Unfair HO reviews? Advice needed

Hello! I just finished a one month housesit. Frankly, it was wonderful - for three border collies including one that was a year old (more work). It was a lot of work but we did not mind because they were such great dogs. We do this for the experience and rewarding fun. This was not rewarding due to the review left for us - 4/5 for pet care and 3/5 for tidy. It was sooo muddy outside and the house being immaculate, we spent so much work cleaning the dogs, cleaning the walls from their spray, in addition to walking the dogs and caring for them more than any other housesit we were on so far. And we cleaned the place before leaving. We have only 5/5 reviews and these people left us an overall review of 4/5. I want to cry it is so upsetting! Seriously, we spent about 4 hours a day on these dogs not including additional cleaning. This review really causes me to go from a happy pet sit high to a deflated never want to do it again low. It is so bizarre because they actually invited us back to sit again. Heart wrenched. This is not worth it except for the feel good feeling. If you don’t get that, then why do this? I would rather go on a traditional “holiday.”

My questions—

  1. Is it true that a HO cannot change their review?
  2. Should I approach them to find out why or take the high road? (I left them an awesome review)
  3. Should I leave my proposed review (below) and can they respond to it/retaliate to it?
  4. How much time do you spend on your housesits per day?
  5. How much cleaning is expected? and do you do? Does anyone hire a cleaner?
  6. Do you talk to your HO about reviews before the sit?
  7. Shouldn’t their be some helpful tips for housesits that are three large dogs vs. one or one cat for instance? An easy sit for a cat can earn 5 star and a heavy sit a 4/5.
  8. In another post, someone said poor reviews hurt them. Do you agree?
  9. Any comments appreciated!

The review: XX and X are very personable and we felt comfortable leaving the care of our 3 dogs in their hands. XX sent us updates and pictures which was greatly appreciated and X did a great job making sure our dogs received plenty of exercise.

Organised 5/5
Reliable 5/5
Self-sufficient 5/5
Tidy 3/5
Pet care 4/5

My proposed response: We are shocked to read this review. 3/5 for Tidy and 4/5 for Pet Care, and overall rating of 4/5, is not representative of our stay given the exorbitant amount of time and energy we spent caring and loving these doggies. We went over and above in all areas, including giving the doggies extended love and long walks up to 14km on multiple days, walk up to three times/day, feeding, training, yard cleaning/dog poop. Taking care of a young dog is also additional work. There was additional home and dog cleaning due to seasonal mud and we cleaned thoroughly. We honestly don’t know what a responsible caring housesitter could have done better.

Edited to remove sensitive info in line with our guidelines

wow that is really frustrating considering how much work you put in. I like your proposed feedback. The only thing I would add is how many hours per day you were dedicating to taking care of those pets. In terms of the other questions, they will differ because different pet parents have different expectations. Only on THS is a 4/5 considered horrible, just shows you how unrealistic their feedback system has been. Yes you should leave your feedback. There is no retaliation for your feedback or your honest review of their sit. No i don’t speak with pet parents about reviews before the sit. But I do review sitters feedback on that pet parent and then I will click on the sitter to see what feedback the pet parent left for them. If I see a pet parent who leaves negative feedback for sitters, I think twice about applying. I’ve seen sitters have less than a 5star review and have seen them get petsits after that. I think the best thing you can do is to provide your response to their feedback and also have a private conversation about it. As far as I know, there isn’t an “edit” button to change feedback on the pet parent’s part but maybe I’m wrong.

1 Like

I read your draft reply as too reactionary.

You may want to say something like this based on what I understood from your post.

"Thank you for taking the time to post a review. We are glad you felt comfortable leaving your dogs in our care.
We are a bit confused by the 4 out of 5 stars for pet care where you noted you appreciated our updates and the exercise the pups received.

We assure you that we cleaned the areas of the home we used and stayed on top of the excessive mud that the dogs tracked in; sorry that it seems you were displeased in the tidiness of your very clean home, which we appreciated.

Your invitation to return to your home means a lot to us and perhaps at that time we can gain more clarification of your expectations before we agree on another sit."

(Dang…that felt good…)


I think the proposed feedback is currently too emotional. Personally we would contact the HO, ask why they’ve given you less than 5 stars. Maybe it’s an error? Explain that you are now unsure about returning for a repeat sit as it reflects badly on your spotless reputation and see where that leads you. They may ask HQ to alter it, they may not. Then your reply can be tailored. Perhaps something like “we went above and beyond in our care of these pets for many hours every day, ditto care of the home - we are disappointed not to receive a 5 star rating as per all our previous sits.” We wouldn’t return if nothing changes. Best of luck :+1:t3:

The HO’s can’t change their review. It’s not a bad review. Just seems a bit picky. I think everyone is so used to getting 5 stars every single time, that anything less seems bad. HelloOutThere’s response is very good, I would use that. If you feel that strongly about it, don’t sit for them again.

@kermit If it was me, I would contact the owner and ask what could you have done better as you were very surprised by receiving the less than 5* for the two categories. Hopefully this would open up a conversation where you can inform them of what you did daily on the sit in an unemotional way. If your owners realise they have been a little hard on you or accidentally made an error, they can contact THS to have it altered.

You could also ask why they would like you to sit for them again if there were areas they felt were not satisfactory.

Take time to calm down before you respond.as something expressed in the heat of the moment can come back and affect you as other owners will read your emotional response which could influence them choosing you.


You’ve been given good advice about how to respond. The review won’t sink you. You will get other sits – lots of them – even if you don’t respond at all. If you respond emotionally towards the petparent, many petparents will be terrified of the drama and will give you a hard no.


@kermit I feel your frustration. Please sleep on it for a day or two, and then respond in whichever way you seem fit.
Currently you’re too emotional, still. You need to be cool, calm and collected when you contact them (if) you contact them.

You might come to realise 4 stars are not the worst. There are some other posts where owners ‘just don’t ever give 5 stars’ - maybe they’re one of them.

1 Like

You have received excellent feedback from the forum posters. The fact that they want you to come back is HUGE and deserves more prominence in your response. Something like …“thank you for your kind review and it means so much to us that you would like us to return to sit again.” To me, this lessens the impact of the missing stars. Cheers


I would also start the reply by saying that they have invited you back .

Whilst an overall 4 star review is still a good review - since they marked you down on pet care when that was your priority and what you spent all of your time doing , I would contact them privately to ask about it .

Something like
“Thank you for your invitation to come back and sit for you again - We really loved looking after xxxx( dogs names) we are puzzled that you have deducted a star for Pet care - before sitting for you again we would like to know which aspect of the pet care did not meet your expectations ? “


Yes - except for extraordinary circumstances

Personally, I wouldn’t - but if it makes you feel better, there is no harm in asking them the reasons for their pet care and tidiness lower marks

Definitely not, it is far too emotional, @HelloOutThere has given you great advice.

The home host can not respond to your response.

It varies sit to sit

It is expected that the home is left in at least the same condition as it was when you arrived.

It will be extremely rare for a sitter to hire a cleaner


All sits should be treated the same so I can’t see any benefit in this.

A 4-star review is not a poor review, it is a good review.

Hopefully, we will start to see more 4-star reviews with the new review system to make it look more genuine.

It is literally impossible for every sitter never to get less than a 5-star review.

This 4-star review amongst all your 5-star reviews will do you no harm at all.


I’m sorry that you had such a big disappointment after putting so much into the sit.

You’ve received good advice about how to review / respond to a review.

Maybe for relevant future sits, you might ask a Q along the lines of: How do you feel about keeping the house clean with so many wet/snowy walks during this time of year?

The host’s answer should be revealing. Like they might say, well, we do our best, but we don’t expect perfection. Or if they say something less forgiving, that might be someone to avoid.

I recently did a sit in nearly constant rainy weather, with only one small dog, and it did take more time and effort to keep the home clean. Likewise at my own home, where we have one dog and it takes more effort when it snows or rains.

Knowing this, this is part of how I screen sits, especially as a solo sitter who telecommutes. I don’t pursue sits that I can’t comfortably handle.

Hey @kermit
Lots of great advice!
On a different post, a THsitter had a chat with the HO and also added some of that chat in their reply to a review. So @temba makes a good point.

Keep us posted please on what you decide to do. It is appreciated when members like @Colin et al take the time to post!

Good luck!

Hello @Chrissie … just an fyi…if you use the “@” symbol, a drop down list comes up and you can select the member you are mentioning in a post. This way that member will know you are mentioning them in a post.
Pardon if you knew this already… :slightly_smiling_face:

What excellent advice @Colin

Advice here is spot on.

One additional piece I’d add, if you don’t have the energy/bandwidth to remove the emotion from your response, chatGPT may be worth a shout. You can literally just say:

“I’d like to respond to some feedback I was given. can you help me edit it to be less emotional and more pragmatic? Here’s what I have so far:


Thank you for some excellent comments. I like the tone of the response suggested. I am unsure yet if I will post a response, as I will wait to see if resolution will happen with TH intervention.

I landed up doing some research and filing a review complaint with TH and I wanted to share a bit of my experience to date. And yes, you can do this. You must point out that the review is untruthful, unbalanced, etc. and against their terms and conditions and review policy.

I landed up communicating with the HO (to please explain a 4/5 review for pet care given they expressed they were so happy and reinvited us back, and a 3/5 for Tidy). They were not nice. They responded with false accusations of poor pet care that resulted in harm to their pets! To say shocked is an understatement. There is much I can say. For the moment, I wish to state that their accusations are beyond hurtful and untruthful!

I started to think of this in a serious sense. Placing a 4/5 rating on a pet sitters site that has only 5/5 ratings goes to the very core and heart of what we do! Of course it is damaging. It is damaging to our reputation, and frankly our emotional and physical health. There is not one oodle of truth in their statements. How a HO can do this is beyond comprehension, especially after a sit where we placed our heart and soul into three beautiful dogs, which was above normal in terms of time and energy for sits on this forum.

We calculate we spent 8 hours a day direct care: extended walks, play dates,
cleaning them in muddy season, playing with them, cleaning dog fur, etc. We enjoyed every moment of it. This was one of the exchanges that was not a “fair exchange” given how much time and energy that went into it. We are left feeling abused quite frankly.

Did you know that some professional pet sitting sites charge $300/day for one large dog and overnight stay? We stayed there a month and saved them thousands of dollars.

As to 3/5 for Tidy, the examples provided by HO included not moving back a table to the back of a closet (they even took a photo), leaving a napkin on the floor, and leaving some water splatter on the bathroom mirror (photo sent of water splash). We were so busy the last days with completing a deep clean on the main floor, we inadvertently left a napkin on the floor! We were so busy scrubbing walls due to dog splatter, cleaning the entire main floor of dog fur (they have a shedding breed), washing floors, etc. that we forgot to pick up a napkin!

For those that may read this and wonder about their own situation, or future possible situations, I wish to offer–

Yes, please do contact the HO and ask for the reasons. If the HO agrees to change the review, TH will in fact change the review. (in my case, the HO does not agree). Send the text (that they agree to change the rating) to the TH team and ask the review be changed. Sometimes errors happen and sometimes HO don’t realize.

There is a timeline to these review appeals, so please do so as soon as possible.

You must include evidence. Include the full text thread of your communications with the HO, and any photos, etc. that you have. They will not just take your ‘say so.’

TH admin need to more swiftly resolve untrue reviews. The emotional and physical consequences of a false review to a pet sitter need to be considered paramount.

In one TH response, I was quoted: “Our Review/Feedback guidelines
All reviews, feedback and responses should be; considered, factual, respectful, unemotional and polite.” (could not find this on their website, maybe it is there inside the terms and conditions)

Also in my case, the dog destroyed some computer equipment and also interfered with my work. I learned it is possible to submit a claim form, but have yet to learn how.

The above is just my experience and what I learned in the process. Not legal advice.

It has left my heart sunk.

Edited to meet posting guidelines and Terms

1 Like

I am so very sorry your HO turned on you after all you had done for them @kermit. I hope your review complaint goes through well. Hang in there as you are wonderful, caring sitters and your next owners are going to be so appreciative of you.


Thank you @temba. Was nice to come here and read your note. Still emotional about the lack of appreciation (and so much love and energy exerted for the dogs). So very nice of you to post, brought a (small) smile. Thank you.


This is the THS response I received:

I have reached out to the Pet parent regarding your sit and they do not wish to change the review as they feel it is accurate and factual. At TrustedHousesitters, we operate a 100% tamper-proof policy for all reviews.
As long as reviews remain respectful and the house sit has not breached our terms of service, a member has the right to leave their opinions and comments.

Comment: No actual review of my evidence. No actual acknowledgement. Asking the pet sitter to remove is all they do. No response to the damage.

I am unlikely to use this service again.

Edited in line with Forum Guidelines