The only downside to going on vacation is leaving your dog behind. It is common for pet owners to stress about who will care for your four-legged family members in your absence. You know you need to hire a pet sitter, yet is so hard to find someone you can trust and who will love your pets as much as you do. With Professional Pet Sitters’ Week fast approaching, here are the Top 8 Things to Look For in a Pet Sitter.
8. Are They Certified and Trained?
Pet sitting is evolving into a serious business. There are now classes and training workshops designed to help pet sitters navigate the unique challenges of the job. Some workshops deal with pet first aid and doggie CPR. Other classes provide information on reducing stress and anxiety in pets. Ask your potential pet sitter if they have had any sort of professional training or if they hold any certifications.
7. Do They Have Insurance?
Most insurance companies now offer pet sitter insurance. Having pet sitter insurance is a sign that the person is serious about their pet sitting business and dedicated to the pet care industry. Pet insurance protects the pet sitter, but it also protects you. If your dog knocks the pet sitter down and breaks her arm or destroys the pet sitter’s personal belongings, the insurance may cover the unexpected expenses. If your cat darts out of the house and gets hit by a car or your dog is attacked by another dog at the park while the pet sitter is on duty, the insurance will help with the vet costs.
6. Do They Have References?
You are leaving your best friend in the hands of another person. You have a right to ask for references from a potential pet sitter. A good pet sitter will be willing to provide you with references from previous pet sitting clients. Contact the references you are given and ask a series of prepared questions. Was the sitter reliable? Did the sitter fulfill all the duties you asked them to do? How many times have they worked for you? Have you ever had an issue or negative experience with them? Did any emergencies arise when they were pet sitting? If so, how did the pet sitter handle them? Why did you choose to hire them? Would you hire them again? Would you recommend them to your best friend?
5. Are They Willing to Meet in Person?
A good, reliable, professional pet sitter will be willing to meet with you in person…maybe even a few times…before they actually start pet sitting for you. It is important for you to have a face-to-face interaction with the person you may be hiring to pet sit. You can gauge a lot more about a pet sitter through in-person discussions than you could glean from emails, texts, and even phone calls. During your face-to-face interview with the pet sitter, evaluate the individual. Do they greet your pets in addition to you? Do they seem comfortable with your pets? Have they asked you questions about your pets? Are they open to talking about their previous pet sitting escapades? Do they have pets of their own? If you don’t like the answers you are getting or you get any strange vibes or red flags from the person, perhaps it is best to interview other potential pet sitters.
4. How Business-Like is Their Pet Sitting Business?
Pet sitters come in a spectrum of professionalism. Before you hire a pet sitter, try to find out where they land on the spectrum. Are they a high school kid from your neighborhood who is looking to earn extra money? Or are they a professional pet sitter with an established pet sitting business? Or do they fall somewhere in between? Of course, the neighbor kid could do a great job for you, however he or she may not have the experience to handle an emergency or pet sitter insurance to cover them in case of an accident.
3. How Long Has the Pet Sitter Been Sitting?
Find out how long the pet sitter has been working with dogs. Raising their own dogs is certainly helpful, however find out if they’ve had any pet sitting or dog experience outside of their own dogs. Maybe they have volunteered at an animal shelter or helped train service dogs or worked at a dog grooming studio. All of these previous experiences contribute to their overall understanding of dogs and pet behavior.
2. How Clear Are They About Duties and Payment?
In your discussion with your potential pet sitter, you should be as clear as possible about your expectations. Work out how often they will be at your house, how often they will walk your dog, and how often they will feed your animals. If the pet sitter will be staying at your home, discuss your rules and expectations. Do you want them to bring in your mail and water your plants? Will you allow them to have a friend stay with them at your house? Be as clear and thorough as possible about your rules and the responsibilities of the pet sitter and put everything in writing so there won’t be any misunderstandings. Openly discuss payments, too. How much are you planning to pay for the duration they will be caring for your pets? When and how will you pay them?
1. How Can You Contact Them?
Discuss how you will stay in communication with your pet sitter when you are gone. Will you appreciate occasional texts and Snapchat videos from the dog sitter on your vacation as a way of letting you know that your pets are happy and healthy? Or do you prefer the “no news is good news” approach? Do you plan to stay in touch with the pet sitter on your trip? Some professional pet sitters will maintain a daily log to document your pets’ food intake, exercise outings, behavior, and general mood that you will get when you return home. Others send this information to you daily in an electronic format. There’s no right or wrong approach as long as everyone is on the same page.