Asking a stranger to look after your beloved, furry family member when you’re away is one of the most difficult parts of being a pet parent. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to easy your mind and ensure that your pet receives the best care possible.
Start by planning ahead. Don’t wait until a week or two before your next trip to start looking for a sitter. Begin your search well in advance, preferably before you even have a trip planned at all.
Begin your search by considering what you want your pet sitter’s responsibilities to be. Do you want the sitter to stay overnight in your home, or just come by a few times a day for walks and meals? If your pet gets anxious when he’s alone, an overnight sitter might be your best option.
No matter which type of sitter you choose, make sure your dog has a microchip and a properly fitted harness or collar with a current ID tag.
Where to Start Your Search for a Good Pet Sitter
Personal recommendations are invaluable when seeking a good pet sitter. Ask trusted neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family members for their experiences with local pet sitters. This will help you eliminate some options and decide which ones are worth checking into further.
The staff at your vet’s office may also be very helpful. Not only do they interact with other pet owners every day, but they also know your dog and might be able to recommend someone who will be more compatible.
Websites like Rover.com can help you find a pet sitter that has passed a background check, and they also post verified reviews from other pet owners.
Interviewing Possible Pet Sitters
Once you’ve found a potential candidate, schedule a face to face interview at your home. Watch to see how they interact with your pets. Are they attentive, or do they seem rushed or annoyed? Do they talk to your pet gently? Will they pet them or let them up in their lap?
If you’re happy up to this point, ask the sitter to take your dog for a walk with you. Does he or she handle the leash firmly but gently? Are they paying attention to traffic and other potential hazards?
Questions to Ask
Of course, you’ll have specific questions of your own, but these are some great suggestions to get you started.
- Do you have any pets? Tell me about them.
- If you don’t have a pet now when was the last time you had one? Where’s that pet now?
- Will you be able to follow my pet’s current feeding, walking, and medication schedule?
- How do you handle emergencies?
- Can you supply the names of at least three people you’ve pet sat for within the last year?
If you’re happy with the way your questions are answered, call each reference and ask them about their experience. If you’re satisfied with what you find out, it’s likely that you’ve found a good pet sitter.