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Dog Nannies – the Future of Pet-sitting

Gone are the days when going away on holiday meant leaving Fido in boring, impersonal kennels. Now there are dog nannies all over the country that will look after man’s best friend in the comfort of his own home – walking, feeding and playing with him while his owner is away. Whether it is during a two week summer holiday, or while you work the nine-to-five, dog nannies are becoming a safe and effective way to protect your animals.

Some pet owners don’t have time to walk or play with their pets every day, or they may need someone to take care of their beloved critters while they’re on vacation. That’s where you come in – pet sitter/walker extraordinaire! Apply yourself and learn these important steps in becoming an experienced “pet nanny.”

1. Get experience. 
Pet sitting is like babysitting – a lot of people won’t work with you if you don’t have any experience. Make this your first priority. Volunteer at an animal shelter, ask a neighbor if you can play with their pet every week, or volunteer to teach a pet care lesson at a pre-school in your area.

2. Research. 
What are the differences in breeds of dogs and cats? How do they normally behave? Your knowledge will impress people, and you’ll know what to do in a sticky situation. Also, ask for advice from friendly professionals like the people who work at vet offices and pet supply stores. This is especially important if you are walking many dogs at once. You don’t want any fights.

3. Spread the word. 
Once you have some experience caring for animals (besides your own pet/s), start marketing yourself. You can make up a name for your service, like “Best Pet Care There,” or advertise just by using your name. Hand flyers out on a busy street nearby, post signs in parks, or ask a local pet store to post your information on their wall. Whatever you decide, be sure to include: your name and experience; an email address and/or telephone number; the rate you charge (this can be donated to a local animal shelter or rescue group); hours you’re available; what areas you serve, etc.

4. Be honest. 
If something happens to a pet while you are watching it, always tell the pet owner about it. Sometimes accidents can’t be prevented, and most owners would want to know if little Fluffy ate a piece of chocolate you accidentally left out.

5. Know the no-no’s. 
Only feed an animal its regular food, because certain people foods can cause serious stomach problems. Never feed a dog or cat: Alcoholic beverages; chocolate; coffee; crapes or raisins; moldy or spoiled food; onions, garlic & chives; poultry bones; salt and salty foods; tomato leaves, stems, and unripe fruit; or yeast dough.

6. Get rated. 
Create a rating card that pet owners can fill out after you have done your job. This will improve your skills and will show your customers how serious you are about your pet service.

7. Always tidy up! 
It’s considerate and professional to clean up after yourself AND the pet. Leave the home exactly as you found it, and if Sparky brings mud in after a walk, clean that up, too.

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