You love your pet like a family member and want him or her to have the best care possible at all times. However, what can you do when you have to leave and can’t be there for him or her? Many people find themselves trying to decide between a boarding your pet in a kennel or hiring a pet sitter. For pets that might not do well in a kennel environment, especially special needs pets, a pet sitter may be the best option.
What is a Pet Sitter?
A pet sitter is a person who makes a living by caring for other pets. Some pet sitters offer care in their homes, but most are willing to travel short distances to care for pets right in your own home. A pet sitter will come to your house and use a key that you provide them to enter inside. Once in your home, the pet sitter will get busy taking care of the tasks that you assign them. Most pet sitting services will feed, walk, play with, and clean up after your pets while you are away on vacation or taking care of business. There are a lot of pet sitters to choose from on sites like Care.com or Craigslist, so choosing the right sitter may seem daunting at times.
How Do You Choose the Right Pet Sitter?
Your first step in choosing the right pet sitter will be to look through the listings of available sitters or review applications. After scrolling through the pet sitters on whichever platform you choose, your next step will be to interview the available candidates. Hiring a pet sitter to come into your home and care for your pet should be handled as delicately as if you were hiring a babysitter for your child. Not only do you want the best candidate to take care of your pet, but you want to find someone who you can trust to enter your home while you are away.
Care.com recommends the following questions to ask any candidate during the interview process:
Why are you a pet sitter?
You probably want to find a pet sitter that shares your level of enthusiasm about animals. Asking an open-ended question can give you the chance to truly gauge the potential sitter and decide if they seem like someone who is doing this job because they really love animals as opposed to just doing it for the money.
Does my pet like you?
Have your pet participate in the interviewing process by allowing them to sit near. Assess how the potential sitter interacts with your pet and how your pet seems to respond. Even if the sitter is highly trained and experienced, you won’t want them caring for your pet if your pet just doesn’t seem to warm up to the sitter.
What type of special training have you had?
While it is important to find someone who is enthusiastic about the job and who your pet seems to like, it is also important to find someone who has gone through some sort of training. If your dog is a special needs dog, then you may prefer to find a sitter who has some vet tech training to administer medications and to detect any health issues right away.
What previous experience have you had?
Finding out whether or not the potential sitter has had experience with similar types of pets may be one of the closing decisions. If she has had no experience, you may not feel as comfortable allowing her to care for your pet even if she seems nice and has had formal training.
Can you provide references?
If the potential pet sitter says she has had ample experience, don’t hesitate to ask for references from past jobs. Call those references and ask them whether or not they were satisfied with her work and if they would hire her again.
What services do you provide?
Find out right off the bat what type of services the potential sitter is willing to provide. Some sitters will only do the basics: feed, water, walk. Others may be willing to go the extra mile and groom your dog, play with him, or take him to a dog park. Decide what services you want and then find out if the sitter is willing to provide them and if anything will cost extra.
Are you willing to sign a contract?
A contract can help ensure that everyone is happy with the service and payment agreed on. Find out if the sitter has their own contract and read it over with a fine tooth comb to make sure there aren’t any surprising clauses hidden in it. If the sitter doesn’t have one, look online (such as at Care.com) to find a contract that suits your needs or write up your own real quick. Make sure to include all services that you require and include the times in which you will require care. Be sure to include any special circumstances such as emergency care.