Deciding on a pet sitter is a major decision; you are essentially asking someone to come into your home to take care of your pet, be it a dog, a cat, a hamster or some other member of your family. This can include feeding and watering your pet, playing with it or, in the worst-case scenario, taking your pet to a vet for medical attention. You want to ensure that whoever is watching over your pet has the experience and ability to do so.
No matter the reason, whether you are going on vacation, a business trip or you need a day to yourself, here is a guide on what to consider when choosing a pet sitter so you can find the best person for your furry, scaly or feathery friend.
Why Hire a Pet Sitter in the First Place?
Keep in mind that the main point of hiring a pet sitter is to avoid taking your pet to a kennel. This saves your pet a lot of stress and anxiety, as it gets to stay in its natural environment, maintain the same routine and diet and skip out on the trip to and from the kennel. It also guarantees your pet won’t have a bad interaction with other animals or pick up any diseases.
Due to this, a pet sitter offers a more personalized service, as they are coming to your home to take care of your pet. This means that there needs to be some level of trust between you and the pet sitter.
What to Look for in a Pet Sitter
Before hiring anyone, make sure you can do at least one interview to gauge their abilities. Have the interview at your home so you can introduce them to your pet and observe how they interact with one another; if they don’t get along, you have your answer. It is also a good time to show them where the food, water, toys or other equipment is located. Visually showing them your pet’s routine is better than writing it down and hoping they can find everything on their own.
The main concern should be how much experience the pet sitter has and if they genuinely love animals. Honestly, you probably don’t want to hire a 12-year-old looking for some extra cash over an experienced adult who has been doing the job for years. Again, make sure the pet sitter is comfortable with your animal, and vice versa; there is no sense hiring someone who is afraid to even come near your pet. If you have a rescue or a pet with behavioral issues, be sure to tell your pet sitter.
Idealistically, you want someone with commercial liability insurance, is bonded or certified and can provide a clear criminal history. This can protect you in the case of accidents or neglect. See if they are also trained in pet CPR and first aid, especially if your pet gets sick often.
Also, make sure that the pet sitter can come when you need them to; if they can only come in the mornings when you need them to return at night, find someone else. Don’t forget to ask if there is a backup person in case your pet sitter becomes sick or can’t get to your home.
What to Tell the Pet Sitter about My Pet
The more information you provide your pet sitter, the better off your pet will be. Tell them anything and everything that concerns your pet:
– Diet: Do you give wet or dry food or both? What about treats? How often do you feed and change the water?
– Medicine: If your pet has any vitamins, pills, shots, creams or other medical needs, tell your pet sitter.
– Toys: What toys does your pet play with? Where are the toys located? How often and when does your pet play?
– Grooming: If you have a pet that needs grooming, whether it is by your hands or a professional groomer, can your pet sitter handle it?
– Exercise: For dog owners, you may have a certain time or location to take your dog on a walk. Be sure to explain where the leash or harness is located and how to put it on your dog.
– Hiding spots: If you have a timid pet, note some of its favorite hiding spots, whether it’s under the bed, in the closet, behind the sofa or in the bathtub.
– Veterinarian: In the event of an emergency, make sure your pet sitter knows where your vet is located. Give them the address and phone number. Also, provide your pet’s vaccinations or rabies documents.
– Lighting and temperature: Don’t leave your pet in the dark with no AC or heat. Agree on a temperature and lighting situation for your pet. For example, you may leave the thermostat on 73 degrees and a hallway light on the whole time you are away.
If at any point your pet sitter says they are unable to follow your pet’s routine, especially when it comes to food or medicine, do not hire them. Ensure nothing but the best for your pet.
Before agreeing to anything, see if there is a written contract that lists out the exact services and fees; you don’t want to verbally agree on one number and then get charged something else. This document should list out how many times a day the pet sitter is coming over and for how long.
Many pet sitters will leave notes describing how the day went; some will send daily texts and pictures. If you are interested in this, ask your pet sitter about it.
Before you leave, buy extra pet supplies so you know your pet sitter won’t run out of food, toys or litter.
If you have a security system or several locks on your door, be sure to show your pet sitter how to handle it. Discuss how your pet sitter will enter and exit your home each day. Most agree on an extra set of keys that they will return after they are done watching your pet, but do what is most comfortable to you.
Most importantly, make sure you and your pet sitter exchange ALL of your contact information; this can include phone numbers and email addresses to social media or emergency contact numbers. This is for your benefit as much as theirs. Let’s say you are coming home early or will be delayed a day or two – you need to be able to tell your pet sitter so your pet is well looked after. It is also important to let your pet sitter know that you have arrived home so they can close your account.
Remember, your pet sitter is supposed to bring you peace in mind while you are away; if you have any doubts about their ability to take care of your pet or you have a bad gut feeling, don’t hire them.