If you are traveling this holiday season, make sure to book your pet sitter now. Most of my neighbors have family or other friends look after their pets while they are on vacation. Outside of worrying about them snooping in your house or not being as reliable as they should be, I always go with hiring a professional pet sitter while I am away from home. If you have a puppy, a dog with special needs or multiple pets, you understand the arduous task of finding a professional you and your pets trust and dare I say love. Without waiting until the last minute, here are my tips for how to select a wonderful dog sitter.
1. Get started early. Pet sitters are in high demand during the holidays, so make sure you book early and get the best pet sitter in town.
- Make sure to interview many different sitters to find the one the meets your needs. Ask your neighbors, dog park friends, veterinarian or someone from your local pet supply store for recommendations.
- Ask for and check references. Attractive websites and online ads can be misleading. The only way you can truly evaluate a pet sitter is by speaking with former customers. Not only will you eliminate sitter who aren’t a good fit, but by talking to previous customers you will make sure you pick the right sitter for your pet.
- You’re paying for it so make sure to be clear about your expectations. Make sure you communicate how often you want the sitter around and number of times per day you walk your pet to be played with or walked.
- Have an in person (and pet) meeting. How does the possible sitter interact with your dog? Is the sitter friendly and enjoying their time with your pets? Be sure to mention any special needs or challenges your pet may have and take a walk together with the dogs.
- Spend time walking the house together. These professionals will be staying at your home. Tell them what areas or items are off limits and what you expect for daily duties, such as getting the mail, taking out the garbage, light cleaning and other duties. Also, be sure to cover emergency measures, such as the vet phone number, turning off the alarm and relevant contact information.
- While on vacation, write down clear guidelines for the home and pets. This includes feeding, medication, vet’s contact info, nearest twenty four hour emergency vet.
- Obtain copies of their liability insurance. If they don’t have insurance, they don’t take their career seriously and you should not hire them. You never know what can happen when you’re not home.
- Set the charges upfront. Another benefit of meeting different pet watchers is that it helps give a good idea of the market rate for pet sitting in your area.
- Keep in touch. See if your pet sitter provides regular reports by email or text. It’s important to know how things are going at home and to ensure your pets are doing well while you’re away.