Before you start accepting house sitting jobs, it’s crucial that you ask potential pet and homeowners the right questions. This will ensure that both you and the owners are on the same page about expectations, duties, daily routines, and what to do in the case of emergencies.
If you’re a keen traveler or digital nomad looking for a fun and budget-friendly way to explore the world, give house sitting and pet sitting a try.
House sitting is when you stay and look after someone’s home while they’re away, whereas pet sitting also involves caring for their pets. Some house sitting duties include checking for mail, watering the plants, cleaning the house, and maintaining the pool. Pet sitting duties also involve feeding, playing, cuddling, walking, and bathing.
I absolutely love house and pet sitting; it’s allowed me to travel all around the world, from Tokyo to Brussels, Vancouver, and Edinburgh. Not only is it an amazing way to connect with locals, experience different cultures, and spend quality time with animals, but it also saves you tons of money on travel accommodations.
In this article, I’m going to cover the 41 most important questions to ask pet owners before taking a pet sitting job.
Questions to Ask About the Pets
First, let’s focus on the most important aspect of pet sitting: the animals. Here is my list of the 20 essential pet-related questions to ask before dog or cat sitting:
1. What are the pets’ personalities like?
Asking this question will provide you with a snapshot of how your pet sit is likely to be; is the pet energetic? Lazy? Affectionate? Playful? Reserved? By finding out, you know what to expect. Furthermore, any differences in their personalities or behavior can indicate possible discomfort whilst the owners are away.
2. What are the pets’ daily routines like?
This is one of the most important questions to ask pet owners, as it will give you the best idea of what your day-to-day life would look like during the pet sit. It’s also important for the pet’s sake, as most thrive on consistency.
3. When and where do the pets get fed? How much food do they get?
As I said before, pets love consistency, especially when it comes to something as important to them as food. Needless to say, this is an essential question to ask.
4. Do the pets get any treats? How often?
In my experience, the answer to this question always varies; some owners give their pets treats often as a training method, while others are concerned about obesity and very rarely give their animals treats. It’s very important to clarify the pet owner’s views and instructions where treats are concerned.
5. For dogs: How many walks do they go on per day? How long are these walks, and around what time do you go on them?
One of the most anticipated and vital parts of a dog’s day is their walks. So, it’s important to check how many walks they go on and how long their walks are, in order to ensure that the dogs get enough exercise.
6. For dogs: What are your usual walking routes?
Since animals love regularity, knowing their usual walking routes is important for them to feel comfortable on their daily walks. However, some dogs also need some variability; you can always double-check what the dogs prefer by asking the owners.
7. For cats: Are they allowed outdoors?
This is without a doubt one of the most important questions to ask cat owners. You should only let the cat go outside if they’re allowed to; if not, you can risk losing the cat, which is one of the worst things that could happen on a pet sit.
8. For cats: Where is the litter box located? How often should I clean and replace it?
Another essential question to ask cat owners is how they manage their litter boxes. In my experience, every cat owner does it differently, from having their cats do their business in the garden to changing the cat litter daily.
9. How much playtime do the pets need?
When pets aren’t given the amount of attention or affection that they need, they can start developing unwanted and destructive behaviors. So, it’s always important to ask pet owners how much playtime their pets need in a day.
10. Will I need to groom, brush, or bathe the pets? How often?
In order to take good care of the pets, you need to groom, brush, or bathe them. However, the amount of grooming needed differs per breed and per individual, so it’s always essential to ask the pet owners.
11. Do the pets have any medical issues that I should be aware of?
Asking this question is vital for determining if the pet sit is right for you (i.e., if you’re comfortable with taking care of a pet with certain medical problems), and for the pet sit itself. In other words, knowing the medical issues that the pets have allows you to better prepare for problems that may arise.
12. Do the pets take any medications?
Similar to the last question, prior to a pet sit, you should always be aware of whether you need to give the pets any medications. Furthermore, you should ask how to give the pets their medications (do they mix it in with their food, for example, or wrap it up in meat?).
13. Where is the closest veterinary clinic, and what is their phone number and address?
Regardless of how healthy the pets are, emergencies can arise. In those situations, it’s vital that you know where the closest vet is, and their phone number. Thankfully, I’ve never had to bring a pet to the vet, but it’s always important to know this information, just in case.
14. Are the pets allowed on the furniture?
Another one of the best questions to ask when house sitting is if the pets are allowed on the furniture. Knowing this will ensure that neither you nor the pets will get into trouble when the homeowners return.
15. Are there any areas in the house that the pets are not allowed to go to?
Similar to the last question, asking this will ensure that the animal-free zones of the house are kept that way; animal-free.
16. Where do the pets sleep?
This is another question that receives different answers all the time. While most of the dog owners that I know allow their dogs on their beds, some keep their pets in particular areas overnight.
17. Do the pets get along well with other animals?
Asking this question is especially important when dog sitting, as you’ll frequently encounter other dogs on your walks. So, if you know that the dogs don’t get along well with other animals, you can prevent challenging encounters by moving to the other side of the road.
18. Do the pets get along well with other humans?
In a similar vein, if you know that the dogs don’t get along well with other people, you can ensure that you both have plenty of space away from others when walking on the sidewalk.
19. How many hours can the pets be left alone?
If you’re hoping to sight-see during your house sit, then this is one of the most important questions to ask pet owners. By knowing how many hours the pets can be left alone, you can plan your outings accordingly.
20. Is there anything else that I should know about your pets?
Finally, the last important question to ask the pet owners is if there’s anything else that you need to know. This can include any quirks of the pets, activities they like doing, or friends they have in the neighborhood.
Questions to Ask About the House
Now that we’ve gone over what to ask pet owners before taking a pet sitting job, let’s focus on the home. These are the 15 most important house-related questions to ask before house sitting:
1. Do I need a security code to enter and exit your home? How does it work?
Before starting your house sit, one of the most important things to know is if there’s a security code needed to enter or exit the home. This will ensure that you don’t trigger the alarm accidentally and that you leave the house safe and secure when you’re out.
2. Are there any security cameras that I should be aware of?
This is a question that I frequently forget to ask homeowners, even though it’s super important. By asking if there are any security cameras on the property, you get to know what areas are private, and what security measures are in place.
3. What’s the WiFi password, and where is the modem located?
Another essential question you have to ask before the homeowners leave is what the Wifi password is. And don’t forget to ask about the modem as well; I once spent over an hour looking for it on a house sit (and I couldn’t ask the homeowners because of the time difference). Needless to say, it was super frustrating and could have easily been avoided.
4. What is the garbage disposal system like? Are there recycling or compost bins as well?
Every city tends to have a different garbage, recycling, and compost disposal system, so you always have to ask the homeowners about it before a house sit.
5. What kitchen appliances do you have, and how do they work?
Knowing the answer to this question lets you know what kinds of food you can make during the house sit and allows homeowners to advise you of anything they’d prefer you not to use.
6. Do you have a washing machine and/or dryer?
I always like to ask this question as it informs me of whether I’ll need to use a laundromat or not. Furthermore, it’s best to ask the homeowners of how they hang-dry their clothes, or if they use a dryer.
7. Where are the cleaning products located?
During the house sit (and when the homeowners return), you’ll need to clean up after yourself. So, it’s always essential to ask the homeowners where they can find their cleaning products.
8. Where is the vacuum and/or broom located?
Similarly, you’ll also need to know the location of the vacuum and the broom to clean up after yourself and keep unwanted pet hairs under control if you’re pet sitting.
9. How does the TV work? Am I allowed to use Netflix (or other streaming services)?
If you’re interested in watching TV or movies on the big screen during your house sit, it’s best to ask the homeowners about their set-up (especially since TVs are typically different in every house). You can also ask about the streaming services they have; if you can use them, and if so, what profile you can use.
10. Are you expecting any deliveries when I’m here?
Before homeowners leave, it’s important to ask if they’re expecting any deliveries during the house sit. Knowing this will ensure that you’re ready to accept the packages on their behalf.
11. Do the indoor plants need to be watered? How often?
A common house sitting duty is watering and caring for the indoor plants. Consequently, it’s important to always ask which plants need watering and how often; this ensures that they stay healthy and alive until the owners return.
12. Do the outdoor plants or gardens need to be watered and maintained? How often?
Similarly, you’ll occasionally have to care for and maintain the outdoor plants and garden as well, so it’s always vital to ask the homeowners what you need to do.
13. Does anyone carry an extra key to your house?
If you accidentally lock yourself out of the house or lose your key during the house sit, you must know who to contact in order to get back inside. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen, but it’s best to be prepared.
14. Are you expecting any visitors while you’re away? (For instance, cleaners, or friends dropping off gifts, etc.)
Similar to the deliveries, knowing if the homeowners are expecting any visitors ensures that you’re ready to receive them. This is also important for knowing who to allow inside the house, as your number one job is to keep the place safe and secure.
15. Am I allowed to invite guests inside?
Finally, an important question to ask homeowners prior to the house sit is if you’re allowed to have any guests. The answers vary a lot per homeowner; some are okay with it, while others are absolutely against invites.
Questions About the City and Area
Last but not least, for those wondering what to ask home owners before taking a house sitting job, you need to ask questions about the city and the area of the house sit. These are the six most important questions to ask homeowners about their neighborhood:
1. What are your favorite things to do in the area?
One of the best parts of house sitting is that you get to experience a destination from a local perspective. By asking the homeowners about their favorite local attractions, you can easily take advantage of this amazing perk.
2. Where are the closest bus stops and train stations?
If you’re house sitting in an area with reliable public transportation, it is essential to ask about the closest bus stops and train stations. This will ensure that you know how to get around the city (and back) during the house sit.
3. What are your favorite nearby grocery stores?
While you can always find nearby grocery stores on Google Maps, I like to ask the homeowners about their favorite nearby supermarkets. Which ones have the best selection, which ones are the most expensive, and which ones are the cheapest? It’s best to ask the locals these questions.
4. What are your favorite nearby restaurants?
Similar to the question above, I like to ask homeowners about their favorite nearby restaurants (especially restaurants that serve local cuisine).
5. What’s the easiest way to get to the center of town from your house?
Finally, our 40th question to ask pet owners is “How do I get around town from your house?” Knowing the answer to this question is tremendously helpful during the pet sit, as it ensures that you know how to get to and from the local attractions.
6. Will a vehicle be available for my use? Or, do I need to rent one?
This is a very important question to ask pet owners. If there’s any kind of medical emergency with their beloved pet, you’ll want to be able to get to a vet ASAP. Plus, if the dogs go for walks in places other than walkable distances from the house, having a car is a must. As a bonus, having a vehicle for your use will allow you to easily get groceries, and explore a bit further afield.
How to Find House Sitting and Pet Sitting Jobs
Now that we’ve gone over the 40 most important questions to ask before pet sitting, you may be wondering where and how you can find a house sitting job in the first place.
So, to help you out, I have compiled a list of the 5 best house sitting and pet sitting websites:
1. Trusted Housesitters
First and foremost, Trusted Housesitters is the largest house sitting platform on the internet. Filled with an abundance of house sitting jobs around the world, it’s one of the best options for new and experienced pet sitters.
While its membership fee usually costs $129 per year, Goats On The Road readers receive 20% off using promo code GOATS20. Click here to search for great sits!
The site offers a lot of perks, including a 24/7 vet hotline and a convenient mobile app. Trusted Housesitters was the only site I joined when I first started pet sitting, and I had no problems finding gigs. Needless to say, if you’re interested in becoming a house sitter, you have to try Trusted Housesitters.
Next, Nomador is one of the best house and pet sitting websites around. Perfect for both travelers and digital nomads, it’s filled with house sitting opportunities worldwide.
It also only costs $85 per year, and it offers quarterly membership options as well as annual. So, if you’re on a stricter budget, I recommend trying Nomador.
Akin to both Trusted Housesitters and Nomador, MindMyHouse is a house and pet sitting website filled with luxury and non-luxury house sitting jobs around the world.
It’s also the cheapest house sitting website on this list, and costs just $29 per year.
4. House Carers
For one of the oldest house sitting platforms on the web, you have to check out House Carers.
With an annual membership fee of $50 per year and an easy-to-use interface, House Carers is a great website to check out. However, the job listings can occasionally be scarce, especially compared to websites like Trusted Housesitters.
5. House Sitters America
Last but not least, House Sitters America is the perfect house sitting platform if you’re primarily interested in pet sitting in the US.
Its membership fee is $49 per year. However, you’re also given the option to charge homeowners a fee for your house sitting services. This makes House Sitters America one of the best platforms to find paid house sitting jobs in America.
House sitting is one of the best ways to travel the world on a low budget. It’s by far my favorite way to travel, and I’ve been able to save heaps of money while visiting a ton of countries. But, before you secure your first house sitting job, you have to ask the right questions.
Not only will these questions ensure that both you and the homeowners are on the same page about expectations, duties, and what to do in emergencies, but these questions will also help you get a deeper understanding of how your day-to-day life will be like during the house sit. Overall, this will help you determine if you want to take the gig or not.
So, I hope my list of the 41 most crucial questions to ask homeowners before taking a house sitting job was helpful! And remember, you can always add or take away questions based on the specific pet sitting job you’re applying for.
Good luck, and happy house sitting.