Choosing a pet sitter can be as stressful as selecting a child care provider. We want to do right by our pets. When we can’t take them along on a work trip or vacation, we want to ensure they’re properly provided for while we’re away.
Enter the pet sitter. Unlike a boarding facility that cares for pets in their own facility, a pet sitter cares for your pets in your home. This way, the only stress your pets experience is someone coming to your home. We find this option especially valuable for those with senior pets, more than two dogs, or those who live in multi-species homes.
Pet sitters can come by multiple times per day to walk, feed and care for your dogs. There are some who will stay in the home with your pet, offering 16-18 hours of attention. Pet sitters generally offer simple home care as well, such as bringing in newspaper and mail, caring for plants and other animals in the home. This also has the advantage of a car parked outside your home and giving the illusion someone is there, which acts as additional security.
But how do you find a pet sitter you can trust? That’s where research comes into place.
- Referrals and Searches
One of the best ways to select a pet sitter is to ask people who use them regularly. Join some animal lover groups in your area and ask around on social media platforms, such as NextDoor or Facebook. Many professional pet sitters are often agency-driven; meaning they are independent contractors that are registered, insured and bonded as a business. These large companies hire professional local pet sitters and pay them a portion of the fee.
- Meet the Pet Sitter
If this is your first time hiring a pet sitter, It’s not enough for you to “virtually” meet them. You really need to meet the person at your home and see how your pets take to them. If a pet sitter you select doesn’t offer a free “meet and greet” before agreeing to take the job, move on and obtain quotes from different pet sitters.
- Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about experience, routines, how long they will stay, etc. Ask hypotheticals – such as, “What would you do should my dog escape the house?” or “What happens if a thunderstorm hits and my dog panics”? Don’t forget to ask them what happens if you can’t make a flight home on time.
- Check Their History
Always look up the individual and business. The internet makes this relatively easy, but there are tricks you can use to run full background information along with disputes. Reading reviews by others can give you a good idea of how reliable the sitter might be with your pets.
- Use A Contract
Contracts exist for a reason as they not only protect you and your pets, they act to limit your liability. A well-written contract provides equal coverage and protection for both parties. They ensure the rate of pay, the services to be performed, and extend coverage to emergencies.
Once you’ve selected a pet sitter, be consistent with them. Pay them on time, tip generously and use them as frequently as you can. Having a loyal sitter who knows and understands your dog can be invaluable in the future.
- Licensed: The pet sitter industry is largely unregulated, but some states do require licensing and at the very least, all pet sitting businesses should be registered with the state. Ask them which professional organizations they belong to, their time in business, and remember to ask for references.
- Insured and Bonded: Make sure any professional you bring into your home is insured and bonded. They will be able to present a copy of their credentials if asked.
- Reviews: Check references on Yelp, Facebook, the Better Business Bureau and other general searches. You should also ask your friends and family who they recommend.
- History: How long have they been in business? You can check their history on the Better Business Bureau website.
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