Our Hired Pet Sitter Brought Frineds in to Our House

Updated on May 08, 2013
D.E. asks from Tampa, FL
33 answers

I am not sure if we are over reacting, but I am pretty miffed and would like some feed back....
We moved into a new house and new area hours away from family last year. We have traveled back to our hometown quite a bit, and have had some vacations planned. So this posed an issue having two dogs and not knowing anyone close who could let them out and feed them. It just so happened that a girl in the neighborhood was looking to "pet sit' for people in the neighborhood. We had already met her and the parents before finding this out, so it seemed pretty convenient. She is 13.
She has watched the dogs for us a few times and there was neveany problems other then minor things like throwing rubber balls in thouse marking up the walls and feeding them half a box of treats in a two day period.
This last time we went out of town for three nights she watched them again. We always ask way in advance and let her know not to feel obligated if she'd rather not. And yes we pay her, and we always pay her more then she charges. Anyways, after getting back a few days later a neighbor behind us mentions he noticed we must have been out of town because he saw a "bunch of teenagers" in our yard with the dogs. I though maybe he was confused, we had another dog sitter who came later that week when we did an overnight w/ my husband for work. So when I said that, he said "No, there were three young teenagers in your yard and on your deck" A couple days later the girl happened to come by to pet the dogs and she mentioned had taken friends into the house and ow one was afraid of dogs and was trying to jump on our counter to get away from them. I refrained from saying anything at the time because she is 13 and I feel like maybe this is an issue I should address w/ her paretns?
I am annoyed that there were kids in my home when we weren't home and we were never asked. I think it's disrespectful and out of line. I also feel like her parents should have told her not to bring kids in to our home with out asking. Had this girl who was jumping on our counters fell and gotten hurt, could we have been held liable?
We have a week long trip coming up, and we had discussed her watching the dogs but now I think I will have someone else do it. There have been other comments made where I hear her mom is coming over here which is fine, but also possibly her brother. I don't want a revovling door of people in my house when we're not home. I will definitely approach this w/ her mom but i don't want to cause any hard feelings or seem overly paranoid.
How would you feel and handle this situation?

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So What Happened?

I agree, I should have spelled it out clearly. I guess i was naive in assuming that she wouldn't bring other kids into my home without permission and while doing a task SHE is being paid for. i also was naive in assuming that her parents would find that to be ok. Personally if one of my children were being paid to dog sit, house sit whatever i would NEVER allow them to take their friends into someone else's home without asking. A matter of respect I guess that I hold where others don't. It never dawned on me that I'd have to ask her not to bring her friends over, or I would have made it clear.

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answers from Dallas on

I think I would clarify my expectations in writing about what the rules were for dog sitting including the "no friends rule" unless it is cleared with you in advance. I would also include information on what the dogs are to be fed, what lights are to be left on in the house, etc. I would not have a problem with her mother or brother accompanying her. I know when my kids were pet sitting, a parent or a sibling accompanied them at night.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

When you hired her did you tell her no friends allowed? A 13 year old is not going to know that it is wrong unless you told her no to begin with. I would not fire her her, but I would give a fianl warning in writing. If she does it again then she should be fired.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Time for a new sitter. I would have a conversation with her parents so they can address some of the concerns as well, and make it clear that at this time the employment door is closed.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from St. Louis on

Totally overreacting and your neighbor was totally exaggerating. A bunch of teenagers? Three is not a bunch it is a few, it is three, and they were throwing a ball for the dogs.

They were probably going to hang out and she had to check on the dogs so they went together.

Just tell her you would prefer no one come in the home and leave it at that. If then she has friends go with her to check on the dogs then you have a reason to get upset but for now she did nothing wrong.
Okay I get the answers you set the rules but you didn't set this as a rule. Your rules were about taking care of the dogs, if you want this to be a rule make it a rule going forward but don't punish her for not reading your mind.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

Well, since she mentioned the fact that she had had friends in the house to you it sounds as though she didn't understand that she was not allowed to have friends in the house. She wasn't trying to be sneaky or cover it up. It sounds like an honest mistake on her part. At thirteen it is important that you very clearly explain your expectations to her. If I was otherwise happy with her I would probably just tell her that she is not supposed to bring friends with her when she comes, then give her another chance. You could also mention it to her mom. If you are not comfortable having her so it then go ahead and hire someone else, but be sure to thoroughly outline your expectations, especially if it is a young teen. What might sound like common sense to an adult is not common sense for a thirteen year old.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I tend to think that kids that age just aren't aware that most adults would find having additional kids over while she's petsitting to be a no-no. What ground rules did you set for her when you hired her? She probably was just naive about it.

I don't think you need to tell her mom about it. I think you need to just tell her that in the future, if she'd like to pet sit for you, she must agree to not have any other kids in the house.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Yeah.. 13 is a little young to make any assumptions about them knowing rules. Spell it out for her.

1) While we are gone, no company is allowed over with you. Your mom or brother can come with you if you are uncomfortable for some reason (dark, stormy weather, etc), but no one else. Then follow up with an explanation, since she likely has no clue about anything beyond a 13 year olds' world: One, as a matter of privacy, I don't like strangers in my home, especially around my dogs; and two there are liability issues that you may not be old enough to understand, but if something were to happen to someone or they were to be bitten by one of the dogs--even accidentally while playing with them--there could be serious ramifications that you may not be aware of and not in control over (the other parents suing and demanding your dog be put down, etc).

2) Here is what the dogs should be fed: ____. Treats are okay, but that means only ___ much per day. Otherwise, it is bad for their health, just like if we were to eat an entire package of Oreos, instead of just 2, and the dogs can have digestive issues from it.

3) Only play with the balls outside. They mark up the walls when they bounce off, and there is always the potential for something to get knocked over and broken accidentally. If you want to play with the dogs inside or weather doesn't permit a lot of outside play, here is what you can do inside: ______ (and list them. For us, we let our pet sitter hide liver treats and tell our dog to go find it. She LOVES this game, and the treat is very small. Or you could suggest grooming them with a brush or something for indoors, or whatever).


Whatever expectations you have, spell them out. Our dog sitter is a teen neighbor, but an older teen -- 16. I still leave a printed out list of expectations and emergency information (dogs vet info, their phone number, her weight, age,---along with info to contact us if necessary. etc)

We allow our pet sitter to stick around and watch a movie or some TV or video games, if he wants, to allow our dog to have some time with someone in the house, not just the daily potty breaks and feedings and such. But he knows the swimming pool is off limits. He swims with our kids when we are home and it isn't a big deal. But without us here, he knows it is off limits. No one swims alone at our house.
He knows where the leash is to take her on walks, and where (and what) her favorite toys are (mostly the frisbee). Everything is left on the kitchen island for ease of finding it, along with her medication and dosage schedule. It is ALL in writing. Even though he has sat for us many times. We always have it in writing. And phone contact is always ok, too. He sends us pictures of her sometimes, too. :)

But a 13 year old? You are not crazy to not want her to be bringing friends over when she is dog sitting for you. But you need to spell it out for her.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

I would be upset at the girl for bringing friends over, but also at myself for not being clear.

I think that your naivety (per your own words) is in the fact that you trusted a 13 year old to act as an adult. It sounds as though you understand that you either need to be specific in what is acceptable, or find another option for you dogs' care.

As for her parents, there is a big possibility that they are unaware of the situation. I would not blame the parents in this unless they specifically allowed it. She might have been told by her parents to take care of the dogs on her walk home from school, before her parents are home. Or her parents might have wanted a friend to accompany her so she was not by herself walking over to your house later in the evening . . . and she took advantage of it. If you expected her parents to take responsibility, then you should just hire them.

I think I would give her one more shot, after all expectations are clearly laid out. If she felt that she had done something wrong in bringing others into your home, she would not have mentioned it casually to you, she would have tried to hide the truth by either lying or not bringing up unless specifically asked. I would also discuss the matter with her parents, but be clear that you did not set the rules outright.

Overall, I think that both the employee and the employer are equally responsible for the actions that took place.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

She went way beyond the boundaries for a hired pit sitter. As she is 13 and you are an adult, you should have addressed it when you talked to her.
You should set some rules unless you want 16 yr olds you don't know going through your house at some point.

Say, Sally, I like when you pet sit and I know you love my dogs and that makes me a satisfied customer. But I have some rules for when anyone pets sits and they go like this, from now on.

1. Only you are allowed in my house when I am not home.
2. This is how I want them fed and what I want them fed.
3. Playing with them happens outside. I'd appreciate not having kids in my yard while I am out of town.

You pay the kid, you make the rules. It makes you happy enough to hire her again. Everybody wins when the rules are clear. Nobody wins when there are no clear boundaries.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


Did you set rules with her BEFORE you left?

Last year I dog sat for very close friends of mine. My boys and I stayed over night at their home, with our dog. Even though we are friends, we set rules and boundaries prior to them leaving on the trip.

How would I handle it? I would ask her over, along with her mom, to discuss your rules and boundaries for taking care of the dogs. Make sure you tell her your rules and expectations. You are paying her. She needs guidance.

I would call your homeowners insurance and ask if you would have been held liable if she had been injured in your home (give them a HYPOTHETICAL example - "we have a party - a friend is afraid of dogs and jumped on our counter and fell off - injuring her arm. What would we be responsible for? What would our insurance cover?" you don't need to tell the insurance company anything - other than saying you want to ensure you know what is covered. It's OKAY to ask questions!!

I would make a list of rules, for example:

1. Dogs let out first thing in the AM.
2. No friends allowed with you.
3. No sharing of the house key.
4. Dogs to be walked two times per day.
5. Fresh water twice a day.
6. Food given in AM and PM (two scoops - or whatever you give)
7. Treats - given after walks.
8. Bed time walking - outside time.

If you have a doggie door - is it to be locked so that no critters get in at night (I don't know if you live in the "country" or in a large city.

State your concerns. If she doesn't like the rules, press on. No hard feelings.

If it still doesn't sit well with you? Especially for a week long trip? Hire someone who is older to come and house sit for you and take care of the dogs daily...one week is a long time for dogs! :)

Good luck!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

How do you know her parents were aware that she brought friends into your house? I agree with everyone else - it's up to YOU to spell out expectations. The fact that she was willing to tell you about the girl who jumped on your counters means she didn't know it was wrong, and she's probably not mature enough to handle this responsibility.

You have three examples of things she's done wrong - too many treats, throwing balls in the house, and bringing friends over. If you can't find someone else to watch your dogs, write down exactly what you expect of her and what she's not allowed to do. Or, better yet, find someone else!

PS. And yes - if the girl who jumped on the counters got hurt, you WOULD be liable. She's what's called a known trespasser - and in every state, you are responsible for their injuries.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

in this situation i'd be peeved too. however, things that adults take for granted are no biggie to a 13 year old, so now you know that you need to be more specific in your instructions.
she didn't try to hide it from you. she actually sounds like a good dog-sitter, which is a great thing to have available. i'd continue to use her, but be very clear and specific in your instructions as to what is or is not allowed.
somewhat off topic, but for me the revolving door is keeping competent teens! since we have horses, i need pet-sitters who can handle the mares (who are well-mannered but i won't have non-horse-people try to take care of them) as well as do the dog and cats, and water the gardens. i've had awesome luck with the 13-16 year old crowd, but just when i get a kid fully trained and reliable, they get their dang driver's license and/or discover boys, and i'm back to the drawing board!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Tell her that bringing other people to your house is unacceptable. The only exception would be bringing her parents if there was a situation she needed help with. NO GUESTS. It is not her house, and she is not being paid to entertain her friends there.

Thirteen is NOT too young to know better than to bring other people in to a house that isn't yours. My daughter babysat at thirteen, and when her boyfriend asked to come over while she was sitting, told him, "No. That's my JOB. You don't get to come hang out while I'm WORKING."

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

OMG! You are overreacting. Obviously, you didn't tell her not to bring people over. She can't read your mind. Set the rules and TELL her what they are!! If she doesn't agree to them, find a kennel for your dogs.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I'd give her another chance. Tell her the rules. She can't bring friends over bc that makes you uncomfortable and you do not want people you do not know in your house. Ask her mom to help her remember the rules. It's not that big of a deal. She's 13 and that is the perfect age to be a pet sitter...but she's still a kid and needs to be told rules.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I would not approach the mom at all. I would just use her for one day sitting. Making it VERY clear no one is to be in your home but her. I would hire someone older to do the week one. She is to young and maybe her mom did not know other kids were in your home.
I have a dog also and I do not let kids care for her. I have a professional dog sitter come or my dog goes to her home if its longer than a few days. My dog love this women. I feel safe leaving her with this women. And I know no one will be in my home but her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

First, I'd hire a professional sitter for the next time.

I do think you need to talk to this young woman directly. Let her know, very calmly, what it was that you found was unacceptable and why it was so bad. Explain that when someone performs this kind of service, that it's expected that whoever is hired is the only person coming in and out of one's house. Just as a babysitter shouldn't have friends over while she's babysitting, she should have thought things through, and that if her mom and brother were going to help her with the job, that should have been explained to you up front.

I would let the parents know that she did have friends over to your house, and that you have already spoken with her about it.

For what it's worth, when I was younger, I made mistakes too... I often preferred to have someone come to me directly and tell me than tell my mom and have her tell me. Somehow, that always made it worse. I do think her parents need to know that she is comfortable bringing friends in to other people's houses for so many reasons..but do talk to the girl in person. It will be better for her in the long run.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Time for a new and older sitter. Be sure to spell out your expectations and rules clearly at the beginning.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I would find a reputable boarding facility or hire a professional, licensed, bonded and insured. It's more expensive, but worth the peace of mind to me. If she or her parents asks just say you decided it was best since it was for a longer period of time. A week seems like a long time to me to leave a 13-year-old in charge of two dogs. I've even turned down neighbors who have offered to pet sit for me. I don't know the temperament or size of your dogs, but even the best of dogs can bite in certain situations and I would have that as a concern also.

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answers from Dallas on

That's why I hire a professional. On the rare occasion that my pet/house sitter has her grandchildren, she contacts me and makes sure its ok. This has gone on over 18 yrs. She knows I'm ok with her grandchildren but sh never assumed, she always asks.

I would not mention it to the mom. I would speak directly to the 13 yr old so there is no doubt that she knows and understands your expectations. I would only use her as a backup or for 1 day jobs from now own.

Lesson learned. Be very direct with your expectations! Don't assume anything.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I actually agree with you....... story - my DAD stayed at my house for a weekend to watch my dogs several years ago. He brought a girl (druggie) into my home without asking me, or even telling me. She stole alot of things from my home. He never admitted it, (but I had proof) .... my dad and I didn't talk for a year. Ever since then, when I go out of town, my dogs go to a doggie daycare resort. They love it. The extra money is worth my piece of mind.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

If you specifically said to her that no one else could go in th house, then for sure talk about it. If not, I would leave it alone. I realize that she did not have given permission, but she is 13 and told you openly so she clearly did not think it was an issue. Now if I went with my child to help them feed dogs etc,I would never think anything of my other children going in with me and the child who was pet sitting. I think that if you want her to do it again, just write up a little list of duties and include these couple of rules specifically. As she is a minor I would not tell her or her mother that the mother could not come with her and bring siblings, no matter what you are paying her, she is under her mother's care and if the mother feels she needs to go with her daughter, she has that right in my opinion and is capable of not having her other child(ren) damage your home. It may be this girl just isn't mature enough, bc on the flip side, I babysat etc from age 11 and would have never let anyone in someone else's home. Good luck!

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answers from Odessa on

FIRED! I would be upset and then check my jewelry drawer and liquor cabinets.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Wow. Kennel your dogs. Friends, mother, etc. Too much.

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answers from Kansas City on

That is exactly why I take my pets to the boarding facility, so I don't have to worry about that. It costs more, but my mind is more at ease, so it is worth it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

I understand it is not always easy to find pet-sitters, & professional sitters charge what many people consider too much to afford for any extended period of time.

However, I am concerned about the comments you make regarding this 13 year old girl. Giving 1/2 box of treats in a small time period can make a dog sick (not to mention fat!), throwing balls inside your house against the walls, bringing over friends (in & of itself) who are afraid of dogs...

This is not responsible behavior. This is the behavior of an immature 13 year old child who doesn't take pride in the work she is doing & is likely not very careful about doing things properly.

I would not have her watch my dogs. I want someone who can come over, make sure that food is properly fed, dogs are safely pottied & exercised, no one gets loose, & if someone is not feeling well they are aware enough to recognize it & contact me.

I'm glad you are considering using someone else... your pets are your family members, it would be heartbreaking to be contacted while away to be told that something happened to them, or they did something to another person, etc. because the person you trusted wasn't mature enough to handle the responsibility.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I'd fire her.
Maybe she just had a few friends with her but you don't know if you were robbed, or your liqueur cabinet was raided or if they were having sex in your bedroom.
A hidden nanny cam / camera would help you find out what goes on when you are not at home.
Either get an adult to watch your pets - which still has you putting trust in someone with your household - or board your dogs in a kennel.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You're not paranoid. But you should have talked to her about this and told her that it was inappropriate to bring her friends AT ALL.

You should not have young teens in your yard or your deck in your absense - not just inside your house. You are liable if one of them gets hurt. I had a friend with a playset, and the neighborhood kids converged on it while she was at work. She asked them not to play on it until she was home, with permission. They ignored her (these were NOT little kids). She talked to her homeowner's insurance company and they told her that she should deal with this before something happened.

She had to go to the parents of all these kids and discuss it. She did it in front of the kids too, so that they had to explain to their parents WHY they were ignoring her rules.

Look, you might not want to make waves here, but this gal has opened up the possibility that they will start hanging out in your yard. She needs to be told, along with her mother, that you don't bring other people to your employer's house, whether you are pet sitting, babysitting, taking care of plants or mail, etc.

I really think that she is too young to do this job, what with the marks on the wall and feeding all those treats. She doesn't show good sense and judgment. She certainly has no judgment where bringing a kid who is afraid of dogs to your home is concerned.

Have the talk. She needs to learn this lesson. You can be kind, but very matter-of-fact. Then find someone else to pet sit the next time you go out of town.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

She is 13, and doesn't know.



answers from Columbus on

I think you have your answer. While I would of never thought to tell someone pet sitting, not to bring friends in (I think that is common sense) I guess others would not. So now you can tell her. You don't have to make a huge deal out of it. Just mention you hadn't thought about it until she told you there were kids there. if something happened to them, you and her would be liable and you just can't let that happen. Good luck. (edit) I feel we, as a society, think everyone knows what to do, but we need to be specific in our asks. Maybe she is allowed to throw balls in her home for her dog, maybe she can give them as many treats as she wants. She doesn't know how you want everything handled until you tell her. And since you are apying her, I think it is only fair that you give detailed instructions. It's just like an adult going to a job, if our boss doesn't tell us how they want things handled, then how do we know. I guess I see the other side of Tara's comments. She is only 13, give her details, kids thrive off of it.


answers from Dallas on

I don't think you overreacted, I think you underreacted. As soon as I heard there were people in my house without permission, I would have immediately gone to the girl's house and asked her in front of her parents. I wouldn't have been ugly about it, but given her a chance to tell the truth and then explain to her in front of her parents the rules of being my pet sitter, ie employee. But seeing as how it's been done and time has passed, I would consider a different sitter. If you are out of town often and want a steady sitter, make a contract that you both sign. Lay out the rules in black and white and then when you are leaving ask your neighbors to keep an eye out and let you know of anything out of the ordinary.



answers from Washington DC on

I do think you need to spell it out that you hired her for a JOB and that it is not OK to bring people you have not approved into your home, play with (or be scared by) your dogs, etc.

If I used her again, it would only be overnight to check the situation and remind her NOBODY but her (or her parents) are to enter the property. If she hasn't gotten the memo, don't use her again.



answers from Anchorage on

I honestly would consider finding a local kennel to keep your dogs, I hate having people I don't know in my home. If you decide to still use her I would have a serious talk with her with her mother present about what is allowed and who is allowed in your home.

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