Very long sits - Should sitter contribute to the bills? How do you deal with separation anxiety?

I am just discussing my first very long sit, three months in winter, in a cold country, with only one pet - and I wonder whether it would be fair to offer from my side or could even be expected by the home owner if I contributed to the bills for power, heating, water, etc?

I am also curious about the experiences of other sitters how they deal with the pets’ separation anxiety, not only at the beginning but also at the end of such long sits when the pet(s) got attached to you and their owners come back home. Have you experienced any behavioural problems around the switches of their long-term carers? I can imagine that it could cause problems when a dog has finally accepted you and then loses you again, or that the pets react negatively to their owners and seem to prefer you to them. Any such experiences and any advice how to make it easier for the animals?


We had just that situation - a three month sit in London between December and March. We did offer to pay utilities as we felt by doing so that we had control over how the heating was used and we wouldn’t worry about keeping it on. Having lived in Barcelona for six years we were not accustomed to the cold and wanted to be comfortable. In the end we paid for the first two months and when the home owners returned home they told us not to worry about the third month. For us this worked perfectly as we felt having the accommodation was more than enough exchange for looking after a very easy dog. This worked for us but I think it is very much an individual decision between home owner and sitter.


We did a three-month sit in Ireland and they had oil-fed heating, they showed us the temp they normally used and what times of day it went on and off and they filled up the oil tank. They told us that the full tank should be enough, but if we wanted to turn the heating up or use more hours than they normally did then if the tank got nearly empty could we top it up to at least halfway before we left?
We managed to keep to their settings and only used the same amount as them so they did not require us to top it up, we would have been happy to do that should we have used more.
I am a massive hot water bottle fan so I had at least two of those with me.

We did an 8-week sit in a very large older property in the UK, but they did not ask us to contribute to the bills.

In regards to pets, we had horses and cats that sit, so I think we were the ones more attached to them when the owners returned than the other way around.


Hi @Romana I did an 8 month sit in Spain with the easiest and most adorable senior rescue Dobbie and came to the same arrangement as @LizBCN with the owner, initiated by us. Result was guilt free thermostat freedom (I feel the cold probably more than most) an amazing home with many benefits, including a car for the duration. It certainly worked for us.

As you say @LizBCN it is very much an individual decision and should always be a mutually agreed arrangement between those involved, before any final commitment is made …


I really don’t think it’s reasonable to expect you to contribute to the bills. It’s cold, the heating needs running through the house anyway to keep it maintained, stop pipes bursting, prevent damp and mould etc.
you’re also taking care of their pet all as a volunteer. That’s the price they pay to have a reliable decent person taking care of things whilst they are on holiday


Interesting question, I do not think I would accept a job like this. Because it is an exchange of accommodation for services. If two or more people are living in the home normally, the cost of one person (the sitter) using the heating, water, gas will be significantly less. Taking care of pet/s and a home is no joke and many people do pay for the service. Hence, I am good at my job and trustworthy, so I think it is a flat exchange.


It would cost the homeowners alot of money to hire someone to house sit and petsit. I’m not sure why a pet sitter would pay for the utilities.


We travel for approximately 2 months at a time in the fall and winter months. We do not expect the sitters to contribute to the cost of the utilities, it’s our compensation to them for taking care of our dog. I am interested in the topic of separation anxiety and I haven’t seen any comments on that topic. Our dog is very attached to us, we don’t leave him at home alone for more than a 3 hour period and have to make sure we have all of the trash bins secured or we’ll come home to a shredded mess. I do understand from previous sitters that he is a little down in the dumps for a day or two but seems to snap out of it quickly and does bond with the sitter (who feeds him!). Any suggestions as to how to make these transitions easier for the pets would be interesting and appreciated. Thank you.


@Bonniemurf , off the top of my head, I would suggest giving the dog some article of your clothing to remind him/her of you—worn socks, tee shirt, etc. and asking the sitter to spend a lot of time with him/her for the first day or two. Really good treats that your sitter can give you pet help too.

When the sitter goes out ask him/her to put relaxing music for dogs on or at least have the radio or TV tuned to something. Sometimes also leaving the dog in the crate (their safe place) with a toy and a bone also helps.


Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

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I agree completely with what mars said. We had a homeowner who left some of her clothes and bedding and said not to wash it as it would have the homeowner’s scent on it and help keep her calm. We’ve sat for as much as 3 weeks and never had any problems with pets being able to settle in with us within a couple days. And no problem when we were leaving-other than 2 dogs that jumped in the car with us to go. We once had 4 cats that seemed to parade out by us to say good bye as we were leaving.
Dan and Nan

Have house sat for 7 years now, some dogs have been more anxious than others, but even our most neurotic staffy we sat, who couldn’t be left for more than 2 hours, settled after the normal sulky period of 2 days. As a previous person said, I think we felt the separation on leaving more than the animals. I believe keeping up their routine so that they feel safe and secure is the most important.


I heard about a sit where the HO was warned by their utilities company that the electricity use was running very high.

Of course sitters should be a bit careful with the thermostat etc. It would not be unreasonable to require sitters to pay when power consumption is clearly higher than normal.

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We have sitters coming in for a 7-week sit later this year and don’t plan to ask them to pay for utilities. We’re in Florida and they’ll still need to air condition at that time of year, but we’d be running it as well if we were home and so we wouldn’t ask them to pay the electric bill.