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I love taking my dogs with me when I travel, but it’s not always possible for them to tag along. I can’t imagine my pups spending their days in a kennel, and Sadie isn’t a candidate for doggie day care, so getting a pet sitter come to the house is the best option for us. It’s much less stressful, and my dogs get to stay in a familiar environment with their regular routine.
As a dog trainer and self-proclaimed dog mom, let’s just say I’m a little crazy picky about who cares for my crew. Personally, I’d rather have a trained professional taking care of my dogs than a friend who might not take it as seriously. I’ve been able to find a couple good pet sitters that I can trust when I go out of town, and I am regularly asked what to look for when choosing a pet sitter.
1. Ask for recommendations.
Talk to your friends, dog trainer, vet, or groomer and ask for suggestions. Does one particular company keep coming up? Look at reviews online as well and see what people are saying.
2. Look for a company that is bonded and insured.
While any reputable company will do background checks, or at least check references, a company that is bonded and insured protects your stuff and your pet if there is any damage or anything unforeseen happens to your house or your dog(s).
3. Do they have any certifications or professional memberships?
I look for a pet sitter that has a pet first aid/CPR certification, and is a member of a professional pet sitting organization, like Pet Sitters International. There is no real regulation in the pet sitting industry, so joining professional organizations means they are making the effort to follow a set of standards.
4. Think about your budget.
Include pet sitting when you are thinking about your travel expenses. My informal research found that an overnight pet sitter can range from $50-75/night, and if you want them to stop in during the day for a potty break or walk, that can be an additional $15-25.
5. Does your dog like the person?
Sometimes dogs and people just don’t click, especially if your dog isn’t super friendly with everyone she meets. While your dog may not jump for joy during the initial meeting, does she seem to relax around the potential pet sitter? If your dog has a little bit of anxiety about new people, does the potential sitter have experience with dogs like that?
6. Do you like the person?
This is someone who isn’t just taking care of your dogs, but will be spending time inside your home. Trust your instincts, and if you don’t like the potential pet sitter, keep looking!
7. Make sure the pet sitter can handle any special needs.
Whether this is giving your dog medication or avoiding other dogs on walks, ask the potential pet sitter how he/she handles these situations. Be sure that he follows a positive reinforcement protocol and has a plan that you are okay with.
8. Ask the pet sitter about checking in.
If you want regular texts about your dog while you’re gone, communicate that. Some pet sitters are more willing than others, so if you want updates or photos, be clear about that from the beginning. Many pet sitters use pet sitting software, like Scout, to check in and out of appointments and to send pictures and notes related to the visit.
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