Pet sitters do much more than provide a pet with food and water while their guardian is away from home.
A good pet sitter also spends quality time with the animal, gives them exercise and knows how to tell if they need veterinary attention. What’s more, pet sitters typically offer additional services, such as taking in mail and newspapers and watering plants.
But just because someone calls themselves a pet sitter doesn’t mean they’re qualified to do the job.
What to look for in a pet sitter:
It’s important to learn all you can about a prospective pet sitters’ qualifications and services. Before selecting a pet sitter, interview the candidates over the phone or at your home. Find out the following:
- Can the pet sitter provide written proof that they have commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and is bonded (to protect against theft by a pet sitter or their employees)?
- What training has the pet sitter completed?
- Will the pet sitter record notes about your pet—such as their likes, dislikes, fears, habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines?
- Is the pet sitter associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services?
- What will happen if the pet sitter experiences car trouble or becomes ill? Do they have a backup?
- Will the pet sitter provide related services such as in-home grooming, dog walking, dog training and play time?
- Will the pet sitter provide a written service contract spelling out services and fees?
- If the pet sitter provides live-in services, what are the specific times they agree to be with your pet? Is this detailed in the contract?
- How does your pet sitter make sure that you have returned home?
- Will the pet sitter provide you with the phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to serve as references?
Even if you like what you hear from the pet sitter and from their references, it’s important to have the prospective pet sitter come to your home to meet your pet before actually hiring them for a pet-sitting job. Watch how they interact with your pet—does your pet seem comfortable with the person? If this visit goes well, start by hiring the pet sitter to care for your pet during a short trip, such as a weekend excursion. That way, you can work out any problems before leaving your beloved pet in the pet sitter’s care for longer periods.
Always remember to follow your gut instinct. If you feel uneasy at the initial consultation or feel that this isn’t the right pet-sitter for you, you do not have to hire them.
Information from The Humane Society.