A professional pet sitter is a person who is dedicated to
taking care of your cat or dog while you’re unavailable to do
so. A professional pet sitter may stay in your home while
you’re away, or they may take your pet into their own home. Pet
sitters should look after your pet in a low-stress, loving way
and provide basic daily care including feeding, exercise,
affection, and play.
Read on to learn what professional pet sitters do, how to hire
a good one, and warning signs that can help you avoid a bad
Is a Pet Sitter a Good Choice for Me?
If you’re leaving town or if you’re otherwise unable to look
after your own pets for a period of time, the question of how
to get the proper care will come up. Hiring a professional pet
sitter is a great option for those who don’t have friends and
family available for the task, and who might have a bit of room
in their pet care budget.
Hiring a professional pet sitter will allow you to avoid some
of the less desirable aspects of leaving your pet in a kennel. If your pet is a nervous animal,
a kennel experience could be too stressful for them and could
cause them to revert to nervous
behaviors you may have previously helped them overcome. If
your pet has special medical needs, you may wish to entrust a
single individual with their care. And even fully vaccinated pets can sometimes come home
with kennel cough.
Or, if you’d just prefer to not uproot your pet to an
unfamiliar place, a pet sitter is the best option for your own
peace of mind, as well as for your pet. The final call, of
course, may come down to your budget.
Hiring a Professional Pet Sitter
Many people these days make their living, or a portion of their
living, taking care of other people’s pets. But how can you
know if a particular pet sitter is the right one for you and
Always interview a pet sitter before hiring. If the sitter will
be staying in your home or stopping by to care for your pet,
remember that you need to trust them with everything in your
house, too. Make a list of questions
beforehand: What are your credentials and experience? Do
you know first aid? Do you have emergency protocols in place in
case of accident or illness? Are you bonded and insured?
Also, ask what sorts of things the sitter plans to do with your
pet. The best pet sitters love animals and go out of their way
to give them extra special care. These sitters shouldn’t just
attend to your pet’s physical needs, like feeding and walks.
They should enjoy playing with your dog or cat and want to give
them plenty of affection.
Meet in Person
You should attempt to meet the sitter in person before handing
off your pet. Get a feel for how they interact with your pet. A
pet sitter should be affectionate yet calm, gentle but clearly
in charge. Your pet should respond well to the sitter, too.
Before hiring a professional pet sitter, ask for references.
Call one or two of their previous clients and ask for an
Warning Signs of a Bad Pet Sitter
Indications of disorganization in a pet sitter should raise a
red flag. If the sitter misses appointments with you, fails to
return emails or phone calls in a timely manner, or seems
harried and forgetful, think twice about hiring them. The last
thing you want is a pet sitter who leaves your cat or dog
without care, whether through poor organizational skills or
Finally, a pet sitter that seems unduly nervous at the prospect
of responding to a pet emergency
is to be avoided. You and your pet sitter should work out
emergency protocols in case your pet gets sick or has an
accident, and a good sitter should be prepared to take action
at a moment’s notice.
Questions to Ask a Professional Pet Sitter
You may be thinking of taking a vacation, but leaving your pets
on their own for any length of time, from days to weeks, is
usually not an option. That's where a professional pet sitter
can come in.
So how do you go about finding someone to take care of your
beloved pets while you sink your toes into some warm sand on a
Pet sitting is a service, and as with any service, you are
going to be the hiring party; it's not much different from
hiring an employee for a company. You need to think about what
is important to you and your pets. Remember, you will be
allowing someone to enter your home and to care for your pet.
You won't be able to keep tabs on their activities while away,
so they need to be someone you can really trust. Here are some
things to think about and questions to ask of your potential
A great way to check on someone's experience and reputation are
to ask for references, both professional and personal. Many pet
sitters will already have anticipated these kinds of questions,
so don't be surprised if they present you with a form with
names and references already listed. This is not only
acceptable, but it's also great! Feel free to ask about
particular references and why they were chosen to be on the
list. You can find out if any pet owners listed have pets
similar to yours, and how recently these references were in
contact with the sitter.
If there are no phone numbers listed on the sitter's reference
list, ask for a couple. If they refuse to give you these,
suspect trouble as real references are usually fine with taking
calls. There should be at least a few people you can call to
confirm the reliability of your pet sitter.
Next, after you have selected a few sitters that have good
references, get the full names and addresses of the companies
or persons you are interested in. If you have problems, you
will need to know where to track down the pet sitter or
Are They Qualified?
Once you have all their contact information, ask about your
personal experience with the type of pet you have. Clearly, there
are different levels of care between taking care of a fish tank
versus a Mastiff dog.
Ask how many times they have worked with your type of pet. If
they simply say that they love all animals and seem to have a
"natural" ability to take care of any animal, follow up with
more specific questions related to pet care. Taking proper care
of any animal is work, and the chores don't get done with love
Next, consider how many times you want the pet sitter to come
to your home and their hours of availability. Many pets have
special feeding times and requirements and some will
need medications at
certain times, so you'll need to pick a sitter who can comply.
Thinking about Exercise
If you have pets who need exercise, ask the pet sitter what
type of exercise they would be comfortable providing. Be
reasonable---if you wrestle with that Mastiff every night,
don't expect that a sitter would be willing to do the same.
(You can always ask though!) Either way, make sure you bring up
exercise needs and find a sitter who will be able to provide
Home security is another important item to bring up, so if you
have an alarm system, security company, or private gate, give
the pet sitter these details upfront so you can be clear about
what is expected. Non-professional pet sitters maybe younger
adults too, so be sure to give careful details as to how the
security of your home or neighborhood works. The last thing you
want to happen is to have your sitter get locked out, set off
alarms, or arouse the police or security company all because
you didn't familiarize them properly with the procedures. It's
also not a bad idea to get the type of vehicle and the license
plate number of your sitter, so your security can clear them to
come into your neighborhood. While you're at it, let your
neighbors know that you will have a sitter coming to your home.
One more thing to think about is damage to your home and
property. Be sure to ask if the sitter is bonded and insured.
Some will be; some won't. You will have to decide how important
this is to you.
Use these questions to help ensure proper care for your pets
and also peace of mind for you while away.
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