When you go away on a trip, you’re leaving a lot behind. In fact, you’re leaving behind some of your most precious possessions. Your pet and your home will both be right where you left them, patiently awaiting your return, so why wouldn’t you do whatever you can to make sure they’re both well cared for in your absence?
Sure, you can drop your dog off at a kennel and ask the neighbor to keep an eye on your front door, but is that really enough?
Not for most of us. Instead, think about hiring a house sitter.
What is house sitting, exactly?
House sitting is where someone asks another person to stay in their home while they are away, often for a set amount of money. This may be because there are pets in the home, plants that need watering, or the homeowner simply feels more relaxed having someone onsite in case anything happens.
A house sitter is a person who agrees to stay in your home while you’re away. Sometimes this can be a friend or relative, but professional housesitters do exist and may be the perfect choice for your home.
Whether you’re going to be gone for a long weekend or a few months, they keep things running smoothly on the homefront in your absence.
What does a house sitter do?
Besides watching a home, a house sitter may be responsible for any number of things. It all depends on the expectations set by the homeowner. This can be anything from making sure the lawn is mowed to picking up mail and packages.
And if you have a pet, they serve an even more important purpose. They take care of your precious pets while you’re far from home—no kennel or drop-in service needed.
Is a house sitter a better choice for your pet?
“Your pet stays in the environment he is comfortable in and he is not alone at night.”
Dr. Marty Becker, DVM
They say there’s no place like home, and that’s true for your pets, too.
Renowned veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker told VetStreet that house sitters are the best option when it comes to finding care for your pet.
“Your pet stays in the environment he is comfortable in and he is not alone at night,” he says.
When your pets stay home instead of being boarded, they can keep their normal food and bathroom routines—something that should make both you and your pet more comfortable. After all, you worked hard to get your pet on that schedule, so why would you want to risk changing it?
Another veterinarian, Dr. Ken Tudor, told PetMD that while pets may still experience stress while their owners are away—especially with a stranger seeming to have appeared in their place—it will still be less severe than it could be if they’re placed in a kennel.
“In 30 years I have yet to treat stress-induced bloody colitis in a pet that has been cared for by a sitter,” he says.
Tudor went on to call house sitting “the obvious choice,” adding, “It is as close to a normal environment for the pets as possible.”
And don’t forget, house sitters aren’t just for dogs. In fact, they’re a useful service for anyone with pets of any kind, including cats, fish, and other small animals—some of which don’t have many boarding options available.
Other house sitter benefits
There’s no doubt that caring for your pet is the most important job of a house sitter, but it’s not their only job—at least not if you don’t want it to be.
House sitters can also bring in your mail, water your plants and even turn your porch light on and off if it’s something you’ve worked into their agreement.
Household chores aside though, having a house sitter also goes a long way toward increasing the safety of your home (and everything that’s in it).
With someone living in your house while you’re away, it won’t appear empty. Lights will turn on and off, and cars will move around in the driveway. That in itself helps deter theft and break-ins—something that’s always in the back of your mind while you’re away.
Having a house-sitter also ensures there are eyes on your home, ready to react if something goes wrong (and we’ve all learned by now that more than likely, something will go wrong). If a pipe bursts or the water heater fails, they can call the plumber before too much damage is done.
If your fridge stops working, they can spring into action before all of your groceries start to rot. It’s an invaluable service that allows you to enjoy your time away without fretting about what’s happening at home.
How to find a house sitter
Hiring a house sitter is a great idea, but only if you find the right person for the job.
You’re inviting someone to live in your house, after all, so it’s extremely important to find someone you can trust. This is not the time to count on services like Craigslist or your cousin’s college roommate’s sister.
Instead, it’s a good idea to use a service that can set you up with a house sitter guaranteed to meet all of your expectations. One of these services is Rover.com.
With Rover, you can rest assured that every house sitter they list has completed a general background check.
And you don’t have to take Rover’s word for it—you can also read reviews left by previous clients to help you decide if a house sitter is a good match for you.
Tips for a successful house sit
Finding a trustworthy house sitter on Rover is simple. Just browse through the profiles of sitters in your area, choose a few you like within your price range, and send them a message.
It’s a good idea to set up a meet and greet with any potential house sitters to get a feel for them face-to-face, and to see how they do with your pet.
These are free when scheduled through Rover, and if anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, just move on to the next possibility.
The meet and greet is also a great time to discuss your expectations during the house sit.
Some great questions to ask yourself are:
- Do you expect your house sitter to be at home at all times, or are you fine with them leaving during the day and only coming back at a night?
- Would you prefer they not bring guests, and are there any parts of your home that are off-limits?
- Are there chores you would like done around your home?
- You’ll also want to discuss your pets’ requirements and schedule, and make sure you’re in agreeance about everything before booking an official house sit.
When the time comes for your house sit, make things easier for your house sitter (and give yourself more peace of mind) by creating a list of everything that needs doing around your house, schedules for your pet, emergency contacts and vet information.
Finally, there’s no need to stay in the dark about how things are going with your house sitter.
You can exchange messages and photos with your house sitter the entire time you’re away, ensuring you know what’s going on with your precious pet.
Chances are, they’ll be having just as much fun as you are.