Special thanks to Lindsay from ThatMutt.com for sharing these valuable tips on hiring a pet sitter.
Since I’ve worked as a professional pet sitter for the last six years, I wanted to share some info on what it’s like to hire a pet sitter so you can decide if doing so is the right choice for you and your pets.
What to think about when hiring a professional pet sitter
First, consider your pet’s special needs
Some dogs love the noisy, eventful environment of a large boarding facility, especially if they get to play with other dogs. If your dog is friendly and enjoys that type of interaction, then a boarding facility may be the best option for him. Personally, I don’t like dog-boarding facilities for my own dog because he tends to get overly excited and obsessive about toys.
So, just consider your own unique dog. If he has any type of aggression or anxiety issues around new areas, people or dogs, he may be more comfortable being cared for by a pet sitter in your home. The same may be true if your dog is older, has special medications or requires a regular routine such as insulin shots every 12 hours.
Some kennels can accommodate these needs just fine, but a good pet sitter can offer your dog more one-on-one, individualized care. It’s also much easier to check in with a pet sitter to see how your dog is doing. She’ll probably even send you lots of text and email updates throughout the day if you’d like, with photos. You typically don’t get that kind of service at a boarding kennel.
A pet sitter is great for cats and small pets
It’s often easier and less stressful to leave a cat at home with a pet sitter vs. trying to board a cat somewhere. Since most cats are pretty independent, the pet sitter may only need to stop by once a day or even every few days. Hiring a pet sitter is also a convenient option if you have other small animals such as ferrets, birds, fish, etc.
People often think of cats and dogs when they think of pet sitters, but many pet sitters are capable of caring for a variety of creatures. Just make sure to ask so you’re on the same page. I once had someone ask if I would pet sit his alligator. I’m not sure if that was a serious question, but I had to tell him no!
Take the time to find the right pet sitter
It’s important to feel comfortable with the person who will be entering your home, walking your dog, giving your cat medications, etc. Because of this, I recommend looking for a pet sitter a good month or more before you head out of town if possible. That way, you can take the time to meet more than one pet sitter if necessary, and really think about your decision.
Obviously, it’s good if the pet sitter has lots of positive reviews on Yelp and Google+, as well as personal references. On the other hand, it’s more important to trust your own instincts when you meet the actual pet sitter. Most pet sitters will schedule a “meet and greet” where they will come to your house to meet you and your pets for a half-hour or so at no cost. This is the perfect time to ask whatever questions you may have and to see how the pet sitter interacts with your animals.
Ask the right questions
The following are some questions you may want to consider asking the pet sitter:
- What do your rates include? For example, are dog walks included, or is that extra? Is there an extra charge for giving the pets medications?
- How long will each visit last?
- What times will you visit? Do you offer overnight visits (“sleepovers”)? What is the cost for that, and what does it include? (For example, maybe the pet sitter typically stays from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.) Or, how late at night and how early in the morning are you willing to visit my pets?
- Also, are you the only person who will be visiting my pets?
A serious pet sitter will carry pet sitting insurance
It’s OK to ask the pet sitter if she is insured. This is a reasonable question to ask for your own peace of mind. I don’t recommend hiring a pet sitter who does not carry insurance.
Pet sitting insurance would cover things like property damage the pet sitter may accidentally cause in your home or injuries that may happen to your pets while under her care. These instances are very rare, but it’s good for both sides to have that protection if something were to happen.
Don’t worry so much about whether the pet sitter has a license because there is not really a serious “pet sitting license.” In the sitter has a license, it means she has taken the time to pay a fee to the city or county to be registered as a local business, which anyone can do.
Hopefully these tips have given you a better idea on what it’s like to hire a pet sitter. If I can answer any questions or concerns you may have about pet sitting in general, don’t hesitate to leave your questions in the comments.
Have you every hired a pet sitter? Let us know about your experience in the comments.
About the Author: Lindsay Stordahl maintains the blog ThatMutt.com where she writes about dog training, adoption, dog walking and more. She also owns the pet sitting and dog walking business Run That Mutt. You can also follow her blog on Google+.