in touch with them every once in a while once they are confirmed, even to see what their communication style is like.

@cjn without being able to see your listing or listings of sitters you picked it’s hard to see what is going wrong.
In general, sitters read the requirements and responsibilities of the sit opportunity and plan to adhere to them if they wish to be accepted. I don’t think being less nice is going to help.
Maybe it’s just a streak of bad luck because I think it’s unusually to have this many mishaps back to back.
You can try putting in the wecome guide the items you want replaced if used. although I would always replace items I used, apparently other sitters don’t automatically do this.

That’s odd to have that many string of bad experiences. As a sitter, I follow all of the instructions for the petsit but I want to know all of the responsibilities upfront before I even confirm the sit, not just in the welcome guide. Does your welcome guide contain way more responsibilities that sitters were not aware of? If you could link your listing, we may be able to give you more insight. Can you be more specific on the responsibility section so that the right people apply? As sitters, we gauge how long it will take to do touristy things in a new area. If we’re watching dogs, then we may decide to split up. Maybe I can do something with my sons and then on another day my husband could take my daughter. Or I take the kids while my husband stays behind and works and hang out with the dogs.

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