FAQs For Pet Sitters and Other Pet Service Providers

Accidents, Illness and Injuries

It is possible that, when you are caring for a pet an emergency may arise. Please read the following guidelines as it will assist you in responding in the best possible way.

What do I do if a pet is ill or injured?
  1. Contact the client and/or their emergency contact by phone to advise them of the situation.
  2. Obtain instructions and permission from the client and/or their emergency contact regarding what actions they require you to take.
  3. In the case of a serious emergency take the pet to your nearest vet, otherwise to the client’s preferred vet clinic. If the emergency occurs outside of business hours, you should take the pet to your local emergency vet clinic.  We recommend that you look up the details and write them down so that you have them on hand and also key them into your mobile phone.  It’s also a good idea to learn the shortest route to your nearest vet and to a 24-hour emergency facility if one is available in your area.
  4. In the case of a serious emergency phone the vet on the way and let them know you are on the way.
  5. Inform “Don’t Fret Pet!” by email (emergency@dontfretpet.com.au) as soon as possible with “EMERGENCY” in the subject line, explaining what happened, what action has been taken and whether or not the pet is fine or still in critical condition.
  6. Keep the client up to date via phone or email at all times.

THE FOLLOWING SYMPTOMS REQUIRE IMMEDIATE VETERINARY ATTENTION:

  • Severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn’t stop within five minutes. You should apply pressure with a clean cloth or towel on your way to the vet.
  • Choking, difficulty breathing or non-stop coughing and gagging.
  • Bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum, coughing up blood, or blood in urine
  • Inability to urinate or pass faeces (stool) or obvious pain associated with urinating or passing stool.
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhoea – more than two episodes in a 24-hour period or either of these combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here.
  • Swollen or distended abdomen, with or without productive vomiting
  • Restlessness, panting, inability to lie down comfortably, unsuccessfully attempting to vomit, and abdominal distention
  • Refusal to drink for 24 hours or more.
  • Inability to urinate or defaecate, especially if straining. (Cats may repeatedly go to the litter box, lick at the genital area, and/or vocalise)
  • Injuries to the pet’s eye(s)
  • You suspect or know the pet has eaten something poisonous (such as antifreeze, xylitol, chocolate, grapes, raisins, rodent poison, snail bait, human medication, chemicals etc.). If the item was in a packet or container take that with you to the vet so that they can see exactly what the pet has ingested.
  • Seizures and/or staggering
  • Fractured bones, severe lameness or inability to move leg(s)
  • Trauma such as being hit by a car, a fall from a height or being heavily struck by an item, even if the animal is NOT showing any ill effects.
  • Collapse/inability to stand or walk
  • Loss of balance or consciousness, convulsions or seizure activity
  • Bite wounds from another animal.
  • Snake bite.
  • Paralysis tick attachment.
  • Heat stress or heatstroke – they may be panting heavily or appear weak.
  • Exposure to snakes or ticks
Emergency Vet Details

Remember that it is important to note down your nearest 24/7 emergency vet and to put that number and address into your mobile phone.

Contacting vets in an emergency:
If you have an emergency with a pet you are caring for we recommend that you telephone the vet on the way to advise them of the emergency so that they will be expecting you.

After the emergency:
Once the pet’s condition has been stabilised, they may be hospitalised at the emergency vet until their usual veterinary clinic is open.  You will need to be available to transfer the pet to their own vet.

Non-Life Threatening Issues

If you need veterinary advice for non life-threatening issues when caring for a pet, you can book an online chat or video consult with www.yourvetonline.com who are available 24/7.  The cost is $49.95 and you will have a one-on-one consultation with an experienced vet.

Another option is www.vetchat.com.au.

Be Prepared For Pet Emergencies

So that you can be prepared for emergencies it is a good idea to have a first aid kit on hand.  However, it is always best to contact a vet to ensure that the pet receives timely, adequate and relevant treatment.

Assembling a first aid kit
  • Phone numbers for the pet’s vet, the closest vet and the nearest emergency-veterinary clinic (along with directions!)
  • Self-cling bandage (bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur—available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogues)
  • Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting which some pets will do when frightened or injured.  Don’t use this if the pet is vomiting, choking, coughing or otherwise having difficulty breathing)
  • Protective gloves
  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
  • Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Gauze rolls
  • Ice pack
  • Scissors (with blunt ends)
  • Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
  • Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies)
  • Splinting item (e.g. a wooden stirring stir stick for small pets)
  • Tweezers
  • Towels
  • A pillowcase to confine a cat for treatment
  • A pet carrier
Pre-assembled first-aid kits

Your pharmacy and veterinarian have all of the supplies you will need.  It is advisable to obtain a storage container that allows you to organise your supplies neatly.  A fishing tackle box or tool organiser work well.  Keep the kit in an easily accessed position but out of reach of children.

The task of creating a kit can be reduced by purchasing one pre-assembled from the Animal Welfare League https://awl.org.au/support-us/shopping/pet-first-aid-kit.

What you can do to prevent emergencies?

It is impossible to prevent all emergencies, but the following contains information on what you can do to minimise the risk of emergencies.  Pets, especially young pups, are naturally inquisitive and will, at any opportunity, get into things that they were not supposed to eat.  You can print out an excellent sheet to keep on hand at http://www.aecvets.com.au/docs/Common-Pet-Toxins-NATIONAL.pdf

Ensure that pets cannot access any of the items listed below.  If a pet does ingest something that you are concerned about, you should contact their vet, your closest vet or the nearest emergency vet (if it is outside of business hours) as soon as possible to see whether treatment is required.  Advise the vet of the pet’s weight, what they have eaten, how much they ate and when it was eaten so that they can provide you with the best possible assistance.

All toxic foods, poisons and medication, both human and pet, must be kept in a closed cabinet preferably above a height that a pet can reach as some have been known to open cupboards or drawers.

Food items that are toxic to pets

  • Chocolate (the darker the chocolate the more toxic it is)
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Grapes, raisins, sultanas
  • Yeast dough
  • Chewing gum
  • Xylitol – anything that contains xylitol (the artificial sweetener)
  • Mouldy foods – make sure they can’t access your compost bin
  • Absorbent pads found under meat

Plants that are toxic to pets

http://www.aecvets.com.au/docs/Common-Plants-Toxic-to-Dogs-and-Cats-NATIONAL.pdf

  • Lilies
  • Marijuana
  • Cyclamen
  • Sago Palms
  • Tulips/Narcissus bulbs
  • Azaleas/Rhododendrons
  • Oleanders
  • Kalanchoe
  • Yew
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Amaryllis
  • Autumn Crocus
  • English Ivy
  • Peace Lilies
  • Wandering Jew – this is not toxic but some dogs are allergic to Wandering Jew and will develop a rash.
  • Rhoeo or Moses in the Cradle – not toxic but many dogs are allergic and develop a spotted rash

Medications

Keep all medication, both human and pet, in a closed cabinet preferably above a height that a pet can reach as some have been known to open cupboards or drawers.  If you have any human guests staying with you remind them to also store any medication out of reach of pets.

Many medications that are used safely in humans can be deadly when consumed by pets.  Less than one regular strength paracetamol tablet can be fatal to a cat.  One regular strength ibuprofen tablet can cause stomach ulcers in a 5kg dog.  Aspirin can lead to liver and kidney failure.

Poisons

Poisons designed to kill insects, rats and foliage can be poisonous to pets too.  The following items should be kept out of reach of pets (and children), preferably locked in high cupboards.  Do not use any of these when minding a pet in your home.  Seek immediate veterinary attention if any of the following are consumed.

  • Ant killers
  • Cockroach baits
  • Moth balls
  • Rat poison
  • Snail pellets
  • Weed killers

Alcohol and cigarettes

Some pets will drink alcohol that is within their reach so keep any glasses of alcohol out of their reach.

Cigarettes and cigarette butts may also be attractive to some pets. These contain varying amounts of nicotine and butts have about 25% of the total nicotine content.  Symptoms associated with nicotine ingestion are fast breathing, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, twitching, depression, a fast heart rate, shallow breathing and can progress to collapse, coma and death.  Seek veterinary attention immediately.

Other household items that can cause harm to pets

  • Pieces of cloth such as socks, underwear, ribbons etc. These can become caught up in the intestines and cause serious problems.
  • Personal items such as tampons and sanitary pads and condoms
  • Batteries
  • Cleaning products – these often contain acidic or alkaline ingredients, which can cause caustic or corrosive lesions in the stomach or intestines.
  • Fertilisers
  • Turpentine and methylated spirits – these products are extremely irritating to the skin and footpads and can also affect the breathing and brain. The best method of removing paint thinners is by bathing with a dish washing detergent and cool water. Further treatment may be required. Consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns.
  • Soaps and shampoos – usually cause mild gastrointestinal signs
  • Mothballs – Naphthalene is the most common active ingredient found in mothballs. Most common signs seen with mothball ingestion include vomiting, anaemia, lethargy and seizures. Hepatitis is a rare effect and if seen would occur 3-5 days post exposure. Treatment of mothball ingestion includes early decontamination. Consult a vet if the pet consumes mothballs
  • Anti-freeze – seek veterinary advice immediately.

Advertising Your Services

What does your listing tell clients?

Your listing is your very own page on “Don’t Fret Pet!” where you provide as much information as possible about yourself and the services you provide.  This is how clients will choose which sitter they think will suit their needs so it is important to provide honest, relevant information but also remember to tell them all the good pet-related things about yourself.

Your listing will provide potential clients with all the information they need to help them to choose the right sitter for their pets (hopefully you).  Therefore, it is important that you tell them as much as possible about you and provide factual, to the point, pet care related details.  Also remember to tell them all the good pet-related things about yourself.

It helps to upload a good, clear, professional photo of yourself as well as a video that shows them what you are like and perhaps a scan of your fences.

Your listing will also display a list of the services you offer, the prices that you charge for each service and reviews from previous clients.

Tell clients as much as possible about yourself

So that clients want to use your services it is essential that your profile is full of relevant information about yourself and the services that you offer.  Here are some ideas:

  • Pet owners love to see what you look like so make sure you upload a good quality profile picture.
  • If you are a pet sitter it is important to upload images of where the pets will be staying – some photos of your home and some of your backyard. 90% of enquiries go to those sitters who have multiple images on their profile page as clients like to see where their pet will be staying before committing to spending time on a meet and greet.
  • Upload a video. If you are a pet sitter do a short intro and then scan your living areas and your yard.  If you offer other services you can use the video to tell clients about your service.
Spreading the word
  • Connect your profile with Facebook, Instagram and PayPal
  • Get your badges so that clients feel more confident that you are a trusted, experienced sitter.
How will clients initially contact me?

Pet owners will contact you via the “Don’t Fret Pet!” site.  You will receive an email and a text message to notify you when you receive a message.  Be sure to respond quickly as it is likely that the client will have contacted more than one person and they tend to arrange a meet and greet with only the first one or two who respond to them.

Dogs and Children – Important Information

Dogs are pack animals and much of their behaviour is based on the instincts of a pack animal.

Because of their size relative to young children, a dog may consider himself to be superior. He may display protective behaviour toward a territory, a possession or a person.

Children, particularly those under the age of five, often do not understand the concept of boundaries when it comes to animals. The combination of an overprotective dog and a child who does not understand boundaries can lead to a big problem.

A dog may bite if it is provoked by a child who, for example, pulls its tail, fur, or ears. If a child gets too close to a dog and startles it, the dog may attack. Dogs can bite for less common reasons, such as being sick or injured. If a dog views a child as prey because he or she is running, this may also provoke an attack.

What can cause a dog to bite?

If you have children in your home, or have any visiting when you are caring for a dog, it is important that you watch out for the following events that could provoke a dog to bite a child.

  • The dog is protecting a possession – food, water, sleeping place, a toy or a favourite human.
  • The child has done something to provoke or frighten the dog (e.g. hugging the dog, moving into the dog’s space, leaning or stepping over the dog, trying to take something from the dog).
  • The dog is old and grumpy and having a bad day and has no patience for the actions of a child.
  • The dog is injured or sick.
  • The child has hurt or startled it by stepping on it, poking it or pulling its fur, tail or ears.
  • The dog has not learned bite inhibition and bites hard by accident when the child offers food or a toy to the dog.
  • The child and dog are engaging in rough play and the dog gets overly excited.
  • The dog views the child as a prey item because the child is running and/or screaming near the dog or riding a bicycle or otherwise moving past the dog.
  • The dog is of a herding breed and nips while trying to “herd” the children.
Preparing children for visiting dogs

Children should be educated with the following:

  • Avoid approaching unfamiliar dogs. Even if the dog has been with you for a day or two children should still respect that the dog may not be ready for interaction with them every time the child wants to play with the dog.
  • Never scream at or run from a dog as this may cause the dog to become anxious or overexcited.
  • Never play with a dog without adult supervision. A dog is much less likely to bite a child if an adult is present.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is eating or sleeping.
  • Always let a dog sniff them before petting it.
Signs that a dog is unhappy and may respond

There are always warning signs before a bite occurs, but these can be very subtle and may be missed by many people.  Signs that may indicate that the dog is not comfortable with the child’s actions may include:

  • The dog gets up and moves away from the child.
  • The dog turns his head away from the child.
  • The dog’s ears are pinned back and the fur along their back is standing up.
  • The dog looks at you with a pleading expression.
  • You can see the whites of the dog’s eyes.
  • The dog licks his lips while the child approaches or is interacting with him.
  • The dog suddenly starts scratching, biting or licking himself.
  • The dog is baring his teeth.
  • The dog yawns while the child approaches or is interacting with him. Along with the other signals this can mean that the dog is showing off its teeth as a warning.

Escaping Pets

Hopefully this will never happen and we cannot stress how important it is to follow the prevention steps to minimise the possibility of a pet escaping from your home.

How To Prevent An Escape From Your Home
  1. Always ensure that your fences are in good condition with no gaps. It is essential to check underneath to be sure there is no easily dug soft soil as well as in the corners where fences meet.
  2. Make sure you don’t park anything close to your fence that a dog could use as a stepping stone to vault over the top.
  3. Buy padlocks for your side gates so that nobody can open them and let the dogs out.
  4. When the dog arrives, attach a tag with your phone number during the handover time so that, should the dog find a way out straight after delivery, at least it has your number attached. Leave the tag on until the owners arrive to collect their dog.  Also, remove any tags that have the owner’s number as it isn’t good if a finder is calling their number if they are uncontactable. (Don’t forget to re-attach these shortly before the owner arrives to collect their dog.)
  5. As the owner is leaving get them to say the words that they normally say to their dog when they are going out. It may help the dog to understand that they are only being left temporarily and, therefore, they may settle down more easily.
  6. Do not accept delivery of a dog and then go out and leave it. Try to make sure that you are home for the first few hours after it arrives.  It may feel insecure in its new environment and cause damage to your property, bark incessantly or attempt to escape.
  7. If possible, take the dog for a walk around the neighbourhood soon after it arrives so that it can becomes familiar with it and also bond with you.
  8. Always lock your front door. It is too easy for a dog to dart out if someone comes to your door and walks straight in.
  9. When opening the front door ensure that the dog is either on a lead or temporarily, safely enclosed in another room. Dogs can dart through a very small gap and can move a lot more quickly than you think.
What to do if a Pet you are caring for escapes?
  1. Inform the pet owner and/or their emergency contact about what has happened as soon as possible and keep them up to date throughout the process of searching for the pet;
  2. Call all of the following to help find the pet:
  • local council pound
  • local vets
  • local shelters
  • RSPCA in your state
  1. Search nearby areas as soon as possible – take a leash and some treats with you in case you need to entice him/her to come back to you. If the pet has a favourite toy take that with you as well, especially if they have one that squeaks or jingles as they may hear that sound and come running to find it.
  2. If possible, leave the gate open in case the pet wanders back when you are out searching.
  3. If you don’t find the pet within a couple of hours inform “Don’t Fret Pet!” via an email to emergency@dontfretpet.com.au . Please put “MISSING PET” in the subject of the email and provide us all details about how the pet escaped.
  4. You can also phone us on 1300 30 70 21
  5. Join any lost dog Facebook groups for your area and share a photo and any details about the pet that will help anyone to identify it as well as where it was last seen. If you don’t have a photo ask the owner to email or SMS one to you.
  6. Put up posters with a photo of the pet, its name, where and when it was last seen and your contact information. Put them on telephone poles, at your local grocery store, coffee shops, etc.
  7. You can register with Lost Pet Finders who will then send out SMS’s to people in the area who are registered with them. lostpetfinders.com.au
  8. Contact the RSPCA in your state. The RSPCA in each state provides different lost and found services.  Click on the one in your state for more information:

RSPCA QLD 

RSPCA NSW

RSPCA ACT

RSPCA VIC

RSPCA TAS

RSPCA SA 

RSPCA WA

RSPCA Darwin

It is important that you keep looking and continue to call the pounds and shelters as they are only legally required to hold stray animals for eight days.  As proof of registration is necessary for council pounds you may need to take something in writing from the owner.

How Does “Don’t Fret Pet!” Assess Advertisers?

How does “Don’t Fret Pet!” evaluate people who advertise on the site?

As we have been operating since 1993 we have a lot of experience in assessing people wishing to mind pets.  Using this experience, we have put the following in place.

  1. Basic Identity Checks
  • We ensure the person’s full name matches their Facebook profile.  We display this as a Facebook badge on their listing.
  • We validate their email address.
  • We validate their mobile phone number.
  • We validate their address.
  • We inspect the photographs they supply to assess the standard of what they have provided so that pet owners are shown what they need to see to make the best choices for their pet.
  1. Personal Verification
  • Unlike any other online site we personally speak with every potential new Pet Sitter on our site so that we can assess their attitude and intentions.
  1. References from previous clients
  • If the person has been providing this service in the past, we request external references from former clients and display these on their listing.
  1. We request Drivers Licences and Criminal History Checks
  • We do identity document checks of Australian Drivers licenses and National Criminal History for people offering certain services.
  • People offering Housesitting, Home Visit or Pet Taxi Services are not able to accept bookings for that service until we have received a clear, current police background check.
  • People offering Pet Taxi services must upload a current, valid Australian Drivers licence as well as a clear, current police background check before they are able to accept bookings for that service.

Meet & Greet

Meet & Greets for Pet Sitters

Preparing for a meet and greet with a new client

Pet owners are, understandably, very particular about where their pets go to stay.  If you want to be classed as a great pet sitter it is important that you demonstrate how good you are going to be by preparing your home so that it is clean and safe for visiting pets.  It is essential that you ensure that:

  • your home is very clean – this includes both the inside and the yard.
  • your yard is secure – fences in good repair, locks on gates.
  • both your home and yard are safe for a pet with no dangerous berries, sharp objects or dangerous chemicals within the pet’s reach.
  • your own pets are clean and free of fleas.
When the meet and greet occurs be sure that
  • You fulfil your obligations to be at home at the time you agreed with the client.
  • Other family members are present if possible.
  • You greet the client with a smile and use their name when you speak to them.
  • You greet the client’s pet by name as well.
  • If the visiting pet is a dog you take it straight out to your yard as dogs often want to mark new territory. Remain in the yard for a while and show the client your fences, gates and the shelter from sun and storms.  Ask the client if the fences are secure enough for their dog.
  • If you have a dog it is sometimes a good idea to keep it aside until the other pet has settled in.
  • If you are minding another pet it is best to keep it aside during the meet and greet so that no unexpected “issues” arise.
  • If the visiting pet is a dog both dogs are off lead when they meet. This is best done in the yard so that there is plenty of space.
  • You show the client what parts of your house their dog will have access to and where they will sleep. (If they are going to be sleeping in your bedroom you can just tell the client that without taking them there.)
What to ask the client

It is important that you find out as much as possible about the pet so that you can be sure it is going to fit in with your household.

Some questions to ask dog owners:

  • What is most important to the client when having their dog minded?
  • Has their dog been boarded before and, if so, how did it cope? This is an important questions as you don’t want to take on a dog that suffers severe separation anxiety if you are not going to be at home 24/7.
  • How does their dog get on with other dogs? (Only relevant if you have a dog or the dog is likely to meet one when staying with you.)
  • How much walking is their dog used to? At this point ask the client to be sure that their dog is wearing a secure collar when he/she comes to stay with you so that you can attach a special tag with your contact details.
  • How well behaved is their dog on lead? Make sure the dog is within the capacity of your strength or walking could be a dangerous event.  If possible trial walking the dog so that you can be sure you are able to cope with it when out walking.
  • What does their dog do when they meet another dog when out walking?
  • If you have a cat or birds you need to ask how the dog is with both of these.
  • How is their dog with children? Even if you don’t have children in your home it is handy to know this in case you meet one when walking or someone comes to visit with their children.
  • How long can their dog be left alone? It is not going to work if their dog needs 24/7 care and you are not at home 24/7.
  • Is their dog destructive? If there is any hesitation from the owner ask them what their dog is likely to chew.
  • Does their dog dig in the garden? If your garden is precious to you it is a good idea to find out where they are likely to dig as you may not want to take the dog on if it does too much digging.
  • Does their dog bark very much and what causes them to bark?
  • Has their dog ever been aggressive towards humans?
  • Is their dog likely to try to escape? If the dog has a history of this find out how it has escaped from its own home.  It is best to decline minding a dog that leap tall fences with a single bound as its safety and your sanity are very important.
  • How is their dog with fireworks and with storms?
  • Is their dog fully toilet-trained? If not, get details of what types of accidents they have and how often.
  • Is their dog ok with both men and women?
  • To what areas of their house does their dog usually have access?
  • Where do they leave their dog when they go out – inside, outside and does this vary depending on time of day?
  • Remind them that they need to provide the food that their dog usually eats at home so that it doesn’t have to cope with a change of diet that could lead to an upset tummy.
  • How is their dog’s health? If the dog has any health issues be sure that you are able to cope with them.
  • Is their flea treatment up to date?
  • Is their dog on any medication? If yes, find out more and be sure it is something that you are able to continue with.  For example, if a dog requires injections and you are not skilled at giving injections it is best to decline this booking.

Some questions to ask cat owners:

  • What is most important to the client in having their cat minded?
  • Has the cat been boarded before? If so, how did it cope and what sort of boarding was it – cattery or in someone else’s home?
  • How does the cat get on with dogs? (only relevant if you have a dog or a dog is likely to visit your home during the cat’s stay with you)
  • How does the cat get on with other cats? (only relevant if you have a cat)
  • How does the cat get on with caged birds? (only relevant if you have birds)
  • Does the cat prefer men or women, or is it equally happy with both?
  • Does the cat have any experience with children? How does it react?
  • Is the cat more of a social creature (ie loves to be on people’s laps and getting lots of cuddles) or does it like its own space?
  • Does the cat usually wear a collar? If not, will the cat tolerate a collar whilst in your care? You need this information so that whilst the cat is in your care you can attach a special tag to the cat’s collar that has your contact details.
  • Is the cat known for wanting to dive out of open doors?
  • Does the cat stress in fireworks or thunderstorms? How is this managed e.g. putting the cat in its travel crate in a darkened room until the threat has passed?
  • Ask the owner to please make sure that they bring with them the cat’s usual litter tray and enough litter for the duration of the cat’s holiday. A sudden change in the type of litter used can sometimes result in the cat not wanting to use its litter tray and then find an inappropriate place to do its toileting.
  • How is the cat’s general health? Does the client have a current vaccination certificate?
  • Does the cat have any history of UTI’s? Ask the owner to supply anything they may use to help prevent this from occurring.
  • Will the cat require any medication whilst the owner is away? If so, how is the cat with taking pills? Make sure you are comfortable in giving cats oral medication. If the cat requires injections, are you skilled in giving injections?  If not, it would be best to decline this booking.
  • Has the cat ever shown any sign of separation anxiety e.g. being reclusive, overly vocal, refusing to eat or toileting outside of its litter box?  If yes, how is the issue resolved?  Maybe the owner can supply pheromone therapy such as Feliway plug in diffuser or spray if need be.
  • How long is the cat used to being left alone?
  • Encourage the cat owner to bring along a couple of favourite toys and the cat’s usual scratching post (so long as it isn’t too large, of course) so the cat has some memories of home during its holiday with you.
  • Where does the cat like to sleep of a night time?  Many cats like to sleep on the bed so it is important you know this in case you aren’t prepared to have the visiting cat sleeping with you or one of your family members.
Questions the client might ask you

Even if you have this information on the “Don’t Fret Pet!” portal some clients will still want to ask you in person.

  • How much experience have you had with sitting this particular type of pet?
  • How many pets have you minded before?
  • Do you have any references?
  • If it is a dog, where will you be walking it? (Remember that it must be on lead at all times.)
  • How far away is your nearest vet?
  • Would you be willing to take their pet to their own vet if necessary?
  • Where will their pet spend most of their time?
  • How much time will you be able to spend with their pet?
What you should do if you don’t want to mind the pet?

Sometimes you will find that the pet is not going to fit in with your household.

If you don’t think it’s going to work for you to mind that pet it is best to tell the owner that at the time and the reasons why (if possible) so that they have as much time as possible to search the “Don’t Fret Pet!” site for another sitter.

However, sometimes it is very difficult to tell the pet’s owner that you don’t think their pet will fit in with your household.  We understand that it can be difficult to tell a pet owner that you don’t want to mind their pet as we have been providing a pet care service since 1993 and have had to do this quite a few times.  If that is the case here is what you need to do:

  • Immediately after the meet and greet, but definitely no more than 24 hours later, email us at support@dontfretpet.com.au.
  • Provide the following information in the email:
    • Pet owner’s name
    • Booking dates
    • Why you don’t feel that minding this pet will work for you.

If you provide all the above information within 24 hours of the meet and greet we will contact the owner for you.  Just remember that the pet owner needs to know as soon as possible so that they can search the “Don’t Fret Pet!” site for another sitter.

Can I choose the size and breeds of the pets that I prefer to mind?

Meet & Greets for Home Visit Sitters

What to ask the client

So that you don’t waste your time travelling to the person’s home, and their time as well, there are a few questions that you should ask during the initial communication:

  • What pets are involved in case the client has any pets that you don’t feel comfortable with. If you are terrified of snakes it would not be a good idea to accept a booking that included caring for snakes.
  • How often you would need to visit and how long the client would like you to stay on each visit. If it is longer than 30 minutes you need to advise them of the higher price.

As you are going to be visiting the person’s home there are a number of things that you need to pay attention to so that you feel safe and enjoy looking after the home and pets.  We recommend that you make notes on the form provided by “Don’t Fret Pet”.

  • Is the neighbourhood safe? If you don’t feel that the neighbourhood is safe decline the booking.
  • If you will be caring for dogs find out:
    • Is the dog at all aggressive?
    • Is the yard secure enough to contain the dog? You don’t want to spend hours searching the neighbourhood for a dog that is likely to escape when left at home alone for most of the day.
    • How much walking the dog will need and where it is usually walked. It is a great idea to do part of this walk with the client so that you can observe what the dog is like on its walks.
  • If you will be caring for cats find out:
    • Where does the cat usually hide? This helps you to be able to find it to check that it’s ok.
    • How often should you change the kitty litter and where should you dispose of the used litter?
  • What other tasks would the client like you to perform e.g. clearing the mail box, watering plants, putting rubbish bins out and bringing them in again?
  • Do you feel comfortable with all the pets in the household?
  • Do the pets’ needs fit in with your available times?
  • Ask for written details of what the owner wants you to do in the event of one of their pets needing veterinary care. They should include the name, address and phone number of their usual vet as well as the nearest 24 hour emergency vet.
  • Get details and make notes of all the tasks e.g. walking the dog, feeding pets, watering plants etc.  Make sure that you quote enough time in which to complete all the required tasks.
  • Find out where the pets’ food and feeding bowls will be left and ask the client to ensure that they provide you with enough of the food that they usually feed their pets.  Also request that they write out exactly what quantities and when to feed.

Meet & Greets for House Sitters

What to ask the client

So that you don’t waste your time travelling to the person’s home, and their time as well, there are a few questions that you should ask during the initial communication:

  • What pets are involved in case the client has any pets that you don’t feel comfortable with
  • How much the client expects you to be home in case they have pets that need more care than you would be available to provide

As you are going to be living in the person’s home there are a number of things that you need to pay attention to during the meet and greet so that you feel safe and enjoy looking after the home and pets.

  • Is the neighbourhood safe? If you don’t feel that the neighbourhood is safe decline the booking.
  • Do you feel uncomfortable with the client? This could be because of any of the following:
    • the client makes inappropriate comments or asks irrelevant personal questions
    • the client makes sexual comments
    • the client seems unnaturally nervous
  • Is the home clean enough for you to live in? If the home is not at a standard of cleanliness or tidiness that you could live in it is best to decline the booking as you would probably feel very uncomfortable living there.
  • Ask to view the room that they want you to sleep in and be sure that it is acceptable.
  • If they have a dog is it one that you want to live with? Find out as much as possible about the dog and its needs, e.g. walking, feeding, and habits.  You need to be sure that the dog is friendly and does not have needs that would make your life too difficult.  If the dog is not suitable decline the booking.
  • Trial walking the dog/s so that you are sure you can handle them when out walking.
  • Do you feel comfortable with all the pets in the household? If you are terrified of snakes it would not be a good idea to accept a booking that included caring for snakes.
  • Do the pets’ needs fit in with your schedule? If you work full-time and the client has pets that need more care than you can provide you should decline the booking as it would not be fair to the pets to be left all day if they require more care.
  • Ask for written details of what the owner wants you to do in the event of one of their pets needing veterinary care. They should include the name, address and phone number of their usual vet as well as the nearest 24 hour emergency vet.
  • Get details and make notes of all the tasks e.g. walking the dog, feeding pets, watering plants etc and charge accordingly. Don’t feel pressured to decrease your prices.
  • Ask the client to ensure that they provide you with enough of the food that they usually leave their pets.  Also request that they write out exactly what quantities and when to feed.
  • Ask what treats the client usually gives their pets, where they keep them and how often you can give them to the pets.
What you should do if you don’t want to housesit this home?

Don’t feel pressured to ever accept any bookings.  If the situation doesn’t feel right to you it is best to decline the booking.  If you don’t feel comfortable telling the client that you don’t think this booking will work for you here is what you need to do:

  • Immediately after the meet and greet, but definitely no more than 24 hours later, email us at support@dontfretpet.com.au.
  • Provide the following information in the email:
    • Home owner’s name
    • Booking dates
    • Why you don’t feel that providing a housesitting service at this house will work for you.

If you provide all the above information within 24 hours of the meet and greet we will contact the owner for you.  Just remember that the pet owner needs to know as soon as possible so that they can search on the “Don’t Fret Pet!” site for another sitter.

Pet Behaviour Problems

What to expect when the owner first leaves?

If you are pet sitting in your own home sometimes you may find that the pet takes a while to settle into the new environment.  It is best to plan to be with the pet for at least the first few hours.  It is always a good idea to take a dog for a walk as soon as possible so that it decides you’re a great person to be with and also gets to know the neighbourhood.  That way, if it manages to escape, it is more likely to find its way back to your home.

If a dog is suffering from separation anxiety it may display behaviours such as whining, pacing, salivation, barking, howling, hyperactivity, scratching, chewing, digging, urinating or defecating, and, if left alone, destruction of personal items or household objects. Dogs with separation anxiety often exhibit more than one of these behaviours.  If you are minding a dog that is exhibiting this behaviour keep it inside with you until it settles down as, if it is out in the yard on its own, it may develop superdog skills and manage to find a way out and can do this in very quick time.

Pets who are used to a lot of company

If a pet is used to lots of company and you are usually away from home quite a lot it would be best, for both the pet’s sake and yours, to not accept the booking.  It can be stressful for the pet to be in a strange environment and to suddenly also have very little human company.  It can be stressful for you to arrive home to damaged items and neighbours complaining.

Different behaviour from what you were expecting

You may find that, once the client leaves, their dog starts to behave differently.  This can happen if the dog is anxious that their human has left.  Always ask the client to use their usual departure words when leaving their dog e.g. “Going out.  Back soon.” so that the dog knows they will be returning.

Plan to be with a visiting dog for at least the first few hours so that you can help them to settle in.  Keep them inside with you so that they can’t possibly escape.  Medium sized dogs are the best fence jumpers as they are more likely to have the muscle power to leap fences.  Small dogs are more likely to find a gap in or under your fence and ‘work it’.  A dog of any size can dig under a fence.

Most dogs settle within a few minutes however some will take longer, possibly even a full day.  Usually, once they have eaten and spent a night in your home they will settle down.

What to do if a pet is not settling?

Try to work out the cause.  Are they still anxious or perhaps they are bored or perhaps they are just a young, very active dog?

  • Offer them a treat, preferably one left by the client
  • Play games with them
  • Take them for walks
  • Offer them toys to play with

Basically, you need to get their attention and get their mind off whatever is causing the unsettled behaviour.

Some items that you could either have on hand or ask the client to provide are:

Thundershirts – Thundershirts are available for both dogs and cats and they work by applying a gentle all over pressure which has a dramatic calming effect.  Google  “thundershirts” to see more information and to buy them online.

Pheromone collars for dogs– Pheromone collars have been shown to help dogs cope in kennels, during rehoming and in a range of other stressful situations such as during fireworks exposure and car travel.  A common brand is Adaptil.

Pheromone diffusers for cats – Pheromone diffusers can help to alleviate signs associated with fear and stress in cats, including urine marking, vertical scratching and loss of appetite caused by traumatic events like separation.  A common brand is Adaptil.

Herbal Remedies – there are a number of herbal remedies available that can assist with calming pets though you would need to discuss these with the client before administering them.

Veterinary Advice – if you can’t calm the pet it would be worth discussing with the emergency contact or owner regarding seeking veterinary advice.

Who’s the boss?

It is important when minding a dog that you establish yourself as the pack leader from the very beginning.  Dogs instinctually need exercise, discipline and affection in that order so let them know that you are the boss as they feel safer and behave better when they have a pack leader.

You need to earn the dogs’ trust, loyalty, and respect before they will look to you as their leader and you do this by giving them rules, boundaries, and limitations.

Feeding dogs

If you have more than one dog in your home always feed them separately as some dogs can be possessive about their food and food bowls.

What if a dog becomes aggressive?

Firstly, to eliminate any risk of injury to yourself, the visiting dog or other pets, separate and secure the aggressive dog somewhere safe.  Then you should advise the client as they may be able to give you some advice.  You may discuss getting a trainer in if it becomes a dangerous situation.  Another option is to discuss with the client moving their dog to a boarding kennel.

Pet Care Basics

What standard of care should I offer my clients?

No matter which services you offer you must remember that all pets deserve wonderful care and, when they are in your care, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are always safe and receive the best possible mental and physical stimulation, nurturing and good old TLC.

The better the care that you provide the more likely it is that your clients will provide fantastic feedback.  This will lead to more bookings for you and, ultimately, the luxury of being able to select which bookings suit you best.

Feeding pets

When minding pets you should ONLY ever feed them the food that your client has provided in the quantities that they have advised, unless, of course, the client has agreed that certain treats that you have on hand are also suitable.  This way you won’t run the risk of a pet having an upset tummy from eating something that doesn’t agree with them.  You can also be certain that the pet will then return to their human at a similar weight to what they were when they arrived.

If the pet won’t eat for the first couple of days don’t worry as that won’t harm them as long as they are drinking water.  If it goes beyond a couple of days it could be a good idea to call the client or their local contact to ask what other food you could offer the pet to get them started with eating.  An even better idea is to have this discussion with the client at the meet and greet.

Keeping your client updated

Clients like to know how their pet is going so be sure to keep the client updated with positive messages as often as possible– daily if you can.  Sending a picture of their pet enjoying their stay or your visit, or a message about their pet’s day, does more than just say hello, it gives the client a sense of peace and wellbeing that their pet isn’t fretting and is being well cared for.

Try not to bother clients with basic questions as they need to enjoy their holiday knowing that their pet is in good, capable hands however, in the case of emergencies, it is important to keep them and/or their emergency contact up to date.

Boarding pets in your home
  1. How many pets can I care for in my home?

This will depend on a number of factors:

  • How many pets you have
  • Will the pets all get along? This is very important to your own sanity and enjoyment of caring for pets as well as to the safety of the pets.  If you take on more than one pet from different clients,you need to be absolutely certain that they will all get on.  You don’t want to be in the middle of a dog or cat fight or have a cat create a meal out of a bird that you are minding.

If you do decide to take on pets from different clients, do make sure that you notify each client of your intention to do so and get their agreement.  Some clients will expect that their pet will be the only one staying with you.

  • What your local council allows. To determine what your local council says about the number of pets you can mind, click on your state and then navigate to your local council:

ACT

NSW

NT

QLD

SA

TAS

VIC

WA

  1. The daily routine

It is essential that you get the information from clients that is detailed in Meet and Greets so that you understand what the daily routine is and can provide the best possible care.

  1. Water

It is very important that water is always available for pets.  If you are going to be out for a while be sure that the water is in a position where it can’t be tipped over.

  1. Exercising dogs

You should be prepared to walk any dogs you are minding for whatever time/distance the client has requested.  If it is a young dog it is certainly in your interest to walk it frequently so that some of that energy is used up walking rather than chewing things around your house.  Make sure the collar and lead are secure so that you don’t have a situation where the dog slips out of its collar when out walking.

Be prepared to also spend some time playing games in the garden with younger dogs as they will need more exercise.

  1. Grooming

Dogs and long-haired cats need to be brushed regularly to remove loose fur and avoid tangled masses.

If a dog is staying in your home, so that you return a dog to its owner looking and smelling its best it is a good idea, if possible, to bath it if you have cared for it for more than 7 days.  If you have not agreed on a price for this with the client then you can’t charge them for this but they will really appreciate it if you provide this as an extra free service.  Of course, you should only ever use shampoo approved of by the client as some dogs have allergies to some product ingredients.

Visiting pets in their own home
  1. How many home visits can I do?

It is important that you calculate the distance between each booking and how long it will take you to travel that distance.  Then you need to factor in the amount of time you have committed to for each booking.  It is also important to be aware of the daylight hours so that you don’t arrive at your last appointment in the dark unless it is a booking that is totally indoors.  Remember to allow an additional 10-15 minutes per booking to cover any unexpected travel delays or extra attention that is required at the home.

You will also need to note what time the client needs you to visit their pets so that they are visited at the agreed time.

  1. The daily routine

It is essential that you get the information from clients that is detailed in Meet and Greets so that you understand what the daily routine is and can provide the best possible care.

Knowing the tasks involved will also help to confirm the length of the required visit.  It is not cost effective, nor enjoyable, to have agreed to a half hour visit and find that all the tasks involved will actually take more than 50 minutes.  Having the daily routine information gives you the opportunity to discuss the time needed with the client before the visits begin.  If you do not allow enough time for the home visit, you are not providing adequate care for the animals that you are responsible for.

  1. Water

It is very important that water is always available for pets.  Suggest to your client that, whilst the pet is in your care and you are only visiting them once or twice per day, that the client provides an additional source of water.  This will ensure that, should the pet tip a bowl over, they have another source of water.

  1. Exercising dogs

You should be prepared to walk any dogs you are minding for whatever time/distance the client has requested.  If it is a young dog it is certainly in your interest to walk it frequently so that some of that energy is used up walking rather than chewing things around the house or yard.  Make sure the collar and lead are secure so that you don’t have a situation where the dog slips out of its collar when out walking.

Be prepared to also spend some time playing games in the garden with younger dogs as they will need more exercise.  Remember to accurately assess the time required to provide this level of care for the dog and adjust the time required for each of your home visits.

  1. Grooming:

Dogs and long-haired cats need to be brushed regularly to remove loose fur and avoid tangled masses.

Make sure that you know the location of the client’s dog shampoo in case the dog somehow manages to get filthy and needs a bath.  It is a good idea to discuss with the client at the meet and greet how they would like you to handle the situation if their dog does become filthy.  Your client may want you to use the local mobile doggie hydrobath.  Be sure to agree on whether or not you will charge if you need to bath the dog and, if a hydrobath is used, how this will be paid for.

Housesitting the pets in their own home
  1. The daily routine

It is essential that you get the information from clients that is detailed in Meet and Greets so that you understand what the daily routine is and can provide the best possible care.

Knowing the tasks involved will help you to decide if this booking fits in with your schedule.

If you are not going to have the time to fulfil the daily routine you will not be providing adequate care for the animals that you are responsible for.

  1. Water

It is very important that water is always available for pets.  Make sure there is more than one source of water available and check this a couple of times a day..

  1. Exercising dogs

You should be prepared to walk any dogs you are minding for whatever time/distance the client has requested.  If it is a young dog it is certainly in your interest to walk it frequently so that some of that energy is used up walking rather than chewing things around the house.  Make sure the collar and lead are secure so that you don’t have a situation where the dog slips out of its collar when out walking.

Be prepared to also spend some time playing games in the garden with younger dogs as they will need more exercise.

  1. Grooming:

Dogs and long-haired cats need to be brushed regularly to remove loose fur and avoid tangled masses.

Make sure that you know the location of the client’s dog shampoo in case the dog somehow manages to get filthy and needs a bath.  It is a good idea to discuss with the client at the meet and greet how they would like you to handle the situation if their dog does become filthy.  Your client may want you to use the local mobile doggie hydrobath.  Be sure to agree on whether or not you will charge if you need to bath the dog and, if a hydrobath is used, how this will be paid for.

Providing a pet taxi service

When providing a pet taxi service it is important that the pets you are transporting are always secured so that they can’t escape, are safe in the event of an accident and so that you are safe at all times.

When arranging a booking with a client ascertain what they will provide in the way of crates or harnesses and only take the booking if you are confident that both you and the pet will be safe.

Preparing Your Property For Pet Sitting

Minding dogs in your home
  1. Make sure your home and yard are secure

The principal responsibility that you have as a pet sitter is the security of the pet you are minding.  Your home must be extremely secure so that the pet cannot escape.

  • Fence condition – always ensure that your fences are in good condition with no gaps. It is essential to check underneath to be sure there is no easily dug soft soil as well as in the corners where fences meet.
  • Clear areas around fences – make sure you don’t place anything close to your fence that a dog could use as a stepping stone to vault over the top.
  • Gates should be locked – buy padlocks for your side gates. Kids, neighbours, friends and relatives may not always know or remember that you are minding a dog.  If the gate is locked they can’t accidentally open it and allow a dog to escape.
  • Escape artists – if your yard is not like Fort Knox you should not agree to take on an escape artist.
  • Agile/active dogs – very agile, active dogs need very secure yards as, while they may not jump the fences at home, when they arrive in a strange environment they may be tempted to do so.
  • Small dogs – you need to be sure there are no gaps that they can squeeze through or under. Remember that many small breeds of dog can easily fit through standard pool fencing.
  • Lock your front door – it is too easy for a dog to dart out if someone comes to your door and walks straight in.
  • Opening the front door – ensure that the dog is either on a lead or temporarily, safely enclosed in another room. Dogs can dart through a very small gap and can move a lot more quickly than you think.
  • Ensure all members of the household are aware, and reminded, of door and gate security while a dog is staying with you.
  1. The client must also check the security of your property

This is one of the reasons the meet and greet is essential.  The client must see the yard and confirm that it is secure enough for their dog.  Show the client:

  • The lowest point of your fences – is it high enough for their dog?
  • Any gaps – could their dog fit through?
  • Gates – are they strong enough for their dog?
Minding cats in your home

Cats must be kept indoors at all times as, if a cat gets out, it will be very difficult to retrieve it.

  1. Security measures to keep cats safe
  • Small quiet area – cats don’t need to have access to the entire house and most often, when in a strange environment, would prefer a small, quiet area e.g. a bedroom with their bed, scratching post, water bowl and litter tray and some attention in short sessions to begin with.
  • Secure the area – windows and access to areas where the door could be opened to the outside world must be securely blocked at all times so that the cat can’t zip out at the speed of lightning.
  • Upper windows – if you leave an upper window open make sure that it has a secure screen.
  • Window fly screens – if the windows will be left open ensure that the screens are in a good state of repair and can’t be removed or ripped by a cat.
  • Window security bars – these would not be close enough together to prevent a cat from escaping.
  • Window latches – latches must be in good condition so that a cat can’t possibly work it open.
  • Doors – all members of the household must be aware of the need for added security when a cat is staying with you. When anyone enters or leaves your home make sure that the cat is either securely restrained on its harness, in its travelling crate or is confined to a room in another part of your house.
  1. The client must also check the security of your property

This is one of the reasons the meet and greet is essential.  The client must see the part of the house where the cat will be confined and confirm that it is secure enough for their cat.  Show the client all the windows and doors to which the cat will have access and ask them if they can see any potential issues with the area.

Pet Safety

It is important that your home is safe for visiting pets.  Some things to take into consideration are:

  • Tidiness and cleanliness – an untidy, chaotic home can provide inquisitive pets in unfamiliar surroundings with the opportunity to get into dangerous positions. Clients will want to see that their pet is being well cared for and will be reluctant to leave him or her in an environment that is extremely messy and/or unclean.
  • Chemicals and poisons – these should be stored in locked cupboards or in upper cupboards that a pet could not possibly reach.
  • Dangerous household items – some household items can become a hazard for playful pets, particularly if they are bored. Make sure that the following items are not left in the reach of unattended pets – electrical cords, lit candles, curtain cords, lighters, fish tanks, bath tubs full of water and open toilet bowls.
  • Ingestible items – pets investigate by taste as well as by sight so be sure small items such as pens or children’s small toys are cleared from the floor and are not within reach of a visiting pet.
  • Dangerous foods – keep dangerous foods well out of the reach of pets. Some to be particularly careful with are chocolate, grapes, raisins and xylitol (which is in many food products).  As some pets do have allergies with particular types of food it is a good idea to keep all food out of reach of visiting pets.
  • Plants – check your garden for any of these plants as they can be toxic to pets – lilies, marijuana, cyclamen, sago palm, azalea/rhododendron, oleander, kalanchoe, chrysanthemum, autumn crocus, English ivy, peace lily, tulips, iris, hydrangea, wandering jew, macadamia nuts and palm tree seeds. You can download information on these plants here http://www.aecvets.com.au/docs/Updated%20Info%20Sheets/Common-Plant-Toxins-2016.pdf
  • Water – large bodies of water such as pools, fish ponds, dams and unemptied bath tubs can present a drowning hazard for pets. It is important to ensure that pets do not have access to these at any time. Be aware that many pool fences won’t stop a small dog or puppy from accessing the area and they can drown if they accidently fall in and are unable to get out.
  • Ventilation – if the cat will be enclosed in a room make sure it has adequate ventilation and that the room doesn’t become too hot and cause the cat to overheat.
  • Yard shelter – when a dog is left outside for any period of time it needs shelter that protects it from both sun and storms. The dog must be able to find shade at all times of the day and have adequate cool water available for it at all times.

Reviews & Testimonials

The importance of good reviews

The best advertisement for your business is rave reviews.

The only way you can achieve this is by providing excellent service both in the way you care for the pets and in how you interact with the client.  This will lead to very positive reviews for you and that will then lead to more clients wanting you to mind their pets.

Remind the client to post a review

Pet owners will automatically be prompted by “Don’t Fret Pet!” to write a review of your service but the best time to remind them to do this is when they are telling you how happy they are with the service you have provided.  All of your reviews will appear on your listing. You can also leave reviews for pet owners.

Safety Measures

Hint & tips to operate a safe business

It is important that you operate your business safely for you, other members of your household and any visiting pet.

  1. Client profiles – only meet with clients who have a clear profile photo.
  2. Choosing pets to mind – only accept bookings for pets with which you have experience otherwise you could find yourself in a situation where you are not able to effectively control the pet or could cause illness or injury if you don’t know how to care for the pet.
  3. Get details about the pet – in order to do the best possible job when caring for pets it is your responsibility to ensure that you get the following information from your clients – emergency contact numbers for both the client and a friend/relative who is not travelling with them, feeding details, vet contact number and details about the pet’s routine.
  4. Money matters – So that you are covered with insurance make sure that you receive your payment through the “Don’t Fret Pet!” payment system.
  5. Learn as much as possible– so that you can provide the best care possible and have many repeat clients read as much of the information we provide as possible.
  6. Pet ID– ensure that the pet has a tag attached with your contact number – just in case!
When should you say no to a booking?
See information on Saying No To A Booking.
What breeds are not accepted on “Don’t Fret Pet!”?

The following breeds of dogs, including those that substantially meet the description of these breeds, are not accepted for pet sitting on “Don’t Fret Pet!”.  If you see a job posted by a client or receive a booking enquiry and a dog looks like any of these breeds, please let us know.

  • American pit-bull terrier
  • American pit-bull terrier types
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Presa Canario

Also, any dangerous, menacing or restricted dogs are not accepted for pet sitting via “Don’t Fret Pet!” as they are high risk and would not be covered by insurance.

If you are minding pets in your own home

If you are minding pets in your home here are some additional tips to help keep you safe:

  1. Safe Meet and Greets – if the meet and greet is at your home it is a good idea to either have a family member or friend with you or be in contact with a friend both before and after the meet and greet.
  2. Preparing your property – read Preparing Your Property For Pet Sitting and ensure that your property meets the guidelines so that you can provide a safe environment for visiting pets.
  3. Pet Limits – Make sure you check with your local council for pet limits. To locate your local council and their by-laws for keeping animals, navigate to the Australian Government website and select your state
If you are visiting pets in their own homes or housesitting

If you are visiting pets in their own home you need to be aware of your own safety in what is initially a strange environment for you.  Many of these also apply to housesitters.

  1. Client profiles – only agree to meet clients who have a clear profile picture.
  2. Safe Meet and Greets – when agreeing to meet the client for the initial meet and greet, try and organise the meeting during daylight hours. Let a friend or family member know where you are going and your expected time of return.  Keep your mobile on you and turned on. Upon your arrival at the client’s home take note of your surrounds – are there a large number of cars parked on the property (this could indicate many unknown people in the house)?  When the door is opened by the client take note of the client’s demeanour and how you feel.  If you have ANY doubts as to your safety, do not enter the house.  Make an excuse and leave promptly (you could say, for example, ‘sorry, I have left my keys/phone in the car and I will just go and get them/it’ and then drive away.  You would, of course, then immediately call the client, apologise for leaving and give them an excuse).
    • Upon entering the home, is the home reasonably neat and tidy or is there clutter everywhere that could possibly be a tripping hazard for yourself or even dangerous to the pets? Are the pets calm and appear contented, clean and well looked after?
    • Have your prepared pet questions ready and make sure the client is willing to openly and honestly give you all the details of their pets’ needs – you need to know now if a pet might be aggressive to you as you are on their property.
    • When you meet each of the pets you will be minding make sure that you feel confident in your ability and skill level to be able to safely manage the pet.
    • Are you comfortable in the security features of the house for when you will be visiting the property and pets on your own?
    • Ascertain that during the period of your visits no one else will have access to the home and, if there is the potential of someone else being there, you need to meet them before your home visits commence to make sure you are comfortable with that person.
  3. Arriving for your Home Visits – before leaving your vehicle have a quick scan of the property and make sure that all appears ‘normal’.
    • Before entering the house have a walk around the front of the house looking for signs of attempted break-ins or damage to doors or windows. If there is damage, contact the police and do not enter unless directed to do so.
    • If everything appears normal, upon entering the home call out the pets’ names in a confident and happy manner so that, if you are visiting a dog that may be protective of his home, he will remember your smell and voice from the meet and greet.
    • If, upon entering the home, you feel that something is not quite right in regards to your safety, do not proceed.
    • If you and the client have agreed for you to leave lights on/off or change which blinds and curtains are open and closed take note when you make the change so you know what to expect on your arrival for the next visit.
  4. If you are not totally comfortable with the proposed home visit client and/or their environment, say no to the booking. Your safety is paramount. See information on Saying No To A Booking.

Saying No To A Booking

There will be some bookings that just don’t feel right and saying “no” to these bookings can be very difficult. Sometimes you just need to do that so that you enjoy your business and reduce the amount of stress you may experience.

Meet and greets are very important for both pet sitters and house sitters.

Pet Sitters will have the pet living in their home so the meet and greet is a critical time to assess whether or not the pet will fit into their household and their schedule though it is a good idea to find out about how much of your schedule the pet will require before the meet and greet.

Home Visit Pet Sitter and House Sitters need to check out the safety of the neighbourhood as well as whether or not they can visit/live in the home. It is also an important time to find out about any behavioural issues that the pet/s might have.

Don’t feel pressured

Don’t feel pressured by a client if the booking does not feel right to you.  Sometimes a client will be in a tight spot and try to pressure you into taking a booking that is not right for you.  It might be because they have left it till the last minute and the meet and greet is only a few days before they are departing.  If the booking is not right for you don’t accept it.

Whatever the reason, keep your own safety in mind and say no when you know you should.

You could let the client know that you have their pet’s best interest at heart and feel that another minder would be better suited to their pet.

How to say “no” at a meet and greet

At a meet and greet can be the most difficult time to say “no” so you need to plan ahead of what you can say when in that situation.  One way to say it is “Sorry, but due to my experience, I don’t think this is a good match”.  If it is a pet who is coming to your home, you could advise that you don’t feel your home is the right environment for that pet.

If it really is that the pet is just not right for you refer them back to search for another sitter on the “Don’t Fret Pet!” site.

Remember that it is important to let the client know as soon as you can so that they can arrange an alternative for their pet.

Choose the clients who are right for you

Choosing your clients wisely gives you the opportunity to enjoy your business more and isn’t that why you started your business in the first place?

Taking time off for yourself

If you’ve blocked off a day, a weekend or a week for yourself try to stick to it so that you do get a break from your business.  Every time you try to take time off you will probably receive bookings requests.  This is a nice problem to have but you need to politely turn down business in order to give yourself an occasional break.  Then you can return to your business refreshed and raring to go!

Services

If you are in charge of an animal, you have a legal duty of care to that animal, to provide for its needs in a reasonable way – no matter why you are in charge of it or how long it will be in your care.

Pets should never be treated with cruelty.

Pet Sitting

Pet Sitters must ensure that any pets they mind have adequate food and water, a safe environment with enough room for the pet to move around.  They should also be knowledgeable enough to understand how to manage the pet and recognise when it needs veterinary care.  Pet Sitters must also be confident that they are able to afford the time and energy required for each guest relevant to their individual needs.

If you plan to mind pets in your own home and have a yard it must be very secure with fencing that is of a height relevant to the pet visiting, have no gaps, loose panelling or other weakened areas and with gates that are locked.

Home Visit Pet Sitters will be required to upload a current, less than 1 year old, police check.

House Sitting

House Sitters must ensure that any pets they mind have adequate food and water, a safe environment with enough room for the pet to move around.  They should also be knowledgeable enough to understand how to manage the pet and recognise when it needs veterinary care.

House Sitters must also be confident that they are able to afford the time and energy required for each pet relevant to their individual needs.

House Sitters will be required to upload a current, less than 1 year old, police check.

Dog Walking

If you offer a dog walking service you must have experience with dogs so that you know how to keep them under control and how to react in situations where other dogs approach you.

Dog Grooming

If you offer a dog grooming service you must have professional training and work with the correct tools.  You will be required to upload certification of your training.

Dog Training

Taxation and Claimable Expenses

Is the work I arrange through “Don’t Fret Pet!” a business or a hobby?

Whether you ascertain that you are running a business or a hobby you should treat it like a business and deal with clients in a friendly, business-like manner.   That way you will continue to get more bookings and earn more money.  However, it is very important that you investigate your taxation and GST obligations.

The government states the following definitions of a business versus a hobby:

A business – you’re in business, if your activity, as a whole, is commercial with an aim to make a profit.

A hobby – a hobby is a pastime or leisure activity conducted in your spare time for recreation or pleasure.

It is important that you visit https://www.business.gov.au/info/plan-and-start/a-business-or-a-hobby so that you understand the difference and can make the correct decision regarding the services that you offer.

Alternatively, you can call the Australian Tax Office on the Personal Tax Info Line 132 861 or the Small Business Info Line: 132 866.

Further information can be found at https://www.ato.gov.au/general/the-sharing-economy-and-tax/.

Do I need to pay tax on my income from the “Don’t Fret Pet!” site?

When you advertise your services on a web site it is classed as using a “sharing economy”.  A sharing economy connects buyers/users and sellers/providers through a website or app.

The payments you receive through a sharing economy that are assessable income, are subject to income tax.

This means you:

  • must declare the income in your tax return
  • can claim deductions for associated expenses.

You should keep records of income and expenses regardless of how much you earn.

Do I need to keep records?

It is important that you keep records of:

  • all income from all of the services that you provide
  • receipts of any expenses you are able to claim as deductions
  • logbooks of odometer readings if you are using a car as part of your service.

You can keep records by using the MyDeductions tool on the ATO app. On the ATO app you can:

  • include income from sharing economy activities and record how much GST is included
  • take a photo of receipts and enter details
  • indicate that a percentage is for private use
  • use the ‘Add trip’ function as your logbook.
What expenses can I claim?

Keeping good business records will save you time and hassles at the end of the financial year.  It will also help you to claim everything that you are eligible to claim.  The more organised you are, the less you’ll be charged by your accountant.  There are a number of cloud based accounting systems and you can compare them here.

Here is a list of some of the expenses you may be able to claim though it is important that you obtain advice from your accountant.

  1. “Tools” that you use

You may be able to claim items that you use exclusively for pet sitting.  For example, you may be able to claim grooming equipment, pet treats, pet toys, leashes, kitty litter and poo bags.  If your service includes dog walking, you may be able to deduct what you spend on walking shoes and rain gear.

  1. Self-education

If you attend any pet-care seminars or conferences, you may be able to take a deduction for the cost of the seminar plus travel, meals and accommodation expenses.  Your subscriptions to any work-related magazines or websites may also be claimable.

  1. Technology expenses

You will need to use a computer or tablet to take bookings, do some research, attend online courses and share photos and videos of pets with your clients when they are away.  Partial use of your computer may be an allowable expense.

  1. Your listing on “Don’t Fret Pet!”

Your online listing enables you to advertise the services you offer which should make your monthly fees a claimable expense.

  1. Telephone and Internet

The cost of your phone (landline or mobile) and internet is a claimable expense however, if you also use them for personal use, you can only claim the proportion of the cost that relates to your business.

  1. Fuel for your car

If you offer a pick up and drop off service or a pet taxi service you should record your kilometres to and from your destination in a log book or on the ATO app and keep receipts of fuel that you purchase.

  1. Household bills

You may be able to claim a portion of your household bills such as gas, water, electricity, mowing the lawn and rent.  It is important to discuss this with your accountant as claiming some household expenses can, later on, cause Capital Gains Tax issues if you sell your home.

  1. Pet Food and Treats

If you need to purchase any pet food or treats for the pets you are minding keep the receipts as you may be able to claim that cost.  If the client refunds you for the purchases you will not be able to claim the cost.

  1. Bookkeeping and Accounting

If you use a bookkeeper or an accountant their fees will be claimable as taxation deductions.

  1. Bank Fees

It is advisable to open a bank account especially for your business so that it is easier to keep track of income and expenses.  Bank fees may also be claimable as a tax deduction.

  1. Donations

Donations that you make to a charity that is registered by the ATO as a “Deductible Gift Recipient organisation” can be claimed as a tax deduction.

Do I need to register for GST and do I need an ABN?

According to the ATO you only need to register for GST if:

  • your business has a GST turnover (gross income minus GST) of $75 000 or more
  • your non-profit organisation has a GST turnover of $150 000 per year or more

Click here for more information.

You need an Australian business number (ABN) to be registered for GST. There are other reasons why you may wish to have an ABN but not everyone is entitled to one.

You’re entitled to an ABN if you’re either:

Click here for more information.

If you are confused, we recommend that you watch this video for a simple explanation.

You can also call the ATO on the Personal Tax Info Line 132 861 or the Small Business Info Line: 132 866.  They are very helpful.

How to avoid a tax debt?

It’s a real shock to arrive at the end of the financial year and suddenly realise that you have a rather large tax debt which you hadn’t accounted for.

There are a couple of options to prevent this from happening – tax pre-payment and pay as you go instalments.  Or you could simply put an amount away from each booking to cover your possible taxation obligations.

Click here to find out more about these options.

What To Charge For Your Services

How to decide what to charge?

You decide what price you want to charge for each service that you are offering however we do have some minimum prices you can charge:  the minimum you can charge for a dog is $20 per day and for a cat is $15 per day.

You set your own prices as well as the services you want to offer on “Don’t Fret Pet!”

Your price can vary depending on the services requested by the client.  If you are boarding dogs it can also depend on the size of the dog, how many dogs the client has and the length of the stay.

The price will also depend on whether you will be providing the pet’s food or if the client will be providing it.  (We highly recommend that you encourage the client to supply the pet’s usual food to avoid the risk of upset tummies – and, as we know, pets generally prefer the food they are used to.)

You may decide to offer a discount to clients who have multiple pets or who are booking for more than two weeks.  You may also decide to offer a seniors’ 10% discount.

You may decide to charge more if the pet needs constant supervision or needs to be taken for two long walks each day or has specialised medication needs.

Do make sure you know exactly what the client is expecting from you when giving them a final price, particularly if you are offering multiple services to the one client.  It could be a good idea to communicate in writing with the client via the “Don’t Fret Pet!” site (and get them to agree by written response) the details of costs of all the services you are offering to them and their pet/s.

Remember to take into account that we need to deduct 15% from the total amount paid to you to cover World Wildlife fund donations, Paypal Fees, client support, supporting you, technical support, website development, advertising to ensure there is plenty of business coming to our site and Public Liability Insurance.

Here is a rough price guide:

Minimum charge Suggested price range
Pet Sitting (first dog) per night $20 $20-$45
Pet Sitting (add’l dogs) per night $15 $15-$20
Pet Sitting (cats) $15 $15-20
Pet Sitting (add’l cats) per night $10 $10-15
Home Visits per 30 minute visit $20 $20-$40
Home Visits per 60 minute visit $30 $30-$50
House Sitting per night $35 $35-$55
Dog Walking (first dog) per 30 minute walk $20 $20-$35
Dog Walking (first dog) per 60 minute walk $30 $30-$55
Pet Taxi-  0 to 15km $30 $30-$40
Pet Taxi-  15km to 25km $40 $40-$50
Pet Taxi-  25km to 30km $50 $50-$60
Pet Taxi-  30km to 40km $60 $60-$70
Pet Taxi-  over 40km $70 $70-$200
Dog Grooming – basic wash $20 $20-$30
Dog Grooming – basic clip & brush $25 $25-$60
Dog Training per lesson $50 $50-$100
Special Note for prices for offering a Pet Taxi Service

It is important to consider what price you will charge clients for picking up their pets in your car and waiting at grooming or vet appointments.  Remember that you are not licensed to also transport the client.

Remember to take into account that we need to deduct 15% from the total amount paid to you to cover World Wildlife fund donations, Paypal Fees, client support, supporting you, technical support, website development, advertising to ensure there is plenty of business coming to our site and Public Liability Insurance.

Pet Sitting Obligations

If you are caring for pets in your own home you must comply with local council laws and ensure that your property is extremely safe.

How Consumer Law affects you when providing a service

When a person purchases services from someone they were connected with through a sharing economy platform, like “Don’t Fret Pet!”, they generally have the same rights as they have when they buy in a store or pay for a service through an office. They have the right to expect from you:

  • truthful and accurate representations, statements or claims
  • all the necessary and important information that they need
  • transparent disclosure of the relationship
  • that your services will be supplied with due care and skill and within a reasonable time.

Watch this short video on your obligations when you advertise through a sharing economy platform: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOewzGES06o

Booking Procedures

Do you accept cancellations?

At “Don’t Fret Pet!”, we understand that all pet service providers are human and sometimes extreme, unavoidable situations can occur that require you to cancel a booking. Cancelling a booking is not to be taken lightly, as not only does this create stress and upheaval for the client, but your reputation as a reliable carer can be damaged should this happen. If, however, a cancellation is deemed absolutely necessary, it is essential that you contact the “Don’t Fret Pet!” team at support@dontfretpet.com.au immediately and also let your client know a.s.a.p. by viewing your booking in the Current Bookings or Current Jobs tab and selecting Cancel Booking. This will automatically generate an email that will be sent to the Pet Owner as well as to our Customer Service team.

We request that you provide 48 hours’ notice as this will allow us to offer our assistance in helping you find a new pet service provider for the pet owner so that the pet owner is inconvenienced as little as possible and the good reputation you have built is upheld.