Empathy burnout

Well I’ve been doing this since 2019, on my 17th sit, plus I do a few paid sits here and there. Guess it’s time for a break from petsitting. I’ve had a dog die, one really hard young Doberman barking in my face and needing constant play, now I have a sick puppy and a major storm with damage inside the house all in one sit.
I feel like I’m burnt out. I love the dogs but having 3 big dogs breathing rot breath in my face and crawling all over me while thunder and lightning goes on all night …. Sigh. I’m tired.
Anyone else had this happen after awhile? How I would love a cat sit. Why aren’t there any cats it’s around here? Lol


Hi @KarenM,

I’m sorry your current sit is going tough. I hope the puppy gets better and the storm goes away!

Sitter self-care is so important, just like caregiver self-care! I’m an introvert, so I definitely need to recharge after too much people time, or pet time!

I hope you can find a creative way to take a break. Maybe you can contact one of the emergency contacts for a rest?



Hi @KarenM I have sent you a Direct Message.

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@KarenM Huge, non-stinky hugs from us. This too will end. We love what we do, but sometimes we are really happy when a sit comes to a close. I think we sometimes give much more love/attention/fun than the owners, so the pets are all over us more often. Just keep your energy calm and set/keep some boundaries. Obviously a storm is a whole different topic. And sometimes a month without pets make you appreciate the next pets more. Or as you say, try a cat! Merry Christmas.


That sounds like really a lot to do deal with! We have certainly had some close calls with death, some craziness with large untrained dogs and once even a Great Dane who bit my partner (a bit complex to explain, but there was a problem with the food that we were given). The first situation was anticipated since the dog was already 16 years old and he was put down weeks later, the second one was our first sit ever and we were just so happy that anyone wanted us, the third sit my partner did alone and she had to abort the sit since she was terrified of the dog after the incident. In your case it sounds like the HO should really be coming home and look after the sick puppy. We have also grown more cautious about which sit to accept and maybe would be reluctant to sit very young or very old dogs and ask tons of questions about the training / behavior / health etc.


I have to give you an applause, because on this forum there is no other way to show you my support.


One of my first sits was a puppy that was supposedly trained but wasn’t, it was a complete nightmare and I would never sit a puppy again.


Yes I always end up totally loving the pets! I love them, I will stay up all night hugging the puppy if I have to. I just needed to vent. Thanks :slight_smile:


This puppy is so amazing, I am lucky. But he ate something outside and is just sick. The poor guy.

What a great point. I know I do give all the animals I sit so much attention. Sometimes I don’t leave the house at all.

Whoa, you have had some experiences!! I’ve never been bitten or injured! Thank goodness. I don’t need help, I just need the little guy to feel better. He’s on the mend now (I think) and a vet has been consulted. Ty so much


Big breathe, feet up and reach for the chocolate and/or rum.
These things are sent to try us but we always come out better and more experienced in the end

Or a complete drunk slobbering about the evils of chocolate and bemoaning the weight gain.


:rofl:Lol thanks will do

Karen, I am sorry you feel burn out, I understand, I feel that way at times too. To try to calm the dogs down during the storm, see if you can find some soothing, white noise sounds on your phone to hopefully calm the dogs down. A calming collar for dogs might also help. We were dog sitting a giant puppy, who barked all night and did not let us sleep. After 4 sleepless nights, I contacted the dog owner who immediately ordered a calming collar that was delivered the same day! It worked, and what a difference! According to the website (you can Google “calming collars for dogs”): “Calming Collars contain a pheromone that is scientifically proven to reduce fear of loud noises, bad behavior and barking.” Hope this helps. There are some cat sits out there, keep looking and maybe filter your search criteria to cats only. I wish you all the best.


Ah, how I feel you. I really do. I felt also totally burnt out. Mentally. I get too invested in my pets and hardly ever spend any time on my own which I badly need to recharge my battery.

Last month I went to Bali alone to “walk the beaches”. It did the trick. I am back “in business”. If you can invest in yourself for a while


We’re heading to Bali after this Singapore sit for exactly this reason! A year of almost back to back sits & we really really need a break from the responsibility of pets & daily updates to hosts!! :woozy_face:
Looking forward to yoga, cruising around on our scooter, walking the beaches, lots of coconut water and …just chilling on our own time schedule!:rofl:


@KarenM Its so horrible when things just pile up & you start thinking “what next? No more please!” You are strong; you’re dealing with everything and it will pass. You don’t need to hear how everyone else has fabulous plans right now, you need to be reassured that although things are :poop: you will overcome. Look after that poorly puppy and look after yourself. The forum supports you morally but don’t hesitate to seek real help near you if you need it.
Good luck & stay sane :hugs:


Sitter burnout is real. Even if every sit you are on goes exactly as planned, the moving from place to place, treading lightly, cleaning thoroughly, fussing over eve the most low maintenance animals can add up to being overwhelmed and just sort of over it.

We recently planned a 10 week “circuit breaker” with no sits, just travel. We knew at the end of it we had a five week sit (which we are currently on) and so we enjoyed the aspects of non-sit travel while we had them while reminding ourselves in times of travel burnout and stress that this too would pass.

Also, we decided a while ago that dogs would be case by case basis. We’ve become a lot pickier and that means we have less sits to choose from, but our experiences are better. Not sure your situation, but if you can afford to be picky, then be picky. Only do cat sits, look for pre-pandemic dogs, etc etc. You’ll learn as you go what you can and can’t put up with and it’s not a failure or a shortcoming on your part. This is an exchange and you deserve to enjoy yourself and be comfortable. Yeah, stuff happens, but if you are really worn down it may be time for a break and a re-evaluation of what you want to get out of sitting.

Good luck, and if you aren’t in a dangerously freezing place, I’d suggest buying a jar of bubbles and blowing them for the dog outside. He’ll burn off extra energy and if he gets some soap in his mouth maybe it’ll help with the smell :laughing:


@KarenM - I feel your pain! We’ve been pet sitting since 2016 but only for part of each year. Even with sitting only in the winter months, I still feel the stress at times. We recently had a sit with two dogs and two cats - and even though there were four critters, they were incredibly easy and entertaining!
Our current sit has included a snowstorm, freezing rain, and a 75’ pine tree that crashed down next to the house with the high winds. Fortunately, it only clipped the corner of the house. Because of the ice and now the rain, we’ve not been able to take the dogs out even once for a walk. I feel guilty about it but until today, the driveway was too dangerous to go down.
We have a week break between this sit and the next - I am looking forward to having some “us” time with no responsibilities!


Hi Karen, I have been doing one house-sit after another for six months now, too, and many challenges have come up for me, too, so I understand your feelings. What I sometimes do between sits is that I treat myself with a nice room in a spa hotel with sauna and pool, get a massage, eat from all-you-can-eat buffets, and live 1-2 days in utter luxury. After that I feel like reborn and have all the strength to face the challenges of the next sit!