Your Pet-Sitting Contract: 6 items you should include.
As a professional pet sitter, you have a responsibility to protect your clients and their pets, as well as yourself and your business. For your own safety—and sanity—you also want to ensure that all clients clearly understand the services you will be providing, your policies and procedures and what is expected from the pet owners.
What’s the easiest way to make sure this happens? A pet-sitting contract.
Having a quality pet-sitting contract is one of the five must-do steps to starting a successful pet-sitting business.
Your company’s pet-sitting contract, also called a services agreement, should clearly outline the services you will provide, limitations and important information about the clients’ pet and home-care needs.
To save time and money, you may be tempted to download a free pet-sitting contract template or simply write your own based on the information you think you’ll need.
While making the list of the information you will want to collect from clients is a good first step, remember your pet-sitting contract is a legal document. As such, it is vital that the contract your pet-sitting business uses adheres to state and local laws. Combined with pet-sitter liability insurance, your pet-sitting contract is your best defense against possible legal claims against your company. It is worth investing the time and money to have your pet-sitting contract reviewed by a legal advisor to ensure it meets the legal requirements in your jurisdiction.
As you begin to prepare a pet-sitting service contract, here are 6 items you want to be sure to include:
- Services provided/frequency of visits: Be sure to include what services you will be providing (feeding, play time, dog walks, etc.), as well as the frequency (how many times a day will you visit.)
- Medical and behavior history of pet/s: Note any health conditions or medications the pets may need. Also ask about the pet’s temperament (shy around new people, etc.) This is an important time to also determine if the pet has ever shown aggressive behavior towards people or other pets.
- Pet’s routine: Make notes about important routines, such as a dog’s typical feeding time and location. It’s also important to find out any particular hiding places or any special toys the pet may like. Other questions to ask may be if a particular pet likes the television or radio on or if there is a specific path the dog likes to be walked?
- Home rules: Make sure you understand what the pet owner prefers and what is allowed/not allowed in regards to their home. Is there a specific temperature the thermostat should be set on while the pet owner is away? Is it okay for you to use their restroom when you stop by for daily visits? For overnight visits, are there any off-limit areas and are you allowed to use their tools and appliances, such as the refrigerator or wireless internet? Also, be sure to note the keys and alarm codes information to ensure you have access into the home for your visits.
- Prices and payments: Make sure your clients know your rates. Be sure to include terms of payment information in the pet-sitting contract. Will your client be required to pay a deposit at the time of booking, leave the full payment at the first visit or possibly be billed at the conclusion of the assignment? Also, note which forms of payment you accept—cash and check only? Credit cards?
- Client contact information: You not only want to document your clients’ home contact information, you also need contact information to reach the client while they are away, if necessary. This may include the client’s cell phone number or a number to reach them at their travel destination (hotel, etc.) You will also want to note an emergency contact—possibly a friend or family member—that should be contacted if you are unable to reach the pet owners in the event of an emergency.
This list is not all-inclusive, but provides an outline of information you want to be sure to capture in your pet-sitting contract. Each pet-sitting service is unique and your pet-sitting contract will need to be tailored to address the specific services you offer and any specific policies and procedures your pet-sitting business follows.
The PSI Store Online also offers a Pet Sitting Service Contract CD including a pet-sitting services contract, permission to administer medications form and telephone reservations contract. Pet-sitting contracts for specific pet-services, including bird sitting, horse sitting, fish sitting and house sitting only are also available.
Other pet-sitting forms to consider:
Besides your pet-sitting contract, you will likely find several other forms very helpful to use in your pet-sitting business.
One you may not have thought of is an Emergency Pet Guardianship Form. In the unfortunate event your client is unable to return home to his or her pets. Who should be given guardianship of the pets until final guardianship is determined by the pet owner’s legal documents? PSI members can download an Emergency Pet Guardianship Form template in the PSI Member Template Gallery.
Other pet-sitting forms professional pet sitters also find helpful are listed below:
- Daily visit checklist
- Client invoice
- Pet medication log
- Good neighbor notification cards
- Law enforcement notification cards
- Pet report card
- Late payment reminders
PSI pet sitters can also download free templates of these forms in the PSI Member Template Gallery.
If you are considering pet sitting, visit the PSI Web site to learn more about the tools available to PSI pet sitters or download PSI’s free information packet.