9 Factors to Consider When Looking for Dog Sitters
You want the best for your dog even when you’re away. One way to ensure that is to look for dog sitters who approach your dog’s care as you do.
In that case, pet sitter apps won’t help much since you need to do thorough background checks. Even if a friend referred you to their dog sitter, you would still vet them to ensure they meet your expectations.
Wondering what to look for in dog sitters?
We can help you find a sitter focused on your dog’s health and wellness. Here’s a list of critical factors you need to consider when looking for dog sitters.
#1: How Pet Sitters Interact With Your Dog
It can be a challenge establishing a pet sitter’s quality of service without meeting them in person.
Pet Sitters International recommends interviewing pet sitters or dog walkers before you hire them. Relevant interview questions include asking for client references, whether the business is licensed, and proof of recent background checks. That way, you can gauge their approach.
Beth Stultz-Hairston, president of Pet Sitters International, says
“Pet owners give pet sitters access to their beloved pets and their homes. So it’s vital that they take time —and know the right questions to ask— to choose a qualified pet sitter.”
An in-person interview will also allow you to see first-hand how they interact with your pet.
Their response to your questions will reveal a lot about their enthusiasm and whether they love doing it. Some sitters pet sit for money; they’re not interested in your pet’s wellness.
#2: Dog Sitting Experience
You want to leave your pup with a sitter who understands pet care inside and out. So you should know the difference between pet lovers and pet care experts.
A pet sitter provides more than company to your pets. Their top roles are healthy feeding and proper health monitoring. Have a pet care provider who can tell all the signs of a sick dog at first glance.
If your dog takes medication or special supplements such as salmon oil for immunity, make sure your pet sitter knows about it. This also applies to any other therapy or routine that your dog needs.
Where there are several dogs, pet sitters must know how to balance attention between pets.
Look at shortlisted sitters’ resumes to see if they have what it takes to provide expected pet care services.
Check if their qualifications include:
- Taking dogs to the vet
- Basic grooming
- Pup care and nursing
- Puppy potty and kennel training
- Dog walking, exercising, and socializing
- Administering medication to pets
- Overnight pet care
- Cleaning pet quarters
- Preventive dog care for long term health
#3: Dog Sitting Reputation
People have different characters, and not all pet sitters have a clean track record.
You want to hire someone trustworthy as you will be leaving them with your pets as well as your home. Inquiring into your shortlisted dog sitters’ history helps you uncover what you need to know.
Asking for references from other pet owners is a great way to gauge a sitter’s reputation. If you have friends who are pet owners, ask them to refer you to their trusted pet sitters. Friends can save you a lot of time and link you to great pet sitters.
Vets and their staff may also provide helpful information about local pet care providers.
65% of pet owners use reviews to choose pet sitters.
Even so, some reviews can be misleading. It’s best to compare your results with impartial reviews from sources like Yelp. Also, ask pet care providers if they can provide extra references beyond those on their apps.
#4: Pet Sitter Skills in Health and Wellness
Most dog sitters don’t usually have formal training or education. This can make it hard to assess their skills or trust their resumes.
Certified pet sitters should have training in animal CPR and first aid. Hiring them means you can be at peace knowing your pet is safe and they can save your pet’s life in case of an emergency.
Training and certifications confirm your pet sitter is knowledgeable in pet health.
Widely-recognized pet sitter certifications come from the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International.
These certifications have to be renewed every three years, which prompts pet sitters to update their skills.
It’s also essential to ask your pet sitter for proof of licensing, insurance, and bonding.
Pet Sitters International (PSI) President Patti J. Moran says:
“Professional pet sitters’ commitment to excellent pet care includes:
- Maintaining pet-sitter insurance and bonding
- Having any necessary local business licenses or permits
- Using a pet-sitting service contract
- Offering proof of clear criminal history
- Staying up to date on the latest pet-care information through continuing education like PSI’s Certificate in Professional Pet Sitting Program.”
#5: Availability of the Dog Sitter
Professional pet sitters are in high demand, but can only help one pet owner at a time. There are also fewer pet sitters for overnight visits than daytime time visits.
As much as you would prefer a flexible pet sitter, you must consider their availability.
Allow yourself enough time for thorough evaluation of your pet sitter.
Aim to complete the interviews at least three weeks before your start date. That way, you ensure your dogs get the best sitter.
Give your sitter three or four week’s notice if your pet visit request falls on a holiday.
#6: Attitude Towards Your Dogs
Pet lovers make the best pet sitters. They can spot what your dog needs because they’re always attentive.
You want a happy and enthusiastic dog sitter. Someone who loves dog sitting and gives their best to see your dog happy.
Yet, not all dog sitters are pet lovers. Some are just in it to make some extra money.
A pet sitter should show genuine concern for your dog. They should ask questions like:
- What’s your dog’s temperament?
- Does your dog have any medical issues or allergies?
- Do you give supplements to your dog?
- Is your dog on medications?
- How many visits do you need in a day?
- Are vaccinations up to date?
- Who’s your preferred vet?
- What is your dog’s usual routine?
The discussions you have around the above questions should give you a gauge of the sitter’s attitude.
#7: Easy Chemistry with Your Dog
While dogs are usually friendly, they sometimes don’t warm up to everyone.
You want to leave your friend with someone they like. This is why a meet and greet is necessary.
Experienced dog sitters know how to calm tense or anxious dogs. If your dog doesn’t like them, they’ll use your presence to win them over.
They also know how to use toys, treats, and affection to make your dog comfortable.
Go for a short dog walking session with the pet sitter to see if they can handle your dog. Dogs love walking and will be okay with a walker if they’ve seen them before.
Dogs are social creatures and are never happy in isolation, so it should not take long for a pet sitter to connect with your dog and understand their behavior.
#8: Range of Dog Sitting Skills Vs. Your Needs
Optimal dog care takes the help of an expert pet care provider, not a pet lover.
Some pet sitters are only dog walkers. They can walk your dog around but aren’t able to ensure proper healthcare or wellness. Others can provide overnight pet visits but don’t have dog boarding facilities.
You want a pet sitter whose skills match your needs and your dog’s requirements. To find the perfect match, ask for a written contract. Then look if the services offered suit your friend.
A skilled pet sitter is likely to handle a broader range of pet care issues.
#9: Knowledge of Dog Preventive Care
Pet parents usually do everything to ensure the long-term health of their pets.
For instance, you seek early interventions such as supplements and regular vet checks to reinforce your dog’s health.
For the same reasons, you need to know if your dog sitter understands preventive care throughout. Once pet-sitters take over, they continue all the preventative care practices.
|Dog Preventive Care and What It Involves|
|Procedure||Pet Parents/ Sitters Role||Importance|
|Vet visits||Take the dog to your vet once or twice a year||Detecting dog conditions early on|
|Dog exercise||Dog walking every day||Exposes the dog to fresh air, keeps them active for longevity|
|Weight maintenance||Know the proper diet and exercise to maintain a healthy weight||Preventing obesity, joint pain, diabetes, and heart problems|
|Heartworm prevention||Administer heartworm medication regularly, especially in endemic areas||Prevents heartworm infestation|
|Vaccinations||Follow up the core and on-core vaccinations||Reduces the risk of serious and preventable illnesses|
|Proper diet||Give correct diet to pets||Promotes long-term health|
|Dietary supplements||Know the right supplement, dosage and administer as required||Boosts immune system, boost cognitive functions, and slow down|
|Dog safety||Keep the dog on a leash when in public
Keep kennels safe
Store pesticides and toxic items away from dogs
Restrain dogs with a seatbelt when driving
Keep your space safe for dogs
|Prevents dog accidents|
A pet sitter with excellent knowledge of all these measures is worth their weight in gold.
Get the Best For Your Dog
All factors point to certified pet lovers skilled in pet health and wellness when considering a sitter for your dog.
Along with regular checks, a balanced diet, and regular exercise, your dog will be healthy and happy.
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