Pet sitters perform a number of jobs for pet parents. We all know that they can watch your pets for you while you are out of town, but did you know they might also get your mail, water your plants and keep an eye on your home? With all of these responsibilities, it's important to know how to pick the right pet sitter.
Pet sitters aren't just available for daily check-ins. Some may be willing to stay with your pets overnight. All pet sitters offer different services, and it's important that you choose one that will meet your needs while also being trustworthy and responsible. Trusting a stranger with access to your pet and your home may seem overwhelming, but there are ways to ensure that you're selecting the right individual for the job.
You may also be looking for a pet sitter that would take your dog into their home while you're aware. Some pet sitters will do this, but it's likely that they are a part-time pet sitter. This means their availability may be limited.
There are many factors to consider and some steps you'll need to take to ensure that you choose the right person to care for your pet while you're away. My advice is to start looking for a pet sitter before you actually need them. It may take a few weeks to find the right person, and you don't want to make a rushed decision just because you're running out of time before your trip.
How To Pick the Right Pet Sitter
Ask family members, friends or neighbors if they've used a pet sitter. Get recommendations on possible sitters and notes on sitters to avoid. If you don't have friends or family in your area who have pets, check with local pet stores, groomers or your veterinarian. They may be able to point you in the right direction.
2. Look online and CHECK REVIEWS
You can do a quick online search for pet sitters in your area or get some names from friends and family members. Once you have a few sitters to choose from, look for reviews from other pet owners who have worked with them. Most pet sitters don't have their own websites, but many of them have social media.
Check their social media channels for reviews from other pet owners. See what types of content they share about the animals that they work with. You can tell a lot about someone by what they share on social media.
3. Call for a quick interview
Any pet sitter worth your time will be interested in taking part in a quick phone interview. If you call a sitter and they seem like they're trying to rush you off the phone or don't seem willing to answer every question that you have, don't waste your time.
Some must-ask questions include:
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you have any special certifications or training?
- Do you have experience with my pet’s breed, health needs, etc…?
- What services do you provide? (administer meds, overnight care, feedings, etc…)
- Do you have a backup plan in place if you’re unable to care for pets?
- What are your fees?
4. Setup a meet-and-greet
Your first appointment should be a meet-and-greet that allows you and your pet to get to know the sitter. Do they get along with your pet(s)? Does your pet seem comfortable? Talk one-on-one about your pet’s specific needs and see how the sitter reacts.
Again, don't waste your time if the sitter doesn't want to setup a meet-and-greet appointment. They may charge a small fee, but most pet sitters will do this initial appointment at little to no cost. If all goes well, they'll be making a profit off of you in no time, so it's worth it to them to do a free/cheap initial visit.
5. You can change your mind
If all goes well, you'll be hiring a pet sitter in no time. However, you should understand that you don't need to hire someone just because you interviewed them. You also have the right to change your mind.
Just because you choose a sitter, doesn’t mean you have to stick with them. When you hire someone, let them know that there is a probationary period. Ask them to leave notes or text you during/after visits or send pictures if possible.
If you have home surveillance, check in to make sure they are showing up when they are supposed to and staying for the agreed time. Invest in a GPS tracker if the sitter is supposed to be walking your pet to ensure your dog is getting the daily walks that he needs.
Look for red flags like accidents in the house or failure to provide information about the visits. If you're not 100% satisfied with the care that your pet is getting and the service of the sitter that you hired, don't be afraid to stop working with them.