Pet sitters often become honorary family members after a while, especially from a pet’s perspective! Clients also appreciate all that their pet sitters do for them and their pets. However, as a pet sitter, should you give a client advice about their pets?
When a client approaches you and asks for advice about their pet, they are looking for help, guidance and possibly even reassurance from you. After spending considerable time with a client’s pet, you will get to know a particular animal’s temperament, behavioural traits, quirks and how to get them to obey a command. As such, a client may lean on you for advice about what to do when their pet starts to chew the furniture, chase other dogs or bark incessantly.
However, even when advice is solicited be careful about how you speak to a client. Remember to always speak with tact and reasonableness. When Fluffy has tried your patience it is easy to be blunt and unkind to a client. That is not what they need!
Keep in mind that however friendly your relationship is with a client, it should remain courteous and professional. Speak up when you have been asked to provide your professional opinion, but do not be afraid to mention whenever you are feeling out of your depth. If a client asks for help on a subject matter that you cannot help with (i.e. when Fluffy has an unexplained injury) refer them to a vet, dog trainer or some other professional who will be able to address their specific concerns.
Giving unsolicited advice can be particularly problematic, as you have not been asked for your opinion. As such, you should always tread carefully when offering unsolicited advice. If you are not careful, your advice can be misconstrued and viewed as criticism. Consider what you will say before you speak to a client and make sure you let them know that you are voicing your opinion out of concern for the pet.
If you are a pet owner yourself, make mention of this. Also, if you have particular expertise on a matter that is concerning you about a pet, let your client know what has worked for you and how you can implement your suggestions. Clients do not want to feel incompetent, and yet that is the mistake some pet sitters make when they offer unsolicited advice.
Pet sitters have a duty of care to pets that they are looking after. It is often easy to offer solicited advice, as a client has initiated contact. However, when it comes to offering unsolicited advice a pet sitter should be very careful how they approach a client so that they do not offend or alienate them.
More from this contributor:
How to Overcome Loneliness as a Pet Sitter
Pet Sitters: How to React when New Clients Change Their Minds
Pet Sitters: Should You Start Off on a Trial Basis?