How much is too much?

We’ve had some amazing housesits over the past years, some wonderful hosts, met some lovely dogs, but for some sits I wonder, how much is too much to ask?

We’ve found in over 50% of our sits, the host will alter the conditions after agreeing the sit, is this as common across the board as we’re finding it? Situations include things like:

  • The dates listed don’t end up being the dates the sitter actually wants someone to be there, they will be the travel dates, then later they’ll ask you to arrive a day before they leave, or stay a night after they return.
  • Hosts flights get cancelled (understandably not their fault at all) and they rebook for slightly different dates/times without consultation, then let you know afterwards.
  • We had one HO let us know that her husband would be there for the first 2 days of the sit, but would be working in the day so they wanted us there to walk the dog.
  • Finally, we arrived at our most recent sit to find the puppy had surgery the same day so had an large wound on his head and a cone. The dog needs multiple vets visits per week, constant supervision, and daily wound cleaning, as well as general bathing because he’s unable to clean himself.

What is the general approach to changes like this? Do you add caveats at the beginning?

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  1. Dates are often approximate, it’s best to ask them about it and make sure they understand you’re planning accordingly. But they might still change their dates a bit afterwards (it happens a lot). Not a big deal for us, but we are two people.
  2. That shouldn’t really happen, they should ask you before they rebook.
  3. They should find a different solution for the days that one of them is still at home. It sounds like you’re being treated like “staff” in this case, but maybe they just misunderstand the concept of THS.
  4. This completely changes the situation and if they still wanted to travel at all (which amazes me), they should discuss it with you and perhaps offer support (a friend, paid pet sitter etc.). We recently had a sit where the female dog was in heat and we were told just a day before, but what you describe sounds quite severe.
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I can see why you’d get fed up if that sort of thing happens half the time!

I think 3 (husband working from home) is unacceptable. You’re not their staff.

1 late request to tweak dates - is something you can discuss before you agree the sit and state your boundaries. (Eg, we will be travelling on/at another sit so cannot come earlier or leave later.)

2 flight cancelled, homeowner has to rebook - you dont always get a lot of flexibility when rebooking flights which presumably need to align with other aspects of the holiday. By the same token they may have to accept you cant flex either so they will need to make cover arrangements to bridge the gap(s).

4 pet operation/injury - nightmare! Ideally they’d stay home and surely they’d want to… But it’s not always possible is it. But agree completely with Timmy - they should forewarn you as much as possible and put in extra support if that’s needed.

[I find myself agreeing with Timmy quite a lot, generally speaking!!]

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Our approach to all our sits is to take the lead and ensure there is clear communication from the onset.

  1. We have had dates flex, but only if agreed. We detail logistics of coming and goings both for our arrival/departure dates and times as well as the HOs.

  2. If we can accommodate a change in dates, we do. If not, we would have to decline the sit.

  3. I took this point to mean the husband was not working from home and therefore the dog would be alone during the day. If that’s the case, while still slightly awkward, it may work out just fine. But walking of the dog is where the responsibilities end and I would make that very clear.

  4. Very unfair of the HOs to land you in this situation with no advance warning. I would not hesitate to express our concern and suggest we find some kind of solution with respect to additional support. If the wound is that dire, I would suggest the puppy stay at the vets.

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That is shocking. And if they didn’t fall all over themselves apologizing and explaining why this timing happened as it did, I would assume they planned it that way – free post-surgical nurse!–and I would expect THS to investigate and remove the HOs from the platform barring a very contrite HO and adequate explanation.

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This is one of the first things we ask when we do the interview. If they are flying, I ask for flights numbers and what day/time they want us to arrive/leave as well as day/time they are planning to leave/return. There are sometimes adjustments made later due to flight changes etc but at least we know up front. If we can accommodate the changes, we do, if not, they find a way around it - ask a family member or neighbour to care for the pet for the last day or whatever.

We always confirm during the interview that no one else will be in the house while we are there. If we are informed that this has changed later down the line, we would make a decision about continuing with the sit or not. We have had a sit with a 3 day handover so depending on the situation, that’s not totally out of the norm for us. But it should be discussed up front before deciding.

Again, we ask about any health issues during the interview. If something has happened to the puppy and he’s required unexpected surgery right before the sit, I would expect them to let us know, and we would likely take it in stride because these things happen.

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@clairelaw
As a relatively new sitter (3 sits so far with a couple more coming) I think dates are flexible. There seems many new HO’s on THS that put their travel dates but in an ideal world want you a day earlier for a handover or first thing for a handover. I clarify in the first video call what dates I’m needed.
The rest seems a bit ott.

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The situations of the husband at home and post surgical care for the pup seem too much to be sprung on you last minute.

If we can accommodate date changes we will. This has happened once domestically due to HO health issues and was only 1 day later. We were flying interstate to the sit but it suited us as we took a day to be tourists in an area close by we wanted to spend time in.

For our UK trip, we will be sitting full time from November to March and our sits are being booked back to back so a sit will finish on one day and the next one starts the next day, allowing us comfortable travel time between sits. During the application video call we tell the potential HO about this and confirm their travel dates and the times they want us to arrive and depart. As soon as the sit is confirmed, we send them a message via THS reiterating our travel plans saying “We will be travelling to you via train from our [location] sit which finishes on the morning/afternoon of [the day before date]. We will need to leave your place by [time] on [date] to travel to [location] as our next sit after yours commences at [time] on [date].” If the new HO were to request a date change later, we would have to decline but this hasn’t happened as yet.

The golden rule is to communicate, communicate, communicate.

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