New sitter here, need some advice

Hi everyone!

This is my first time here, both writing on the forum and petsitting.

I have my first sit confirmed next month and I was wondering what kind of information should I know or ask about the pets, the house, the neighborhood, etc prior my arrival.

Obviously we already had a call and we exchanged messages about the pets and their needs, but the owner it’s also first timer, so I thought about asking here in the forum because we’re probably missing a lot of things.

One of the owners will be there when I arrive, so I assume the necessary directions on where different things are located in the house, taking out the garbage and that sort of thing will be addressed when I get there, but I was wondering, what kind of information is important for me to have in advance and quickly accessible?

By the way, I requested the welcome guide a couple of weeks ago but the owner hasn’t filled it out yet, I’ve read on the forum that there are people who find it annoying to fill out and decide to make their own document, so I would like to know what kind of information you usually receive in this guides.

Thanks in advance!

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It really depends on the type of pet / breed and what prior info you received. Perhaps it’s good to go through all the different situations in your mind and see if any question comes up. E.g. if you have a strong dog you might want to know if he’s leash trained, if it’s a young female you might want to know if she has been neutered.

Welcome @Elavi. I’d try and get the HO to fill in the welcome guide. The more info in there the better and easier for the HO.
I’d specifically want to know the emergency contact, the HO’s vet. Water and electric shut off points. Useful to know the personalities of all pets, when they get fed and any other useful info like they need brushing x number of times. How long can pets be left alone?
I presume you have the HO’s full address details to hand?
Nice to know how all electric items work or a link to manuals how to work them. How any heating or air con works.
Also good to know where and how often public transport is (unless you have access to a car) Plus where are the nearest doctors, dentists, supermarkets and banks.

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Thank you for your reply, I have spoken to the HO and it’s going to fill in the welcome guide with the vet and emergency contact information, we’ve already talked about pets, feeding time, walking time, how long can they be left alone and other useful information through a phone call and WhatsApp. They also shared the full address details via WhatsApp.

Knowing that they are going to fill in the welcome guide makes me feel more at ease, I was a little worried about not having all the necessary information easily accessible.

@Elavi When a homeowner is creating the Welcome Guide for the first time, I let them know what is not important to me. For example, if I don’t need them to tell me about tourist areas, or public transit, then I tell them to skip that for now. I also mention that the guide will be there for their next sitters too, so they can expand on it before the next sitter.

My way of encouraging them is to point out that it’s far better to spend the time before their trip, rather than answering my texts during their trip. :wink:

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Hi Elavi,
I agree with all especially having a contact person as we have had to use the contacts a few times.
I would also ask if there is anything unusual about the appliances like one hot plate we had when we thought we had turned it off it goes back on again if you dont remove your finger quick enough.
I would also ask if there is anything unusual happening in the neighbourhood. We once had a home owner who said his wife was very stressed and needed a break. I presumed it was because of Covid but it turned out the month before they had been broken in to and the husband disturbed them. This should have been mentioned to me being a lone sitter I may not have taken the sit.
Next time someone says they are very stressed I would ask why.

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Hi @Elavi,
I’m a homeowner and as part of my welcome guide (I have a word document and do not use the TH welcome guide) I have an additional page included:
" A 'typical days schedule"
My sitters have found this to be very useful.
Maybe this is something you could also ask for…

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Ask where to circuit breakers are situated ? ? Could come in handy :slight_smile:

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Agree. Circuit breakers, water shut off valve, fire extinguishers, those items we hope to never need.

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Satisfying the needs and wants of the Home Owner and their concern for their pets while they are away is Job #1 for a Sitter.

This leads to a long dialog. For example:

How often do they expect a picture or video of their pet? How to send it? Via Text msg, email, Whatsapp or Live video call? Do they have WhatsApp? If not, what do they use? Upload longer video to Youtube? Internet network name, password? Usage limit?

Will they monitor their pets on the house video security system? Where are the cameras? Will the system reset itself in a power outage? Password needed for reset?

Are the pets on any medication? Special diet? Behavior quirks? Have they had Separation Anxiety when left alone before? Bad behavior? House trained? Typical play and exercise routine? Interaction with other pets or pests (racoons, squirrels, coyotes, rats). Favourite Neighbours, neighbourhood play areas, danger area, ticks, snakes?

If you the Sitter want YOUR needs satisfied, all your conversation will be about you. What food can I eat? Where is your alcohol? Do I have to bring my own toilet paper? Can I use your car, vespa, or bike? Where is a spare key if I lose mine? What is the neighbours or backup sitter name and phone# if I must leave early? How long can I leave the pets alone to explore the area? Will they bark non-stop or soil the home if I dont pet them every 2 hrs?

If there is a big mismatch between the HO’s needs and expectations and your own, better to find this out BEFORE the sit. After a few sits, you will learn how to ask questions to either confirm or decline sits. It gets easier the more you practice. Good luck!

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@DavidTHS Interior active monitoring cameras of any kind are against TrustedHousesitters rules.

@Elavi if you address this point with owners, it’s to have them confirm that there will not be any active cameras during the sit. It may feel like an awkward question to ask, but those are the important questions. Some owners are not aware of this point, or overlook the built-in alert messaging when they set up their listing.

Using the search function, you can find posts with more information concerning cameras and various tracking devices.

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Hi @DavidTHS to pick up on one very important point which @Snowbird has referred to in every situation and without exception, all internal recording, listening or monitoring devices must be deactivated while a sitter is in situ … failure by pet parents/owners to do so can result in a suspension or removal from the site.

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Thank you so much for all your answers.

@Verityandjulian @CindyLou This is something that hadn’t crossed my mind, but you are right, it’s something that although I hope it will not become necessary, it’s important to know where they are located.

@DavidTHS @Snowbird I really appreciate your advice, I haven’t addressed the camera thing because it seemed a bit awkward to ask about it and perhaps it might bother the HO, but yes, maybe I should ask to make sure there won’t be any active interior monitoring camera during my sit, although personally it’s not a deal breaker to me, I understand that it’s against THS rules.

As a home owner who has used THS for the last two years for a number of sits (up to 9 weeks long), I don’t really care for the on-line Welcome Guide. I have a comprehensive document that I always send to the sitters who have been confirmed for my house-sits. I also have a hard copy of it in the home for them.

I’m sitting for someone brand new to THS over the holidays and when i asked her about a welcome guide or instructions, she asked me what should be included. I told her she could use the on-line tool for that. But, if she preferred my approach I was fine with that as well.

Here’s my response to her as to what should be included;

The address, your name and phone number.
Local emergency contact Vet location
Most especially - routines that are important for the cats. What food, when, treats, toys, litter box (and supplies), likes, dislikes.
Garbage - when/where/how Mail, where does it get delivered and where would you like me to put it?
WIFI information.
Anything tricky about appliances, locks, etc.
Any ‘house rules’. Things I should know about neighbors so that i don’t upset anyone.
Don’t bother about the neighborhood, restaurants, etc. Unless you have some particular recommendations. In this day and age pretty much everyone can easily familiarize themselves in that regard.
And, a plan B, just in case. If anything happens with your return, do you have a backup for when I’m gone?

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For a HO, who may be very concerned with their beloved pet, asking how they would like to check in isn’t awkward - it is critically important.

I regularly send daily pics and short videos of happy pets with Whatsapp. Longer 30-60 sec clips are shared via Youtube.

Other owners are so engaged in their vacation, they don’t view or reply to any thing I send. They trust me everything is Ok.

The more you practice, the better you get.

The welcome guide is really only useful for people who want to feel more comfortable. In reality there is a lot more to be covered and a document by the HO is usually a more comprehensive document than the ‘Welcome Guide’; I do both.
This has been covered elsewhere but it is why I ask sitters to come to the house a full day , or more, before I leave. I can then go around the house showing circuit breakers, water, gas, post, pet feeding routine,; the whole works in fact. The ‘document’ is fine but there is nothing to equal a ‘walk round’.

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Agree. If it’s an option we always like to have our sitter come the day before we leave. It’s nice to share a meal together, get a tour of the house and just relax and get to know them. It always amazes me how small the world really is. We’ve yet to find sitters we had nothing in common with. TH is an amazing group of folks! Welcome!

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I would hope the HO would provide everything you need! It’s in their interest to make sure you know all the important stuff. I have written detailed information about my house and dog and also suggested local walks, and once a sit is agreed I send these via email.

Hi @Vicki64Vito20
It’s lovely to see you back. I couldn’t agree with you more. The more detail, the better for any sitter. Its’s also a special touch, to have suggested walks and places of interest from a local.

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Bring your own toilet paper?? Does that actually happen? As a homeowner I am appalled that the sitter would need to even ask that question. Wow! As a homeowner, we promise to provide the sitter with a fully furnished home (which should include toilet paper). Amazing.

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