There are times in all of our pet parent lives when we need a little help or are planning a trip where our pooch can’t go. I’m sure you are like me and can’t even think about leaving your precious dog in the care of just anyone. So how do we choose those that will care for our pets? I’m so glad you asked………
First of all – why even hire a pet sitter or pet walker?
There are several reasons that come to mind. Pets do best in an environment they know best (instead of being kenneled). And your pet benefits from their regular diet and routine. But the biggest plus for me is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your pet is being cared for by a professional.
Now that I’ve decided I need a pet sitter/walker – how do I find one?
Start with a recommendation from a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, humane society or dog trainer. Check online or in the Yellow Pages under “Pet Sitting Services.” You can also contact the Pet Sitters International.
What should I look for in someone I hire?
They should provide written proof that they have commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and is bonded (to protect against theft by a pet sitter or their employees).
Have they had pet CPR and pet first aide training?
What will happen if the pet sitter experiences car trouble or becomes ill? Do they have a backup? Would they be able to transport your pet to the vet in the case of an emergency?
What services does the pet sitter provide, such as in-home grooming, dog walking, dog training and play time?
In the case of a dog walker – how long are the walks and where does the walker take your pet to walk? Will your dog be the only pet they are walking or do they walk several at one time?
Ask the pet sitter/walker to provide you with the phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to serve as references.
And finally set up a meet and greet with the pet sitter/walker and your pet. See how the two interact together. Is the sitter/walker loving but firm? Is your dog comfortable with them? Believe me pets are very aware of humans and their personalities!
I’ve found someone I really like and is a good fit for my dog. Now what?
Make reservations with your pet sitter early, especially during holidays. Insist on having a written contract outlining your clear instructions detailing specific expectations and the duties of the sitter/walker.
Ensure your pet is well socialized and allows strangers to handle them.
Make sure you have current identification tags securely attached your pet’s collar.
Have all current vaccinations up to date for your pet. Have an emergency contact person who can be reached locally, and how to reach you and your veterinarian including emergency care vet and location of both.
Leave pet food and supplies in one place. Buy extra pet supplies in case you’re away longer than planned. This should include an extra leash and collar.
Leave a key with a trustworthy neighbor as a backup, and give them and your pet sitter each other’s phone numbers. Be sure those extra keys work before giving them out.
Show the pet sitter your home’s important safety features such as the circuit breaker and security system.
Finally, have a safe and fun trip or worry free day at the office. And remember to bring your pet sitter’s phone number in case your plans change—or you just want to find out how Fido is doing.