What Do We Need To Know About Pets!

We have had lengthily discussions about what HO’s and Sitters want. I think it’s time to list what is important to know about pets.
Having a list like this will help in our discovery calls to formulate your questions and learn about particular pet habits, wants and needs.
Some of course will be different depending on species which we can sort out and add as we go.

Do you have an unusual pet? Tell us about it.

I once took care of celebrity cats. They were award winning show cats with a very specific diet and regimen. Food had to be thawed, prepared, weighed and served in a particular manner (and dishes) The dishes had their own sink and their own cleaning products with a particular routine for serving and cleaning after the meals were consumed. The cats had their own playroom, with specific play toys and playtime and of course the owners had their expectations for communication and visualization of the pets and care. It was amazing and an incredibly wonderful experience.

Let’s start and add as we go.

Where? When? alone? with who? what time to bed and rise?

Dry, wet, raw? specialty diet?
how often? how much? when?
treats? how often, how many?
bones? real? boxed? hide?
Where is food stored and is there enough for duration of sit?
water location? bowls, dispensers?

**The down and dirty **
Cats and dogs
litter box? what type of litter? how often to clean out?
How often to let out? is there a pet door?
The pet have any problems toileting? accidents? misses? special needs?
Spit ups, throw ups? any habit of eating/chewing inappropriate things?

Playtime/Quiet time
Toys? Is there a schedule? a place?

Clucks and Other Feathered Friends
Food? treats?
coop/cages? time in/time out? locked? watering? cleaning?

Pet Health
Medications or treatments?
Routine for heartworms, fleas etc?
when? how much? how administered?

Any anxiety? sensitivities?
Is there anything you feel I should know about your pet and their needs?

What else? Who else? we know you have reptiles… :lizard:

  • How long can the pets (especially dogs) be left alone?
  • What size are the dogs?
  • How active are the dogs?
  • How often do dogs need to be walked? what distance?
  • Can dogs go on a run/hike with sitters?
  • Is there a dog park that dogs like to use?
  • If dogs p00p in the garden/yard, does sitter need to pick up? I know this is normally “yes”, but I have seen posts where the HOs have a service that scoops p00p. (system won’t allow the actual word for p00p!)

Cats - if they take meds, how is it administered?
Do the cats need to be brushed daily?


@arjuna, please take a look at the the two messages above for more important information that should be considered for inclusion in either the listing or the Welcome Guide. Thank you!

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@Amparo - feeding off your list:


  • If with humans, ON the bed or IN the bed?
  • if the sitter isn’t comfortable with the usual sleeping habits, does the owner have any other suggestions for location etc?


  • treats - be honest, owners - do they get human food? Sitters can often tell by the pet’s habits, if the owners were less than honest.
  • I hope I don’t have to ask if there’s enough food. That should be a given.

Next category:

  • indoor or outdoor cat?
  • does the outdoor cat bring in ‘gifts’ from their hunting?
  • any recent surgeries or reasons to have visited the vet outside of normal health visits (that one’s from a negative experience)
  • any habits that you know are unusual and would maybe confuse or surprise a sitter?
  • do they travel well in vehicles?
  • are they unfriendly towards other animals/humans/children especially?

Pet health

  • if they take medications, how are they given and do they take them easily?
  • specifically, do they require injections?

And what @Lassie said too. As for walks, I’d ask for distance and/or time, as some older dogs may take a long time to walk a short distance, for example.


love this. Thank you. My intention was/is to help with conversations and to prompt good communication when considering a sit/sitter.
I would be happy to compile all of this into a nice handy doc for anyone to use as reference if they like.

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Thanks for adding this topic @Amparo I have moved from the Pets Category to Owner/Sitter exchange. Not only could it provide great feedback, I’m sure there will be those “Oh my goodness why didn’t I think of that” moments for both sitters and owners.

What do we need to know about pets? … As much as possible, after all they can’t talk, well not in so many words anyway. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


on that note, I am going to a sit shortly with 21 chickens and today the HO told me they are expecting nearly a foot of snow. I inquired how she assures the chicks are warm pursuant to recent discussions and she said they come ready equipped with down. Nature takes care of them without human intervention!
loved it!

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Thank you @Angela-CommunityManager for always looking out for us. I just throw stuff out there and trust.
pretty much how I live :heart:


Under Pet care

  • Is there a Care Plan in place for end of life wishes?
  • Emergency contact who knows the pets/s well
  • Are ticks a problem in that area?

How long are there walks and how many per day?

And please tell what they get and not what they should get.
How many sitters set off for a five mile hike only to turn round after 1 mile because the poor dog is exhausted.


I second this! IMO, this suggestion deserves more than an emoji.

It would be so helpful to have the HO consider and clarify this. My next sit is for a 16 y. o. Boston terrier that is deaf and slightly vision-impaired with moderate kidney disease and her brother is a 15 y. o. Beagle. The HO and I have had this discussion, but it is much harder to broach when the pet is young and healthy.


Great topic and lists from everyone.

Another “be honest” topic or two specific to dogs:

  • How well does the dog walk on lead? (We’ve had dogs who “might pull a little” where we could only take them to the park for short walks to train them since they pulled so much they hurt us.)
  • How good is his/her recall? Explain in detail. (We’ve had one HO say “great recall” and the son disagree–the son was right. :slight_smile: )
  • Will it be possible to go on a walk with the dog(s) and owner(s) so we can observe how the dog responds, recall, etc.?

Another one we always ask - what commands does the dog respond to?


Great ideas & very useful. I would add:
For chucks & feathered friends

  • are they in-lay & where do they lay? (ducks & geese in particular tend to lay under hedges/bushes etc)
  • when to collect the eggs?
  • what to do with the eggs (whether to clean them & how to store them, eat/sell/give to neighbours)

For dogs
ideas for appropriate walks (our dog can’t manage stiles)

For sheep

  • any feed supplementary to grass
  • access to water
  • do they need moving between fields
  • treatment for minor wounds & lameness
  • what to look for if a sheep is ill (particularly fly strike) & how to treat or who to contact for advice
  • if there is a ram, how friendly

For pigs

  • feeding regime (how much & when}
  • access to water
  • are they indoor pigs or kept in a sty, if so cleaning routine
  • bedding
  • if they are outdoors, is electric fencing used & what maintenance does it need
  • what human interaction are they used to
  • if weather is likely to be hot, do they need a wallow

Hope these thoughts are useful


Absolutely love this. Thank you so much for your input. Feel free to add should anything else arise.
This is just a preliminary which we can use and go as deep as we like.
I will categorize by animal at a later date for more input and a more concise resource.
Thank you!


Appropriate walks is a brilliant idea where the locality has lots of stiles that are not dog friendly and the dog isn’t able to jump them. My friend had a Red Setter and we had a few walks where the 2 of us had to get her over a stile that was not dog friendly - it wasn’t easy!

Another friend has a dog who will randomly bounce vertically upwards on the spot, to a height of at least a metre. However he has no idea how to combine his jump with forward motion so he cant do stiles either!


Been there done it. Great input.

Thanks for starting this helpful thread @Amparo!

*Does the owner use a tracking device on their dog(s) to monitor their location and the length of their walks? After reading the thread, app to track daily walks, it seems like a good one to add to the list.
*If you’re sitting in a city or town, where do you dispose of the dog poo? Where do you find poo bags? I live in Switzerland where poo bag dispensers are located along the sidewalks in cities/towns and in the countryside/forests. There are designated green bins for dog waste. You are not supposed to put dog poo in the regular trash. It is different in London, where you buy the poo bags at a store and the regular trash bins are full of dog waste bags.
*This is more for cities, but I also like to know if dogs are used to going to dog-friendly pubs/restaurants and if they’re used to taking public transportation.

*Where are their favorite hiding places?
*If the cats bring hunting gifts, how and where do you dispose of the remains?

*Does the HO hold them on a regular basis? If so, how often and at what time of the day?


:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: @lifephasenext

It happened once : the HO told me dogs were very good on recall.

HO and I did the every day walk around the house : one of the dog never come back ! We went back home and waited for the dog to eventually arrived… I never left him off the lead !! :grimacing:

I don’t mind having a dog with bad recall : I just need to know it, to adapt my behavior to his. I’m not going to give him less attention or love him less : it is the exact opposite.

But maybe OH are like parents : they don’t see their pet as they really are ! :rofl: :blush:

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So true ! :+1: I eventually carried a little dog on the way back. For me LONG walks are more than 3 h. For this doggy 40 mn was way too long ! Since then I always ask : « What do you mean by long walk : 1/2 h, 1 h ? Can we go for an afternoon walk, 3 to 4 h means 15 to 20 km ? » Some dogs are very happy with day-long walk and picnic break !

I always ask. Not on our previous talk because it won’t make me change my opinion on applying or not. But I ask when we meet up, just to make sure we both enjoy our walkies !


Hello! I’m new the forum and new to the sitter side - we’ve been TH members for about 4 years and have used sitters 6+ times.

Adding to the pet list:

  • If multiple pets in the household, how do they get along?
  • Are there any fighters among them?
  • Do any of them steal one another’s food and do they need to be monitored for this while eating?

Thanks for a great discussion!