Meet and Greet - a How-To Guide
Pawshake Ireland is growing by the day, and with school holidays upon us we thought it was about time to revisit the important ritual of the meet and greet. Our seasoned users will tell you it's one of the most important parts of the pet sitting process, and a tool that will make sure the fit is right, your pet is happy and everyone is on the same page. Sitters are the first point of call for a pet owner, so it is the responsibility of the pet sitter to ask the right questions and discern whether you, the pet owner and the pets will be the right fit :-)
Before meeting, arrange somewhere safe to say hello and have a play and a pat - Ally has a great post here about setting up a location for a meet and greet.
The quickest way to a pet's heart...
Before dinner is a great time to meet - you can bring a handful of healthy treats to ensure your pup is on their best behaviour for their new human pal! It also gives sitters a chance to see how much food to give, where it is stored, and all those important details.
If you have a cat, mealtime is also a chance for sitters to dish out dinner - I've never met a cat who wouldn't come out to say hello when there is food involved, and kitty will love their new sitter for it! Here is another great post on meeting a new cat for the first time.
Pet owners - give your pet sitter a chance to have a get-to-know you pat and play session while you step quietly into the background. Keep the treats in hand. Remember, you know your pet best! If you have an outgoing Labrador, this will probably be very smooth, but a nervous terrier might need a little encouragement. If your fur baby is a tad anxious then contact a sitter with a lot of animal experience and some solid reviews.
Inspect the holiday pad
Pet owners and sitters - if your pet is boarding away from home, it's a good idea to check out the place they will be staying to be sure there is adequate space, shelter and security for your pet. Pet sitters should do a check around first to make sure there is nothing potentially dangerous left lying about (such as anything sharp, breakable or poisonous) or holes in fences especially if you are near a busy road! Treat your guest pet as you would want and expect your beloved fur baby to be treated.
A trial pet-sit is a great idea if both parties want to be sure the sitter and dog is the right fit - after all, we know dogs might behave differently when away from their owners!
Meet the whole family
It is super important for a guest pet to meet and greet everyone they will be staying with, including humans and members of the fur family. Everyone involved deserves to be safe, happy and comfortable during the stay!
Pet sitters - If you will be introducing your guest pet to another guest pet during boarding, or introducing to your own pets, we advise doing this during the meet and greet or at least before the pet sitting commences. For dogs, neutral ground is a good way to start out - somewhere where neither dog needs to defend their space - then introduce both pups slowly in the home they will be staying in. With cats and dogs, slow supervised introductions are best and never leave the two animals confined together.
Consider the breed too - if you have a small apartment, perhaps a large dog isn't best for you to board. If you will be out a lot or are worried about breakage, then a young puppy or energetic border collie might also not be an ideal match for your home. Again, a trial pet-sit is good to arrange if you are uncertain.
It doesn't hurt to be safe rather than sorry, and to use common sense! We can't always possible to predict how animals will interact, so if either displays extreme stress or aggression then perhaps this isn't the right situation for the guest pet. Remember there is absolutely no obligation to commit to sitting after a meet and greet, so neither party should feel bad if it doesn't work out!
Leave a list
Pet owners - After the meet and greet it is still helpful to leave a list of instructions for the pet sitter. Speaking from experience, when you have multiple jobs to run to (especially during the holidays) it is sometimes hard to remember exactly where the chicken necks are kept, or how many cups of biccies to feed Fido each day. A little list can make the world of difference! And always include an emergency contact number (of a trusted friend or family member), your contact number or email address and the number of your preferred vet. Any medical history and vaccination/microchip information makes sense too - a responsible sitter will ask for these things!
By doing this you can leave your pet with peace of mind knowing they are in a safe, loving and secure home!