As we approach summer, which is traditionally one of the busiest times of year for pet sitters and dog walkers, it's vital to go over the fundamental safety precautions you should be doing.
Take a few moments to review these important safety reminders as your phones hopefully begin to ring and your email notifications begin to ding again with client requests.
Avoiding Distractions and Dangers on Dog Walks
While we don't like to think about these potential hazards (and, thankfully, these types of reports for pet sitters are uncommon), it's important to always be aware of your surroundings—and to be familiar with any areas you will be walking clients' dogs.
If you are taking on a client in a neighborhood unfamiliar to you, visit the area and familiarize yourself with the route you will be walking the dog in advance. Plan an alternate route if any parts of the prospective route are isolated or poorly lighted.
When walking a client's (or your own) dog, keep your attention on the dog and your surroundings at all times. While you may whip out your cellphone to take a brief picture of the dog for your customer (be careful to do it in a safe location), it should be stored otherwise. Talking on your phone or listening to music or a podcast with your headphones in may cause you to miss a human, other pet, or car approaching you. This is especially true if you are listening to the podcast at a high volume. You may be so engrossed in the podcast that you don't hear the sound of a car engine, a person calling your name, or a pet barking. This can be a disorienting experience, as the absence of sound is something that many of us are not used to. We are so used to the hustle and bustle of everyday life that when we are suddenly surrounded by nothing but silence, it can be quite jarring.
Check recent crime records in your service area to learn about any dog thefts or other crimes you should be aware of, and consider enrolling in situational awareness or self-defense training to help you feel more prepared to handle potentially dangerous situations. Taking a course in situational awareness can help you to become more aware of your environment and the people around you, allowing you to recognize potential threats before they become dangerous.
Arriving for a Visit and Safely Entering a Client's Home
You frequently enter customers' unoccupied houses in the early morning or late nighttime hours, so be cautious when you come for pet-sitting visits (at any time of day). Take a few seconds before entering the house to survey the area and ensure it is safe. Examine the area around the home for any evidence of strange activity or individuals.
Do not stop and get out if an unexpected car or person is in a client's driveway when you arrive for your appointment. Call your customer and ask whether they anticipate someone to come to their house. If they did not (or you are unable to contact the client), contact local law authorities (and do not return to the residence until they arrive and deem it safe for you to enter). This is a crucial safety precaution to take since it is critical to guarantee your own and others' safety. Before entering a property, it is important to take the required precautions to ensure its safety and security.
When you arrive, search for any open or damaged doors or windows. While your initial instinct may be to rush inside to check on the pets, you should leave the premises, contact the client, and notify local law authorities (and, once again, do not return to the residence until it has been decided it is safe to do so). In rare circumstances, police enforcement may be brought in to examine the situation and guarantee everyone's safety. It is critical to remember that everyone's safety in the house is the primary concern, and law enforcement can help to assure that.
Also, remember to lock the doors of your car after exiting it, as well as the doors of the client's home after entering for the visit. Always keep your keys and phone with you while on the visit (or dog walk). This allows you to quickly access both in the case of an emergency and also keeps you from mistakenly locking yourself out of the client's house!
Assessing Potential Dangers Before the First Assignment
While the above steps are crucial to remember, planning for a safe pet-sitting or dog-walking visit should begin before accepting an assignment. Before accepting a job, it is critical to conduct research about the pet, the pet's owner, and the environment in which the pet lives. It is also critical to be aware of any possible employment hazards, such as the pet. It is critical to consider both the pet's and the pet owner's safety. There may be unique safety precautions to follow depending on the type of pet.
If you are approached by a prospective client in an area you are unfamiliar with (even if it is within your service area), you can always conduct a web check to confirm that the location is correct and that it is a residential house (rather than an empty home on the market). Also, when you visit a prospective client's house, make sure someone knows where you will be and what time you should arrive/leave. It is critical to plan ahead of time and ensure that you are informed of all the information before arriving. This involves knowing the specific address of the client's home, as well as the time you should come and depart.
During the initial consultation ("meet and greet"), stroll through the house. This helps you to become acquainted with the house and where pet supplies are stored, but it also lets you to identify any possible hazards that you should notify the potential client about, such as faulty locks, holes in fences, and so on. These hazards should be addressed and corrected before your visit. Before entering, make sure the place is safe and secure since any possible risks might result in significant injury or worse.
Also, inquire about any persons who will have access to the residence while the customer is away, and include this information in your service agreement. When family members, friends, or service providers may have access to the house, many pet sitters decline assignments. (If you do not accept customers under certain circumstances, make sure you have a documented company policy in place that you make them aware of.) A clear and straightforward policy is crucial for any organization. It aids in ensuring that everyone is on the same page and that misunderstandings are avoided. It also helps to shield the firm from any future legal difficulties. It is impossible to stress the importance of having clear and explicit policies and processes in place. A thorough set of rules and regulations may assist to guarantee that everyone is on the same page and that all expectations are clearly laid out. This can assist to prevent confusion and misunderstandings between you and the customer while also ensuring that everyone is secure and bound by a contract.
Other pet sitters have stated that they have many clients who have other service providers (e.g., housekeepers, groundskeepers, etc.) who have access to the home, but that they need clients to supply information on each of the providers, including a vehicle description and when they will be in the home. It is critical to offer as much data about these facts as possible since this will help you become acquainted with the surroundings and keep you and the owner's house safe.
If you accept the pet-sitting request and the first visit is at night, request that the client leave the indoor and exterior lights on so you do not enter a dark home. For multi-day jobs, you may rotate the lights in the house and turn on the exterior light as required so that you do not have to enter a dark home on future days of the assignment simply to make sure you can locate the owner's house quickly and safely when you pet sit.
Above all, remember to always trust your instincts. You are not required to take the job if you feel uneasy during the initial phone contact or at the meet and greet (or if you just feel the job isn't a good match). It's critical to remember that you should never choose a job that doesn't seem right for you. When dealing with these kind of events, always prioritize your safety!
Safety reminders for pet sitters are always crucial, as the work comes with a number of dangers. Pet sitters should be aware of the job's possible hazards, such as the chance of being bitten or scratched by an animal, as well as the likelihood of a pet escaping, which are both very real concerns that pet owners must consider. However, with the proper information, we can ensure that our pet is safe and secure in their surroundings. We must investigate the sort of pet we are obtaining and the best technique to keep it safe.