Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I think my pet sitting service is overbooking their client pet visits and I am concerned that my pet is not getting the full time that I am paying for under my contract with them. What is different about your business policy?
A: At Handy Pet Nanny, our business model is not controlled by achieving a high volume of clients at the expense of giving quality, dedicated care. We actually keep a pet visit schedule that is fair for each customer. We allocate travel time cushion between visits, stick to our arrival time that the client has suggested, don’t shuffle the visits to meet our needs, and will not double-book visits. We can’t be in two places at one time and we are honest about it. We might not have the volume of clients other businesses have, but the clients we do have are very pampered. We are less quantity driven and more quality oriented.
Q: How does your pet service handle scheduling pet visits?
A: We assess what your schedule is during the day, what time you prefer to have your dog walked or fed or your cat fed and their litter box checked and we schedule accordingly. If you are out of town, we can schedule a night-time visit. We visit during the day in between our other pet visits. We always make the visit a quality social interaction with your animal. We don’t rush in and rush out your door leaving your pet in an anxious or confused state so that we can get to another job. That is not who we are and not why we went into this business in the first place. If you get that feeling regularly from another provider, it’s time to change providers. There are only so many hours in a day for pet visits, per pet sitter. It’s just math and ratios.
Q: I know this is a silly question but when hiring a pet sitter or dog walker, is a taller, more muscular person a better candidate for handling or walking my dogs?
A: It is a myth that only tall or muscular people make the best dog handlers, pet sitters, etc. Human muscle and height does not make a dog obedient. Good training, exercise, consistent, calm, positive interactions create a respectful and trusting dog. If a dog has a behavior problem, or is fear aggressive, and you feel your dog needs a very large person to walk them, then you are looking to hire a bodyguard for your dog to protect them from hurting themselves or others, you are not really looking for a pet sitter or a dog walker. In these cases, we suggest a dog trainer for handling more aggressive behavioral issues.
Q. I have noticed that my pet sitting company is now using Independent Contractors (IC) more if they cannot do the job themselves. Should I meet the IC that is scheduled to stay with my animals or should I trust the owner of the business to know best?
A: That is a very personal decision that only you can make as it depends on how well you know the person who owns the pet sitting business. After many years, owners trust the judgement of their pet care provider enough to hire and allow an IC to take care of their pets. But, as the owner of Handy Pet Nanny and as one who is an IC still, I think every owner should take the time to meet the person who will be taking care of your furry loved one. It’s better for piece of mind and remaining confident with the care that the care giver is a good match for you and your pets’ personality.
To your other point that you notice your pet sitting company has begun using IC’s more often, this is a sign that their business is increasing in client volume and they need more staff. If you are only seeking the involvement of the owner of the business, and feel put off by your pet being contracted out to another care giver, then if I were you I would have a frank discussion with the owner so that they know how you feel.
Q: What is a good checklist to cover when considering hiring a pet sitter or their company?
A: Basically, the most important things first: Are they licensed, bonded, insured, currently Pet CPR/First Aid Certified, no arrest or conviction history, members of the local business associations, networking in the social media, experienced pet care providers, exposed to scrutiny by the BBB, have policies and guideline documents in place that protect the company and the pet owners, and are members of a professional pet sitting organization that they can be reported to for negligence reasons. All of these things make for a higher profile in the community and holds the pet service business to a higher standard of care and professionalism. After all, many pet sitters have access to your home, and you really need to know who these people are who are taking care of your pets and your home while you are away. We know how we feel about this and we are sure most people feel the same way we do. That’s why Mary Ott started Handy Pet Nanny.
Secondly, the softer skill set is important: Do they have experience and an interest in learning more about animals. Mary Ott always makes time to see if the potential pet sitter really likes animals; dogs, cats, birds, etc. Ask a potential pet sitter how they got into into this business. Watch how they respond. Most good pet sitters know how to handle a 'meet and greet' with a new dog. They don’t over gush, try over-touching the dog or get the dog over excited. A very professional and calm first interaction is a good first step to informing an owner that the pet sitter understands how dogs like to be introduced to a new person that might be joining their pack. The pack hierarchy should be understood and good pet sitters will abide by these established pack mannerisms.
Q: How does Handy Pet Nanny determine its price points for pet services?
A: Handy Pet Nanny sets service prices based upon Fair Market Value (FMV) of going rates in the area by other pet sitting businesses. Some pet sitters charge less than FMV. But, sometimes that is also indicative of a less established pet sitting business. Most established pet sitters agree to keep the prices fair and close to market rate for the local area. We have costs for running an established, licensed, bonded, insured professional business. Some businesses charge less because they choose to not have all the insurance, bond insurance and licensing.
Q: Some businesses have a mascot. Do you have one?
A: Handy Pet Nanny was started and dedicated in memory of the owners’ dog, SadieMay. SadieMay was Mary Ott's Basset Hound who passed away in 2012. In the end of her long life, SadieMay was blind from two eye removals due to glaucoma, she lost the solid use of her back legs due to degenerative spinal issues, and finally required 24/7 care because of her inability to navigate around the house and go on walks due to her disabilities. But, SadieMay brought a huge amount of laughter and silliness to the house even in her last few years. We had many dogs, cats, etc, but SadieMay was the character “diva” of the house. All the other dogs knew it too. From SadieMay and her persona a passion was pursued and a business was started to address the needs of pet owners whose dogs required in-home pet sitting, social visits, and dog walking. Because of SadieMay’s blindness and spinal issues, she required very special handling. It was very difficult to find many people she was comfortable with and who were willing to happily step up and care for SadieMay and her special needs. That’s why Handy Pet Nanny truly understands how you feel about your pet. We feel the exact same way about our pets! From our heart to yours, we want to give you the best pet service possible.