Top tips for choosing the right pet sitter.
Every pet owner has those moments when they cannot be with their pup. Schedules, commitments and responsibilities all play a part in our everyday lives. And when those times arise, it is nice to know our dog has someone they can be with to help when we are not there. It’s a good time to examine some tips for making sure you get the right pet sitter for you.
So how can you find a pet sitter who will not only feed your dog and take him out to do his business, but will also provide companionship and playtime while you’re away? We’ve put together some tips to help you find just the right person. But first, let’s talk about the benefits of hiring a professional pet sitter rather than having a friend or family member stop by.
Why hire a professional sitter?
When we ask neighbors, friends or family members to stop by and check on our pups, chances are that’s not all they have time to do. Sure, they’ll make sure Fido has food and water and gets outside for a few minutes, but unless they can stay for a few hours, your dog may be lonely while you’re gone.
Some dogs love boarding and visiting other dogs while some dogs might find this stressful. Some dogs like to run around in new places and sleep on new pillows but other dogs just like the feel of their couch and the run of their yard.
How to find the right professional pet sitter.
Here are our top tips for finding a reliable and trustworthy sitter for your best friend while you’re away.
1. Start by asking for referrals.
Check with friends, family, neighbors, your veterinarian and even dog trainers. A strong word-of-mouth recommendation can carry a lot of weight. After all, anyone can look good on paper. The trustworthy sitters will come with strong recommendations. You can always check online for pet sitting services in your local area, but look for those that offer testimonials or offer referrals on their web sites.
2. Ask if the sitter has had any special training.
Ask about past experience and whether he or she has undergone any training in pet care, including animal CPR and first aid. And make sure the sitter will be comfortable staying with your dog if your pet has any behavioral issues. Not everyone can handle these issues with confidence.
3. Make sure you discuss fees and services up front.
You’ll want to interview your potential pet sitter. This is a good time to make sure that you are in agreement on all fees and services. For instance, ask how many visits per day are covered and what specific services the sitter will provide. Will they exercise and play with your pup? Will they provide other services, such as bringing in mail or watering plants? If your dog becomes sick or hurt, will the sitter take him to the vet? Some sitters will stay overnight, while others won’t. Some will provide grooming services—others don’t. Be clear about everything you expect up front to prevent any potential issues down the road.
4. Ask for references.
And do your best to contact them. Make sure that others who have used this sitter have had positive experiences before you sign on the dotted line.
5. Invite the sitter for a “meet and greet.”
Have the prospective sitter come to your home to interact with your pet. Watch what happens. And trust your gut – first impressions on how your dog reacts to the sitter—and how the sitter handles your dog’s behavior—can tell you a lot.
6. Make sure the sitter is insured and bonded.
A professional pet sitter should have written proof of liability insurance in case an accident occurs. They should also be bonded to protect against theft.
7. Your home or theirs?
While most people hire pet sitters to come to their homes while tending to their pets, there has been a movement recently to hire sitters who will watch your pet in their own home. If you opt for this, make sure you visit their home. Find out how many pets the sitter will be watching at the time they are caring for yours. And make sure their homes are pet-proofed as well as, if not better than, your own.
8. Create a cheat sheet for the sitter.
Writing down as much or as little of your dog’s routine as you like can be helpful to your sitter, especially if they don’t know your dog well. How many times they eat, when they eat, how much at each meal time, what time they eat, when they go out, when is bedtime and when they wake up can all be very helpful to your sitter.
9. How will they assure you that your dog is doing well?
With the technology available today, some pet sitters will FaceTime with you, send families daily photos or videos and text or email updates of their dogs. Others keep written journals with notes about how the pet fared in the absence of their owners. Ask the sitter how he or she will help you know your dog is well.
Following these tips can help assure that you hire the right pet sitter for your fur baby—and that you enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that your pooch is well cared for in your absence.