Have you been out of town at all since you’ve been a dog owner? Many people avoid going on vacation simply because they don’t know who to trust with their dogs. Boarding kennels are expensive and can carry diseases. However, there are pet sitting services available in many areas around the country.
Hiring a professional dog sitter gives you the peace of mind of knowing exactly who is caring for your dog. You can directly contact a professional pet sitter at anytime when you away, which many pet owners prefer.
You can ensure your dog is in the right hands when you use professional pet sitting services. In this article we will talk about everything you need to know about using a pet sitting service including how to find the right one for your pooch and how to get Fido used to his new friend.
13 Things to Keep in Mind Before Using Pet Sitting Services
1. How To Find The Right Sitter
Finding the right dog sitter is the first, and most important, step when considering using a pet sitting service. References from your friends, neighbors, veterinarian, or family is one of the most reliable ways to find a good pet sitter.
You can also search for pet sitting services in your area. The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International are two reputable agencies you could contact to find a pet sitter.
Don’t be afraid to turn down pet sitters. You only want to hire one that is perfect for your needs. If you have any feelings of uneasiness with a sitter, hire someone else. If you leave your pet alone with someone you aren’t positive you can trust, you will be worried about your pet the entire time you’re gone.
2. Interview All Potential Dog Sitters
When you believe you have found a potential pet sitter, conduct a thorough interview. This is your chance to meet the sitter face to face. Ask them about any past experience, what kind of pets they have cared for, and other relevant questions.
You should ask the sitter if they have completed any special training, and ask for proof if they say yes. If your dog has any special behaviors or needs, make sure the sitter knows how to properly handle them.
The interview is also a good opportunity to ensure that the sitter is insured. They should have written commercial liability insurance and be bonded to protect against theft. Most pet sitters will be completely honest, and you will not have any issues with theft, but it is still best to play it safe.
The interview is also a good chance to discuss pay. You can use this time to plan for any unexpected expenses, and set up compensation if anything should come up. Write down the amount you agree to pay the sitter before hiring.
3. Check Your Potential Sitter’s References
After you interview your potential pet sitting services, they should provide you with a list of references. This list should include past clients. You should follow up with every reference given to you.
Ask questions about any problems that arose, how they treated your home and dog, and so on. Don’t be shy to ask anything, the more you know, the more you can be sure that this is the sitter for you.
4. Allow Your Dog to Meet the Sitter Beforehand
Once you decide on a pet sitter to hire, make sure the sitter and your dog have a chance to meet. Most dogs will not fare well with a stranger entering your home when you’re away, which can cause problems for the pet sitter.
Allow your dog to become comfortable with the pet sitter. If necessary, have them meet on multiple occasions. It may seem tedious, but using a pet sitter will be much easier if your dog is comfortable with the sitter. Plus, if you ever need to use a pet sitting service again, you could rehire the same sitter.
5. Set Up Reliable Contact Information
Both you and the pet sitter should have multiple ways to contact each other. This will prevent anything blocking communication between the two of you. Make sure you explain to your pet sitter how often you expect to be contacted.
It is up to you to tell a sitter if you want to be contacted multiple times per day with pictures and updates on your dog, or if you’re okay with a simple daily rundown.
Make sure you set up contact between a friend or family member and the pet sitter as well. This will ensure that someone will be contacted should any emergency situations arise. If a pet sitter is having a hard time reaching you, they can simply contact the other person you set them up with.
Also, make sure your pet sitting services have your veterinarian's contact information in case their services are needed. Let your vet know that your pet will be with a sitter, so they know not to be alarmed if someone new brings your dog in.
6. Leave All Pet Supplies in One Easy to Find Place
When you are preparing your home for a pet sitter, make sure that you leave all important pet supplies in an easy to find place. Leave leashes, collars, medications, food, treats, and more all together to ensure the sitter is able to find everything. You can also leave important contact numbers in this area.
When deciding where to keep all of the supplies at, keep in mind that even with a pet sitter, your dog will be alone a lot. Therefore, the supplies should be somewhere they can’t access them. Food, treats, and medications should be especially unreachable. These can cause harm if your pet gets to them before the sitter does.
7. Leave Your Sitter With Clear Instructions
When it comes to working with a pet sitter, clear, effective, communication is the best way to ensure everything goes smoothly. Make sure you leave your pet sitter with detailed instructions with the care you expect your pet to receive. This is really important for dogs with special needs.
8. Get Your Pet Accustomed to the New Schedule
Work out what time of day your pet sitter will be visiting your home, and how many times per day. When you know what time your sitter will be coming every day, get your dog accustomed to this schedule.
Feed and take your dog out around the times the pet sitting services will be coming. This way they will be used to this before you leave them. This will make the transition easy for both your pet sitter and your dog.
9. Make Sure All Supplies Work Before Leaving
Before you leave your dog with a pet sitter, take time to make sure of the pet supplies work. Make sure that leashes are still in tact, collars still fit, and so on. You don’t want to leave on vacation just to receive a call from your sitter as soon as you leave saying that anything was defective.
If you find that any of your supplies aren’t working or may stop working soon, replace them before leaving your dog with the sitter. Also, be sure to be fully stocked on food, medications, treats, and whatever else your dog may need. Tell your pet sitter that if something breaks or runs out while you are gone, that you will compensate them for it when you return.
10. Reinforce the Dog’s Training Before Leaving
Before you leave your dog with a pet sitter, reinforce their training. Make sure that they are still trained to walk on a leash, and are still potty trained. Also, make sure that your dog is able to refrain from excessive barking and aggression.
Sometimes, dogs will experience behavior problems when they are alone with a stranger. If possible, set up a training session with you, your dog, and the pet sitter to ensure the dog will act trained with the sitter as well.
11. Prepare the Sitter For Events That May Occur
Prepare your dog sitter for any events that could possibly occur. Let them know of any expected visits, so they can be sure to be present for it. Also, let your sitter know of any areas your dog should avoid.
Your pet sitting services will work with you in just about any situation, so don’t be shy in telling them what could possibly happen. The more prepared your dog sitter is, the more likely your dog is going to have a safe, enjoyable experience with the sitter.
12. Stock Up On Cleaning Supplies
When your dog is alone in your home most of the time, they will likely have accidents. Not only might they have an accident inside the house, they might get into garbage, or otherwise make a mess out of something. Most pet sitters will agree to clean up after your dog while you are gone.
Make it easier for your pet sitter by having cleaning supplies readily available. Of course, keep the supplies somewhere safe from your dog and make sure the pet sitter knows where the supplies are. If your dog will understand how to use one, it may be ideal to stock up on puppy training pads before leaving. This way, your dog has a place to use the bathroom in case they have to go when the sitter isn’t there.
13. Let the Sitter Know About Behaviors
Every dog is different, so even the most experienced sitter may not be able to tell what kind of care is best for your dog right off the bat. Tell your sitter about any behaviors and needs your dog has beforehand. For example, a sitter would benefit knowing if your dog is more social and prefers attention, or if your dog likes to keep to themselves for the most part.
If your dog has any special needs, your sitter needs to know about this as well. This ensures your dog receives the best care possible. Hiring pet sitting services for the first time can be nerve wracking, but when done properly, it can be a very pleasant experience. Hiring a professional pet sitter gives you the power to completely vet someone before trusting them with your dog and home.
Finding the right pet sitter is the most important part of the process. At this time, it is up to you to thoroughly interview and investigate each potential pet sitter. Let your pet sitter meet with your dog before hand to ensure they will be a good match for each other.
Once you have a pet sitter hired, it is up to you to make sure they understand exactly the care you expect for your pet. They need to know how often you would like your dog fed, taken out, bathed, etc. You need to let them know how often you wish to be updated on your dog. Also, your pet sitter must know what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency relating to your dog. Following all the steps listed up above will ensure you have a pleasant pet sitting experience.