How to Choose a Pet Sitter

Three Parts:Finding Quality Pet SittersConducting InterviewsMaking a Final Decision

A vacation or business trip can be more relaxing and productive when you know you have a responsible professional looking after your pet. Professional pet sitters are entrusted with entering your residence and caring for an animal that may be stressed or upset due to being home alone. Choosing a pet sitter can be difficult, but it's worth the time and effort to make sure your pet is cared for. Take some time to make a list of potential sitters. Conduct a round of interviews to find a sitter that best meets your needs. When you've made a final decision, settle on a contract and price range.

Part 1
Finding Quality Pet Sitters

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    Check out online resources. If you're unsure where to look for a pet sitter, you can look online. There are a variety of websites that list sitters based on location.[1]
    • Websites like Pet Sitters International and National Association of Pet Sitters allow you to type in your zip code to find pet sitters near you.[2]
    • Sites like Angie's List, SitterCity, and Care.com also provide lists of pet sitters.[3]
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    Ask other pet owners. If you know other pet owners in your area, this can also be a good option. A referral from a trusted friend may be more reliable than an online listing. Try asking friends and family members who have used pet sitting services for the names of sitters they've used in the past.
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    Look for signs of quality pet sitters. When finding names of sitters, there are some things you should look for. You do not want to waste your time contacting a sitter who does not have the right credentials.[4]
    • You should make sure any pet sitter you hire has liability insurance. A pet sitter should also have had some formal training.
    • Check to see if the pet sitter works with a veterinarian. You want to make sure emergency services are available if necessary.
    • Make sure a pet sitter provides references. You do not want to hire anyone without contacting past clients first. A pet sitter will have access to your home. You want a list of people who can confirm the legitimacy of a potential sitter.
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    Make a list of sitters able to meet your specific needs. Start compiling a list. In addition to looking for general indicators of quality, take your specific needs into account.[5]
    • Does your pet have any specific medical problems? If so, only list sitters with experience working with animals with health issues.
    • Is the sitter available during the time you will be gone? Do you need an overnight sitter? If so, will the sitter be able to stay overnight?
    • What kind of animal do you have? You do not want to book a sitter who only has experience with dogs if you have a cat.
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    Compare prices between pet sitters. You want to find someone in your price range. Some sitters are willing to negotiate prices, so you do not necessarily need a perfect match. However, look for sitters that are within a reasonable range of what you can afford.[6]
    • Have an idea of how much you can spend per night or per day. Check sitters rates online, or ask them when calling them.
    • Give yourself a general range and only list sitters who fall in that range. For example, say you can afford about $60 to $100 a night. Look for sitters in this range.

Part 2
Conducting Interviews

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    Ask them why they like pet sitting. This can allow you to learn a lot about a pet sitter. You want a sitter who genuinely loves animals and enjoys his or her job.[7]
    • An open-ended question allows you to judge a sitter's excitement about the job. A good sitter should not hesitate to answer. He or she should immediately have an answer ready.
    • Look for someone who is animated and enthusiastic. They will probably be more dedicated to your pets during the job.
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    Check what services they provide. Your pet may have special needs. You should make sure your pet sitter is able to provide these services. Some pet sitters just do the bare minimum. Others throw in extra services.[8]
    • For example, say you have a longhaired dog. He or she may need grooming on a weekly basis. You should make sure your pet sitter is willing to groom your dog.
    • You may also want someone who is going to spend time with your animals. If your cat gets nervous when you're gone, for example, you will want a pet sitter willing to play with and pet your cat during your vacation.
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    Ask about training and experience. You want a sitter with experience that matches your needs. Professional training is also a huge plus. Training can help a sitter spot health problems and deal with emergencies.[9]
    • Make sure a sitter has experience with your specific type of pet. If you have a very large dog, you do not want a sitter who primarily worked with toy poodles. If you have a rescue dog with behavioral issues, you want a sitter who has worked with difficult animals previously.
    • There are many pet sitting training programs, and a pet sitter may also have had professional training elsewhere. For example, a pet sitter who works part time as a veterinary technician may be a good option. He or she would be able to handle any health issues that arise.
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    Check that the pet sitter is insured. Ideally, you should hire an insured sitter. If a sitter works through an agency, he or she may be insured through that agency. Independent sitters occasionally have their own private insurance. You want insurance in the event an accident occurs while you are away.[10]
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    Make sure they can meet any special needs. Does your pet need any special care while you are away? If so, bring this up during an interview. You want to make sure a potential sitter can meet all your pet's needs.[11]
    • The sitter should not be intimidated or nervous when you bring up special needs. Say a potential sitter seems nervous when he or she finds out your cat needs a daily insulin shot. This sitter may not be qualified to watch your pet.
    • Look for a sitter that seems confident and also has experience. For example, go for a sitter who has given animals shots before and is not squeamish about it.
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    Ask about emergencies. You want a sitter who can handle anything. Accidents can happen, so make sure your sitter has a game plan in the event of an emergency.[12]
    • If your sitter has worked as a vet or vet technician, this can be a major bonus. He or she may be able to act fast in the event of an emergency.
    • However, even a sitter without veterinary training should be able to handle emergencies. A sitter should know how to handle an injured animal. A qualified sitter should know the signs an animal is injured or in pain. He or she should also have the number of your veterinarian on hand.

Part 3
Making a Final Decision

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    Contact references. This is a good way to make a final decision. References can answer any questions you have about a pet sitter. If you have your list narrowed down to a few sitters, try calling up a sitter's references.[13]
    • This is an opportunity to ask about any reservations you have. If there's any reason you're unsure of whether to hire a sitter, bring this up when speaking to the reference.
    • Try to contact references who have pets that are similar to your pets. This will be the best way to assess whether a sitter works for you.
    • Ask references if the sitter was respectful of their homes. A pet sitter will have access to your home while you are away. You want someone you can trust to handle your things and not make a mess or cause any damage.
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    Have the sitter meet your pets. You should always do this before making a final decision. You want to make sure your pets are comfortable with a potential sitter before you leave.[14]
    • Make sure your pets seem comfortable with the sitter. They should not appear nervous or upset in the sitter's presence.
    • If your pets do not seem to warm up to the sitter, you should probably go with someone else. Pets get stressed being left alone. Being left with a sitter they dislike can make stress worse.
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    Look at price again. If you're having trouble deciding, look at price again. Find the sitter whose rates best match your pay range. If you have two quality sitters to choose from, going with the cheaper sitter can help you make a final decision.[15]
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    Settle on a contract and price range. Once you have chosen the sitter, this is necessary. You want to make sure the two of you have a firm understanding of the expectations for care.[16]
    • A contract should list any services that will be provided. It should include things like feeding, playing, grooming, and walking. It should also be clear how often the sitter will check on the pets.
    • Make sure you figure out a price range. A sitter may be willing to negotiate price. Find a range that feels fair to both of you.
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    Have a backup plan. Sitters do sometimes cancel at the last minute. Also, there's always a chance your sitter will have an emergency while you are away. Make sure to leave a set of keys with a friend or family member. In the event the sitter can't make it, someone else can check in on your pets for the day.
    • You should also have a list of second choice sitters. In the event your sitter cancels, you call up one of the other candidates.

Tips

  • Make sure your pet's vaccinations and identification tags are current before you leave. You may also let local animal shelters know that you are going out of town, and provide a description of your pet in case it runs away and becomes lost while under the sitter's care.
  • When working with a new pet sitter, many families leave a spare key and their contact information with a trusted neighbor. This way, there is some recourse in case the sitter does not arrive as planned, or if something goes wrong.

Article Info

Categories: Pets and Animals