Pet sitting can be hard, especially if you don't have a pet of your own (or if your pet doesn't get along with the one you're sitting). You don't know the temperaments of the pet, and you just don't know the pet like the owner does. However, it can be done, so learn how to be a good pet sitter and make the owner and pet want to come back for help again.
Tell your friends to tell you ahead of time when they want you to sit. You'll need to prepare for pet sitting before the pet comes over, be it making room for a cage, puppy or kitty proofing the house, or even getting keys to go over to the owner's house.
Offer to keep the pet in your home instead of having to go over there every day. Unless you have current pets that won't get along, it's much easier to keep a pet happy when you see it all the time as opposed to having to go over to the owner's house to check up on things. It isn't necessary, but it helps.
Research specifically for the animal. You should research everything about what you are about to sit, but don't just stop at "dogs" or "cats"-- research specifically into the breed of the pet to get a good idea of what you will need to do specifically for that animal to keep it happy and healthy while the owner is away.
Ask the owner specific questions about the pet's needs. Certain pets have unique needs, such as exercise and feeding. In addition to questions that may come to your mind, some questions you should ask are:
Is there a feeding schedule I need to follow?
What kind of exercise does your pet need?
What kind of things does your pet dislike or hate?
What kind of things does your pet really love?
Is there anything else I should know, like allergies and special needs?
Avoid talking money unless you're running a business. Unless you can't afford to take care of the pet or you're running a business, avoid bringing the subject up first. It may make you seem less interested in the pet and more interested in what you'll get out of taking care of the pet. If you really need to talk about compensation, keep your demand reasonable.
Treat the pet as your own. It's important to look at this animal as more than "just that thing I'm taking care of". Play with and treat the animal as you would your own pet. It will show at the end of the sitting when the owner picks up a happy animal that is reluctant to leave your side. Of course, in the case of fish and other pets like fish, you won't have to do much except feed it.
Inform visitors who come while you're pet sitting of the animal. Make sure your visitors aren't allergic to the animal or afraid, and make sure they're not harming or stressing out the pet that you are sitting.
Make sure you're not afraid of the pet. It sounds stupid, but it happens. If your buddy asks you to take care of his pit bull, but you're afraid of pit bulls, just say no. It's unfair to you, the animal, and the owner, because you won't be very happy and you'll have a difficult time taking care of the pet.
Play with the animal often. Make sure it isn't lonely and attention starved-- feeding and exercise are important, but play is useful for making a pet happy. Make sure they're getting a lot of stimulus.
Call the owner as soon as possible if an emergency happens. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone and say that their dog just got into a fight with another dog and is being treated, or that their cat had blood in its stool so you took it to the vet. Stay calm and always get permission before making big decisions regarding their pet.
Always follow the owner's instructions. There's a reason why the owner says to do a certain thing, so it is wise to listen and obey what they say.
Ask the owner to provide food, treats, a leash (if needed), and toys (if needed).
Pets may seem depressed if their owners leave them alone. This is okay, and doesn't reflect on you. You could try to distract them with play or treats, but it may not work. Act quietly around pets like this. Loud noises will make them scared and act more depressed.
Keep in mind how the pet was acting while you were sitting; owners usually love to hear how their pet was while they were away.
Always get the owner's contact information, even if you don't think you'll need it. There could be an emergency situation where you need the contact information.
Pet sitting can be difficult if you've never done it before. Make sure you're ready to handle the responsibility. Make sure your schedule allows for it.
Some pets won't come out at first. Especially cats. Don't freak out or try to get the animal to come out. She'll come out once she knows why you are there. Sometimes they just want to see what you do when your over. Other's just don't want to come out. If it's an animal like a cat, just refill it's water and food, and preform your daily tasks. She'll come out after you leave.
Some people will try to under pay you. Don't be so frim on what you get paid, being able to comprimise gives people the impression that you are a person that is easy to get along with.
Don't forget about the pet! If you do, rush over immediatly and take care of it. If you forget, the pet may go to the bathroom in the house (older dogs especially) or get into food becuase you forgot to feed it.
Do not forget to lock the door once you leave. Even the backdoor. You can end up forgetting someday and they could be robbed. Now a days if you forget, stuff like that will happen.