So I'm a plannermcplannerson, and a thinkermcthinkerson, too. I am about to start my business in pet sitting and dog walking. My bonding & insurance take effect Nov 20, my cards came in the mail today, I have references, I have leads, I'm enrolling in EI, I'm enjoying my very last long weekend for the forseeable future, etc haha.
And, I want to have a baby in the next few years. Being able to bond with baby for as much as I can get with EI is very important to me, but I may need to strike a balance between bonding time with baby and having to do as much work as EI allows as well as accomodating the needs of my regular long term clients as much as I can, so while I may not pursue new clients for some time, I want to remain available to my regulars.
Logistics of operating a pet sitting and dog walking business with a baby in tow aside (I can think of so many off the top of my head, but I want to focus on the client experience in this post), how would you feel about hiring a pet sitter/dog walker who did her business with her child with her? Say, 3mos-1.5yrs, or something like that. What concerns or reservations, if any, would you have towards it? Would you consider it unprofessional?
Thanks ladies :)
I'd be worried about it from a legal standpoint. I assume that a dog walker knows how to behave around dogs, but a baby obviously doesn't. My dog isn't very familiar with kids and he generally doesn't tolerate them well. I'd worry that he might nip or scratch or trip the dogwalker's kid and then I'd be liable for it.
Maybe I worry too much, but a lot of dogs in families without kids may have problems being around children.
@deucesarewild1: I think it depends on the situation. Is the baby preventing the dog sitter/walker from giving her full attention to my dog? Is my dog ok with children/infants? Some dogs can't be trusted around kids and others don't like them. Am I going to end up with a dirty diaper in my trash can because you had to change your child's diaper while you were at my place?
Personally, my dog is fine with kids. So as long as I couldn't tell a child was at my place (like a diaper in my trash can), I wouldn't care.
I personally wouldn't hire due to you do not know how said pet would handle being around a baby especially if said pet hasn't been around babies before.
Well, I own a dog walking business. So I know I am not really your intended audience. :-)
But I do know a gal who just had a baby, and she does her hikes with the baby in a baby bjorn.
I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it, because I don't like to have my attention split when I am with the dogs. I try to not even answer the phone. But I also hike my pack off leash, so I guess it depends on what you are doing. Neighborhood walks are a different story.
Also, keep in mind that not every dog is good with kids, so that might be a consideration to a potential client.
But if you are asking me as a dog parent? I would think that your first loyalty would be to your kid, and not my dog. And I'd probably hire someone who worked sans kids.
To be honest, I'd be more worried about my pet doing something unacceptable (biting, scratching, or worse) to your baby and you blaming me (as the owner of my dog) for it. Or if you're dog walking and the baby needs attention, then something happens to my dog, your full attention is elsewhere. If I had the choice between a dog walker/sitter that did not have a baby and one that did, I would chose the childless one just because its difficult to take care of a dog and a baby at the same time.
Thanks for the replies so far - would you switch to a new sitter/walker if you were otherwise happy with your current one but now she has a baby? I'd not be looking for new clients so much as just retaining my regs.
@Reeniero: TOTALLY my audience. Love to hear from those who have done the job too, since I don't know many here yet!
Yeah, I'd worry about liability issues. What if my dog bit your child? Also, as a dog owner I've encountered some sketchy situations such as running into dog owners who do not believe in leash laws.
I'm not sure you could handle a dog fight or ward one off if you were pushing a stroller or carrying an infant. I would just worry that you would have hard time handling the problems that are inherent in taking care of dogs.
@deucesarewild1: No I will not risk my dog's life if she should for some reason bite your kid.While that's too bad for your child, it could be death for my dog.
Honestly there are a LOT of dog sitters/walkers out there and none of the ones I know have hcildren in tow, so I would hire all of them before you.
Personally I would change sitters/walkers, because there are so many opportunities for the baby to affect how the job is done. Would the walker/sitter be as reliable as before? Would they do as good a job? Would they be too stressed to take good care of my dog? And then all the liability questions. I think having a baby, especially a first baby, can change so much in terms of personal priorities and concerns that I wouldnt want to possibly jeopardizing the health and happiness of my dog or someone's baby.
OP: I'm not being mean, but I would fire you if you wanted to take your baby while walking my dog. I really don't think it's too much to ask that you leave your baby at home while you're working. Most jobs are that way, it's just a sacrifice that everyone makes.
@VAwife: I only ask cause I have seen a few in the last couple months and went "hmmm I wonder"... that is why I'm asking so no worries!
How would cat owners feel? Any different?
Ok, well, I've been doing this for about six years. I think it really depends on the client and your relationship with them. After all these years, some of my clients are very friendly (asking about the wedding, offering advice and help, get me Xmas and bday gifts), and some of them treat me like the maid. Or the gardner. Or the paper delivery boy.
Some of my clients are very wealthy, so they are used to having "staff".
It's all going to depend on the relationship. It's really everything in a service job like ours. Keep the relationship good, be flawless in your approach, and they may not leave. Once they trust you, you can't break that trust.
@Reeniero: Thanks! I can see hiring someone who doesn't have a kid over one that does, that's pretty easy to guess. But I do wonder about some clients. I have 4 clients that I've had for years when I "dabbled" in pet sitting while I went to school or for extra cash. Always professional about it but never totally devoted, til now. After so long they seem moreso like friends, exchanging Christmas cards and catching up with each other, one even sent me flowers after hearing about my miscarriage, my sending them flowers or something when their pet passed.
Thank you everyone for the input. It is good to know what I might expect.
@deucesarewild1: I'd be unhappy about it. Dogs can get excited and try to GOGOGO. Would you be able to reign in the excited pup while holding a baby? I wouldn't worry about my dog with your baby. He's fien with those. He is clumsy though, and I would want someone to fully be present and there SOLEY for my dog. That's what I'd be paying for.
I might keep you on anyhow, but I'd be much happier sans baby.
With cats? NO. Most of the cats I've had do NOT like creatures like babies. Loud, tail-grabbing, etc etc. Not ever.
For dogs, I think it depends. If I knew someone well and I had a very, very chill dog (and a lot would depend on the dog's personality), I might consider it.
For cats, under any circumstances absolutely not. You can't control them the same way you can tell a dog sit and stay. I have a wonderful cat, but would feel very uncomfortable with her around a child.
Didn't read all the responses but -
I have a rottweiler.. so a large dog. Because of this, I wouldn't feel comfortable with you & baby because
1) Shes strong, and needs your attention. If a squirrel runs by and you're holding her leash & baby is on your back or something... you may get jerked and injured, then be unhappy with my dog about it. Or your baby may get hurt, something I would feel badly about regardless if you blame me or my dog. What if my dog takes off? A dogfight? Needs your full attention!
2) She might accidentally hurt your baby. Babys are unpredictable, and I don't know how my dog will react. Especially with her size and breed rep, I am worried my dog wlll hurt your baby and you will sue me
I also have a cat. Hes really chill, so I would let you "pet sit" him with a child. But I know some cats are more high-strung and that would be a no go
Also, I feel a little bad about saying I wouldnt use you because of a baby (sorry :( )
Just wanted to add that I love how responsible you are being, thinking ahead about this situation & baby. More planning ahead than most people, and I really respect that!
I would not want a stranger's baby around my dog without me there to supervise the dog. Sorry, it's just too risky.
Sorry but I wouldn't hire someone with a small child. It's not worth the risk to me.
I would not hire a dogwalker who brought their kid along. We have a lovely, sweet dog...but they are animals, and I never trust them 100% around kids. I also don't know how your child behaves around animals, so no, I wouldn't take the risk.
I would want my dog to be the sole focus, so I would choose a different pet sitter/dog walker.
My mom used to dog walk/pet sit, and I went with her quite a few times. Honestly, when the time comes, your established clientele will know how responsible you are, and it really shouldn't be a problem. New clients you will just need to be upfront with. Some might mind, but it's really a case by case basis. Personally, it probably wouldn't concern me until the child was able to walk. Babies can happily hang out their stroller during a walk. Toddlers and up can get a little crazy sometimes, so if I had a dog that was prone to nervousness, it might make a difference. As other bees have pointed out, liability is an issue, but you really seem to have it all together in terms of legalities and organization, so I feel you could include a provision for a baby on board when it's necessary.
Congratulations on your new business! :)
I didn't read all the responses, but no, I would not keep a dog sitter/walker that brought their child along. My dog doesn't know how to act around children and isn't really a fan of them anyway. And if my dog knocks over your kid, my dog could die or I could get sued. I also wouldn't be comfortable knowing that attention would be divided between the dog and the kid. As for walking, my boy is a "I'm really going to walk you" kind of dog, and if you're carrying a baby, that probably won't end well if he jerks or just takes off.
You cannot do that. A baby takes SO MUCH attention. I have worked with dogs my entire life and they take SO MUCH attention. I do not think it would be appropriate or okay to be doing both. If you are being paid to watch a dog, it deserves your undivided attention. Also, what if a dog reacted badly and attacked/ hurt the baby? Not worth it in my opinion.
I wouldn't hire a dog walker who brought a baby along. I can't risk trusting someone with my pets if they can't place their entire focus on the pet.
@I_Do_The_Dew: Yup, I was imagining bringing baby along when they're small and in a sling against my chest, definitely not when they're walking around and grabby haha, and if I do dog walks at all it would be group off-leash walks. I would defo seek legal counsel too regarding liability, work it into my own insurance somehow perhaps. My clients have always been 80% cats as well.
Ideally by then I could hire people to do the waking/sitting for me, but realistically I know that people get sick, cars break down, and as a business owner it all comes down on you, but I'm not going to decide not to pursue a business because I might have kids one day :) The brutal part is that childcare costs more than I would make, but if I have employees and only need to use drop-in care for a few hours at a time to cover for a sick employee/contractor, it might be alright.
It will be interesting to see how I manage or don't manage to juggle this in the future!
@mrsmjm: exactly, my dog is the most chilled,laid back creature,ever. But I dont and never would trust her 100% with children. Its impossible to predict an animals behaviour, no matter how well you know them,because there are so many different factors that could affect them.
So no,I wouldnt allow it, there are just too many risky factors.
I'd wonder if my dog was getting a shorter walk or not as much attention because you would need to take care of the baby. I'd want to know that you planned to cut back on the number of dogs you walk at one time while you were also carrying the kid. But if you had been regularly walking and I liked you a lot, I'd probably see how it went rather than assuming it would go badly. It probably helps the type of dog I want to get is a people-friendly one (Shelty).
If 80% of your business is cats, how will you handle changing liter boxes? I assume you know you can't do that when you are pregant, or you have to take precautions.
Our dog is not baby/kids under 5 friendly so I would look for a new walker for the safety of the baby.
Another thing to consider if you're doing group walks, is what happens if the dogs get in a fight. Even the nicest dogs can get into a scuffle sometimes. Are you really going to be wrestling apart dogs with a baby on your chest? It just seems like an accident waiting to happen IMO.
@justelope: I've had blood titers run and have already contracted toxoplasmosis and therefore am positive for immunity so it isn't much of a concern. I did this when we were going try to get pregnant a year back and I was working at a vet clinic at the time so I did have to talk to the doctor about that and no one seemed concerned. I would wear gloves and wash my hands regardless though.
@Westwood: Good point. You have to step in aggressively in a dog fight and grab them apart sometimes- a baby in there could be a disaster!
When I ws an infant my parents used a babysitter with whom they had a good relationship, and she would babysit out of her apartment 2 floors down. She got an adult cat and didn't tell my parents. Both my parents are allergic to cats, so I could either be allergic too (I am, but they didn't know at the time) or at least harbor the fur/dander when I got home, so they would have not left me with the babysitter if they had known. I was 7 months old and, according to my parents/the sitter, sitting in a carrier on the kitchen counter of this lady's apartment asleep when the cat jumped on the counter, sniffed me, then slashed my face open. One of the slices was 3 mm away from my left eye.
Needless to say, the roles are reversed in this story, but I wouldn't ever trust a cat (or any other animal, for that matter) around a baby. Both from a mother point of view, or a pet owner's.
We recently got a lab and now spend every Saturday at the dog park. My biggest complaint is the mothers who bring their babies in with them. A dog jumps up and cound knock you down, knock the baby out of your arms, accidentally scratch the baby. Two dogs get into a scuffle, trying to separate them without getting injured yourself can be tricky. Having a baby strapped to you makes it more difficult. I really wouldn't care about the divided attention, but concern for the infant would make me think twice regardless of how responsible you are.
Our dog doesn't dislike kids but easily knocks them over. She can also get mouthy during playtime. If my dog bit, nipped, or- god forbid- killed a child, she would probably be put down by the state. I do not care about anyone else's children as much as I do my dog, so I will never put her around children. She's 50 lbs and has chew toys as big as infants.
Another issue- a lot of people in my local park let their dogs go off leash. I wouldn't let my dog sniff an unleashed, unsupervised terrier the other day, so my dog lunged. If there had been a stroller between me and a dog, that stroller would have gone down. If I was wearing a baby on me, front or back, it would have throw off my balance and I would have landed on it possibly. And what if dogs get into a fight?
I would not hire, nor continue to use the services of, a pet sitter or dog walker who brought their small child along. There is just too much risk involved.
If there came a situation where you had to chose your baby or my dog, you would choose your baby, and rightly so, (and as much as I love my dog, I would want you to). HOWEVER, the the fact is that if your child wasn't in the picture in the first place you wouldn't have to choose.
Plus, as many other posters have pointed out, there are so many other variables that, even with a child-friendly dog, could end up with your child getting hurt...it seems like you are putting your child at unnecessary risk of injury, and my dog at unnecessary risk of being quarantined, labeled as dangerous, or even being destroyed due to a freak accident.
Even just pet-sitting my cat...my cat (like many cats) has a tendency to get underfoot. DH and I have tripped over her and/or stepped on her several times, but she still does it. It's especially bad when she's hungry. If you trip over her with a baby strapped to you, and you or the baby get hurt, am I going to get sued? Not a risk I would be willing to take.
What if your baby needs to be changed or fed while at my place and you take it out of the carrier to do so, and my cat scratches your baby? If my cat scratches MY baby, it's my fault. If my cat scratches YOUR baby, what happens?
There are jobs that are safe to bring your child to. I don't consider this to be one of them.
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