What’s your top tip for new house sitters?

Yeah within 24 hours as OP indicated

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Top tip for new house sitters?

Read the entire listing thoroughly before writing your application.

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And don’t cut and paste from another application unless you proofread before sending! I had a recent applicant interested in sitting for my “dog”, mentioning that she would be bringing her dog and how much fun the two dogs would have playing together.

I only have a cat :woman_facepalming:

Reminds me of an Airbnb review I received. It was a shared apartment. I met the woman. “Katie and her husband were great guests! I would welcome them back anytime.” I’m not married and was traveling solo.

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Communication and asking as many questions as possible, especially about the pets. Going out of your way and above and beyond sets the pace for good reviews and making a good impression.

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Over time you become more discerning as a sitter or host. I’ve been both over many years & continue to enjoy the life-style choice sitting brings. I’m interested in our sitter community sharing their tips on how they’ve become more discerning to ensure a great experience for our hosts, pets & ourselves. For me, here’s one tip to get us started:
Only after vetting hosts (attitude & fit) & suitability of the home (fast internet & a well lit space for my virtual work), I ask them to complete my proforma. It provides me all the key info I need to care for their pets & home as they want. It can easily be updated for repeat sits & is a handy ready-reference for me during the sit & keeps all my hosts’ info in one easy to access place. What are your tips? :blush:

Hi @92coppin, I’m always curious as a HO that occasionally sits how to continually improve our home/listing for our sitters and to make the exchange easier for all parties…so I am curious what you mean by this? and how is it different from the welcome guide one sends to a confirmed sitter?

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@92coppin I too don’t understand your need to have home owners complete your checklist/questionnaire (which I assume you mean by proforma). Do you not get the Welcome Guide from owners? If not, why not? I am both a sitter and home owner and i have my own checklist I go through during video calls with owners and at the hand over, if there are details missing from the Welcome Guide. I would expect any sitter do the same for my sit. I’m curious about the reactions from owners to you requesting this.

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Some of us have been members of THS before the Welcome Guide was developed @Crookie and @Kelly and, like @92coppin, I, too, used a proforma to send to owners. I still use it occasionally if owners are not comfortable completing the Welcome Guide, sometimes because they are not as computer savvy as others.

@92coppin My husband and I have been housesitting since 2014 and have done dozens of sits. We are currently on our 60th THS sit (not including some repeats arranged off site.) We have definitely become more discerning over time, and this would be my advice to newer sitters especially…

Experiencing so many different types of houses, so many different types of animals and their routines and needs, so many different types of locations, I got a really strong sense of my preferences. While there may be a learning curve if you haven’t done a lot of sits yet, there are lots of things you probably already know will work or not based on your personality, preferred routine,etc… so carefully take stock of all that.

And armed with this knowledge–so long as you honor it–it exponentially increases your chances of having the bulk of your sits be really enjoyable experiences. Of course, there are no guarantees in life, and things can happen you can’t anticipate, you may experience things you don’t like that you wouldn’t know you don’t like until it happens, but these experiences just add to that clarity.

When considering a sit, it is really important to think about what your day to day life will be like, especially if it is longer term. Earlier on in our ‘career’ I may not have given this as much thought, and was mainly interested in the location, the house and its amenities.

I didn’t think as carefully about whether the animal’s needs or routine would be burdensome in some way; I didn’t think about how certain aspects of the house or environment might cause me frustration or discomfort. Over time I have learned that if a sit contains aspects I would find personally challenging, a really unique location, a really nice house,etc…didn’t compensate for that.

Between having so many reviews, and sitting full time–which gives us a lot of flexibility on locations, dates and length of the sit–I always feel like we have a lot of options open to us. And because of this, I don’t apply to a sit unless we feel really excited about it. If a sit contains elements I know will be challenging for me, that I know will have me living a day to day routine I won’t like, I confidently take a pass. Again, I know other more desirable elements won’t compensate.

For example, we once watched outdoor cats in an area with lots of poisonous snakes, and where people apparently stole pets to sell them (a beautiful villa and huge property in Bali). The cats were constantly jumping the wall during the day, going off the property–one of them was deaf, which just added to the stress. One of the four cats didn’t come back the second night of our sit, and never did.

Each night we had to bring the cats in. I would worry about them a lot during the day, and would find myself getting stressed when I couldn’t find them right away in the evening. This was a 6 month sit…

So now, if I saw a sit with outdoor cats in an area where there were snakes or other animals that could be a danger to them, or any situation where elements of the environment were dangerous in some way to the animal, I wouldn’t do it. I know from experience it would stress me out, and it being a beautiful property in a tropical location wouldn’t make up for being worried every day about the animal’s safety.

Honoring the preferences and really sticking to them requires some trust and faith the right opportunities will come along so no need to take ones that you know probably aren’t. Again, it is really important to consider what the experience would be like day to day based on the responsibilities, the types of animals and the location, and if it doesn’t seem to be a good fit, take a pass, trusting the right fit will come along.

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Yes, Kelly & Crookie I’ve just accumulated a series of questions/ prompts for hosts that helps me to run their home (while supporting me) and capture all of the info that gives me clarity. Things about the pets, for example, that goes beyond feeding routine so that I know if there are ‘triggers’ eg thunder, men in hats, young children, etc that upsets them. I check on things for the home, like passwords, security codes, sprinkler timings & where their power box is (good to know in case of a blackout). I like to ask about cranky neighbours & road hazards (eg black spots) to avoid/ note that locals know about & visitors don’t. And I always ask for a Plan B - a back up plan in case I break a leg or there’s a family emergency where I can’t continue the sit - especially helpful if they are in another time zone or unable to be reached readily. Notably, I’ve never needed to call on a Plan B, but my hosts are grateful to have the peace-of- mind. They love that I’ve taken the time to pre-plan. These types of questions help me enormously & has built wonderful trust & respect for all over many years.

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@92coppin Yep, these are the kind of questions to discuss between sitters and homeowners during the video chat (pre-confirmation) and, if confirmed for the sit, when the sitter arrives for the house orientation (before the owners leave).

Ah I see, yes very smart and all necessary to cover these questions. I have a follow up question. What part in the process do you ask these questions. Typically for us anything that isn’t covered in our Welcome Guide we go over during the walk through. Most sitters take notes during the walk through but I do think it would probably be best for us to have details like you’re talking about written somewhere for the sitters that don’t take notes. We have all our plan B contacts in the welcome guide and always notify them before our departure. Yes I can see why any HO would love that you take all these extra precautions throughout the process.

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I don’t cover any of theses details in my initial meeting because it’s not necessary at that early stage, unless the HO seeks to share. My approach is to spend the intro meeting connecting with the HO to listen & ensure that we are both comfortable with each other & to share expectations. I explain about my proforma which supplements their Welcome Guide (if they have one). As many HO don’t have one, mine is helpful to them & makes info sharing easy.
It’s only when we’ve agreed to go ahead with the sit that they complete my questions & we chat further as needed. Both parties can continue to update it & share as we go so that we both have the current version for the upcoming & future sits.

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Yes @KC1102 I agree with you. Where @Kelly asks when do I ask my questions, I explained that my initial meeting with HO is not about the detail, it’s about our connection. The things you helpfully outline above are the subtle things I am assessing because there are sits that I wouldn’t do now (after years of experience) that I would readily have accepted in the early years. It’s during that meeting (& often in the HO ad) that those ‘discerning’ considerations (in my forum starting question) are taking place.
Another tip to share is to be clear about what you are & are not prepared to take on (pet types, home environment eg noise, location, state of repair, cleanliness, etc) right down to HO manner as there are some that are clear flags for me, eg where I can see that a broken glass could become a major issue for HO. I simply don’t go forward with sits that don’t align with my collaborative & transparent approach. As @KC1102 helpfully outlines, in my view, it is key to know your own expectations & tolerances before responding to a sit so you respect the HO & your own time.

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As we’re approaching the July 4th holiday, and new sitters may have accepted or be accepting US sits within the holiday timeframe, I’d like to recommend that they find and review tips on ensuring the pet is safe/comfortable during the fireworks.

My tip? For dogs, when you arrive at a sit, as you’re settling in and meeting/greeting the pet (and certainly before your first walk about), ensure the collar fits well and isn’t too loose.

Owners don’t always check this, and their pups have can have a different set of reactions during the first day or two with a new human. Some dogs startle/bolt easily and be more inclined to do so with a human their less familiar with/less confident in.

Ensure the collar can’t slip over the head easily and it should allow two fingers to slide underneath easily.

Happy sitting to all THSers, new and old!

Biggest tip i would say, regarding looking after dogs, is take it slow initially. Don’t overpower the dog, let them get used to a stranger in their home.
Simply take it easy.

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I love this idea. I thought I was well prepared before accepting my 1st (3weeks long) sit. I was not. It’s typically the 1st sit gone wrong that helps you see and know what you need as a sitter moving forward. I will definitely be working on this for my next home visit/zoom call.

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Have an abundance mentality rather than one of scarcity. Don’t jump at just any opportunity. Identify what you want to get from a sit and what you can (and are willing) to give in exchange. Then only expend energy on ) applying for sits that meet those criteria. Its far less stressful and as has been said many a time on this forum, theres a perfect sitter for every sit and a ideal sit for every sitter.

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Be honest. Be responsible. Have integrity and own your actions. Yes, they seem simple but , as evidenced by some here, it is apparently not so !

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