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Jessi shares some tips for when you need to have your animal companion cared for by a trusted pet sitter.

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Jessi: Every once in a while, it just needs to be done, whether you're going on a business trip or a family emergency comes up, or you're just going on vacation, you need someone else to watch your animals for you. it can be hard on everyone involved, so here are some tips to help reduce the stress on everybody.


Augusto and I recently took a trip to Southern California to attend VidCon and we left the animals in the hands of two of our trusty interns. It was quite the lengthy process to get them educated in all the detailed animal care that needed to be tended to while we were away.

To help out, we left behind a detailed protocol for the entire day as well as detailed diet protocols for each individual animal. I was also on-call almost constantly to make sure that I could answer questions about animal behavior or troubleshoot if a problem did arise.

While the average pet owner won't need to go to the same lengths as we do, there are some similarities between the two. I'm going to cover the most commonly kept pets. Cats and birds, they do best cared for in their own home, dogs, small mammals and reptiles can be cared for in the sitter's home.

For the animal owner. Number one, make a list of your pet's essentials so you don't forget anything in the rush of leaving. This includes food, enclosure, feeding dishes, sleeping arrangements, outdoor equipment, toys, and medicine.

Food: make sure you provide enough for every single day that you'll be gone plus two days in case of delays or spillage. Enclosure: if your pet is a small mammal or a reptile, their entire home should go with them. If it's a reptile, make sure you include their heating and light systems. Food and water dishes: animals can have a preference of what they eat and drink from, especially in a strange home. Send these with them. Sleeping arrangements: having their own crate, blanket or pillow is a must for dogs. It gives them a piece of their home to curl up with. If they don't have a bed at home, leave one of your shirts that has been worn. Have the pet sitter lay it where they're gonna be sleeping at night, the smell will give them comfort. Outdoor equipment: If your animal is accustomed to going outside, make sure you provide their safety equipment like harness and leash. Toys: familiar toys are great for pet sitters to offer animals to help engage play. It'll help the animal feel more comfortable by bringing out memorable and happy behaviors. Medicine: just like with their food, make sure you have enough medicine to provide for every single day that you're gone, plus two days for backup.

Number two, write a detailed note for the pet sitter. The person caring for your animal is gonna need to know what to expect, so don't write a novel, but list out the special needs and unique behaviors that make your animal who they are. Include your animal's name and daily routine.

For example, Ruby's morning: wakes up at 6 AM, needs a long run followed by breakfast,  she eats too fast so make sure she's fed in a slow-eating bowl. Also included in the note: a list of names and emergency contacts, veterinarian, trusted friend, neighbor, in case the pet sitter can't reach you if something happens.

And finally, a short description of your animal's normal behaviors, so your sitter can better judge what your animal's feeling and act accordingly. For example, Molly's going blind and deaf. She'll randomly smell something and go into a barking frenzy, which will stop as abruptly as it started. This is her normal.

For pet sitters, first off, let me say thank you, you guys are wonderful. Having someone that you trust to care for your pet companion is essential for responsible pet-ownership, so thank you for being awesome. Those of you that are taking an animal into your home, tip number one, meet the animal in their own home if possible. It will help the animal immensely to have a familiar face. Being in a strange place is scary, having someone or something to cling to is priceless.

Two, give the animal space. Some dogs may be very scared at first. Earning their trust will help them get more comfortable more quickly. Let them check out their new surroundings. They need to explore the whole house. Letting them check out their new space before you force your presence on them will help prevent them from feeling overwhelmed. Stay quiet and wait for them to show you that they're ready to interact with you. Once that happens, offer them treats to show that you're their friend.

Number three, follow their home routine as closely as possible. All animals thrive on routine. Dogs will need to know where they're expected to pee and poop. Probably do this before they need to go in the morning.

And number four, exercise is very important. Take dogs for runs and play with them with their favorite toys. Small mammals will need their running wheel accessible at all times. If they don't have a running wheel, get them out and about at least once a day. On that note, make sure that your house is appropriate for the animal's safety. If a whole house doesn't work, sometimes providing just one room is safer and more comfortable for an animal.

And now for pet-sitters who are caring for animals in the animal's home: these are for you. The same four tips apply, but here are some more details. Dogs may be territorial if you're a complete stranger, so meeting them in the presence of their owner often tells them that you're safe.

For cats, watch them interact with their owner so you know what to expect. Are they aloof and shy, are they lap snugglers, are they headbutters, or do they only allow 3 1/2 pets before they attack, so you better stop at three unless you want to leave with scars. And cats will need space to run around. Best give them full access to all the spaces that they're used to.

For birds, understand that they might not accept your friendly advances. Work with the owner to make sure that you can care for their needs. Most importantly, give them their space. Though they will need room to stretch their wings if their cage isn't large enough, so talk with their owner to learn the best ways to allow this to happen.

And finally, reptiles can stress out easily and they do well not being taken out or handled for a week or two, so just provide their regular light, heat, and feeding routine.

Thank you guys for watching, I hope you found the recommendations helpful and all the animals out there are thankful for your thoughtfulness for their happiness. If you'd like to go on an adventure with us every week, subscribe to our YouTube channel Animal Wonders Montana or if you have any questions you can leave them below or find me on twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Thanks guys.