A business trip or vacation is more relaxing when you know a responsible and professional pet sitter takes care of your dog. Choosing a dog sitter is never easy, and you need to thoroughly search and evaluate background information before settling for the ideal dog sitter. If you make a mistake and choose the wrong person, your dog may be upset or stressed because they no longer receive the care and attention they need.
Here’s what you need to know when choosing a pet sitter.
Begin with an online search. Visit websites and social media pages of professional pet-sitting associations, including Pet Sitters International and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. You can find seasoned dog sitters from these websites. You can also search directly for pet sitters on service providers' websites in your locality.
Besides doing an online search, you can ask for referrals from your veterinarian, family friends, or neighbors. The best potential pet sitter on your list may come from someone you already know and trust!
Other dog owners in your area may also be excellent resources for finding a pet sitter. If someone in your local dog park has used pet sitting services before, they may be able to provide names of trustworthy service providers or individuals.
Trim Your List
Choose two or three service providers you consider suitable from your online search and the referrals you’ve got from reliable sources.
Set Up Interviews
Choosing the ideal pet sitter takes time, so interview the selected potential candidates. Know the questions to ask as you embark on a round of interviews. The best approach would be to let the dog sitter come to your residence so that they can interact with you and your dog.
Some pet sitters may want you to fill out some forms when they visit your home, but don’t commit before arriving at a final decision. Here are some tips that can help you choose the best dog sitter.
- Excellent References: The ideal service provider should offer professional references from clients. If they have done an excellent job for your neighbors, you can be sure they’ll replicate the results in your case. Also, you can turn to the internet to check their reviews. Community forums and pet owners associations in your area are places you can find reliable information about specific pet sitters.
- Certification and Training: The task of a dog sitter goes beyond feeding, grooming, and walking. These individuals should have skills and experience in critical aspects relating to dog care, such as administering first aid and detecting illness. Ask for proof of training in pet care services, such as a designation via a recognized organization in the pet sitting industry such as Pet Sitters International.
The majority of pet sitters get certification from:
- CPPS (Certified Professional Pet Sitter)
- CPE (Certified Pet Experts), or
- NAPPS (National Association of Professional Pet Sitters)
If the dog sitter has certification from an authorized body in the pet sitting industry, you can know your dog will be in safe hands while you’re away. The certificate also shows that the individual is committed to the industry and is interested in their job.
- Experience: In addition to training and certification, a pet sitter needs to have experience in complete dog care. Find out how long they have been offering sitting services, and ask about the different breeds of dogs they have worked with before. For instance, if you have a German Shepherd, and a sitter has worked with German Shepherds in the past, you’ll have confidence they’ll take good care of your dog.
- Fees: While conducting your interviews, ask about fees. The specific amount should be all-inclusive without any hidden costs.
- Services: Find out the specific pet care services the sitter offers. For example, do they administer injections? This will help you know that they can handle any emergencies effectively. Pose one or several emergency questions or unusual household scenarios while interviewing the sitters to see how they respond. For instance, what would they do if your air conditioning unit malfunctions or your dog starts vomiting?
- Insurance: Your potential dog sitters should be insured and bonded. If something happens, such as your dog bites them or another individual while you’re away, you’ll have protection around any extra medical bills. Some dog sitters may be insured via an agency if they are not independent contractors.
Observe How They Interact with Your Dog
The most critical part of your interviews should be how the dog sitter interacts with your pet. Do they seem to like your dog and get along with him or her? Is the interaction comfortable and natural?
Ask the potential service provider to take your dog for a short walk as you follow them. The opportunity will help you note if your dog likes them and if they know how to use necessary accessories such as training collars. If your dog likes them, it's a tell-tale sign you’ve got the right candidate.
Compare Your Notes
Take notes as you interview the different candidates, and compare your notes (and information such as rates) before making your final choice. Remember, you can negotiate prices and services on offers if they are within a reasonable range. For instance, if you can only afford $20 to $30 per day, settle for a pet sitter in this range. Professional pet sitters typically charge a higher amount.
Extra safety tip: Once you settle on your best dog sitter candidate, ensure they have your vet’s emergency numbers before leaving. Also, make sure they can reach you any time they require your help. This will make it easy for your dog to feel relaxed and get immediate help if anything goes wrong.
Hire a Professional Dog Sitter
Finding an excellent dog sitter helps eliminate worries during your time away from home. If you follow your instincts and thoroughly check all necessary info, you’re sure to choose an ideal sitter for your dog’s temperament and preferences. Before you get bogged down in details, remember the bottom line: that you want the best for your doggo, and you want a sitter who loves them (almost) as much as you do!