Hiring a pet sitter instead of asking your neighbor or boarding your pet has its benefits. But you need to make sure to do your homework before you trust someone to take care of your four-legged bestie. Below, we’ll outline the perks of using a pet sitter, and present a checklist of items to run through before you take the leap of faith.
Hiring a Pet Sitter: The Perks
- Your pet can remain in his own digs, with his own smells and potty spot. His routine, with the exception of missing his favorite person, can remain relatively the same, as long as you communicate it well to the sitter.
- Your pet is not exposed to other animals. Other animals can introduce bad habits, behaviors, and even illnesses to yours.
- You will experience peace of mind, knowing your pet is being cared for by a professional, who is being paid to do a good job of looking after your pet.
- You will have the added security of your home looking “lived in,” when your pet sitter goes to your house to take care of your pet. You may also ask a pet sitter to bring in the mail, water plants, and put the trash out.
- Other services may be included in your sitter fee, like grooming, teeth brushing, and walking. Trained pet sitters may also be able to identify illness in your pet faster than a friend or neighbor. In his PetMD blog post, Pet Boarding vs. Pet Sitting, Dr. Ken Tudor points out “Live-in sitters are more likely to recognize potential health problems and can arrange for the pets to be seen by a vet.”
Before you hire: Five Questions to Ask
- Compile a questionnaire. Know what you are looking for in a sitter and make sure to ask questions that will lead you to the right sitter. Some good questions: Can you provide written proof of liability insurance coverage to cover accidents or negligence? What services (grooming, walking, administering meds) do you cover and will you charge a fee for such services? Are you trained in first aid for animals?
- Ask for references from previous clients. The best way to obtain feedback is to speak to a pet owner who has actually used the sitter.
- Select a certified sitter. Here are two national agencies dedicated to training and certifying pet sitters: The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), and Pet Sitters International (PSI). PSI also has a “Pet Sitter of the Year” award for excellence.
- Double-check the contract. Your pet sitter will have access to your home and be entrusted to care for your beloved pet. Study the contract well, making sure that all of your pets’ needs will be met and that you can place your confidence in the pet sitter you have chosen.
- Let your pet interact with the prospective pet sitter before going on your trip. You may have dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s, but if your pet does not feel comfortable with the sitter, it’s a no-go. Invite the pet sitter over to visit before you leave your pet in his care. Make sure they have good chemistry together and you like that way the sitter talks to and interacts with your pet. First impressions speak loudly!