Independent Contractor Portal
Independent Contractor Portal
Everything you need to know about working as an Independent Contractor.
Please ask any questions you have at any time, just CONTACT US
New Contractor To-Do List
All of these documents, including this checklist, can be found in the DOCS section of the Independent Contractor's Time to Pet profile. Some of them are reproduced within this portal for info
Familiarize yourself with the Critter Caretakers Independent Contractor Portal
Print, sign and return the INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR INFORMATION FORM
Print, sign and return the INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR AGREEMENT
Print, sign and return BACKGROUND CHECK AUTHORIZATION
Print, sign and return form W9
Read and agree to GENERAL CONTRACTOR EXPECTATIONS and PET SITTING EXPECTATIONS
Read INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS PAY SCHEDULE
Read "INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS VS. EMPLOYEE"
Activate & Complete your TIME TO PET profile including bio and photo (linked emailed to you)
Check box if we can use this bio and photo on our website and social media
Look on IC Portal for link for help articles on TIME TO PET website
Update your Availability (TIME OFF on App) for a rolling 3 month period
Optional - Send $90 to Critter Caretakers to be added as an "additional insured" on the Critter Caretakers insurance policy. We use and recommend PET SITTER'S ASSOCIATES. This will include your Dishonesty Bonding. Payments can be made via ZELLE to 480.925.8617
Proof of purchase of General Liability Insurance and Dishonesty Bonding (if not being shown as ‘additionally insured’ on the Critter Caretaker policy)
Put these in your cell:
- (480) 553-0105 Main Number for Critter Caretakers 24/7
- (480) 925-8617 Tony’s cell, in emergency if no immediate response on Main
- (480) 999-9081 Time to Pet messages. Calls not accepted. System use only
Establish self-employed business practices, if you do not already have your own LLC.
- Learn what it means to be an Independent Contractor vs. an Employee.
- Form a Limited Liability Company (LLC). (Not required, though highly recommended)
- Open a business bank account. (Not required, though highly recommended)
- Develop a plan for withholding self-employment taxes and tracking / deducting expenses.
TO BE RETURNED TO CRITTER CARETAKER'S ADMIN
- COMPLETED NEW INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR TO-DO CHECKLIST
- SIGNED INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR AGREEMENT
- SIGNED INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR INFORMATION FORM
- SIGNED BACKGROUND CHECK AUTHORIZATION
- COMPLETED W9
Independent Contractor Information Form
FIRST NAME MIDDLE NAME
PREVIOUS NAMES USED (INC MAIDEN NAME)
DATE OF BIRTH
CITY STATE ZIP
BUSINESS NAME EIN
NAME ON BANK ACCOUNT INC MIDDLE INITIAL IF USED
PERSONAL OR BUSINESS CHECKING OR SAVINGS
ACCOUNT NUMBER ROUTING NUMBER
I HAVE SIGNED INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR AGREEMENT
I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT I AM AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR RATHER THAN AN EMPLOYEE AND I UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE
Payments can be made to Critter Caretakers via Zelle to 4809258617
Independent Contracting vs Employment
Due to the nature of the business and the specific work involved, it serves our clients and our Pet Sitters etc far more to be classified as "Independent Contractors" for Critter Caretakers Pet Services (and not "Employees" of Critter Caretakers Pet Services). To meet this IRS classification, Critter Caretakers works tirelessly to ensure that it complies with rules regarding IC classification.
To learn more about the difference between employees and independent contractors, please read THIS ARTICLE on the IRS website. Here are the key takeaways:
Critter Caretakers pet sitters etc operate as their own business. This is true even if the business is an individual, and even if the business is not legally formed or incorporated.
Critter Caretakers offers specific services to clients. Pet sitters etc who choose to contract with Critter Caretakers agree to offer these services as they are offered to clients. These independent contractors then have the right for how, when, where, and with whom to offer these services.
Critter Caretakers' contractors decide how they achieve the result of the service offered to clients by Critter Caretakers.
Critter Caretakers' contractors decide when they work, and are entirely responsible for setting their own schedule.
Critter Caretakers' contractors take time away from work for vacation or illness without "approval" from Critter Caretakers.
Critter Caretakers' contractors choose where they want to work, and are entirely responsible for setting their own locations.
Critter Caretakers' contractors decide with whom they work, and are entirely responsible for accepting or denying their own clientele.
Critter Caretakers' contractors select and supply their own equipment, supplies, and transportation.
Critter Caretakers is not an independent contractor's "boss" or "employer." Critter Caretakers is a general contractor and independent contractors are sub-contractors to the business. Each individual pet sitter etc is "self-employed."
Critter Caretakers does not withhold taxes on the behalf of contractors. Independent Contractors are entirely responsible for withholding their own self-employment taxes.
Critter Caretakers contractors are encouraged to seek their own industry-related work, including work that directly competes with Critter Caretakers services. While Critter Caretakers contractors cannot solicit Critter Caretakers clients for their own businesses, there is no "non-compete" clause in the contract.
Critter Caretakers does not offer benefits such as sick leave, vacation leave, retirement savings, health care, or unemployment.
Critter Caretakers contractors carry their insurance for health, injury, disability, and/or lost wages.
Independent Contractor Agreement
This INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR AGREEMENT (“Agreement”) is made and entered into effective [effective date], by and between Barkingham Palace Pet Services, LLC, Doing Business As Critter Caretakers Pet Services (“Critter Caretakers”), and the Independent Contractor identified below.
Type of Entity: ☐ Individual / Sole Proprietorship / DBA ☐ LLC
Business Name (if applicable)
City, State, Zip:
Federal Tax ID # (if applicable):
Workers’ Comp Carrier (if applicable)
- Critter Caretakers provides pet sitting services in the Phoenix Metropolitan area (East Valley, West Valley & Phoenix) as well as in-home pet boarding, dog walking and house sitting services.
- Critter Caretakers wishes to engage Independent Contractor for Independent Contractor’s special and unique animal care skills for specific tasks for a limited term and limited purposes.
- Independent Contractor possesses the skills, equipment, and/or training to provide Critter Caretakers’ services and further Critter Caretakers’ mission.
- Independent Contractor agrees to be engaged to perform specific tasks for Critter Caretakers as an independent contractor and not an employee.
The Parties agree as follows:
1. SCOPE OF WORK
Independent Contractor agrees to perform the following tasks (check all that apply):
☐ Pet Sitting
☐ Dog Walking
☐ House Sitting
☐ In-Home Pet Boarding
2. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR’S RESPONSIBILITIES
Independent Contractor shall:
2.1 Work diligently and use their best efforts to provide services for clients and their pets including one or more of the following: pet sitting, in-home boarding, dog walking, and house sitting. Independent Contractor shall complete the following general requirements before beginning work:
- Complete Form W-9.
- Either produce evidence of general liability insurance coverage or pay $90 to Critter Caretakers to be added as an “additional insured” on its insurance policy. This payment must be made and cannot be taken from the Independent Contractor’s pay as the payment has to in itself be Independent.
- Either produce evidence of suitable Dishonesty / Theft Bond coverage, or ensure they are covered by Critter Caretakers when added as an “additional insured” on its insurance policy
- Either produce evidence of a Fully Comprehensive Criminal Background Check complete in the previous 30 days, or give permission and pay for such a check to be carried out on them by Critter Caretakers, using a service provider of the Critter Caretakers’ choice. This usually costs around $20, and will be refunded as part of the Independent Contractor’s first pay run.
- Produce evidence of in-home pet boarding liability insurance coverage
- Register LLC with Arizona Secretary of State (recommended)
- Agree to a criminal background check.
- Review the Critter Caretakers website in full, including reading and agreeing to all text in the Independent Contractor Portal
- Read and agree to all text in the Independent Contractor Portal
2.2 Abide by all laws, rules, regulations, and interpretations thereof applicable to Independent Contractor's work, and deal in the trade in a fair, ethical, and prudent manner. Independent Contractor shall abide by and conform to and with all federal, state and local laws governing the industry which Critter Caretakers serves. Independent Contractor agrees to conduct their business and regulate their habits so as to maintain and increase the goodwill and reputation of Critter Caretakers and Independent Contractor. Independent Contractor shall complete all assignments in a timely professional manner consistent with accepted industry standards, and within time-frames and fee structure as agreed for each project per each client's instructions and wishes.
2.3 Independent Contractor shall be responsible, at Independent Contractor’s expense, for maintaining and providing all reasonable tools, clothing, and devices necessary to complete expected work requirements, including but not limited to a cell phone that supports the Time To Pet App, vehicle, any equipment which may needed such as spare leashes, dog treats, waste bags, first aid supplies etc. It will be at the Independent Contractor’s expense to maintain and obtain any required certifications and business licenses. Independent Contractor is responsible for any necessary business insurance required by Federal or State law.
2.4 Maintain a business location that is separate from Critter Caretakers’ business location; this separate business location may be a portion of the Independent Contractor’s residence so long as that portion is used primarily for business.
2.5 Bear the risk of loss related to the business by entering into fixed-price contracts, warranting the services they provide, and purchasing liability insurance.
2.6 Have authority to hire and fire other persons to provide or to assist in providing the services contemplated herein. Independent Contractor has the sole right to control and direct the means, manner, and method by which the Services required by this Agreement will be performed. Independent Contractor shall select the routes taken, starting and ending times, days of work, and order the work is performed; the Independent Contractor shall not be required to wear any uniforms provided by Critter Caretakers. Independent Contractor shall not receive any training from Critter Caretakers in the professional skills necessary to perform the Services required by this Agreement; and neither the Independent Contractor nor Independent Contractor’s employees or personnel shall be required by Critter Caretakers to devote full-time to the performance of the Services required by this Agreement. Critter Caretakers will not, and cannot, guarantee: any level of work, any minimum earnings, nor any continued opportunities to serve new or existing client-
2.7 Be responsible for all personal expenses, including, but not limited to, automobile, travel, automobile insurance, food, license fees, dues, income taxes, withholding taxes and the like, which may result from Independent Contractor being associated with Critter Caretakers.
2.8 Operate an independently established business and represent to the public that Independent Contractor is operating an independently established business.
2.9 Provide services within the animal care industry to at least one other entity or person other than Critter Caretakers within a 12-month period, or routinely engage in business advertising, solicitation, or other marketing efforts reasonably calculated to obtain new contracts to provide similar services.
3. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR STATUS
3.1 This Agreement does not constitute a hiring by either party. Independent Contractor agrees, acknowledges, understands, and represents (i) that they are an independent contractor (and not an employee) with respect to all services provided pursuant to this Agreement and for all purposes, including, without limitation, federal and state tax purposes; (ii) that their classification as an independent contractor for federal tax purposes arises under Section 3121, 3306, and 3401 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the "Code") and the treasury regulations promulgated hereunder; and (iii) that, as an additional ground for independent contractor classification for federal tax purposes, Independent Contractor qualifies as an independent contractor under Section 3508 of the Code. Independent Contractor further represents that as an independent contractor, that they will file with the appropriate federal and state authorities all required forms and make all required or necessary payments appropriate to the Independent Contractor's status as an independent contractor.
3.2 The parties to this Agreement expressly agree and acknowledge that the relationship created by this Agreement is that of Independent Contractor. Independent Contractor is not entitled to, and expressly waives, any benefits provided, or rights guaranteed, by Critter Caretakers, or any member of Critter Caretakers, or by operation of law, including, but not limited to, liability insurance, disability insurance, paid vacations, sick leave or other leave, retirement plans, profit sharing plans, health plans, “overtime” pay, and the like. Independent Contractor shall not be treated as an employee with respect to the services performed hereunder for federal and state tax purposes and will be issued a form 1099 at year end for tax preparation purposes. Critter Caretakers shall make no deductions or withholdings from any amounts paid to Independent Contractor for any federal or state taxes or FICA and Critter Caretakers shall have no obligations to provide Workers’ Compensation coverage for Independent Contractor. Independent Contractor expressly waives the right to sue Critter Caretakers for any job related injuries. Nothing contained in this Agreement shall be interpreted as creating any relationship (e.g., employer/employee, joint venture, partnership, and/or shareholder) between the two parties other than as set forth in this Agreement.
3.3 You cannot claim unemployment from Critter Caretakers, nor cite a ‘last day at work’ to enable you to claim Unemployment Benefit.
4.1 Pay if Paid. Independent Contractor expressly agrees that Critter Caretakers is under no obligation to pay Independent Contractor for any services until Critter Caretakers has been paid for the services. Independent Contractor states that it relies primarily on the credit and ability of others to pay and not on Critter Caretakers’ credit or ability. Independent Contractor further expressly accepts the risk that it will not be paid for work performed by Independent Contractor if Critter Caretakers, for whatever reason, is not paid.
4.2 Commission. Critter Caretakers shall compensate Independent Contractor as set out in the Independent Contractor Payment Schedule, which should be read alongside this Agreement. Critter Caretakers shall require invoices outlining payments owed to be submitted to them by no later than the last day of each month. Critter Caretakers will then pay the Independent Contractor by the 4th day of each month by means of bank transfer, but cannot be held responsible for any incidents arising out of a delay for whatever reason. No advance payments can be made. Critter Caretakers may revise the Payment Schedule at any time in Critter Caretakers’ sole discretion upon 10 days notice to Independent Contractor.
4.3 Meet and Greet. Critter Caretakers shall pay Independent Contractor $5 for each new client Meet and Greet.
4.4 Tips. Independent Contractor is entitled to 100% of client tips earned.
4.5 Referral Credit. Critter Caretakers will pay Independent Contractor a $25 referral credit for each new client the Independent Contractor brings in who goes on to spend a minimum of $100 worth of services.
4.6 The Independent Contractor may receive a contribution towards expenses if the client resides over 10 miles from Independent Contractor’s home address. Should the Independent Contractor not be traveling from their home address, such as from one client to another, this payment may not be made. The distance traveled will be determined using Google Maps, and will reflect the shortest distance available. Should an Independent Contractor decide to take an alternative route to the shortest distance shown, no additional payment will be made. These payments are made at the discretion of the Company. The minimum to be paid will be at the standard rate as announced by the IRS.
4.7 Critter Caretakers offers Clients a “Full Satisfaction or your Money-Back Guarantee” on all Services provided. Should any Client request reimbursement for fees paid for any genuine reason, and Critter Caretakers reasonably believes the Independent Contractor is responsible in full or part for the substandard Service (such as missing a time slot with no reasonable excuse, missing a window, failing to attend, leaving before the end of a visit, failing to complete tasks as reasonably requested / expected by the client etc), the Independent Contractor agrees to make up for between fifty percent (50%) to one-hundred percent (100%) of the returned fees. The only exception to this is if the reimbursement is a result of Critter Caretakers’ error. The fees will be deducted from the Independent Contractor’s next payment following the request.
5.1 Travel Expenses. Independent Contractor shall be responsible for paying all reasonable and necessary travel or related expenses associated with providing services under this Agreement.
5.2 Other Materials. Independent Contractor is responsible for providing all necessary materials including, but not limited to, cell phone that supports the Time To Pet App, vehicle, equipment to ensure safe transportation of dogs, dog treats, spare leashes, toys, first aid supplies, waste bags etc.
6. TERM AND TERMINATION OF AGREEMENT
6.1 Term. This Agreement is valid for 12 months. If this Agreement is not terminated or modified by a written agreement signed by both parties, then it will automatically renew.
6.2 Termination for Cause by Either Party. Either party may terminate this Agreement with or without cause at any time upon the giving of 30 days’ advance written notice to the other party.
6.3 Independent Contractor is required to surrender client keys / fobs / lockboxes / any other property belonging to Critter Caretakers, upon request of Critter Caretakers (oral or written) at any time, for any reason. Client keys, and other Critter Caretakers or client property, will be surrendered IN PERSON by Independent Contractor to a designated representative of Critter Caretakers, to the address of such party as the address set forth on the initial page of this Agreement, upon the termination of this agreement. Alternatively Critter Caretakers may request Independent Contractor to deliver such items to another Independent Contractor as selected by Critter Caretakers, not the Independent Contractor. Failure to return and/or surrender keys and Critter Caretakers and/or client property to Critter Caretakers in this manner will result in a charge against Independent Contractor for the cost to replace such property and in the case of keys to re-key the homes of all applicable clients, at a cost of at least $20 per key plus any other reasonable associated costs involved.
6.4 Partial Termination for Cause by Either Party. Either party may terminate a service within this Agreement or a particular client within this Agreement with or without cause at any time upon the giving of 30 days’ advance written notice to the other party.
6.5 In the event that the Independent Contractor terminates Independent Contractor services under this Agreement without providing at least 30 days advance notice, then Independent Contractor shall pay the full amount of all expenses incurred by Critter Caretakers as a result of such breach, including the cost of coverage for Independent Contractor's scheduled jobs (such as payment contributions made for over 10 miles driving for another Independent Contractor who may live further away etc) during this 30 day period. Further, Independent Contractor agrees that any and all monies due to Critter Caretakers from Independent Contractor, shall be paid prior to the Independent Contractor receiving final payment and Critter Caretakers may deduct such amounts from such last payment. Examples include Insurance payments, Theft Bond, Background Check payments etc.
7.1 Confidential Information. Confidential Information includes, but is not limited to, client or customer lists or information, business plans, pricing strategy, products, services, costs, profits, markets, sales, trade secrets, and other information belonging to Critter Caretakers and its clients that are not readily available to the public.
7.2 Non-disclosure of Confidential Information. Independent Contractor agrees that it will not disclose any Confidential Information, directly or indirectly, or use any Confidential Information in any manner, either during the term of this Agreement or at any time thereafter, except as required in the course of this engagement with Critter Caretakers or with express advance written permission from Critter Caretakers. All files, keys, records, documents, specifications, information, letters, notes, customer lists, notebooks, and similar items relating to the business of Critter Caretakers, whether prepared by Independent Contractor or otherwise coming into their possession, shall remain the exclusive property of Critter Caretakers. Independent Contractor shall not retain any copies of the foregoing without Critter Caretakers’ prior written permission. Upon the expiration or earlier termination of this Agreement, or whenever requested by Critter Caretakers, Independent Contractor shall immediately deliver to Critter Caretakers all such files, records, documents, specifications, information, keys and other items in its possession or under its control.
7.3 Disclosure is Material Breach. Independent Contractor agrees that the unauthorized disclosure of Confidential Information of Critter Caretakers or its clients may be highly prejudicial to their interests and an improper disclosure of trade secrets. Independent Contractor further agrees that any breach of the terms of this section shall be deemed a material breach of this Agreement.
8.1 Independent Contractor also agrees that in the course of its relationship with Critter Caretakers, Independent Contractor may develop a relationship with Critter Caretakers’ Clients and knowledge of those Clients’ affairs and requirements, and that the relationship of Critter Caretakers with its established clientele will therefore be placed in the Independent Contractor’s hands in confidence and trust. Accordingly, Independent Contractor makes the following additional fair, reasonable, and necessary promises for the protection of Critter Caretakers’ legitimate interests in its Confidential Information and Client relationships.
8.2 Independent Contractor promises that while performing any work for Critter Caretakers and for 12 months immediately after the date of the working arrangement’s termination, Independent Contractor shall not, except on behalf of Critter Caretakers, directly or indirectly, and regardless of the reason for the working arrangement’s termination:
- attempt in any manner to solicit from any Client business of the type performed by Critter Caretakers or to persuade any Client to cease to do business with or to reduce the amount of business that any such Client has customarily done or is reasonably expected to do with Critter Caretakers, whether or not the relationship between Critter Caretakers and such Client was originally established in whole or in part through the efforts of Independent Contractor;
- employ as an independent contractor or retain as a consultant, any person who is then or was at any time during the year preceding the date of the termination of the working arrangement between Independent Contractor and Critter Caretakers an independent contractor or employee of Critter Caretakers, or persuade or attempt to persuade any independent contractor of or employee of Critter Caretakers to leave Critter Caretakers or to go to work for anyone other than Critter Caretakers; or render to or for any Client any services of the type rendered by Critter Caretakers.
- render to or for any Client any services of the type rendered by Critter Caretakers.
8.3 As used in this Agreement, the term “Client” shall mean (1) any entity or person who is a client of Critter Caretakers at the time the working arrangement between Independent Contractor and Critter Caretakers is terminated or, if the working arrangement shall not have terminated, at the time of the alleged prohibited conduct (the “Determination Date”); (2) any entity or person who was a client of Critter Caretakers at any time during the year immediately preceding the Determination Date or if the working arrangement shall have terminated, at any time during the year immediately preceding the date of the termination; and (3) any prospective client to whom Critter Caretakers had made a new business presentation (or similar offering of services) at any time during the year immediately preceding the Determination Date, or if the working arrangement shall have terminated, at any time during the year immediately preceding the date of the termination.
9.1 Amendment, Modification and Waiver. This Agreement shall not be amended or modified, nor any part of it be deemed waived, except by a writing signed by both parties.
9.2 Entire Agreement. This Agreement contains the entire agreement and understanding between the parties hereto and may not be amended except by written instrument executed by all of the parties hereto. There are no oral understandings, terms, representations or conditions, and none of the parties hereto have relied upon any representation, expressed or implied, not contained herein. All prior negotiations and understandings are merged into, and superseded in their entirety by, this Agreement. This Agreement shall be binding upon and shall inure to the benefit of the parties hereto and their respective heirs, executors, administrators, personal representatives, successors, and assigns.
9.3 Governing Law. This Agreement shall be governed by and construed under the laws of the State of Arizona.
9.4 Indemnification. Independent Contractor agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Critter Caretakers from all claims, losses, expenses, fees including attorney fees, costs, and judgments that may be asserted against Critter Caretakers that result from the negligent acts or omissions of Independent Contractor, Independent Contractor's subcontractors, if any, and Independent Contractor's agents. Independent Contractor further agrees that claims made against Critter Caretakers as a result of Independent Contractor's work shall be paid by Independent Contractor alone, and Critter Caretakers may withhold payments to Independent Contractor until such claim has been paid in full.----
9.5 Arbitration. Any controversy, claim, or dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement shall be resolved exclusively by arbitration in Maricopa County, Arizona. Arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with the then prevailing commercial arbitration rules of the Judicial Branch of Arizona, with one arbitrator designated in accordance with those rules unless the parties provide otherwise by written agreement. The parties agree to abide by all decisions and awards rendered in such proceedings. Such decisions and awards rendered by the arbitrator shall be final and conclusive and may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof as a basis of judgment and the issuance of execution for its collection. All such controversies, claims, or disputes shall be settled in this manner in lieu of any action at law or equity. In any such dispute, the prevailing party shall be entitled to its or their attorneys’ fees and costs, in addition to any other relief that may be awarded.
9.6 Survival. Any provision of the Agreement which, by its nature, is intended to bind the parties following termination of the Agreement shall continue in full force and effect until satisfied or performed.
9.7 Severability. The invalidity or enforceability of any particular word, sentence, paragraph, or provision of this Agreement shall not affect the validity or the enforceability of the other words, sentences, paragraphs, subparagraphs or provisions of this Agreement. This Agreement shall be interpreted in all respects as if such invalid or unenforceable parts were omitted.
9.8 Exhibits. Any and all exhibits referenced herein or attached to this Agreement are incorporated by their reference or by their attachment.
9.9 Binding. This Agreement shall be binding upon and inure to the benefit of the parties hereto, their heirs, executors, administrators, successors, and assigns.
9.10 Acknowledgement. The parties executing this Agreement have read the entire Agreement and have had the opportunity to seek a review of this Agreement by counsel of Independent Contractor’s choice.
9.11 Duplicate copies. A photocopy or scanned electronic copy of this Agreement shall be as sufficient as an original.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have affixed their signatures and seals on the day and year first above written.
BARKINGHAM PALACE PET SERVICES, LLC INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR
Name: Anthony Bacon Name:
EIN Number (if applicable):
Background Check Policy
AUTHORIZATION TO RELEASE INFORMATION & RECORDS
I hereby voluntarily grant Critter Caretakers Pet Services (“Company”) and its authorized representatives at any time during my application for work as an independent contractor, employment or in connection with my continued employment, promotion, or reassignment, the authority to conduct an inquiry into my criminal history. These inquiries may include personal conversations with persons possessing knowledge relevant to these categories. I understand that as part of this inquiry, my criminal record will be reviewed by the Company. These inquiries will be conducted, and the reports will be obtained, to provide the Company with information regarding my character, general reputation, personal characteristics, and other pertinent information.
I hereby voluntarily authorize Company to procure an investigation, or cause an investigation to be procured, for employment purposes. I authorize, without reservation, any person or entity contacted by the organization, or anyone acting on its behalf, to furnish the above stated information. I understand that I must provide sufficient identifying information to adequately complete this investigation and acknowledge that this information will not affect any hiring or employment decisions.
Commission Statements & Payment
All Critter Caretakers' workers are Independent Contractors and will receive a Form 1099-NEC postmarked no later than January 31 with a report of the previous year's earnings. This is only if you have earned $600 or more in that year. In April of each year, Critter Caretakers Pet Services will include all 1099s in its reporting to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Commission statements are generated by Critter Caretakers through the Time to Pet online management system. Each Contractor can view / check these throughout the month, with the final statement being ready to view on the last day of each month. Critter Caretakers submits the amount due to Wells Fargo Direct Pay Service by 3pm on the 1st of each month. Contractors are paid on the up to 3 business days later as this is the time it takes the bank to process. and the last day of each month via direct deposit
Taxes are not taken out of the the commission statements that Contractors receive from Critter Caretakers; Contractors are HIGHLY encouraged to set aside between 25% and 30% of all of earnings for taxes in a separate account. Contractors are responsible for their own accounting and tax filing. Contractors are also responsible for paying for their own car, gas, and supplies, and are encouraged to track mileage and other business-related expenses to calculate tax deductions.
Critter Caretakers pays all contractors the rates shown on the IC Compensation Schedules which is sent to them during the interview process and is available to view / download in the Docs section of their Time To Pet profile.
General Independent Contractor Expectations
This guidance is to ensure the standard of care a client receives is consistent across all sitters / territories. It is there to protect the client and ensure they are delighted with a high level of service which benefits the client, you the sitter, us the business owners and most importantly all of the wonderful pets we get to look after whilst their owners are away.
If you have any questions or concerns about this then contact the Critter Caretakers Admin at your earliest opportunity.
Independent Contractors agree to do the following when delivering the Critter Caretakers Pet Sitting service:
- Read and respond to all messages from clients and admin (Tony, Liza providing such service) on receipt if possible, but in any case as soon as they can.
- In the event of anticipated or actual lateness for any service, alert Critter Caretakers Admin as soon as possible.
- Start all services through the Time to Pet app when services begin and stop all services through the Time to Pet app when services end. This must be done at the client’s home address on arrival and just before departure. It is your way to prove to clients and Critter Caretakers Admin that you completed the length of the visit as paid for by the client.
- Visits scheduled in a Time Slot or Window must both start in that slot and finish in that slot.
- Visits scheduled for a specific time must start 15 mins before or after this time, otherwise it could be considered as a missed service
- As Critter Caretakers can only pay ICs when Critter Caretakers gets paid by the client, any visit in which the reasonable expectations and / or reasonable requests of the client as shown in Time to Pet have not being provided (as expanded on below), such as
- not delivering the whole visit within requested time slot
- not staying for the full length of the scheduled visit
- not completing tasks as expected / requested by the client
- leaving and then returning to the client’s house during a schedule,
then partial or no payment may result. This is because Critter Caretakers offer a full money-back guarantee so if a client successfully requests a refund as service was not provided as reasonably expected then we cannot pay you. This will not include unavoidable situations such as heavier than usual traffic, adverse weather conditions or dealing with a prior emergency in another client’s home. Ultimately this will be down to the discretion of Critter Caretakers Admin
- Once the schedule has been agreed with the client, any changes the sitter may want must be directed towards Critter Caretakers Admin who will approach the client on your behalf
- Fill out and submit a report card through Time to Pet upon service completion, including a write-up, minimum of two photos, and answers to prompted questions (check as many relevant boxes as possible).
- For services in a client’s home, especially in relation to Sleepovers and Live-Ins:
- Treat a client's home and property with care and respect
- Behave in a professional manner at all times
- More and more clients are installing cameras in their homes so assume they could have them even if they haven't declared them.
- Do not allow anyone else onto the client’s property
- Follow all guidance left by the client in Time to Pet, including home entry and security, and animal feeding, medications, and containment.
- Send clients a brief text to tell them that service has started
- Allow the clients pets the opportunity to pee and/or poop before containing them in a home
- Absolutely refrain from punishment and negative reinforcement conditioning.
- Notify both the client and the Critter Caretakers Admin if an animal appears sick or injured in any way, or if there has been a notable behavior change.
- Absolutely refrain from alcohol, drug use, and cigarette smoking while in the presence of clients and client pets. Be completely sober from drugs and alcohol while in the presence of clients and client pets.
Pet Sitting Expectations
Independent Contractors agree to do the following when delivering the Critter Caretakers Pet Sitting service:
- Follow all INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR EXPECTATIONS
- For Daytime care, be with the pet(s) for the hours scheduled in Time to Pet.
- For Overnight care, be with the pet(s) from 7pm to 7am unless specific alternate arrangements have been made with both the client and Critter Caretakers Admin
- For 15hr Live-Ins, be with the pet(s) from 630pm thru 730am, then complete a 2hr Standard Visit during the MIDDAY Slot (start and end visit between 11am and 2pm)
- For 20hr Live-Ins, be with the pet(s) 18 out of 24 hours. The default setup is 6pm thru 8am, then 10am thru 4pm unless specific alternate arrangements have been made with both the client and Critter Caretakers Admin.In any case no longer than 4 hours of continuous absence.
- For 24hr Live-Ins, be with the pet for 24hrs unless specific alternate arrangements have been made with both the client and Critter Caretakers Admin
- Do not invite or allow any other people in to a client's home, including family, friends or children. The insured Critter Caretakers Independent Contractor is the only person allowed in a client's home and on a client's property. Failure to abide by this restriction may result in immediate termination of contract.
- Walk client dogs for a minimum of twenty minutes every evening and every morning of service. Clients may request that their dog is not walked, in which case backyard or in-the-home play may be substituted. Extreme heat may also prevent dogs from being walked.
- When walking client dogs, consider the following supplies: bags for waste disposal, a leash for every dog, collar identification for every dog, a charged cell phone, citronella spray such as SprayShield, a small first aid kit, and fresh water when water is not readily available.
- Manage undesirable behavior for all animals (resource guarding, leash reactivity, mouthiness, bullying, mounting, etc).
- Absolutely refrain from positive punishment and negative reinforcement operant conditioning for any animal. This includes verbal corrections (“No!” etc), yelling, making loud noises, shaking cans, spraying dogs with a squirt bottle, pinching, poking, pushing, hitting, jerking or popping the leash, rolling dogs onto their backs, physically manipulating a dog into any position, and using electronic, pinch, or choke collars.
- Dispose of all animal waste in the proper receptacle.
- In the event of animal vomit, urine, or feces in the home, thoroughly clean the area and notify the client and the Critter Caretakers Admin of the event.
- Notify both the client and the Critter Caretakers Admin if any items in the home break, or if anything in the home appears to need repair.
- If sitter is sharing a schedule with another sitter, make good use of the ‘Sitter Handover / Notes’ field in Time to Pet
- Do not consume any of the client's food or beverages, with the exception of cooking oils, spices, and condiments.
- On the last day of overnight, Live-In or extended visit only schedule:
- leave the home as clean or (preferably) cleaner than when you arrived
- start (and preferably finish and fold) a load of laundry with any used sheets, pillowcases, and towels
- neatly fold any used blankets
- remake the guest bed if time allows
- wash all used dishes, dry, and put away
- wipe down all kitchen and bathroom counters
- remove any shed hair in the bathroom shower or on the bathroom counters/floor
- sweep/vacuum/mop floors and rugs if necessary
- put all furniture and home supplies in the exact location they were in when you first arrived (taking photos on arrival can help with this)
- take out the trash
- do a final and thorough sweep of every room to ensure you have not left anything behind, and that all messes have been thoroughly cleaned
Onboarding Consultation Expectations
Critter Caretakers Independent Contractors will receive notification of an offer of a new client via Time to Pet messenger. If the Independent Contractor feels that their schedule and capacity aligns the needs of the client based on the information provided, Contractors agree to do the following:
- Follow all General Independent Contractor Expectations
- You will be assigned to the client’s Time to Pet profile for info only. No schedule has been confirmed at this stage, only an indication of what the schedule may be. This schedule is subject to change by the client, and subject to change and approval by the Independent Contractor.
- Schedule the Onboarding Consultation at an appropriate location via Time to Pet or via email. This location will be determined and at the sole discretion of the Independent Contractor. It may include locations such as the client’s home, the local area where the dog will be walked if accepted as a client by the Independent Contractor, the location of the feral cats to be fed etc etc.
- Notify Critter Caretakers Admin of the date, time, and location of the Onboarding Consultation
- Read the new client’s pet profile information in Time to Pet before arrival.
- Let the client know what to expect from the Onboarding Consultation: the purpose of the Onboarding Consultation, the 30-minute timeframe, and a discussion of the future services including the time & length of the visits, and the expectations the client has of the sitter.
- Review and discuss the client’s pet profile information in Time to Pet with the client.
- Assess the client’s expectations for the service you will provide.
- Assess the dog’s temperament and behavioral characteristics.
- Understand any medical needs and be confident you can administer such medication. Have a back-up plan should you not be able to administer the medication for any reason..
- Work together with the client to establish the schedule of one-off or continued services, including a general discussion of potential services needed to achieve this. For example, would the client’s pets be better served by having a Live-In schedule rather than just pop-in visits? Do they have access to a doggy door, if not maybe an extra mid-day visit is required? Consider the age of the pets. Consider the use of crates and access to food and water
- Check collected keys (ideally 2) work in all locks, even if said to be often used or brand new. If codes are given for electronic entry then these should also be tested. Ideally still get a key in case of battery / electronic failures. Understand alarm systems thoroughly and ensure directions are clear to understand..
- Fill out a brief report card through Time to Pet upon departure including a detailed and customized schedule / plan if changes have been made to their initial request.
- Ask the client if they would like to continue with Critter Caretakers, and if they would consider any other services offered by Critter Caretakers and Independent Contractors
- Send a message to Critter Caretakers Admin with an update of the Onboarding Consultation and any changes to the schedule or initial entries which need to be highlighted.
- Following the Onboarding Consultation, the Independent Contractor will confirm that they are happy to serve the client at the location and time agreed upon between them during the Onboarding Consultation
New Client Requests
When Critter Caretakers receive a New Client Request, Critter Caretakers will notify a Contractor to assess interest and availability. Contractors are under no obligation to accept a new client; accepting or denying a client is at the complete discretion of the Contractor. Each New Client Request will contain basic intake information which will be sent to the Independent Contractor through Time to Pet, with the following text:
NEW CLIENT REQUEST: (NAME)
Here's a potential new client for you! Please look over your schedule and then reply to this message with a "yes" or a "no" as soon as possible. If you do not accept this client on the same day it was offered please check to make sure that they are still available, as they may have been passed along to another sitter.
- please contact the client as soon as possible through Time to Pet and confirm the time and location of your Onboarding Consultation
- you will have temporary access to this prospect’s Time to Pet profile to facilitate this communication
- You will only be assigned and committed to this prospect following your Onboarding Consultation after which you confirm the schedule, location and specific requests have been agreed directly between yourself and the prospect.
- As an independent contractor you have access to amend prospect’s Time to Pet profile at any time
IF NO OR PARTIAL...
- Please let the Critter Caretakers Admin team know so we can better cater clients for you according to your preferences. If you can take some of the schedule we may be able to find another sitter to complete the remaining visits.
Secondary Sitter Needed Requests
The above template will also be used for schedules in which an additional Independent Contractor is needed to 'fill in the gaps' of a new schedule for which another sitter cannot complete on their own. This will all be mentioned in the Notes section and will require the Independent Contractor to follow the same steps for confirming the details etc and organizing their own Onboarding Consultation.
Existing Client Requests
EXISTING CLIENT REQUEST: (NAME)
Here's a potential new schedule for you! Please look over your schedule and then reply to this message with a "yes" or a "no" as soon as possible. If you do not accept this client on the same day it was offered, please check to make sure that they are still available, as they may have been passed along to another sitter.
- please contact the client as soon as possible through Time to Pet and confirm the time and location of the schedule
IF NO OR PARTIAL...
- Please let the Critter Caretakers Admin team know so we can better cater clients for you according to your preferences. If you can take some of the schedule we may be able to find another sitter to complete the remaining visits.
New client prospects become the responsibility of the contractor from the moment a contractor accepts them until the time comes to onboard them as official clients. Here's why!
- If the admin team has to manage these initial steps for the contractor, it means that we are not spending time and mental energy on other important tasks, such as procuring new clients, nurturing current clients, and growing and improving the business as a whole.
- The service industry moves very quickly. Our professionalism (which we have in spades!) goes a very long way toward securing new clients, but timeliness is also incredibly important. Like it or not, the advent of email and cell phones have put communication into hyper-drive.
- Contacting clients quickly not only lets them know that we are punctual and reliable, it also may very well land you the work. For every new client request you receive, assume that the client has also filled out similar forms on at least one or two other company's websites.
- The more time the admin team has to market and grow this business, the more pets we get to meet and fuss over, and the more money goes in all y'alls pockets! Help us help you!
Independent Contractors manage their own schedules based on the client's needs and their own needs. If an Independent Contractor is unable to make a new client's schedule work with their own, they must make it clear to the client that Critter Caretakers has other Independent Contractors who may have openings more in line with the client's needs, and notify the Critter Caretakers admin team that the new client should be reassigned.
System Calendar Management
Because all client invoicing and communication is done through the Time to Pet system, the Critter Caretakers calendar must reflect the calendar of each Independent Contractor. At present, the Critter Caretakers admin team is the only one who can enter/change scheduling information on the Time to Pet calendar. It is therefore paramount that Independent Contractors maintain clear communication with the admin team about schedules, schedule changes, reschedules, and cancellations.
All Independent Contractors will receive an emailed daily schedule on days when services are scheduled, and can also view their calendar for the next twelve months on the Time to Pet System.
Third Party Calendar Integration
Third Party calendar integration (Google, Outlook, etc) is available to Independent Contractors under the "My Schedule" tab, but Independent Contractors are encouraged to regularly verify proper integration by regularly cross-referencing with the Time to Pet calendar.
Time to Pet
Critter Caretakers uses an online management system called TIME TO PET for scheduling, invoicing, and client communication. Critter Caretakers' Independent Contractors agree to engage with Time to Pet in the following ways:
Contractors have control of Time to Pet email notifications through the Time to Pet website (under "Notifications" in the Contractors' user profile), which enables them control of alerts for such things as a client leaving a message in the conversation feed or a client changing profile information.
Contractors will always receive a daily schedule report on days with scheduled events. Third Party calendar integration (Google, Outlook, etc) is also available to Contractors under the "My Schedule" tab.
Client's Keys - Labeling & Storage
The safety and security of client's keys is of the upmost importance. Should you believe that you have lost a key then you must inform the Critter Caretakers Admin immediately, and they will liaise with the client
All keys are to have a fob added to them as soon as possible. Best practice would be to have 2 key fobs ready and take these to the client as part of the Onboarding Consultation.
One side of the fob should have the pet names, the other side shall have a code. The code is made up of a letter, three or four numbers, then another letter. The first and last letters are the initials of the client's first and last names. The middle numbers are issued by Critter Caretaker Admin and increase sequentially across the business. On request you will receive the next available number. So for, example a client with the name Scooby Doo, with the next available number being 246 would have the code S246D on one side of the fob, and Scrappy on the other.
This ensures that if the keys are lost or stolen, there are not easily identifiable names or address on the fob.
Clients should have 2 keys ready for the Independent Contractor in time for the Onboarding Consultation. Both shall have a fob added and both keys kept separated. They should not be kept on the one fob in case they are then both lost together.
It is suggested that all keys are attached to the Independent Contractors car keys when they are taken outside the home. This could be on a cabana so they are easy to add and remove but still firmly attached.
All keys should be held securely in a locked case in a locked drawer. The second key is generally for emergencies or the Secondary sitter. The second key can be sent to Critter Caretakers Admin or handed to them in person.
Any reasonable costs associated with lost keys can be taken from the Independent Contractor's pay.
Keys should then be listed against the clients profile in Time to Pet. Adding a key can be done through the client portal. This list should be kept up to date as keys are collected or handed over.
Independent Contractors are to. ensure the following:
- obtain 2 keys from the client's during Onboarding Consultation
- if keys are needed from the office or another Contractor, this is to be organized by the Contractor who needs them
- ensure they have the keys needed for the week ahead
- ensure the day before a visit that the needed key are available to them
IC Safety & Emergencies
The safety of Critter Caretakers Independent Contractors is paramount. Independent Contractors are asked to keep the following things in mind when engaging in work for Critter Caretakers:
When out walking pets, carry a charged cell phone, water, layers for cold/rain, sunscreen for sunny days, and a small first aid kit.
Be sure to always start and end services properly through Time to Pet at each pick-up and drop-off so that the Critter Caretakers Admin has a timestamped GPS pin of your location in the event of emergency.
If you are going to be anywhere away from the home address, be sure to let Critter Caretakers admin know of your intended destination so that you can be found in the event of an emergency.
Consider carrying a car safety kit with jumper cables, flares or reflective markers, a cell phone charger, chains, a flashlight, an emergency whistle, a large first aid kit, and spare water.
Do not ever hesitate to leave a situation that feels unsafe when interacting with a client and/or in a client's home.
Do not engage in arguments with any person you meet while on the trail. Work to de-escalate all conflicts and leave the area as quickly as possible.
Do not use your cell phone for texting or emailing while you are driving unless you have voice-activated controls.
At minimum, an unrestrained dog is a significant distraction while driving. In the event of a serious accident, an unrestrained dog becomes a deadly projectile. Develop a safe restraint system for all dogs in your car, not just for their safety, but for yours. To learn more about dog restraint in cars, please read the following three links: Best Dog Harnesses for Car Travel: Crash-Tested & Safety Certified (K9 of Mine); We Need to Talk About Keeping Dogs Safe in Cars (Outside Magazine); Center for Pet Safety Certified Products. If you do not have a safe restraint system in your car, you may not take dogs out with Critter Caretakers Pet Services.
IN THE EVENT OF ANIMAL INJURY OR EMERGENCY
Administer basic first aid to stabilize the animal. Remember that the sole purpose of first aid is to address any problems that threaten the animal's health while in transit to a professional. Do not attempt to "fix" anything.
Call the client. If the animal is stabilized, call the client's cell phone, tell them what happened, and let them know you would like to seek medical care. If there is an issue that can be resolved by the animal's own vet, a client may prefer this option, as they already have a relationship with their own vet, and the care will likely be significantly less costly. Allow the client to call the shots, if there is time to do so.
Seek professional care. All vet information is stored in the animal's Time to Pet profile. Phone numbers and addresses of area emergency animal hospitals are below. Whether taking the animal to their own vet or to an emergency care facility, be sure to CALL AHEAD to make sure they are ready for your arrival.
Call/text the Critter Caretakers Admin. They can help with phone calls to vets and/or clients, and can help you follow all emergency procedures.
Do not discuss finances or insurance with clients. Please leave all financial discussions for the Critter Caretakers Admin. When speaking with the client, only discuss the immediate needs of the animal and a client's preference for care. If the client wishes to discuss money, ask them to contact Critter Caretakers Admin directly
As an Independent Contractor, you are not an employee of Critter Caretakers Pet Services. And, while the pets in your care and the property you visit are covered under your General Liability Insurance, your personal health and potential lost earnings are not covered, even if an incident occurs while you are working.
While the choice of insurance rests with each individual contractor, Critter Caretakers strongly recommends insuring your health and/or lost wages through one of the options below, and bears no financial responsibility for an Independent Contractor who opts to forego insurance.
There are four main options for protecting your health and/or income as an independent contractor. These options include health insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, disability insurance, and supplemental insurance. Each of these, or even a combination of these, will help protect you from financial burden if you are injured and cannot work.
Having adequate health insurance is one of the most important steps in making sure you are covered in the event of an injury or illness. Health insurance is readily available online. Although health insurance will not replace lost income, it will help ensure that you receive the medical attention you need. The cost of health insurance varies by the level of coverage you choose and the deductible amount.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance provides medical treatment and income replacement for workers who are injured or suffer an occupational disease as a result of their work. As an Independent Contractor, you must elect to cover yourself on your own Workers Compensation Policy to receive coverage benefits. Workers Compensation is an underwritten product. Each Independent Contractor must qualify for coverage based on many factors, such as the types of animals you work with, length of time in 'occupation', claims history, credit, etc.
As an Independent Contractor, you do NOT have workers’ compensation under Critter Caretakers.
Please note that individuals who have not yet formed an LLC are still considered their own “business,” and can have a workers’ compensation policy written for them under their social security number (instead of their EIN).
For income replacement, disability insurance is a great option. Disability Insurance is purchased for either partial income replacement or full income replacement for a specified period of time. There are two key components of a Disability Insurance Policy: the waiting period and the length of coverage. The waiting period is the length of time that you are unable to work due to disability before the benefits kick in, and is considered a deductible. Common waiting periods include 30, 90, and 180 days. The most common length of coverage that income is replaced is either 5 years, 10 years, or until age 65. Whichever you choose, most providers will require that you seek meaningful employment after 2 years for any occupation that you are qualified for.
There are many supplement insurance products on the market that cover various ailments. A common coverage is Accident Insurance. With this type of plan, you will receive a specific payment for a covered accident (i.e. if you break an arm you will receive $X). Although these plans are relatively affordable, you will only receive payments for specific injuries that are outlined in the policy and those payments may not be enough to replace income or cover actual medical costs.
Please note that Independent Contractors are not eligible for unemployment benefits. In the event of the termination of the Independent Contractor contract, initiated by either party, an Independent Contractor may not claim unemployment benefits through the State of Arizona.
Independent Contractors pay self-employment taxes, and must set aside 25-33% of all earnings for quarterly or yearly taxes. Independent Contractors can also deduct all business-related expenses on a Schedule C, and are highly encouraged to save receipts, track expenses, and track mileage.
Using a CPA or LTC to file taxes and manage finances correctly is also encouraged. Why not consider using the some accountant as Critter Caretakers, Trudy comes highly recommended:
Trudy T Hetzel
Trudy's Taxes & Bookkeeping LLC
Kindly mention that Critter Caretakers referred you!
Forming An LLC
Barkingham Palace Pet Services LLC (Limited Liability Company), Doing Business As (DBA) Critter Caretakers Pet Services. Barkingham Palace Pet Services LLC is a legal business entity in the State of Arizona, with full-coverage insurance and bonding. To see the Barkingham Palace Pet Services' credentials, click HERE.
It is highly advised for all contractors to operate under an LLC (limited liability company). If a contractor were to be sued for work completed under their LLC, only the business' assets would be liable, and not the contractor's personal assets.
Registering an LLC can be done online in about an hour's time, and costs $100/year. To see an official website highlight 10 Steps to Starting a Business in Arizona, click HERE.
Once a contractor has registered their LLC, they can then set up a business account at their bank. (Note: call ahead to make sure you are bringing the correct documentation to open a business account.)
As pet professionals, Independent Contractors with Critter Caretakers must be aware of best practices for greeting dogs and preventing dog bites. Much of the common “wisdom” for meeting new dogs — such as offering the dog your hand to sniff while leaning towards or over them — is in fact very unwise. Instead, when meeting a new dog in their home, set yourself up for success right away by using these tips:
- Find out in advance if the dog has food allergies, and bring appropriate treats.
It’s recommended to purchase a bag of high-value treats with a novel protein such as duck, fish, venison, or rabbit to avoid allergens.
- Text or call the clients rather than knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell.
Many dogs are agitated or stressed by a new person knocking at the front door. Let people know you’ve arrived by phone to increase the chance of a calmer dog and an easier first meeting.
- When sharing space with a new dog, stand at an angle to them and do not hold eye contact.
Directly facing or standing over a dog with eye contact can feel very threatening or scary to a fearful or reactive dog. Chatting with the client while tossing treats and otherwise ignoring the dog is recommended.
- Toss treats.
If a dog is motivated to approach by your treats, they may get closer to you, but feel very uncomfortable while doing so, which can increase stress and the potential of reactive behavior. Always toss treats to the dog’s general area. Do not ever deliver treats to an unknown dog’s mouth, or attempt to lure a dog closer with treats.
- Let dogs approach you when they are ready.
Do not put out a hand to the dog. Let the dog approach and sniff when they are ready.
- Pet responsibly.
Only pet a dog if they are showing overt signs that they would like physical contact, such as confidently approaching, gently nosing your hands, a slow and loosely wagging tail, soft eyes, and relaxed body posture. When you pet a dog, never pet them on the top of their head, as this can feel threatening and scary to a fearful or reactive dog. Start with your hand below the dog’s head and, if the dog is calm and happy, pet the side or underside of their head and neck (or their side or rear end, if that is what is offered by the dog).
- Give breaks to ask for consent.
Sometimes dogs are done interacting with us before we stop petting them, so it’s a good idea to do consent testing with dogs to make sure everyone is on the same page. Not only does this help prevent bite incidents before they happen, it can also lead to a better relationship between you and the dog. Here is a video of what consent testing looks like. Also consider giving breaks in treat-tossing to take the pressure off of the dog who may not want to interact.
- Don’t linger in the entryway.
Once a dog is comfortable with your presence, suggest that the clients lead the way to the family room or fenced back yard.
Dog Body Language and Stress Levels
It’s essential to be familiar with body language that might indicate a dog is feeling stressed or anxious. iSpeakDog has a picture gallery to help you become more comfortable identifying body language. Lili Chin’s book Doggie Language is also a useful guide.
Be a Tree
If you meet a new dog and they show you significant signs of stress or reactivity like growling, barking, or lunging, “be a tree” by turning slightly away, averting eye contact, lowering your head, and bringing your arms to your side.
Unless you are a trainer with experience in animal aggression, you should then request that the owner remove the dog from the room. Many dog parents feel embarrassed when their dog displays reactive behavior, and may try to scold their dog while attempting to manage them. Try to limit these attempts by saying “Your dog is being a really great communicator by letting us know they do not feel safe. That’s great! Let’s give them some space so that they don’t feel threatened.”
Contractors are also recommended to carry PetSafe’s Spray Shield, a citronella-based animal deterrent that serves as a safe interruptor of extreme behaviors. This would only be used as a last resort, however.
Critter Caretakers always prioritizes the health and wellbeing of its contractors. If you ever feel unsafe in a situation, follow your gut and do not hesitate to extract yourself from the situation in a safe way. We can always deal with human communication later; of most pressing concern is your safety in the moment, even if that creates an awkward situation.
For a great or a visual example of the dos and don’ts of greeting a dog, please also check out this video from Instinct Dog Behavior.
Home Check Checklist
For client's who book our House Sitting Service, this is the standard check list we follow. This can be added to if needed:
HOME CHECK CHECK-LIST
- Look at your house from a distance to check the general appearance
- Walk around the outside checking for potential damage to walls, windows and roof (from ground level only) & any general storm damage / signs of vandalism / trespassing / forced entry
- Visual inspection of air conditioning unit for signs of damage
- Check front and back yards for distressed plants and weeds, and any bugs or critters who shouldn’t be there!
- Check that your irrigation timer has power running to it and check for any obvious irrigation issues including leaks and damage by rabbits
- Take in any mail / newspapers from driveway / doorway / mailbox
- Check that pool/spa is being maintained inc general appearance & debris
- Ensure that all external lights including landscape lighting and exterior lights are working correctly where possible
- Any other requests made at time of your Free Meet & Greet consult
- Look at general appearance on entry
- Run dishwasher & washing machine
- Run all faucets and waste disposal units
- Flush all toilets & top-up water evaporation buckets
- Check for any more bugs or critters who shouldn’t be there!
- Ensure temp of refrigerator & freezer are within acceptable range
- Visually check your water heater & softener for obvious damage and leaks
- Alter thermostat to ensure your AC unit is running correctly
- Check air filters and change on agreed schedule
- Start your car and golf cart to run engine and keep battery charged
- Check all doors and windows to ensure all are locked and secure
- Any other requests made at time of consult regarding the interior of your property