By Leslie Ingraham
Published: 03/07/2022, edited: 11/03/2022
Those of us fortunate enough to live with a dog or cat know they depend on us for what they need to be happy and healthy. Food, shelter, and health care are just a few of our responsibilities.
What about when we need to leave Fido or Fluffy at home? Great pet parents plan ahead for when they can’t be there to care for their pets. They know they have several options when they need to be away for long days at work, overnight trips, or vacations. For your dog, one of the best solutions is hiring a pet sitter.
Hiring a pet sitter has many advantages over boarding in a kennel or dropping your pup at a doggy daycare for the day. Some dogs and cats may not fare well if they have to leave the house to be cared for. In these cases, a pet sitter who comes to your home can benefit not only your pets, but you, too.
Let's take a closer look at the pawtastic benefits of hiring a pet sitter to take care of your precious pooch while you are away.
A top-notch pet sitter is different from a dog walker or a neighbor or friend who comes into your home a couple of times a day to feed and walk your dog or cat. Sitters take a wider view of their responsibilities and are prepared to meet all aspects of being in your home and caring for your pet. They’ll spend time playing with your dog or cat, snuggling with them, and assessing how they’re doing. They can even bring in the mail, water plants, and make your home look lived in while you’re away.
Emergencies may arise while you’re gone, but the good news is that pet sitters are well prepared to deal with them, whether it’s a power outage, a sick animal, or anything else you would deal with yourself if you were there. They’re good at communicating too, letting you know what’s happening and reassuring you that they’ve got things well in hand. They can even update you regularly about how your pet is faring with photos and videos of snuggle or play time.
The most important benefits of hiring a pet sitter, however, are for your pet. Some animals may do fine in a kennel or other boarding setting. However, many pets tend to feel most comfortable in their own homes where they have familiar smells and surroundings. Going for a potty break in their own yard will be less stressful than in an outdoor run surrounded by strange, curious dogs.
Besides allowing your dog t or cat stay home while you are away, there are other specific benefits that a pet sitter can bring to the table. Let’s look at the top ones for your precious furbaby!
Pets like predictable routines and thrive on being able to count on their daily schedule. It can be stressful to a dog or cat to have to wait for their meals or eat them in an unfamiliar location. They feel most comfortable if they can go to bed in the spot they usually sleep. Because of their acute sense of smell, they can even be reassured by your scent in the home while you are away.
Pet sitters, whom you’ve prepared with detailed information on your dog’s habits and schedule, can help your pets feel more secure and relaxed in their regular routine. Some may even be able to carry on with your pup’s training progress!
Separation anxiety can occur in dogs who don’t like to be left alone, and even in some cats. The stress of being alone can make an anmial frantic, and they may take out their fear on objects in the home or another pet. If a dog is left in a crate, separation anxiety can cause them to damage it, or hurt themselves in the process of trying to get out.
A pet sitter can relieve that stress and soothe your pet's anxiety by being consistently present and affectionate, as well as distracting them with games, exercise and cuddles.
Not only can pet sitters monitor your dog or cat for illness and injury and take them for medical care when needed, but simply being able to stay in their own home prevents your pet from coming into contact with numerous strange animals in a kennel or boarding facility who may transmit infections like kennel cough, or parasites such as fleas or worms.
Animals with special medical needs like respiratory problems or post-surgical recovery need not limit their pet parents’ ability to be away from home. Hiring a pet sitter ensures that treatments and medications are given on schedule. Many pet sitters work with veterinarians and bring their expertise to their pet sitting jobs. Also, many complete courses in pet first aid for those times when immediate medical care is needed.
Dogs and cats that get to meet other people and animals become more well-rounded and less likely to be reactive, overly shy, or aggressive. Bringing a pet sitter into your fur-baby’s life can be a lesson in learning to trust, how to approach a stranger, and how to give and accept affection from other people. Socializing a cat or dog with a human is more likely to happen smoothly when an animal is relaxed and secure in their own surroundings.
Knowing how to introduce a professional sitter involves allowing your dog to take their time approaching, and letting the sitter spend some time with them at least once before you leave them. A meet and greet is a great way to see if your dog and the sitter are a good match.
Most pet sitters are or have been pet parents themselves. They understand canine and feline behavior and body language and can adapt their approach to suit the animal they are caring for. This focused, one-on-one interaction can put the animal at ease and allows them to enjoy personalized and undivided attention.
Competing for human attention with a group of dogs or cats at a kennel can be stressful for your furry pal, as well as limit how much interaction with a human they get, whether for playtimes, potty times, or just affection. We all want our fur-babies to feel safe, and individualized attention from a pet sitter who's only there for them can help them feel more relaxed and confident.
Finding the pawfect caregiver for your fur-baby may take a little detective work and preparation, but the upfront effort will be well worth it to ease your mind while you’re away. Here are some furbulous tips to help you book your dog's pawfect match:
Ask about a sitter’s experience with dogs, including any additional experience such as with a local veterinarian or clinic, certifications or first aid training
Find out if they’re insured and bonded
Ask for references or look for pawsitive reviews
Relay info about your dog’s personality, temperament, experiences, and quirks to find the right sitter for your pup's needs
If all goes well and you come home to a happy, stress-free dog or cat, be sure to recommend the pet sitter and/or provide positive feedback. Most would appreciate a small gift from wherever you’ve been to show your appreciation, and a simple tip added to their fee would likely bring a smile to their faces. Of course, never forget the power of a “Thank you!”
Planning to be away from home? Take the stress out by booking a pet sitter to keep your dog or cat safe and relaxed until you return.
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