Vacation Pet Sitting
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, feel free to customize your schedule. Cats and dogs love a surprise longer visit!
Our blog, How Much Does a Pet Sitter Cost, covers in detail the cost and the value of various types of pet sitting services.
Pet Sitting Visits:
15-minute visit: $19.50 – $22.50
30-minute visit: $24.50 – $26.50
45-minute visit: $29.50 – $31.50
60-minute visit: $34.50 – $36.50
Great question. And of course, it depends. We wrote two detailed blogs to help you decide:
Yes, we certainly can. Please let us know the time window we must meet for your cat’s shot.
Please let us know if someone will be in your home during our scheduled visits. It makes our heart skip a beat if we meet a stranger in your home!
We don’t mind if someone will be at your home outside of our scheduled visits. However, it does make sitters nervous to find items moved around in your house, therefore we will contact you if we don’t know the cause.
During our busy season for pet sitting, (spring, summer, fall, and the winter holidays), it is best to schedule visits 1-2 weeks in advance. For Christmas specifically, it is best to schedule 3-5 weeks in advance.
Aside from the Christmas holiday, we can usually get clients in with 4-5 days’ notice. It is sometimes possible to schedule with 1-2days’ notice, but not guaranteed. We can book pet sitting visits up to 1 year out.
If you are a weekly dog walking client, we are much more flexible. See our Dog Walker FAQ page for more information.
We have pet sitting time slots throughout the day:
- Morning: 7:00am – 9:30am
- Late Morning: 9:30am – 11:00am
- Midday: 11:00am – 2:00pm
- Early Afternoon: 1:00pm – 3:00pm
- Late Afternoon: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
- Evening: 4:00pm – 6:30pm
- Bedtime: 6:30pm – 9:00pm
- Flex Time: 8:00am – 8:00pm (For Cats)
Please check out this article about time-slots for more information.
Yes, we offer service on all holidays. Please note, major holidays such as the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas book quickly. It is best to schedule your holiday visits a few weeks in advance.
Yes, we bring in all packages, mail, and newspapers. If you have a food delivery, let us know and we will put it in your refrigerator.
Yes, we provide both house plant and garden watering. If your garden is large, please book an appropriate length visit on the days we will be watering so you sitter has adequate time to do a good job.
We always keep a few open slots in our schedule in the situation that your trip runs long or you would just like to add an extra day to your vacation. Please keep in contact with us and we will make sure your pets are covered.
There are no last-minute booking fees if you extend your trip.
Yes, this is one of the many house sitting services we offer.
We recommend cleaning your home before you leave- cleaning kitchen sinks, taking out the trash, and picking up the floors, etc.
We also recommend putting all medications, food, and toys in their normal location. If you keep pet items in a pantry, drawer, or closet, you can label the location with a post-it note if you like.
Yes, we care for dog-reactive dogs all the time. We are happy to help.
Most pets do not require pet proofing, but if your dog is a destructive chewer, here are some tips:
- Book one or two mid-day visits.
- Close doors to rooms your pets do not need access to, especially bathroom doors.
- Leave all medications in their normal location or put them somewhere that your dog cannot access.
- Section off a hard floored room or area of your house as a doggy playroom.
- Start feeding meals in Kong toys as shown in this video.
- (We will do the same during our visits.)
- Do not give your dog rope toys.
- Consider working with our Animal Behavior Consultant to start working on good chewing habits.
For more information about destructive chewing, see Ian Dunbar’s article and this video.
No, unfortunately, we cannot.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, we have specialized insurance – specific to pet sitting & dog walking.
We take a look at everything we will be responsible for. Our sitters go through a checklist that includes items such as:
- Food & Water dish location
- Extra food location
- Meal prep instructions
- Medical concerns & Medication instructions
- Favorite toys
- Where to put scooped litter / poop bags
- Plant watering instructions
- Mailbox instructions
- Setting up your lockbox
- Going over your pet’s usual routine
- Any other details concerning your visits
“Setting up The Door” For Dogs – We also “set up the door” in a way that simulates how your dog will react when we come to your house while you’re away. It’s really easy- we’ll all go outside for a couple of minutes, then your sitter(s) will go inside to meet the dogs by themselves. As long as your dog reacts well and lets us get near them/pet them/put a leash on, we know we are good-to-go for your visits.
Yes, please let us know if someone will be in the house during the visits. Running into an unexpected stranger makes our heart skip a beat!
We don’t mind if someone is in the home between scheduled visits.
Your sitter will send a message from every visit. Your message will include a bit about what we did at the visit, as well as pictures from that visit. We generally send 2-6 pictures per visit.
We will give you a call if we have any questions.
Yes, we have a full team with part-time staff and backup sitters.
We provide a heavy-duty lockbox at the meet & greet. Using a lockbox keeps you in control of your key. The lockbox is yours to keep.
We can also keep keys on file. All keys are coded, so only your sitter can match your key to your house. When keys are not in service they are stored safely.
Yes, call anytime. We offer as much phone support as you like while your pets are in our care.
Yes, the lockbox is included with your service. It is yours to keep.
We offer pet sitting visits starting at 7:00am and as late as 9:00pm, every day of the week.
Our office hours are from 9:00am to 7:00pm, every day of the week.
While your pets are in our care, you have unlimited phone support.
We have a minimum fee of $100. If you only need a couple of visits for your first booking, we can keep your remaining balance as a credit in our system. That credit can be used for any future visits within one year.
Yes, we always set up a meet & greet so you can make sure everything is a good fit. We want you to feel comfortable with our service and we want you to know that your pets are in good hands.
We hire lifelong pet people – so, lots! We are in our 4th year of business and have completed over 4500 visits
We have a standard application process that we use to screen people out. We have a hiring manager that conducts phone interviews for further applicant screening. Then we do an in-person interview, generally at the dog park. Next we check references, and finally a background check.
Every new member is brought on for a 90-day probationary period, where we can continue to evaluate them. We train our sitters on our written procedures, and we complete 15-20 shadow visits together to make sure the sitter is doing everything according to the Paws At Home process. By this time, we have a pretty good idea if the sitter will be a good fit.
- Visits outside of Fort Collins are quoted individually for a travel fee.
- Visits that consistently take longer than scheduled time – $7 for each extra 15 minutes needed.
- We charge $35/hour to pick up pet supplies, pet food, etc. We will also charge for the cost of supplies.
- Emergency medical care – in the rare case that this is needed, you are responsible for all medical charges, and time spent at a rate of $35/hour. Your sitter will contact you as soon as possible if anything out of the ordinary happens.
Picture Message Updates
We send picture message updates at every visit. From every visit you will receive 3 or more picture of your happy pets!
Getting a picture message is good solid reassurance that your sitter completed your visit and your pets are doing great! I believe in regular quality checks in every process.
Group Message With Your Sitters
We keep everyone on the same page by starting a group message with:
- Your Sitters
- Our Office Admin Team
- Your Friends or Family Upon Request
I absolutely love how a simple text message keeps everyone up to date on exactly what is going on with your visits.
We use our service for our pets when we go out of town and the pictures let us know that everything is going well and our pets are happy!
If your pets are seem like they might not be feeling well, we take a video with our phone.
If a picture is is worth a 1000 words – 5 seconds of video is worth 150,000!
There are some things that are not translated well over the phone or just by pictures – much less over text message. Your dog(s) or cat’s body language when they are not feeling well is one of those things.
We really like that we can send video so easily these days. You know your pets best. So, sharing a video has really helped us understand if something we are seeing just happens now and then with your pets or if it is time to go to the vet.
Before we send a video, we will give you a call to ask you if the signs we are seeing are normal for your pet and to ask when we can send you the video. Sometimes we can sort everything out with just a quick call.
We also ask if you are in an area with good cell signal or wi-fi and can receive the video. Video messages are about 20mb per 10 seconds of video, so short videos send well if you have good signal.
Asking Questions Is Our Standard
If we are not sure about something, we ask. That is our standard, every time.
I train our sitters to never be afraid to ask a question. We have set up our team so we are there to support one another. If our sitters are unsure about something I ask them to:
- Look for hand written notes at the visit
- Double check notes in the system
- Call the office
- Then call our client
- Add a note in the system with any updates
Asking Questions Over Text VS Phone
If it takes more than three sentences to ask the question over text, we will text you to see if we can give you a call.
If it takes more than one text to clarify something, we will ask if we can give you a call.
What If My Pets Need To Go To The Vet
We are always happy to set up a vet appointment if needed.
If your pets seem like they are not feeling well, we will set up a video message and a three way call. I like to get everyone on the same conversation so everyone gets the same information. We set up a call with:
- The Client
- The Pet Sitter
- The Office Admin
I train our sitters to be confident in mentioning anything during our three way call that might be relevant to the situation.
I tell them that small details can save a life! So, bring up anything you have seen. I also tell sitters if they think of something after the first phone call, let’s set up another one. It’s no big deal. Even if we said something wrong the first time, that happens – let’s go back and correct it. That is much more valuable and safer for the pets.
I like everyone to get all of the information so we can make good decisions together. It’s better to mention something eventually vs never mentioning something at all and having to deal with the negative consequences later.
Scheduling Vet Appointments
If you decide that going to the vet is the best option for your pet(s). Our office admin will set up a visit with your vet and take your pets in to the office.
We can pick up any medications that are needed and set up any special care that your vet recommends.
House Sitting Checklist
We Keep It Clean
By now, you can probably tell that we have a number of standard processes. One of our main priorities during new sitter training is cleanliness. Our respect for a client’s home includes leaving it as clean as when we entered it.
Cleaning Wet Food Dishes
We clean and dry wet food dishes in between every mealtime. We also wash any wet food cans before putting them in the recycling.
If you like you can leave out extra dishes and spoons. We make sure everything is neatly stacked and dry when you get home.
If we are preparing wet food for your pets, we will clean up the sinks so those little bits of wet food don’t sit there and get smelly.
We spray out the sink and run the garbage disposal or clean it up with a paper towel. We only clean the pet’s dishes. So any dishes left in the sink when you leave will still be there when you get home.
Cleaning Up Pet Messes
All pet messes are cleaned up right away. Our pet sitters and dog walkers are given a standard kit that includes a roll of paper towels, Nature’s Miracle cleaner, nitrile gloves, and more.
If we are unable to clean up a mess with our standard kit; such as a mess is on a high pile rug or a blanket. We will let you know in our update. We can throw items in the your washing machine and transfer to the dryer at the next visit. But, we always ask before we toss anything in the laundry.
Daily Litter Box Cleaning
We scoop litter boxes every day. To keep your home smelling fresh, all cat litter is disposed of in outside dumpsters or in your garbage services’ rolling trash bin. We can also replace litter if needed. We will top off litter if it gets low.
I train our sitters that daily cleaning is important to keep good litter box habits. Many clients hire us specifically to clean the litter box. It is very difficult to get your cat to re-learn their litter box habits once they build a surface preference for carpet. So, we clean the boxes every day.
We always try to keep the amount of litter in your litter box consistent. If the amount of litter in the litter box suddenly changes, some cat’s may decide to not use the litter box.
Cleaning Around The Litter Box
Our sitters regularly clean any litter that is tracked from the litter box. Those little bits of litter can sure get everywhere if they are not swept up every couple of days.
We make an honest effort to clean up tracked litter. Sometimes we are not able to clean tracked litter if the litter box is located around high pile rugs, blankets, or other items that would need to be cleaned before we vacuum or sweep up the litter.
Cleaning Around Food Dishes
When a pet sitter takes the time to clean up the area around the food dishes, I always think this is a mark of a good pet sitter.
Little bugs and ants are attached to any food crumbs and they can start to get around and in the animals’ food if the area is unkempt.
Cleaning up the little chucks of kibble or wet food around the dog or cat dishes keep that area clean and sanitary.
Bringing In Mail And Packages
Some cats like to chew on newspaper bags, so we take the paper out of the bag and stack papers neatly with your other mail and packages.
Signing For Packages
If we notice a note on your door from FedEX or UPS about a package that needs to be signed for, we will send you a picture of it and ask if you would like us to sign the slip.
Watering Plants And Gardens
Your plants need love too! Along with taking great care of your pets and your home, we pay special attention to your plants.
Watering instructions and Plant care changes throughout the year. So I recommend leaving a written note that details
- Which plants you would like us to water
- What days to water them
- How much water each should get
I’ll admit I am certainly not an expert when it comes to the name of each type of plant.
It is very helpful if you describe plants by their location. That helps us find each of your plants too.
We are happy to water gardens. Please understand that it may take a longer visit to do a good job in watering large gardens.
You can mix and match your visits. Sometimes just adding an extra 15 minutes on days you would like your garden to be watered works well.
Taking Trash To The Curb
We are happy to help take trash to the curb!
In your welcome packet, you will find a Trash Day Reminder that you can leave out for your sitter. It is easy to fill out and is very helpful for your sitter.
Many clients like to add a few custom items to their visits. We can cover your daily routine. Almost every visit has a custom item for the pets or a clients home. Let us know how we can help.
For special items, we add the item to our care sheet and initial the custom section when completed. Here are a few common items that we can add:
- Rotating lights and blinds
- Open / Closing dog doors
- Feeding birds / squirrels
- Refreshing bird bath
- Opening and closing gates, sunshades, and more
- Checking fences
- Special treats for pets
- Reading pets stories
- Essential Oils
- Music for pets
Checking Over The House
We do a walk-through of the house during each visit. During our walk though we go into the rooms in which the pets have access to. Any doors that were closed upon our arrival will remain closed while we’re there.
Over the years we have found this is an important part of every pet sitting visit. We want to make sure that everything in your home is looking good. We check for pet messes and anything else that is out of the ordinary.
We look and listen for items such as:
- Running water / broken pipes
- Anything out of place
- Anything knocked over / broken
- Signs of a pet being sick
- Signs a pet got into something
- Any bugs that might be getting in, especially in summer
- Doors and windows remain locked
Our clients have felt like we have gone above and beyond with our house sitting duties, but we consider it to be part of our job.
We take care of small things like replacing a battery in a beeping smoke detector or cleaning up pet messes. But we also are on the lookout for major items that could cause some serious damage, like leaking pipes
In fact there have been a couple instances a pet sitter has noticed a wet spot in the ceiling – and down comes a little drip.
A bit of diligence by our staff has saved our clients thousands of dollars in potential water damage.
Locking the House and Sending An Update
Part of our checklist is locking the doors, sending you an update, and setting the security system if needed.
Locking Doors & Setting The Alarm
Security is a major focus of ours. It is one of the three items in our mental checklist that complete before we leave each visit.
- Meals & Medications
Checking Doors, Fences, and Gates
Pets are our business and we value their safety above all. Therefore, when we have backyard playtime or are entering or leaving a home, we make sure all outside gates are secure. We also remain mindful of front, back, side, and garage doors.
If we are accessing your home via a garage code, we always make sure that the garage door is closed all the way before we open up the garage walk door. We know some pets can be escape artists and we stay prepared!
We treat home updates in a similar way to our pet upates. If we see anything out of the ordinary our pet sitters will
- Take photos and / or video
- Call the Office
- Send the client text or start a three way call
I encourage my sitters to bring up any detail that is relevant during conversations with our clients. If needed, our office admins will go to your home to get a better understanding of the situation and update you with more detail.
We keep you in the loop every step of the way. If we need to take any action, we can set up whatever you need. It is rare that we would need to, but we can assist in scheduling and meeting with plumbers, contractors, window repair, or any other service you need.
Our systems that we have in place to make sure your home and pets stay secure and safe, are pretty awesome. But we continually build in contingency plans and sure up processes. We not only do 5-whys and other root cause analysis whenever something goes wrong, but we look at our processes when things go right too. This way we can try to repeat and build on what we have done well.
My background is in Industrial Engineering, SixSigma Quality Control, and of course Pet Care! And it shows with how we focus on continuous improvement, zero mistakes, and consistent service.