Pet sitter

A pet sitter

Description

Pet sitters provide animal-sitting services including dog walking, home-boarding, pet/home sitting, day boarding and animal transportation services.  They maintain records, use appropriate and safe handling techniques and do routine monitoring of the health and welfare of the animal.

Pet sitters typically stay in the home of the owner, so the pets can remain on their familiar territory. In addition to caring for pets, they may also provide basic services for the owner, such as collecting mail and vacuuming pet hair.

Providing pet sitting services typically means filling in for the owner in his or her absence for the following tasks:

  • Feeding and watering animals
  • Playing with them and keeping them company
  • Walking the dogs
  • Grooming and brushing the animals’ coats
  • Changing the cat’s litter box
  • Providing health care if necessary
  • Giving them affection, so they don’t feel abandoned after their owner leaves
  • Sending photos to assure customers that all is well

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to pet sitter:

animal sitter
dog walker
dog visitor
pet sitters
animal carer
companion animal sitter
dog sitter
cat sitter

Working conditions

Pet sitters work in the homes of their clients, providing care for pets while their owners are away. They may work for one family or for several families at the same time.

Pet sitters typically work during the day, although they may be required to work evenings or weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules. They may work full time or part time, and their hours may vary from week to week. Some pet sitters work for pet-sitting companies, while others are self-employed.

Minimum qualifications

Although most pet sitters have no formal education beyond a high school diploma, some have completed training programs or have experience working with animals.

Pet sitters can gain experience by volunteering at local animal shelters or animal rescue organizations. Some pet sitters may also receive on-the-job training from their employers.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Pet sitter is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Pet sitter career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to pet sitter.

animal groomer
animal handler
animal care attendant
live animal transporter
dog trainer

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of pet sitter. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of pet sitter with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

animal hydrotherapist
animal massage therapist
equine dental technician
alternative animal therapist
animal embryo transfer technician

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of pet sitter.

  • Biosecurity related to animals: Awareness of hygiene and bio-security measures when working with animals, including causes, transmission and prevention of diseases and use of policies, materials and equipment.
  • Signs of animal illness: Physical, behavioural and environmental signs of health and ill health in various animals.
  • Animal welfare legislation: The legal boundaries, codes of professional conduct, national and EU regulatory frameworks and legal procedures of working with animals and living organisms, ensuring their welfare and health.
  • Animal welfare: Universally recognized animal welfare needs as applied to species, situation and occupation. These are:
    • need for a suitable environment
    • need for a suitable diet
    • need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
    • need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals
    • need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
  • Environmental enrichment for animals: Types, methods and use of enrichment for animals to allow the expression of natural behaviour, including the provision of environmental stimuli, feeding activities, puzzles, items for manipulation, social and training activities.
  • Safe work practices in a veterinary setting: Safe work practices in a veterinary setting in order to identify hazards and associated risks so as to prevent accidents or incidents. This includes injury from animals, zoonotic diseases, chemicals, equipment and working environment.
  • Animal behaviour: The natural behavioural patterns of animals, i.e. how normal and abnormal behaviour might be expressed according to species, environment, human-animal interaction and occupation.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of pet sitter.

  • Control animal movement: Direct, control or restrain some or part of an animal’s, or a group of animals’, movement.
  • Manage animal biosecurity: Plan and use appropriate biosafety measures to prevent transmission of diseases and ensure effective overall biosecurity. Maintain and follow biosecurity procedures and infection control when working with animals, including recognising potential health issues and taking appropriate action, communicating site hygiene control measures and biosecurity procedures, as well as reporting to others.
  • Provide nutrition to animals: Provide food and water to animals. This includes preparing food and water for animals and reporting any changes in the animal feeding or drinking habits.
  • Provide an enriching environment for animals: Provide an enriching environment for animals to allow the expression of natural behaviour, and including adjusting environmental conditions, delivering feeding and puzzle exercises, and implementing manipulation, social, and training activities.
  • Assist in transportation of animals: Assist with the transportation of animals, including the loading and unloading of animals, the preparation of the transport vehicle, and maintaining the wellbeing of the animal throughout the transport process.
  • Provide first aid to animals: Administer emergency treatment to prevent deterioration of the condition, suffering and pain until veterinary assistance can be sought. Basic emergency treatment needs to be done by non-veterinarians prior to first-aid provided by a veterinarian. Non-veterinarians providing emergency treatment are expected to seek treatment by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • Manage animal welfare: Plan, manage and evaluate the application of the five universally recognised animal welfare needs as appropriate to species, situation and own occupation.
  • Manage animal hygiene: Plan and use appropriate hygiene measures to prevent transmission of diseases and ensure an effective overall hygiene. Maintain and follow hygiene procedures and regulations when working with animals, communicate site hygiene controls and protocols to others. Manage the safe disposal of waste according to destination and local regulations.
  • Implement exercise activities for animals: Provide exercise opportunities that are suitable for respective animals and meet their particular physical requirements.
  • Handle veterinary emergencies: Handle unforeseen incidents concerning animals and circumstances which call for urgent action in an appropriate professional manner.
  • Monitor the welfare of animals: Monitor animals’ physical condition and behaviour and report any concerns or unexpected changes, including signs of health or ill-health, appearance, condition of the animals’ accommodation, intake of food and water and environmental conditions.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of pet sitter. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Physiology of animals: The study of the mechanical, physical, bioelectrical and biochemical functioning of animals, their organs and their cells.
  • Anatomy of animals: The study of animal body parts, their structure and dynamic relationships, on a level as demanded by the specific occupation.
  • Animal species: The characteristics of different species and breeds of animals (relevant to the occupation).

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of pet sitter. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Understand the animal’s situation: Categorise and verify information about the environment and its impact on the animal. Analyse the situation, such as what the animal may want or need.
  • Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
  • Cope with challenging circumstances in the veterinary sector: Maintain a positive attitude during challenging situations such as a misbehaving animal. Work under pressure and adapt to the circumstances in a positive manner.’
  • Follow work schedule: Manage the sequence of activities in order to deliver completed work on agreed deadlines by following a work schedule.
  • Manage a small-to-medium business: Manage the organisational, financial and day-to-day operation of a small-to-medium enterprise.
  • Calculate rates per hours: Make simple calculations regarding the money that should be earned in relation to the number of hours worked.
  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
  • Keep task records: Organise and classify records of prepared reports and correspondence related to the performed work and progress records of tasks.
  • Assess animal’s condition: Inspect the animal for any external signs of parasites, disease or injury. Use this information to determine own actions and report your findings to owners.
  • Handle petty cash: Handle petty cash for minor expenses and transactions required for the daily running of a business.
  • Make decisions regarding the animal’s welfare: Make a choice from several alternative possibilities that promote the animal’s well-being.
  • Provide dog walking services: Provide dog-walking services, including activities such as agreement of services with the customer, selection and use of handling equipment, interaction with the dog, and safe and responsible dog walking.
  • Maintain animal accommodation: Make sure animal enclosures such as habitats, terrariums, cages or kennels are in the appropriate and hygienic condition. Clean the enclosure and provide new bedding material if called for.
  • Understand the needs of animals: Learn and understand the needs of an animal and practice concern for its well-being, no matter how small the task.
  • Provide pet sitting services in owners’ homes: Provide pet sitting services in the home or property of the animal’s owner. Account for the security and integrity of the premises and follow specific owner requirements for the care of the animal in the provision of the service.
  • Budget for financial needs: Observe the status and availability of funds for the smooth running of projects or operations in order to foresee and estimate the quantity of future financial resources.
  • Follow client animal handling programme: Handle and train animals using the methods and resources specified by the owner.
  • Groom animals: Prepare the environment for grooming, select the correct grooming equipment and grooming methods for the animal. Apply occupational health and safety principles of basic animal anatomy and physiology, including the identification and reporting of any abnormalities.
  • Deal with challenging people: Work safely and communicate effectively with individuals and groups of people who are in challenging circumstances. This would include recognition of signs of aggression, distress, threatening and how to address them to promote personal safety and that of others.

ISCO group and title

5164 – Pet groomers and animal care workers


References
  1. Pet sitter – ESCO
  2. Animal Care and Service Workers : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Pet Sitter Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Liveabout
  4. What does the job of pet sitter consist of? – Nomador
  5. Pet Sitter Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  6. Featured image: Photo by Mel Elías on Unsplash
Last updated on November 26, 2022

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