If you have pets and love them as much as I do, leaving them in someone else’s care can be difficult. But there are times when you need to. You can have friends watch over them, board them at a kennel, or you can choose the option of a pet sitter.
Once you decide to try a pet sitter, how do you choose a good one?
Find an organization that provides training to pet sitters, helps them understand how to set up their business and helps them understand best practices for the business. Good pet sitters will be part of a recognized organization.
Once you find a few in your area, check to see if they have a website. Often, the website will give you most of the information you need to know if you want to go any further. Before you do anything else, see if their website discloses if they are bonded and insured. Do no go any further if you are working with a pet sitter WITHOUT insurance. You need to make sure they are covered for any liabilities. This service involves working with pets, and even if your are the most mild mannered in the world, you need to know their business is protected in the event of any situation.
Once you find their insurance certificate, or seal of approval on their website, peruse the site for any and all information. Do they cover your area? Do they have restrictions on the types of pets they work with? Do they only work with large, or small? Do they do cats and dogs? What services do they offer? Do they only work on weekends, or do they have services all week? What other extras are involved? Do they bring in the mail, water plants, and straighten up as well? Those are extra added bonuses if you travel often, or are planning to be gone on a long trip.Most of all, check their service prices, and make sure their prices are something you can afford. You don’t want to waste your time or their time having them come out to meet your pets, if you can’t afford their rates, or don’t think their rates are reasonable.
If the pet sitter doesn’t have a website, feel free to call them and gather the above information in a phone consultation or see if they can mail you a brochure. Gather this information from several different sources so that you have several to choose from and can fit the one that suits you best.
Once you have a few that look like good prospects, call to set up a consultation. You should NEVER hire a pet sitter that hasn’t met your pets! You don’t know how your pets react to strangers, and how they react to people when you are not around, so make sure your animals can meet the pet sitter. Most pet sitters will offer a consultation at no fee, and they can discuss their rates in more detail, as well as what they do. Be prepared to answer many questions for them about the behavior of your pets, as well as ask as many as you need to feel comfortable. Ask them how long they stay, what do they do – do they play with the pets, take them for walks, or for runs? Find out how much time they are going to spend with your animals and make sure to discuss any quirks about your pets and their daily routines.
Also, be prepared to fill out some paperwork for your pet sitter. You should document feeding amounts and times, any medications required (this may involve an extra fee) or medical conditions they need to be aware of, times of day you require visits, behavioral characteristics of your pets, as well as information on your veterinarian. Your pet sitter may ask you to sign a waiver allowing them to seek veterinary care in the case of an emergency and that you will be responsible for all fees. Please discuss this with the pet sitter.
Setting up a consultation with the pet sitter is the next step. This allows them to meet your pets and interact with your pets. You can discuss everything you need to about your expectations, your pets and their needs. This will also give you a chance to see how comfortable the pet sitter is with your pets, as well as how your pets react to this new person. Once you have gathered all the pertinent information, discussed your pets’ needs as well as had the pet sitter over for a consultation, you should feel comfortable choosing the best pet sitter for you.
If you have met a few, you may want to choose one to be your primary, but keep a second or third as backups. Sometimes your primary pet sitter may be booked and not available for the dates you need them. Having a back up is key to your own travel planning. Always give as much advance notice as you can, to ensure your pet sitter still has time for your scheduled dates, and be sure to give extra notice for holidays and prime vacation times, as this is when pet sitters get booked up quickly.
Once you have scheduled times with your newpet sitter, make sure they have an emergency number to contact you or a trusted friend if anything should happen. Also make sure they know how to enter your property, either by providing them a set of keys, or putting keys in a predetermined location. It’s a good habit to give them the number of a close by friend who also has a set of keys to your home, in case the pet sitter gets locked out for any reason, so that they have a back up to enter your property should anything happen.
Enjoy your new relationship with your pet sitter, and be able to travel knowing your pets are safe at home!