Leaving for vacation or work can be stressful when you don’t know who is going to watch your fur baby! We know these pet-loving professionals help make the lives of pet parents easier. Pet sitters offer the pet parent peace of mind when they are at work or on vacation. You may wonder how to hire a pet sitter to care for your pet. We have tips!

Pet sitters provide a valuable service whether they are: 

  1. Walking your dog to keep him from being bored when he’s home alone
  2. Staying at your home so your pets don’t need to be boarded
  3. Playing with your cat to keep her entertained
  4. Caring for all your pets including: snakes, fish, hamsters, hedgehogs, reptiles, dogs, cats, birds and more
  5. Keeping your pet happier at home while you’re away. Most pets are more comfortable in their own homes and a professional pet sitter makes that option possible

How To Hire A Pet Sitter

how to hire a pet sitter Leaving your dog or cat in the care of a virtual stranger can be a nerve-wracking time. If you know you will need to leave your pet in the care of a pet sitter when you go on vacation or if you need a dog walker while you’re at work, start your search as early as possible.

Here are our best tips for how to find a pet sitter:

  1. Ask friends and family who they use and who they would recommend. Word-of-mouth recommendations from a trusted pet parent is one of the best ways to find a pet sitter.
  2. Look to professional organizations. If you don’t have any local friends or family who use a pet sitter or a dog walker, go online and search professional organizations like: RoverPet Sitters International or National Association of Pet Sitters. These groups may require specific training for pet sitters who are their members. Organizations like these may also list local pet sitters from whom you can choose.
  3. Ask your veterinarian. Your vet may be a great resource for a pet sitter or dog walker. Your vet may not want to specifically recommend anyone, but they could point you in the direction of a local pet sitter or how to hire a pet sitter in the local area.

Now that you’ve found a few pet sitters or dog walkers to talk with, how can you determine who is the best pet sitter or dog walker for you and your beloved fur babies? How to hire a pet sitter isn’t always easy, but we’ve curated questions just for you.

how to hire a pet sitterHere are items to consider and questions to ask:

  1. How long have you been a pet sitter?
  2. Are there any breeds or species for whom you won’t pet sit?
  3. Do you have any references? (Ask for contact information for references and call those individuals)
  4. Do you have any special medical training? Pet CPR, for example.
  5. Do you belong to any professional organizations?
  6. What is your philosophy on positive reinforcement training?
  7. What special services, if any, do you provide?
  8. Are you licensed and insured? If so, you will want to see copies of that paperwork.
  9. Does the pet sitter have any emergency back-up plans in case he/she can’t make it to your home? Emergencies do happen and an experienced pet sitter or dog walker will have a back-up plan in place. If that’s the case, you will also want to meet or talk with the back-up person.
  10. Does the pet sitter or dog walker ever outsource any of his or her services? You want to assure yourself that the person you’re interviewing is the one who will be with your pet.
  11. What pets do you own?
  12. Will they scoop litter boxes? Pick up dog poo when they walk your dog?
  13. What are their fees? Is there a contract you need to sign?
  14. Is the pet sitter or dog walker able to take care of any of your pets who may have medical conditions that require injections or other medications?
  15. Will the pet sitter send you photos and/or updates about your pet while you’re away?

During the pet sitter/dog walker interview

  1. How well is the pet sitter interacting with your pets?
  2. Is the pet sitter taking notes while you’re talking?
  3. Do you feel as though the pet sitter is truly listening to you and your concerns about your pets?
  4. Do you feel comfortable with this pet sitter or dog walker? Trust your instincts.
  5. Do you have a clearly laid out plan for what you need from the pet sitter or dog walker? It’s crucial that you spell out everything you want/expect from the sitter and whether he or she can deliver. You don’t want to leave anything to chance.

Entrusting your pets — no matter the species — with a pet sitter or dog walker is a time fraught with stress. Start your search early. Invite the pet sitter/dog walker to your home for a “dry run” several times before you leave for vacation; this is a service you should be willing and happy to pay for to put your mind at ease.

There are many dog walkers and pet sitters whose love of their charges — your pets — shines through in their every interaction. When you find a pet sitting gem you will know it and your pets will benefit!

Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual. When not caring for her pets or taking them on walks, she is a speaker, efficiency and effectiveness guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words MatterMy Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof/Crimeless Cat.