Before you hire a pet-sitter

Happy dog

A DogGeek.com exclusive by Teresa Barker

There are so many details to plan for when going out of town on vacation. The one thing that you don’t want to have to worry about is whether or not your dogs are in capable, loving hands back at home. If you’ve decided that your dogs would be most comfortable at home while you’re gone, in their own environment, then you will be looking to hire a pet-sitter.

Here are a few considerations when looking for the perfect pet-sitter for your dogs. Use this list at least 2 months in advance of your vacation to avoid last-minute stress and frustration, and to make sure that your travel dates aren’t already taken by your first-pick candidate!

  1. Ask your friends for referrals.
    While it might seem easy to pay your co-worker’s college-aged daughter to watch your dog, you will want to find a pet-sitter that isn’t “doing you a favor.” Ask all of your dog mom and dad friends who they use when they go away. Your vet and your locally owned pet supply store can also be a great place to seek referrals. If you are new to your area, check out our section right here at DogGeek.com for sitters in your area.

  2. Interview as many people as you can.
    The initial meeting is a great time to “size-up” candidates. From personality to qualifications and experience, you will want to be comfortable with the person sleeping at your house and caring for your special loved ones. Ask questions! Whether he/she knows pet CPR, if they licensed and bonded, if they carry insurance, and how much they charge, are questions that will help you compare candidates based on what is most important to you.

  3. Ask for a list of references. Then call them!
    This is a good step once you’ve narrowed your search down to a few candidates. Ask for details about the type of care that was provided to the referenced client. For example, did the pet-sitter provide overnight care for a series of days (live-in service) or just come by for feeding/watering/walking services? Also, ask about the details of the types of dogs the pet-sitter candidate cared for. Do the references have small or big dogs? More than 1 dog? Look for details in a pet-sitters experience that resemble your home environment.

  4. Arrange a home visit before you hire.
    This is a good step in assessing your potential dog sitters’ ability to interact with your dogs. Does he/she seem confident and loving? Is he/she asking you questions that are important (emergency contacts, vet info, favorite toys, sleeping/eating schedule)?  Most importantly, do your dogs like the potential candidate? Dogs are intuitive, so they will be able to read if someone genuinely likes them.

Leaving your dog while you are away on vacation can make a supposedly relaxing experience very stressful. You can reduce your anxiety by taking the time to hire a competent and experienced pet sitter to provide your dog the love and care it deserves and the piece of mind you need to enjoy your vacation!

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