What Sitters Look For in Video Chats

It takes time and energy for both sitters and pet parents to engage in video chats, but they can serve as a good indicator of ‘best-fit’.

Every sitter will have different reasons for accepting or declining a sit following the video chat, and it might be useful to list your own deciding factors here, to give pet parents some insight.

I’ll start:

When we’d withdraw our application:

In every single application, we ask what time sitters are required to arrive and to leave, but it’s a question very many PPs choose not to answer until the video call. Only then do we often discover we can’t possibly meet their requirements (some require an early-arrival but don’t offer an overnight stay the night before, some say they’ll be back late and expect sitters to leave in the evening. On shorter sits, it’s just not worth the travelling and the associated accommodation expenses).

Sometimes, pet health conditions can be discovered during a chat, or it can become evident the home doesn’t look as nice as depicted in the listing pics.

Something we find off-putting is when we are speaking with a couple, but then one - usually the man, in our experience - demonstrates deep lack of interest, mumbles some excuse and leaves. If someone can’t be bothered to spend 20 minutes talking to us, we generally can’t be bothered to do that particular sit.

Why we’d accept:

When pet parents give off a positive vibe and present as being interested and interesting.

When they actually introduce us to their pets, without being asked.

When they ask if we’d like to see some of the house, without being asked.

Over to you sitters…

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For me that is sleeping with the pets in the bedroom.

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We look for kindred spirits and if there isn’t the right vibe we will pull out. We also look to see if the house looks the same as the photos on the listing. If cluttered it’s a no no for us.

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The answer to “How long can pets be left alone for ? “
can be a deal breaker for us - so we ask this even before a video call .
If the answer is 0 or 2 hours - we will withdraw our application.

Not all owners state this in their listing . When a listing is created there are tick boxes for an owner to show how many hours the pets can be left alone for (starting with 0 hours )
Unfortunately owners don’t realise that sitters can’t see these tick boxes- it’s just data collected for THS purposes .

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I want them to be friendly, easygoing and interested. And yes, I want to see the pets.
A tour of the house is not needed.
Sleeping with the pet is fine, as long as the pets are good sleepers.
If they give off a strict or businesslike vibe, I won’t take the sit.

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Not many owners state this in their listing, and some seem surprised when you ask it :slight_smile:

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We look for HO’s who are friendly, warm, welcoming and clearly here for a mutually beneficial exchange. As @andrealovesanimals said, if someone comes across as business like or has requests that we’re not willing to meet, we won’t accept. I remember once we had a call with someone who told us they’re looking for the right ‘candidate’ and interviewed us like it was a job interview, asking what our motivation was for applying. After the call, we declined them :upside_down_face:

Requests we cannot meet are to:

  • Never leave the pets for more than a few hours at a time

  • Meet in advance or arrive more than 1 night in adavance

  • For the pets to sleep in the room with us

  • To “be restrictive” and careful with utility use (of course we would be considerate and would never over-use in the first place, but being asked to ‘be restrictive’ of amenities & be cautious doesn’t feel nice or welcoming).

  • No indication in the call of what we might see & do in the area, and doesn’t seem enthusiastic for us to go out & about and take day trips.

  • Having to feed & walk more than twice daily (morning & evening) or having to stick to a strict & demanding routine that has no flexibility (e.g: wake up at 6am, take the dog out, feed dog at 8am, feed again at 2pm, take out again at 6pm, give snacks at 8pm) etc - this is not a paid job.

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I didn’t know that. It would be useful if included in the listing.

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Hi @Happypets
I’ve withdrawn my application as a sitter a couple of times post video chat. One sit was a very local sit in London. On the video chat the HO requested I didn’t use the heating in December during my 5 day sit when weather in London can be literally freezing. She also asked I didn’t leave the apartment and cat for the full 5 days of the sit.
The other sit I withdrew from was a HO in Cyprus who asked on the video call I arrive the week before and stay in the luxury resort hotel so we could get to know each other. However the weeks cost for the hotel was over 2000 euro’s the HO expected me to cover!
Normally the video chat confirms we’re a good fit.

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A happy smiling face.
Someone who is calm and relaxed.
I let the conversation flow in the direction they want as it allows me to feel their energy.
I don’t do strict demanding anything. I also make sure they feel comfortable with me.
If that doesn’t happen from the beginning then no.

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Indeed, strict is not good, but businesslike is ok with me when that goes with efficient and easygoing and hands-off.

One does not spend that much time with the HOs. And they may still turn out to be welcoming, generous and friendly when one meets them in person.

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We expect a friendly two way conversation - not an “interview “
and that the hosts are happy for us to ask them questions and they are not evasive about answering them . :ballot_box_with_check:

Hosts say they have / are preparing a welcome guide and will send it as soon as the sit is confirmed .:ballot_box_with_check:

Overall that the information that is discussed during our conversation aligns with the listing . :ballot_box_with_check:

Any additional onerous responsibilities/ restrictions / or things not previously disclosed / differ to the listing will be a reason to withdraw our application. :x:

So far have only had positive outcomes from video calls . Lovely owners , homes and pets .
Once we withdrew our application after the call because we found out ( after asking the question can we walk the dogs straight from the property ? ) that the two large dogs would have to be transported by car to the safe area for their daily walk as there were no pavements or lanes adjacent to the property . This was a deal breaker for us . The owners were lovely and it was good that we had the video call to discover this information before committing to the sit.

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My second sit was in an RV and I was still desperate for sits. For me, the RV park was not so desirable. It was in FL, had a pool, but most of the people smoked. The dog run was 2 miles away, not really far, but I had to transport these 2 large puppies in my car. And after 10 days, that was quite a bit of gas. I needed a sit and review and I wanted to be in FL, but would not do that again. That was not disclosed in the video call.

@Happypets

This is a great topic and I agree with all of your points.

When I would withdraw my application:

Be on time: Firstly, the video call needs to start with an agreed upon time. Maybe it is still the Drill Sergeant in me, but one of my pet peeves (get it pet peeves :sweat_smile:) is being on time. When setting up video calls, the HO and I agree upon a time to chat. For one video chat, the HO was supposed to call me at a certain time. I didn’t receive her call until 25 minutes later and she offered no apology for calling me late. I found it to be rude, inconsiderate, and disrespectful to keep me waiting and withdrew my application immediately after the call was over.

Start / End date for sitter: After I submit my application and the HO replies with an interest to chat, I will then submit a list of questions to HO that we can discuss during the video call. I just recently applied for a sit whereby the hypothetical start date began on 12 September and ended on 28 September.

Two of my questions are always ‘What time does the HO need me to arrive?’ and “What time will the HO return home?” The HO in this case would be gone for a week and then her and her husband would return home 3 days later and then the sit would resume. She offered me to stay at her home or stated that I could go home and return. I stated that I do not do split sits nor was I willing to drive home and return.

Couples - Interest / Uninterest: I also experienced a couple in which after about 15 minutes, the husband seemed uninterested–just got up / walked off during the video call, and did not return. Or I have had the wife abruptly get up / walk off to answer a phone call, while the husband is left by himself on the call and not sure what to say. :thinking:

Couples - Cannot agree on dog’s routine: I have had couples who disagreed on how much food the dog should receive or how many walks the dog should get or how long the walks should last or how long the dog could be left alone. If they cannot agree on those things, it should not be my job to figure it out.

Smoking / vaping: As a non-smoker, I will not accept sits where there is smoking / vaping in the home.

Snoring dog / dogs that sleep under the covers: As I am a light sleeper, dogs that snore and dogs that share the bed and sleep under the covers, would not work for me.

Gut instinct: Overall just a feeling I have in my gut that the sit won’t work out

When I would accept:

If the HOs are friendly

If there is a pleasant rapport during the video call

If the HOs have answered all of my questions

If HOs seem like they are a good fit

If I believe my sit would be enjoyable with the pet(s) and the location

If my gut instinct tells me to

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Yes, that’s an instant NO from me too.
I had one video call where the house had electric heating and the host said to be reasonable with the usage. That was enough to turn me off. The electric heaters themselves made me a bit iffy (they don’t usually work well), and when she made the comment about being reasonable, she lost me.

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@Happypets, I agree with you that this is a very important logistic to get out in the open immediately. I’m both a homeowner and a sitter, so what I do each time I post new dates/listing, I add a new paragraph to my listing and say something along the lines of “For this current sit, we leave late in the afternoon, so if you can arrive early on that day, that would be great; if you cannot, you are invited to spend the prior night with us. On the last day of the sit, you would be free to leave at xx am or after, as we will arrive home at xx pm.” I try to make it clear the logistics of our departure and arrival, and when it would be good for the sitter to arrive and depart. I would love it if more homeowners would do something like that, if their travel plans are firmly made at the time of listing.

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Being expected to transport the HO’s dogs in our car… is an immediate decline.

My extra question now is to ask what time the dogs go to bed- and whether I’m expected to also go to bed at that time too :woozy_face: i.e 9pm :flushed:

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Has anyone asked you to do that???

I had to laugh when you mentioned about one half of the couple making their excuses to disappear whilst on a video call. The same thing happened to me recently about ten minutes in when the husband made his excuses to disappear to get back to the rugby match! :laughing:

I had a video call recently where a HO had approached me to ask me if I’d be interested in taking care of their pet at the last minute. One of the first things that was said was that her intention was to ‘profile’ me and a number of other people. Something slightly off-putting about that particular word for me so I chose to wrap the conversation up and not proceed. My red flag radar is red hot these days!!!

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The puppy was crated in the open plan 1st floor lounge diner kitchen where the couches and TV were so in effect I was excluded from these areas - and the only option was the guest bedroom or garden. After the 4th night of no sleep/broken sleep I moved the crate to my bedroom and the puppy went to bed when I did at about 11.30pm….the result was we all got to sleep for 5/6 hours :sleeping: