Pet sitter walking a dog

Things to Consider When Hiring a Pet Sitter

  Whether you go out of town often or only rarely get to take a vacation, one thing that makes planning travel a little trickier is being a dog owner. You know you can’t leave your pet alone in  your home for days on end, but you might also not have friends or family available (or that you can trust enough) to take care of your dog. And if you’re uncomfortable with the thought of putting her in a kennel, you are pretty much left with only one option: hire a dog sitter.   Hiring a dog sitter offers a variety of benefits, not the least of which is that your pup will be able to stay home in an environment in which she’s comfortable. However, since your dog is such a loved family member, you might feel uneasy about leaving her with a stranger. If that sounds like you, there are a number of things you can look into regarding a dog sitter that will help you ensure the sitter you hire is right for your dog (and your peace of mind).  

Make Sure the Sitter is Insured

It might seem odd to even think about insurance when it comes to someone watching your pets, but if the sitter is legitimate, they will carry insurance and be able to supply proof that they do. Don’t feel weird about asking a prospective dog sitter if they have insurance – it’s a good sign that they are good at what they do. Anyway, it should offer you a little solace that should any damage occur in your home due to the sitter’s actions or if the dog is injured in any way that the sitter’s insurance will be able to cover the costs.  

Check References, then Check More References

You can’t be too careful when it comes to picking who is going to be taking care of your dog, so get and contact references from any prospective dog sitters. When contacting the dog sitter’s previous clients, you should ask what kind of animal the sitter watched for them and if they would hire the sitter again. If at any point you feel like you can’t trust their references, don’t feel awkward when telling them you’re not going to hire them – your dog’s safety is more important than hiring someone just because they were the first person you talked to.  

Ask About Experience and Training

When interviewing someone to be a dog sitter, ask them outright about their experience and whether or not they have special training or qualifications related to animal care. Likewise, inform the sitter of any potential behavioral or medical issues that your dog might have and make absolutely sure that the sitter can handle whatever issue might come up.  

Solidify Your Sitter’s Fees and Service

Once you have found the right dog sitter who has good references, experience, and insurance, you are going to want to solidify the terms for paying them. You wouldn’t want there to be any surprises tacked onto the bill once you are back home after a trip in which you may have spent a lot of money. To get all the dog sitter’s fees tallied up, you should take the time to discuss all of the services and scheduling that they will be using with your dog.  

Questions to Ask the Dog Sitter

As mentioned before, we know that you love  your dog as much as any member of your family. That being the case, put in your due diligence before you leave your pooch in the care of someone who is a stranger to her. The following questions will help alleviate some of your stress about hiring a dog sitter:
  • How often will the sitter come to your home to check on the dog?
    • How long will each visit be?
    • Will the sitter ever need to spend the night at your home?
  • What -if any- grooming options are offered?
  • Can the sitter take your dog for regular walks?
  • Will the dog sitter take care of the home as well as the dog?
    • Will likely cost a little more, but it’s well worth it for a variety of reasons (if you need them)
    • Will the sitter water your plants, clean up after accidents, take garbage bins to street for weekly pick up, clean your home, or do anything else that you need or want taken care of while away?
  • What will the sitter do if the dog falls ill or gets injured?
    • Will the dog sitter take your pup to the veterinarian?
      • How will the costs for a vet visit be handled?
  • Is there anyone else that the sitter might allow into your home?

A Few Final Notes

There are still a few things you should (at the very least) consider and do them if you have the time while going through the dog sitter hiring process:
  • Try to make the reservations with the sitter as early as possible
  • If your dog requires medication, leave a detailed note explaining everything about administering it.
  • Have emergency contact information readily available and in a very visible location.
  • Also give a house key to a neighbor, friend, or nearby family, and give the sitter their contact info in case they get locked out.
  • If you have a security system, teach the sitter how to turn it on and off.
  • Watch the sitter interact with your dog to see how they are around animals.
  If there is a chance, you could always take your dog along for the trip. Then at least you would know she was in good hands. Otherwise, increase your chances that your dog will be taken care of by a professional who is going to follow all of your instructions, and do so by following the tips and guidelines discussed above.