Is it safe for kids to pet sit?
Is it safe for kids to pet sit?
Looking after pets is fun, and can teach kids about responsibility and social skills. However, you must consider your child’s age: Young children must be supervised around pets at all times, and an adult must be the primary carer if you wish to pet sit with your child under 18.
When you should keep your kids away from pets
If you have very young children under 4, you should keep them clear of pets unless you are very familiar with the pet and it’s temperament, and you are supervising at all times.
Younger children might be at different stages in controlling their physical and emotional impulses, and this can lead to unsafe situations around animals. Pet sitting can be an opportunity to teach your kids about gentle patting and demonstrating that, like them, pets need love, food and water. But be sure to be present at every step, and if you are a pet sitter, discuss these interactions thoroughly with the pet’s owner first.
Never make any assumptions about specific breeds or species. Use common sense, and remember you may not know the entire history of a pet: even a breed that has a reputation for being family-friendly, such as Labradors or Golden Retrievers, can have their own individual backgrounds or triggers that you may not be aware of. As such, it’s essential to find out as much as you can during a meet and greet. Likewise, all pet sitters should have a thorough understanding of animal body language.
As a responsible pet sitter, you must prioritise the needs of your guest pet as well as your kids. If you are pet sitting a nervous or anxious pet under your roof, it’s best to allow them plenty of space and quiet time to adjust. We strongly recommend giving them access to a separate space away from your children and your resident pets.
How to help your kids pet sit
If you wish to join a pet sitting website such as Pawshake, you must be over 18 years old in order to be covered by the Pawshake Guarantee. But that isn’t to say your children can’t join in the fun of caring for cats and dogs!
If your kids are keen to be involved in pet sitting, make sure it is completely clear on your profile that you are the primary pet carer and that they may be involved at times, depending on the pet owner’s wishes. This is something to discuss during a meet and greet, and if the pet owner doesn’t want this to happen, respect their boundaries. Their pet might be nervous around strangers, or kids/teenagers specifically, or have separation anxiety or other behavioural issues. This is all an essential part of the meet and greet discussion: make sure you are all on the same page and don’t leave any room for misunderstanding.
You might like to bring your kids along when you go for a brisk walk or run with your guest pet: you can teach them all about dog park etiquette and asking before patting unfamiliar dogs, but, as the adult in charge, make sure you are the one always holding the dog's leash. Your kids might even be able to teach your guest pet some new tricks to impress their fur parent, or burn some energy with a game of fetch.
Pet sitting can also be a great way to introduce your kids to the responsibilities of pet ownership and safety around animals. You might wish to have a feeding/water roster for guest pets, and share your Pawshake earnings as part of your children’s salary: just be sure to supervise so that the pet owner’s requests regarding food amounts, feeding methods and mealtimes are honoured.
If you are a pet owner, be sure to have a meet and greet with the whole family that will be coming into contact with your pet, and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Done the right way, your pet might find themselves with some new human playmates for life. And, if you definitely don’t want any children around your pets, simply select the ‘has no children’ search filter when looking for a perfect pet sitter.