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Choosing a Pet Sitter – What to Look For

December 14, 2011

Choosing a great pet sitter is important to you and your pets. You want someone who is reliable, trustworthy, does what you ask, and most of all, is affectionate with the furry and feline members of your family. You want a pet sitter who loves your pets almost as much as you do and will go the extra mile if your pets have a medical emergency. You want someone your pets are happy with too!

The first thing you should do with a potential pet sitter is schedule a meet and greet at your home. This is the time for you, the pet sitter, and your pets to all get acquainted. This will take some time initially, but it’s time well spent and will give you a chance to ask questions, be comfortable with your decision, and start the communication ball rolling. The pet sitter will certainly ask you lots of questions about your pets; feeding, walking, vet info, etc, but there are some important items for you to cover at the initial meeting.

1. Ask about the pet sitter’s background. How were they trained? How long have they been a pet sitter? What other training do they have, such as Red Cross pet first aid and CPR?

Previous lines of work? Other interests? Do they live close? What is their home address? Email address? Chat them up! As a pet sitter on the other end of these conversations, I have found out that one client’s ex-husband used to coach my daughter’s soccer team, another client had an upcoming appointment with my husband’s coworker, and yet another client and I used to live in the same town in another state. It’s comforting for everyone to start off on some common ground.

2. When talking with your potential pet sitter, watch how they interact with your pets. Do they give your dog a cursory pat on the head and give all the attention to you? Or do they have a grin on their face as they find the special spot to scratch behind your dog’s ears and then croon to her during lulls in adult conversation? You want to get the sense that they LOVE animals, yours specifically, and they LOVE their job.

3. Do they keep a journal and write in it after each visits? You want to know when they notice some slightly unusual behavior or off-colored poo. Let them know what you consider important enough for an immediate phone call. You need to set the parameters of communication with your pet sitter.

4. Are they insured and bonded? Technically they don’t have to be, at least in my state, but you certainly want them to be. Ask for copies of both documents and check to make sure they are up-to-date.

5. Most pet sitters have written contracts but if they don’t produce any, ask them to do so. Contracts that spell out what they are going to do or not do, is important protection for both of you. Keep copies for yourself.

6. Ask for references! I am amazed at how many people do not ask for references from pet sitters. Pet sitters should have these handy. If they’re good, they have no problem supplying you with this information.

7. What plan do they have in place in case they have a personal emergency? Do they have another petsitter who can cover for them? Also, do they have back-up petsitters for when they manage to work in a vacation, or are you on your own to find one? You can ask to meet any back-up petsitters, after all, it’s your home and your pet.

Following this advice should help you hook up with an amazing pet sitter, one you’re comfortable with and trust. You’ll be happy you did because a good pet sitter will become like a member of your family!

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From → Pet Sitting

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