How Old Should Pet Sitters Really Be?

Family members commonly watch dogs or cats when people are out of town for short periods of time, but what happens if the whole family is out of town? Most pet owners do not want to leave their family dogs or cats home alone when they travel and aren't keen on sending them to a boarding facility, but there aren't always family members around to take care of dogs or cats when vacation season calls. That's where pet sitting comes into play. It's a lot like babysitting, but instead of taking care of children, the tasks center around pet care. Pet sitting is an important task, especially if you have multiple pets or a new dog or cat.

Many pet sitters are found through sites like Rover, but some kids run pet sitting businesses on the side to earn extra money on weekends and during the summer. Even if kids don't run a business, many are still eager to earn a few extra dollars for this very important but fairly simple task. Many kids offer pet sitting services, but how old should kids be, and how do you find the best dog sitter for your furry friend?

What Age Group Should Pet Sit?

teenager sits with dog

Dog sitters have a lot of responsibilities when caring for pets. While kids may think they are ready to tackle pet sitting, remember that many things go into caring for your furry friend, and some might not be age-appropriate.

There are a couple of different ways to pet sit, and the level of commitment often depends on the type of pet. Most dog sitters stay in the owner's home while on vacation, which is not something younger children will do. That task is better suited for older teenagers who can drive and don't need a babysitter themselves. But, requiring your dog sitter to stay at your home isn't always necessary. If you have an older dog or a dog who is used to you being gone at work during the day, the pet sitter can come by a couple of times throughout the day that mimics your normal routine.

However, some dog breeds do not like being left alone and need more than casual dog-walking. Those pups may not be suited to having a young child watching them. Also, take into account the size of your dog. Small dogs may be wary of small children, and rambunctious large dogs can knock them over. As a general rule, children 12-years-old and up are fairly responsible and can handle being a dog walker, feeder, and general pet sitter. A 12-year-old may already have experience with their own pet and might watch their younger siblings. They also understand how much responsibility comes with watching pets.

If you need someone to feed your fish, small animals, or reptiles, a 10-year-old may be a great option. They are old enough to handle coming by once a day to feed your pets and follow simple care instructions.

Pet Sitter FAQ

teenager walks dog in a field

RELATED: How to Find a Good Pet Sitter, What 5 Questions to Ask

When choosing a pet sitter, especially when they are older children, make sure they understand everything you need them to do while you are gone. Since anyone under 16 cannot drive themselves to your home, you can ask to meet their whole family so you are familiar with everyone who may be interacting with your pet.

Pet sitters are responsible for the following while caring for your pet:

  • Food and water
  • Brush fur and teeth
  • Walking
  • Cleaning litterboxes
  • Administering necessary medications

Even if your pet sitter is a neighbor, family member, or friend, you should leave them with all the necessary information on your pet. You should leave the following information with your pet sitter:

  • Vet's name and number
  • Emergency contact information
  • List of recent vaccinations
  • ?Medications
  • Breed information
  • Pet's weight and any medical conditions

While it is not likely that anything will happen to your pet while you are gone, it is possible that they could get sick suddenly or injured while on a walk. Therefore, it is important to leave your pet sitter with everything they need to handle the situation. Make sure you also let them know whether or not your pet is microchipped, just in case they get out.

Who watches your dogs while you are away? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook

READ MORE: Dog Sitting: How I Feel About Rover Pet Care as a Dog Sitter