How to Choose a Great Pet Sitter

It’s always hard to leave your dog, cat or exotic bird in a kennel, or in the care of someone else. Knowing that you’ve found a great pet sitter, though, can make leaving a little easier  for both you and your companion.

Why Choose a Pet Sitter?

Dogs, especially, need oodles of attention and stimulation from humans every day. There are a few different care options for your dog when you need to leave them on their own while you travel for work or take a vacation. You can take them to a boarding kennel, let them stay with a friend or family member, or hire a pet sitter to come into your home and care for them. It may make you a little uncomfortable at first to have a stranger caring for your pooch, but there are numerous benefits to leaving your dog in the care of a reliable and trusted pet sitter.

Once you have found the perfect person to care for your dog, think of the positives – because there are many. Consider a Wag! sitter, for example. A vetted and responsible pet caregiver will take care of your furry buddy just like you would with unlimited potty breaks and hours of playtime. With individual attention like this, your dog will look forward to seeing this new special person in their life. 

Additional niceties to hiring a pet sitter who comes to your home are your pet can stay in their familiar environment, and there will be little disruption to the routine they are used to. Your dog can sleep in their own bed, eat out of their own dish, and play with their own toys – all in a familiar space. A pet sitter allows your pup to follow their usual routine. Three meals a day? Check. A walk in the morning and afternoon? No problem. While you won’t be there, the adherence to the familiar will make your absence easier.

How to Choose a Great Pet Sitter

Once you’ve made the decision that hiring a pet sitter is the best option for times when you are traveling, the next challenge is to find one that you can trust – not only with your pet’s well-being but also in your home while you’re away. Or, if you are taking your dog to the sitter's home, you will want to determine that the environment is one that you would want your best buddy to be in.

This is another situation where a network of pre-screened, insured, and certified pet sitters is ideal. Wag!, for example, pairs your pooch with a kind and responsible pet caregiver who lives close to you, allowing you the option to choose their home or yours as the location of the pet sitting service. An experienced and knowledgeable dog lover will take care of your pooch for a day, or a month – your needs come first.

When you have narrowed down a few choices, remember to ask a few key questions to aid you in your decision. Ask the questions, have a discussion, and determine if the pet sitter agrees to your expectations and requests for care.

Qualifications

        • Do you have any special training that will aid in your care for my pet?
        • What kind of experience do you have in caring for dogs?
        • What makes you more qualified to care for my dog than other pet sitters?
        • Are you a member of any professional groups for pet sitters?
        • Do you have any certifications?
        • What prompted you to become a pet sitter?

Safety nets

        • Do you have commercial liability insurance (in case of any accidents)? Do you have written proof of this?
        • Are you bonded? (Bonding simply means that a bonding company has possession of money that is available to the customer should they file a claim against the company – this is important in case any theft occurs.)

Expectations

        • How will you communicate with us while we are away?
        • Can you adhere to my dog's routine?
        • Will you complete other services in my absence (such as watering plants, cleaning up accidents, taking out the garbage, bringing in newspapers)? 
        • If there is an emergency, are you willing to take my dog to their veterinarian?
        • If I am not able to make it home when anticipated, will you continue to care for my dog until I return?

Remember, it’s important to find someone you trust. This is the opportunity to ask any questions that will rule out some of your options and show you who is most trustworthy. You know your pet – trust your gut. Even if a person looks or sounds great on paper, if they don’t feel right, then they aren’t the right fit.

Making the Sitter’s Job Easy

Once you’ve found the perfect pet sitter, there a few things you can do in preparation to make the experience painless. While it may seem counterintuitive to spend your time to make what you’re paying them to do a little easier, it’s important to remember that doing so will make a better experience for your pet.

Write down clear, thorough instructions for what you need the sitter to do. This includes feeding, medications, exercise, and routine. Write down important contact information. Include your veterinarian’s contact information and address, the number and address of the closest 24-hour emergency vet, your contact information and contact information of a local relative or friend.

Ensure that all essential supplies are in one obvious location for ease of access. This includes food, waste supplies, favorite toys, leash, and carrier. If the pet sitter is staying in your home, leave a spare key with a neighbor or relative in the area. Give this person your pet sitter’s contact information and include their contact information in your resources. In addition to lock and key, make sure the sitter knows your security system or other security features for ease of entry and exit.

The first time is always the hardest. Once you’ve successfully left your pooch in the care of your sitter, you’ll be able to trust them more and more for future absences, and your pet will become more accustomed to their presence. After a few times, it will be like you never even left!

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