A pet nanny, also commonly referred to as a pet sitter, is a person who provides care, affection and companionship for a pet in the absence of the pet's owner. Much like a nanny who provides childcare, a pet nanny is a surrogate nurturer. He may provide his service at his residence or where the pet resides. The latter is commonly the preferred arrangement.
A pet nanny traditionally provides care for cats and dogs. Other house pets, such as rabbits, hamsters, gerbils and white mice, may also be cared for by a pet nanny. In some instances, he may also be hired to care for less traditional pets, such as reptiles or amphibians.
To be a successful pet nanny requires a unique mixture of people and animal skills. Pet owners are comprised of a distinctive cross section of people. They are all ages and come from assorted ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, factors that significantly affect their relationships with their pets. Pets, much like their owners, also have distinct personalities and needs.
Based on these factors of diversity, a pet nanny is required to be flexible and non-judgmental. Despite his feelings of how a pet should be treated or what the animal should be fed, he is typically expected to follow the wishes and directives put forth by the owner. This may only require following simple directions for preparing food or be a complex ritual for how and where a pet should be exercised.
Pet owners are generally as sensitive about the treatment of their pets as parents are about how their children are treated. A pet sitter is generally expected to follow the owner’s directions without question or opinion. If he absolutely requires an answer to a question about directions he receives, he should be tactful and considerate in his delivery.
The duties of this position may vary depending on the pet, but generally include providing food, water and a safe and secure environment. Dogs traditionally require being taken outside for bodily discharge functions and exercise. Cats commonly need their litter boxes to be kept clean. Caged pets generally need their enclosures cleaned on a regular basis. If animals create messes in the household, the pet sitter is typically required to clean up the mess. Contact numbers for the pet’s veterinarian are generally provided by the owner.
Pet sitters normally have written contracts with the pet owners for whom they work. These documents ensure all parties are clear on terms of care and limitations on liability. Pet owners frequently provide written instructions for the care they expect for their pets. Written diaries of pet activities are sometimes provided by a pet nanny.
A position as a pet sitter requires no formal education. Patience, a love of animals and being able to quickly and easily adapt to changing situations are important traits for a pet nanny. Having a valid driver’s license and working vehicle are valued assets in case a pet requires transport to a veterinarian.