What helps you choose the right sitter?

Choosing the right sitter is a process and while the process is initially based on trust the information contained in a sitter’s profile allows an owner to make an informed and educated decision. When reviewing applications what motivates you to open a sitter’s profile and before opening up discussions with potential sitters, do you place more importance on:

  1. Verifications, including full background checks
  2. Previous sitting experience
  3. Owner reviews
  4. Application message
  5. Profile presentation
  6. Photographs

As an owner, I pay a lot of attention to
1/ presentation (their love for animals, the fact they had one who died in the past for example, reason why they like to sit, not daring to take another one). I like when it sounds very personal, not the anonymous presentation made for all types of owners or animals.
I do understand a house + garden and pool in Provence in summer sound appealing, but I feel more confortable if they evoke their love for animals, their relationship with former owners, the fact they 'e been called back again, more than tourism they plan to do
If they give their phone number, I may check the very day I receive their application it’s true they could manage in my language. I begin to speak in french ! Although we may communicate in english if it’s easier for them later on.
Some sitters answer me directly in french, but I call them anyway before taking a decision : it’s easy to guess when they have used Google translation. Mistakes sound very strange !
After a first contact, I give the link of a web site I made to explain how is the house, the surroundings, the places of interest near by, what are the rules for the pets, it’s full of pictures and even videos of their room, kitchen, lounge etc. All descriptions are in french. So if they don’t understand, there is an obvious problem.
2/ profile: As I always ask sitters to speak more than a minimum french, in order to face any emergency (call the plumber, the vet whose assistant does not speak a word of english, ask anything to my neigbours who speak only french), I appreciate people who have indicated they spoke french in their profile ! Experience is appreciated, enthusiasm for traveling too.
3/ feed backs and previous experiences : 3 minimum . the length of the sit sounds important. Many events may occur in 3 months, not in a week end.
When an owner has written a long warm comment, hopes the sitter will come back in the future, I’m delighted, I feel safe (I’m the anxious type)
Everybody must begin one day but if they have no feed backs, I expect at least some references (friends, relatives who have let them take care of their pets is a minimum). When I look at sitters living in my country, before publishing an add, I’m sometimes surprised to see people without any star.
I do prefer THS feed backs. As on THS no bad comment can be deleted (on Nomador web site, critics can be wiped out by the sitters, so you don’t see many negative comments…)
4/ Photos of sitters with pets are quite instructive, their attitude : pets don’t lie…
5/ verifications : once I 've made a selection, I look again
I’ve found 5 couples of sitters on Nomador, from Norway, Belgium, France and 2 on THS (franco-sweedish, irish-french). Age range : 30 to 65. Length of the sit : 1 up to 5 weeks.
I was OK for a single, after one of my 2 dogs died (their weight was 44 + 32 kilos, too hard for one person.)
I usually make my choice in less than a week. I’ve done it once in 2 hours. But I still do not understand why some people answered me when they did not speak a word of french, wanted to come with their family, sometimes from far away (Thailand, Mexico) for a one week sit in winter !!!


Understandable but tough.
Disheartening for new hopefuls; but the best way to get who is right for your pets, which is what matters in the end. It has to be right for BOTH sides.


This is an excellent question to ask and for us sitters to read answers to!


@Provence , thank you for your thoughtful answer. It is nice to hear that photos and feedback matters but also that you set a standard (such as language skill) and stick to it!


Disheartening ? Tough ? Why ?

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Very interesting and lengthy, thoughtful response. I must admit, I thoroughly read the ad and reviews of any previous sitters. It’s very easy to get an idea of the owners and pets. If satisfied it could be the sit for me I would write a very personalised application, as you say. It’s just like applying for a job. You wouldn’t send a standard application for a job, likewise you don’t when applying for a sit. I ask a few questions, such as can e.g. the dog travel in a car, be let off lead but save more questions once getting a positive response from the owner. I mention when I started housesitting and why, where I’ve been, bonding with animals and draw attention to my reviews. I end by offering a FaceTime/Zoom/Skype/telephone call should I be in the running. You certainly seem to offer more than most Housesitters such as a video. I do find it strange when the occasional owner doesn’t have any pictures of the animals with their ad.
Thanks again


Yes, I agree totally about glamorous photos of designer kitchens but nothing of the animals! We just had a sit cancelled (:microbe: of course) which had only dog & chicken photos and no idea what the house was like - we loved the look of it and were chosen but it was not to be :sob:

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We often choose couples (or two people that sit together, not necessarily a “couple”), because we have three dogs, and one of them is heavier than the average adult (great dane). Before we got our great dane, we had single sitters, and we felt very comfortable with that, but managing the two smaller dogs AND the great dane on a walk is virtually impossible for one person. And of course the great dane doesn’t want to walk without the other two (my eyes are rolling but it’s true). We specifically look for someone who has experience with large dogs, or even larger animals like horses, because of the great dane. He is a very good dog, but he is just very large.

The other thing that is definitely not a must but always catches our eye, is when a sitter describes that they are handy around the house, or have experience with a pool. We have a pool and a dock and live on the coast in a hurricane-prone area, and we feel super confident about going away when we know that if a problem arises, it will probably be easily taken care of.


video of my home is for my sitters, i give the link of a web site made on purpose for them (the ones selected of course, not all)
it’s not a video of me for potential sits

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HI @Bethterry, I do react late, but I remember adds in the south of France with a huge dane. Are you there ? Near La garde Freinet ?
I realized i could not apply,unfortunately as I live quite near, then I saw the same ad a few months later.
I think it’s very important to give details such as the weight of an animal. Sitters choose often the house,the area, don’t realize all their responsabilities if the owners don’t precise important facts.

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First I want to hear if they have experience with the the pets we have.

I am not usually interested in how much the applicant likes to travel to interesting places in the world. That makes me feel like my pets will be ignored because they just want to come and stay and play.

A genuine interest based on reviews and references that they have experience caring for the pets that we have, Is most important.

It is hard to choose someone for instance, to take care of our cats and poultry when all I see in their profile and reviews is taking care of dogs.

Sometimes an applicant has tried to convince me that they are the best choice, because they have never been to our state before. :kissing:


Angela, As an owner I am constantly surprised by the way sitters ignore details about my sit opportunity that I have taken great care to write.

The very first go through for me puts the people who respond to specific points I have made in the details as if they have really read what I am looking for. It never ceases to amaze me that so many people just write variations on this theme: “I am interested in your sit as that timeframe works for me!”.

So I would start with your #4 - Application Message - which will put the sitter in a bucket to further study their profile vs reject them.


Thank you again for your insightful response.

When looking at sitters who may not be achieving the level of success they’d hoped for, often the reason is the application message, reading the owner’s listing and crafting a personal response is so important, it’s akin to applying for a job … you get one chance to make a good first impression.

As an owner I had applications which simply read “I want to sit your house and I’m available” which didn’t motivate me to open their profile, the purpose of the application and owners taking that next step to open up communication.

Demonstrating that you really want to be considered for the sit and the reasons why is what owners are looking for … I always say to sitters imagine you are the owner, what is it you want to know, etc.

Sitters may counter this with “If owners don’t respond, why go to all that trouble” not getting responses can be frustrating, however try not to generalize each sit is different.