Hey fellow sitters,
Let me just begin by acknowledging that this is a challenging time for all of us. We are some of the unsung heroes in cities across the United States, and without us our front line workers with pets at home couldn’t work that extra long shift.
Thank you for keeping all the dogs and cats fed, walked, loved and happy when their owners are out there treating patients, collecting garbage and turning on our power.
I have been keeping a close eye on our community via the Facebook group and I have to say, it is an honor and privilege to get to represent such a diverse, supportive and caring community. That being said, let’s talk about how we can protect and care for ourselves and our community during these uncertain times.
For the sitter who is still taking bookings on Rover
Are you working currently? Do you have dogs coming over for daycare? Are you walking dogs still? Here are some suggestions to keep you and your clients safe during this time:
- Ask key questions before accepting the job: In what field does the client work? Have they been using protective gear when out in public? When was the last time they went out? Are they feeling sick in any way? Are they willing to help with contactless pick up/drop off? Do they have appropriate sanitation techniques at home or would they be okay leaving you a wipe or sanitizer near entrances/exits?
- Feel free to say no: If you are uncomfortable offering any services right now, just let your clients know that. You don’t have to put yourself in a situation that may bring harm to you or your loved ones. There will be more clients and more dogs when this is all said and done.
- Consider altering your services: If you previously offered lots of walks before, maybe consider offering your clients discounted daycare services instead. This keeps your time away from home to a minimum.
- Practice contactless pick up/drop off: Work with the client to see if you can arrange a contactless pick up and drop off.
- If you do still need to walk a dog, ask the client if you can bring your own leash: If you bring your own leash, there is less contact for you on surfaces that other people have touched.
- Wear gloves and/or wash your hands before and after: If you need to enter someone’s home and remember to leave your phone in the car where you can sanitize it before you pick it up and put it near your face.
- Practice social distancing: I know, I know! But here’s the thing: even if your client says they don’t feel ill they can still carry the virus. Be safe! The doggos are depending on you!
- Rover has additional suggestions: here.
For the sitter who has no clients right now (like me!):
Have all your clients cancelled all walks/bookings? Have you? Here are some things you can be doing now to stay relevant and get ready for when business returns to normal:
- Revamp your profile: If you’re like me, we get pretty busy and the job is basically nonstop. Take this time off to refocus, regroup and redesign your business. Revamp your profile by taking some new pictures! Have you moved? Do your pictures still represent your home? Are your preferences and calendar up to date?
- Reach out to your clients: Now is a great time to check in with old clients and get your name on their radar again. Send a thoughtful message, and feel free to use this template as a guide:
Hey [CLIENT’S NAME],
I hope you and [DOG’S NAME] are holding up well in all that is going on. I just wanted to reach out to send some hugs to [DOG’S NAME] and wish you and your loved ones health and safety during these times.
– YOUR NAME
- Revamp or start a business social media: Are you on Instagram? What about TikTok? Take some time to create or build a social media platform for your business and be sure to advertise it in your profile. You can also offer specials like, “Get $5 off your stay for following me”.
- Sanitize your home: Have you deep cleaned all of your “dog-friendly” surfaces? Now is the time to spend some time on you and your home. Steam clean your couch, carpets and rugs. Wash all throw pillow covers, dog bedding and toys.
- Dog proof your home: Fix those areas that you’re constantly managing with the dogs around. Create new systems now that you have an empty home to do it.
- Organize your supply closet: If you have a place you keep pet supplies, take some time to get yourself organized and prepared for when business picks up again, knowing what you know now about how you use the supplies you have.
Lastly, I know this isn’t easy for any of us. As sitters, we love what we do. Not being able to be out in the field with our four-legged clients sure feels like punishment and here’s a little reminder: The pet care industry is huge, and it’s not going anywhere. People are still adopting dogs, and keeping their current pets. This too shall pass, and when it does, all our dogs and cats are going to need us to be there for them in top notch shape. For now, breathe, love yourself, be safe, make good choices and support each other!