For daily walks, late nights, and extended travel plans, a professional pet sitter steps in when you can't be there.
A dog sitter isn't the same as a boarding facility. Dog sitters are usually people who come to your house, walk your dog and stay overnight to ensure that your dog is being taken care of when you're not there. Even though this may not sound like a "real" job, don't be fooled. Dog sitters are professionals who take their responsibilities seriously, and when you find a reliable one, hold on to her!
A dog sitter takes over your pet parent responsibilities when you're not there. Dogs need to be let out, walked, fed, petted and played with. This has to be someone you trust with your dog and your home. But how do you find someone you can count on?
Because you don’t want just anyone taking care of your furry family member, it's a smart idea to stay away from sites like Craigslist. We want to make sure you hire a competent and trustworthy dog sitter who will ensure that your dog gets the care and attention he needs.
Here are our six tips to finding the perfect pet sitter.
A great pet sitter knows that she needs to have a list of glowing references. If you're starting your search, ask other pet parents who they have used in the past or if they’ve heard of a sitter with amazing reviews. If the dog sitter has their own website, it should have reviews posted, but always ask to speak to former or current clients before handing over the leash and house keys.
Contracts, Insurance and Bonding
Even though many pet sitters run their business by themselves, a true professional will be insured and bonded. They should have general liability insurance, as well as additional coverage for care, custody or control of your dog, which is sometimes not included in the general liability insurance. On top of that, make sure that she has Third-Party Bonding (Protection against Dishonesty), to protect the belongings in your home. All of this information should be outlined in a contract, along with rates, services provided, and terms and conditions.
Trust Your Gut
Of course you're going to be nervous leaving your dog in the hands of an almost-stranger for the first time, but that's normal. We're talking about your gut feeling; the one you get that tells you if a person is trustworthy. A good measure of a person's worth is how your dog reacts to her. If you don’t feel safe and comfortable with them, trust your gut and find someone else.
First Aid Training
Accidents can—and will—happen. Fingers crossed that nothing bad happens to your dog while you’re away. But if it does, you want to make sure that your dog sitter has appropriate first and knows what to do in case of a medical emergency. These skills can include CPR, basic first aid training and any other specialized care your dog may need.
If you have some time before you go away, have the potential dog sitter start small, with a play date or walk. Gradually build up toward the overnight visit. By giving them time to get to know each other, you'll feel a lot more comfortable while you're away.
Friends and Family
If you can’t afford or find a professional dog sitter that suits your needs, turn to your friends and family. You already trust them and your dog has a relationship with them. Besides, who wouldn't love to have a doggy sleepover with your adorable pooch? Ask friends, relatives, coworkers or neighbors if they wouldn’t mind spending the night at your place or bringing your dog over for an extended visit—especially if they have pets of their own.
Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.