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Holidays Pet Sitting: What you need to know upfront

The holiday season is habitually a busy time of year for us at Bark Buddies. Most pet sitters experience an uptick in visits during the “holiday season” extending from November to January every year.

Some of the most common holiday concerns for pet sitters, Pet Sitters International conducted a Pet-Sitter Holiday Survey last year and nearly, 1,300 pet sitters responded (a total of 1,296 responses).

Planning ahead is important

Twenty-six percent of pet sitters responding to the survey indicated that, on average, they begin accepting holiday pet-sitting requests a year in advance; 25 percent indicated they begin booking their holiday sits six months in advance. Only 7 percent opt to wait until a month prior to begin accepting holiday pet-sitting assignments.

Generally speaking, the prime booking window for pet sitting or dog boarding is 4 – 6 weeks out from your travel date. Starting early gives you the best chance of finding a sitter who’s available on your selected dates. It also gives you time to meet the sitter and make sure he or she.

Pet owners should book early, even though most pet sitters will try to accommodate later requests

According to the survey, 28 percent of pet sitters typically stop accepting holiday reservations by one month prior to the holiday—of these, 4 percent stop accepting requests three or more months prior and seven percent stop two months prior. But, the vast majority—72 percent—will accept pet-sitting requests less than a month before the holiday (38 percent actually don’t stop accepting requests until the week of the holiday).

Should pet owners pay more for holiday pet-sitting visits

When it comes to charging a holiday surcharge, pet sitters responding to PSI’s survey had varying opinions: 57 percent indicated they do charge a holiday surcharge, while 43 percent do not. This is, of course, a personal decision, and an advantage of owning your own pet-sitting service is that you can set the rules and policies that work best for your business.

For pet sitters who indicated they do charge a holiday surcharge, 35 percent indicated their surcharge was $5-$7 per visit and 22 percent charged an additional $8-$10 per visit. Other pet sitters opted to charge by the day (instead of per visit) and 22 percent of pet sitters who responded indicated they charged a per day fee of $5-$10.

The vast majority of pet sitters who did charge a holiday surcharge charged the additional fee on Christmas (99 percent), Thanksgiving (98 percent), New Year’s Day (90 percent ), Christmas Eve (76 percent) and New Year’s Eve (72 percent). Other holidays pet sitters also mentioned charging a surcharge for included Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, and Easter; and Victoria Day, Civic Day and Canada Day in Canada.

‘Tis the season for giving—or is it

Eighty-five percent of pet sitters responding to the survey indicated that their clients typically leave them gifts around the holidays. These gifts included a special cash tip (90 percent), gift cards/certificates (87 percent), home-baked goods (63 percent) and pet products (26 percent).

Many pet sitters also leave special gifts for their clients during the holiday season. Thirty-four percent indicated they leave gifts for all clients; 46 percent opt to leave gifts for only certain clients and 20 percent do not leave holiday gifts for any clients.

Of those who do leave client gifts, dog or pet treats are popular items to give (82 percent), as well as pet photos (40 percent) and pet products (56 percent).

Additionally, 77 percent of pet sitters indicating sending holiday cards to some or all of their clients.

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