As professional pet sitters and dog walkers, you’re likely well versed in dealing with anxious or aggressive pets. Similarly, you’re aware of how to avoid injury, such as a dog bite.

However, given you spend a lot of your time caring for others — human clients, as well as your four-legged friends — it’s important to also take care of yourself.

Practicing self-care helps you to better cope with stressful situations and challenging events. Yet, it also assists you to take better care of others. How?

Self-care requires you to look inwards and focus on your own needs. You shouldn’t feel guilty for doing this, as it can help you to more effectively meet the needs of others.

6 self-care tips for pet sitters and dog walkers

Of course, self-care is important for everyone. Nonetheless, the pet industry can be both stressful and demanding for many different reasons. While these self-care tips are aimed at pet sitters and dog walkers, they can be equally applicable to vets and animal rescue workers.

1. Recognise your self worth

Sure, self-care is all about maintaining a good relationship with yourself. But, sometimes, this can be easier said than done. It’s important to maintain a sense of self-worth, as this can keep up your confidence and self-esteem levels.

When we lack self-esteem, we start to feel worthless and this can be damaging to our mental health. When you start to feel useless, you find you can’t give your best; no matter how hard you try. It becomes a vicious cycle.

So, how do you recognise your self-worth?

Start by accepting positive compliments. Stop criticising yourself and instead be a little more forgiving. No one is perfect after all!

If you feel you lack certain skills, don’t beat yourself up for this. Instead, look into training or ways to gain or develop those abilities.

2. Take time to assess

Regularly ‘checking in’ with yourself is an important part of self-care. As pet sitters and dog walkers, you can be super busy and may find yourself constantly thinking about other people and pets.

It’s essential to take the time to assess how you’re feeling – mentally and physically. If you do ever feel really down or you experience symptoms such as lethargy, restlessness or sadness try taking the Beyond Blue K10 checklist.

This is a really simple but effective way to check in with yourself and, if needed, seek support.

3. Create a good work-life balance

Having a happy work-life balance is essential to your wellbeing. After all, all work and no play make for a very dull life!

If you feel you’re working too many hours, look at ways to pull back. Maybe it’s just a matter of introducing a few extra social activities into your week. Here are a few tips for creating a healthier work-life balance.

  • Make sure you set aside time for yourself to relax
  • Set your work hours and try to stick to them
  • Plot some time for exercise
  • Don’t be afraid to say no to clients

4. Learn how to say no

It’s really important to accept the fact that you do not have to say yes to every client. Plus, when clients ask you to go over and above, again, it’s okay to say no.

Of course, having a good sense of self-worth and knowing your limitations can really help when it comes to turning down clients.

Maintaining a work schedule and keeping it handy can be useful. This way you won’t be caught off guard when a client asks for something last minute. You can simply look at your schedule and say, “Sorry, I’m fully booked”.

5. Minimise stress

Stress is bad— for your internal health, for your skin and for your mental health. So, it’s essential to know how to keep stress at bay.

There are many strategies to reduce stress. The trick is finding the techniques that work for you. Common ways to kick stress to the curb include:

  • Relaxation techniques, such as Tai Chi and yoga
  • Spending time in nature
  • Mindfulness, such as meditation, visualization or breathing techniques
  • Exercise

6. Make time for the things you love

Setting aside time to enjoy the things you love is a great way to support self-care, reduce stress and enjoy a better work-life balance.

Yes, no doubt you love the animals you sit or walk, but even when you enjoy your job, you need time for yourself.

Indeed, pet sitters and dog walkers can work unsociable hours, such as early mornings and on weekends. Making time to do the things you love will help you feel you’re not missing out.

Essentially, self-care is about taking care of yourself inside and out, so you can stay mentally and physically well. Self-care doesn’t even have to cost anything; just do the things you love.

Remind yourself, if you don’t take good care of yourself, you won’t be able to successfully run your pet sitting business or your dog walking clients.

What do you do to practice good self-care?

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Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

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Liz has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure for the past 12 years, and is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, and those who work to promote a better life for all animals.

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