How to Choose a Pet-Sitter
In case you haven’t noticed… The holidays are quickly approaching! Very soon, it will be time for feasting, celebrating and visiting with friends and loved ones. If you’ll be bringing your pooch along for all the fun, that’s super, but sometimes, for whatever reason, Fido just can’t come along. In that case, what should you do? Ask the neighbor’s kid to stop by a few times a day? Take them to a kennel? Hire a pet-sitter? Cancel your travel plans altogether?
Today, many, many pet guardians rely on pet-sitters to care for their four-legged family members when they can’t be there. If chosen correctly, a professional pet-sitting service can be a wonderful solution for pet care in your absence. They’re more dependable than the neighborhood kid and less stressful for your dog (and in some cases, less expensive) than kenneling. However, since using a pet-sitter requires someone to enter your home without your supervision, it’s not a decision that should be made lightly. Here’s how to choose the perfect one.
Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest ways to land a great pet-sitter. Have friends or neighbors with pets? Ask them who they use. Ask your vet. Ask your groomer. Ask the folks at the dog park or in the pet supply store. Chances are, someone will be able to recommend someone with whom they’ve had a positive experience, and that’s a great place to start. If you’re not having much luck gathering recommendations, though, you can check out the directories offered by professional membership associations like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International for a listing of pet-sitters in your area.
Do your research
Once you’ve gathered the names of a few individuals or companies you’d like to consider using, hit the internet for some research. Read every review about them you can find. Visit their website, if they have one, and read every page (policies and rates tend to vary between companies, so pay close attention to those details). Check out their social media pages and see what they’re up to. This additional research should give you a better feel for the type of people that will be caring for your pets and can help you narrow down your candidates.
When you’ve narrowed down your choices, arrange a consultation or meet and greet session so you can meet them and they can meet your pets. Prepare a list of questions before they arrive and don’t be afraid to ask them anything and everything. Make sure it’s very clear as to who will be caring for your pets. Will it be one person? Several different people? Do they sub-contract? This/these person(s) will be entering your home and caring for your furry family members. You should be able to trust them completely before allowing them to do so.
Ask for references
Reputable pet-sitters should be able to produce references for you. Ask them for a list of at least three and then follow up with the references they provide.
Check for licensing, insurance and bonding
Licenses, insurance and bonding can protect you, your home and your pets, in addition to the pet-sitter, should an accident occur. It’s important to choose a sitter who has these credentials and you should ask about them during your initial consultation.
Consider a trial
When you find someone you (and of course, your pet) like, consider setting up a trial visit to see how things go. Maybe it can be a visit mid-day while you’re at work, or once during the weekend. A trial will let you see how the sitter operates and how your pet will react. After the trial, you should have a better idea of whether or not they will be the right fit for your pet-sitting needs.
Finding a friendly, caring and dependable pet-sitter is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself, as a pet owner. They’ll make your life a whole lot easier and help to give you peace of mind while you’re away. Putting in a little extra time and effort in the selection process will pay off, in the long run, in the form of happy, well-cared for pets!
Pet parents, have you found success with using pet-sitters? Tell us about your experience.