Struggling with Finding Sitters

I have now been a member for a year and have not had luck booking any sits. Several times I’ve ended up having to find local friends or family to sit with us in a pinch. I have two different dates needed, one long weekend in May which is coming up in two weeks and one in July for 10 days.

A few weeks ago I worked hard by being active in the forum and updating my listing with new photos per some member suggestions. I even reached out to LOADS of sitters on the west coast for our last sit and got no one who was available. We ended up having a friend who’s going through a divorce stay both times we’ve gone away recently but I really don’t want to use him again.

All of the activity on the website helped gain interest and I received an application for our July trip. We even had a video chat and confirmed and she had to cancel because of a family event that had recently been scheduled for the same dates.

Do the sitters just want a place to stay and not a place where they actually have to care for animals and water plants? I’m wondering if my place seems like too much work. I’ve only had one person interested in the May listing and she withdrew after she found a different place.

We offer a car to use. It’s a beautiful location. I was really hoping this website was going to work for us, but as someone who runs her own business and is also a parent, plus it’s spring so I have a lot to do in my yard, I don’t have time to be on the computer for hours each week for months to get a sitter. Is anyone else having this issue? Any help would be appreciated.


I hear you, Ay. I’m in the same situation. There’s got to be a better way for pet owners to find sitters! Or at least to know WHERE people are currently located geographically. Offering your car is very generous! I wish you lcuk!


Hello, @amyjomulvaney Lovely to have you back here and I am sorry that you have not yet found a sitter.

One thing I noticed is that you mentioned that your dogs can not be left for longer than a couple of hours at a time, this can be difficult if sitters need to go shopping, out to eat, the cinema or just explore.
You then mention that the sitters can do a longer all-day excursion once per week. Will the dogs be okay? It might help to clarify this a little bit more.

As the use of a car in the amenities list does not appear until you click and scroll down, it may also help to write in the introduction or home section that the sitters have use of your car. This is a massive plus. You can also write how far from the airport you are and how sitters would get there if they travelled to you without a car.

I am sure that other members will step in and have another look at your listing and give you any tips! :grin:


I only sit for cats so no opinions on your content. Just one call out though to possibly explain low applicants…the way the search functionality works, if someone is searching for ‘dogs’ in your area, you don’t appear due to the other pets.

It’s only if they search for ‘Any pets’ OR ‘dogs’ + ‘poultry’ + ‘small pets’ that you appear.

Some searchers might be very specific in looking for any opportunities in your area and choose ‘any pets’ while others search for ‘dogs’ and think, ok, here’s 6 options for those dates, let me go and apply for those. (And they may be fine with chickens and rabbits, it’s just that they clicked ‘dogs’ and never needed to search beyond that.)

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Your sit seems like a really great opportunity, and the house is lovely. The only possible downside is not being able to leave your dog alone for more than a couple of hours. For a sit like yours, that personally wouldn’t be a problem for me as the immediate surroundings are so lovely and it isn’t that long of a sit.

Honestly, in most cases, the struggle to find a sitter has nothing to do with the listing being problematic or undesirable in any way. While the sheer number of members would seem to guarantee success for pretty much every HO who posts a listing, that definitely isn’t the case for a number of reasons.

I saw a statistic here that the majority of sitters on the site only sit for 30 days out of the year–that means at any given time, the vast majority of the membership probably isn’t actively seeking a sit.

In countries like the US, the number of listings almost certainly exceeds the number of people seeking them by probably very large margins.

I occasionally look at member profiles just to see what other people write, and I see so many sitters whose last reviews were from a couple of years back or more, and they often only have one or two. So while their membership is obviously current if their profile is showing up, they have not been active on the site for quite some time.

As for trying to find sitters proactively, you are not alone in your lack of success by any means. The feature ,as it exists now ,borders on useless. This is especially true for a country like the US, which has so many members.

If THS wants to provide a way for HO’s to connect with sitters in their area, it would probably work a lot better if they implemented a feature used on another housesitting site that provides results comprised of sitters who specifically said they were interested in sitting locally.

They provide their location in the back office where they manage their profile (it doesn’t show up on the actual profile) and check a box saying they want to show up in the local sitter search.

There are a number of other sites you might try. Even though the membership may be smaller, there are far less sits so less competition. And unlike THS, owners are not charged so nothing to lose.


I know exactly what you mean. I posted two sits, and am very happy with the sitters I’ve found for one of them (which is in 2024!). However, I’m getting nowhere with the earlier one, and I’m getting disheartened.
Looking for sitters directly seems pointless, as loads of sitters have every country listed as a possibility - but what I want is to identify those who’re interested in Scotland this September (rather than interested in Scotland at some point, maybe).
It does seem to be a bit of a lottery. :roll_eyes:


@amyjomulvaney - Offering a car is a huge bonus for travelling sitters but you don’t even mention it in your listing!

I see you have ticked it as an amenity but sitters have to search before finding this. I am not sure how the system chooses which few amenities to actually show on your listing - without expanding, yours only shows
Wifi (High-speed)
Free off-street parking
Dedicated workspace (Office)

If I was you I would change your heading to SF Bay - CAR INCLUDED


Hi @Scottish_cat_posse - Your September listing looks good, the only thing against it is the fact that it is not accessible by public transport so that will instantly eliminate a large number of sitters that don’t drive.
Having said that September is a long way off so don’t worry- How long has your listing been live? With many sitters booking approximately three months in advance I will be very surprised if you don’t start to get some applications soon


Thanks for this feeback! They can be left for several hours, I’ll clarify that in the listing. I just don’t want someone who wants to come to my place and only be here at night to sleep. I’ve had a sitter who did that and my dogs were so lonely and bored while we were gone there was a lot of chewing that happened:/


This is super helpful. I definitely want it to be clear that we include the use of our car. I feel like I have to given our location. Plus, we always leave one home anyway.


I also appreciate your perspective on inactive sitters. I wonder why they’re still allowed to have their profiles up if they’re inactive.


Thanks so much for your feedback! My dogs can be left alone, but I don’t want them to be left all of the time especially if we’re gone for 10 days. I’ve had a sitter stay who was never here and they were so bored that they chewed some things. I want someone who will actually spend time with them a little bit every day. I’ll clarify that.


Thanks for this feedback! Sounds like there isn’t anything I can do about not showing up in the “dog” search unless I delete my other animals? Of course in order to be up front to applicants I would want to list all my animals. Not sure what to do about this.

@uk_american: Thank you for sharing this info! I thought I was a TH expert lol, but this caught me by surprise.

@amyjomulvaney: You definitely need to list all your animals. It’s probably in the T&C.

That does seem a tad frustrating. I am more of a cat person, so I sometimes search just for cats. I assume dog people may do similar. So they would miss your listing.

It’s also unintuitive. For example, if your listing were a blog and I search google for “dogs” it will bring it up. I don’t need to tell google every single pet in your blog.

@Carla-Moderator: What advice do you have for Amy?

Hi @amyjomulvaney. I honestly wish I could wave a magic wand to help you, but I’m still working on my Harry Potter impression. :sweat_smile: Here are some thoughts, at least:

  • EDIT: In a couple days, you can post your listing to the last-minute sits (7 days before start). Though you can get most of that benefit here already, by asking for feedback from others. Similarly, you can ask Angela to promote your listing on TH social media just by giving her permission. (tag/PM her)
  • If you tag someone with @, then they will be more likely to see your reply. I know just “Reply” should be enough, but for some reason it’s much easier to miss that way.
  • Sitters are on a spectrum. I don’t know the stats, but there are sitters who would love your place. That I’m sure of. Could the TH matchmaking algorithm use more work? Of course. Maybe they’re working on an AI helper. If not, someone is, I’m sure…
  • Personally, I would appreciate on your listing an example schedule. There seem to be a lot of moving parts (dogs, chickens, rabbits, eggs). You could even list two schedules, like “typical day” vs “day trip into SF,” where the former may be a bit busier.
  • As @Colin mentioned, a car is an amazing perk.
  • Search for your own listing to see how visible it is. In case you’re curious, if one searches for SF and car included, you do show up, so that’s good.
  • But here’s your thumbnail in search:
    • Note that the use of a car is not apparent. In your title, you want to frontload the hooks or things that will spark joy. Like “Car!” “Incredible view!”
  • Similarly, your first photo is okay, but, well this speaks more to me:
    • And again, I’m a cat person. Note that you may want to crop the image so it shows up nicely in the thumbnail. And check the website version and the app version.
    • Also, note that to have a pet photo show up first, you have to upload it as a home photo. That’s the hack.
  • While we’re on photos, consider making your 2nd photo your best view, since you said it’s amazing.
  • Consider fewer photos in general. Like for the dogs, the minimum required. Go by the spirit of the law, not the letter.

I’ve heard that sitters need to be flexible. But I think the same is true of PPs. I’m sorry that you had a poor experience with a sitter who wasn’t there enough, but perhaps there’s a middle ground you can find for the win-win. I’m a sitter who could stay 24/7 at a sit, and I might even do that out of personality. But if I felt pressured to do so, it would be a red flag and I wouldn’t even apply. And as a sitter I appreciate structure. So I’d like a PP who tells me their must-haves honestly and clearly, then we can build from there. But that’s just me. Again, there’s a spectrum of sitters!

Best of luck!


Thanks @Colin that’s good to know. Yes, the public transport thing is problematic - there is a bus, but it only runs twice a day, so it’s no use for getting around. The sit’s been posted for a couple of weeks - but I tweaked the dates last night to allow for a better handover, and I have applications this morning. Fingers crossed…


@amyjomulvaney . As for sitters who may not be actively seeking sits, perhaps THS could find a way to filter results where sitters who have been recently active on the site show up before less active members. But not really sure that would be feasible–the most obvious would be recent log in’s but you don’t need to log into the site every time you visit.

Even if the site were to make a number of tweaks to help owners find sitters, I think given the size of the membership in particular, this strategy would probably still prove challenging. I don’t know the statistics but I imagine the overwhelming majority of sits are filled the ‘traditional’ way of sitters responding to a listing.

I just think the biggest issue is there are way more sits being posted than sitters available to fill them. And unless a HO is located in an area considered a popular tourist destination, or somewhere unique that doesn’t see a lot of opportunities, there just aren’t enough people actively seeking a sit to fill many of these other listings.

This is especially true if the majority of sitters do only sit for about 30 days out of the year–they are probably looking for those vacation type spots. I am a full time sitter and my husband and I stay in all sorts of locations, especially in the US. I would actually be much more likely to apply to a sit like yours than one in a major tourist destination.

When sitting domestically we rarely do sits in urban areas for more than a few days as US cities don’t hold much interest to us. In addition to loving rural areas, we have done sits in a number of suburban areas in a number of states. Being full time sitters, we are open to a variety of areas, and not being big touristy types, we are happy to be in places that aren’t touristic.

Some of our most enjoyable experiences overall have been in typical suburbs where we didn’t do much at all, but had a lovely home in a quiet neighborhood.

I do hope you find someone but again, if you have any trouble, it really isn’t anything about your home or the listing overall.


Hi Amy,
I grew up in San Rafael and do lots of dog-sitting in Marin and SF. Martinez is not a target of mine, but I know the area well.
Just a couple of thoughts (take it or leave it):

  1. Maybe remove the word “Homestead” from your title.
  2. If true, mention that the dogs love car rides and would love to go with you on adventures.
  3. In the “Introduction,” remove the word “task” and just state that “we hope to find a kind and caring sitter.” Something like that. The word “task” creates a negative tone that is unnecessary.
  4. In the “Responsibilities” section, break it down by pet type, and list the tasks. Your listing is a lot to read. Bullet points might help.
  5. You are also close to Napa and Sonoma but did not mention this. Some people like to go wine tasting, or at least dream of going wine tasting. It just sounds romantic!

I’m in Sonoma County and struggling with a lack of good applicants too. I’ve had two that weren’t ideal (just looking for a place to stay in NorCal from the sounds of it, no mention of our animals or specific location). We are rural and have never offered a car but neither used to matter, I used to get so many applications I’d have to pause within 24 hours! Something has changed, and not for the better for me (ummm, THS advertising maybe? Travel for free!). I finally reached out and invited a local sitter I’d favorited from a past application, maybe we’ll get lucky.

Sorry, this is zero help, just letting you know you’re not alone here on the west coast. Maybe we should start a support group :joy:

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Hi I feel your pain. I just joined and this site seems so perfect for dog and cat owners. I only have a parrot and have had little interest with sitters who actually have experience with parrots. Perhaps we need to be able to categorize our pets so those peeps can respond quick! I now will take my girl to a boarding place in May and see what happens for June. Good luck!