Maybe you have a new puppy or an aging senior dog that needs more frequent potty trips? Or, a high energy dog that needs to blow off some extra steam mid-day? Or, a cat who is on a special diet or medical routine? Maybe the family just has planned a weekend out of town and you can’t bear the thought of dropping your pets off in boarding? Whatever the reason may be, you’ve found yourself considering hiring a pet sitter. But, you’ve never had one before and all of the numerous apps and online sites offering low cost pet visits are overwhelming (not to mention, you’re probably a bit uneasy about the thought of having someone in your home while you’re away)…
We Totally Get It!
We’ve been there! Like you, there are few people we entrust in our home while we’re not there, much less allow caring for our fur babies! That’s why we’ve decided to put this list of tips together so YOU and YOUR PET can be more comfortable in times when the help of a pet sitter is necessary.
Tip #1: Ask Around
More people these days are utilizing the services of professional pet sitters (especially in Southern California where we live). Odds are, you may even have some friends or acquaintances who have one. So, ask around! Find out if people you know are using a trusted pet sitter and ask them about their experiences and if they have a trusted contact that they could pass along. This will save you a ton of leg work in researching and interviewing candidates, if they come to you first as a referral.
Tip #2: Do Your Homework & Host a Productive Initial Meeting
Whether or not you get a 5-star recommendation, do your own homework. Google the company and/or the pet sitter before you ever even reach out to the potential pet sitter to get an idea of their experience and love of pets, their trustworthiness, and their professionalism. Figure as much out online as you can and always ask for an initial meeting. Most pet sitters will offer initial meetings free of charge. During this interview, ask them questions to help you fill in the blanks.
REMEMBER YOUR GOALS: (1) Finding the Perfect Companion for Your Pet, and (2) Finding Someone You are Comfortable Trusting in your Home.
The most important things to consider in achieving these goals include:
Is the pet sitter licensed, insured and bonded?
This is an absolute MUST for the safety of your pet and for the protection of assets in your home! If the pet sitter has an online presence, this is something you may be able to determine relatively easily; and when you meet in person, don’t hesitate to ask to see their business license and for a copy of their insurance and bonding certificate.
Is their love of animals clear from online profile(s) and history?
Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are great resources to see pictures and get a feel for people’s passions and personality. But you (as well as your pet) should also get a feel of comfort with the sitter when you meet in person. It’s not uncommon for some dogs to exhibit a bit of fear or anxiety upon meeting someone new, but as the pack leader, always trust your gut! If something doesn’t seem right, or you aren’t clicking, there is no harm in letting the potential pet sitter know that it’s not a good fit.
How trustworthy are they?
Yeah, yeah, yeah… a person is always going to tell you to your face that they’re trustworthy; but, to see a more complete picture, determine what OTHER PEOPLE actually saying about their experience with this company or individual. –A great way to find this out on your own is by visiting the Yelp website to check out online reviews. Upon meeting the potential sitter, you can also ask for letters of reference from current or past clients. Some pet sitters may even post these on their website as well. Do your due diligence!
How professional are they?
A quick review of their website should allow you to determine if they are able to form sentences (after all, you want your pet sitter to be able to communicate with you as well as your pets, right?!?). –When booking, do they obtain the necessary information to meet (in other words, are they organized in obtaining your basic pet care needs and meeting time and location)? –Do they arrive promptly (meaning, are they respectful of your time)? Do they have a pet sitting agreement or contract which spells out expectations for both parties (i.e., do they hold themselves accountable)?
Tip #3: Ask Questions
Beyond the basics listed above, be sure you feel the potential pet sitter out on topics and questions important to you. Questions you ask may include:
- How much do you charge? (But remember the old adage: you get what you pay for — this is especially true with people you allow in your home!)
- Are you generally available on short notice?
- Do you have a cancellation policy?
- What are my options for shorter (or longer) pet visits?
- Do you offer online scheduling and payment?
- What forms of payment do you accept?
- How many (and what kind of) pets do you have yourself?
- Within the city, are there particular neighborhood(s) you focus your time?
- What does a typical pet visit look like for you? Can you walk/feed/provide medicine(s) or needed special care for my pet(s)?
- What is the best way to contact you?
- Do you offer overnight services?
- How do you typically communicate with your clients?
After Following these Tips, Ask Yourself these Two Very Important Questions:
- Is this Person the Perfect Companion for My Pet?
- Am I Comfortable Trusting this Person in My Home?
If your head and your gut are in alignment and the answers are ” Yes-Yes “, congratulations, you’re ready to hire your first pet sitter!
We hope you’ve found this list helpful. If so, and you’d like to be notified when we post other related content, be sure to Subscribe to our Blog via Email (scroll up and click the aqua “Subscribe” button on the right). Click here to learn more about us at Petfriender.
Have additional tips or more questions that you’d add? Tell us about it in the comments below!