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How to Find the Right In-Home Pet Sitter 

So you’ve planned your dream vacation and you’ve made your checklist. Plane tickets? Check. Hotel booked? Check. Packing list? Check. Mail on hold?  And for your pet, you’ve opted to go forgo the kennels and don’t quite trust your in-laws (we’ll never tell). Instead, you’ve chosen in-home care.  Great. Now all that’s left is selecting the right pet sitter so your animal has a good experience. 

Whatever you do, don’t wait until the last minute to contact potential pet sitters. You’ll want to do your homework and research various websites to see who is in your area, is available, and makes a great match for your dog’s personality.

Once you’ve whittled down potentials, contact them. It’s important to start a dialogue to make sure the match is a good fit and they have the time available to care for your pet(s) while you are away.  Your sitter should want to get to know you as much as you want to get to know him or her.  Use the following tips to help :

Know your dog’s habits

Once you’ve started a conversation, let them know your pet’s habits and quirks. If your dog is a high maintenance princess that needs to be the center of attention (hey, no judging) a sitter that has pets of their own that they consider family would be a good fit.  Conversely, a sitter with their own well-socialized dogs can provide your pet some friends with which to play. Similarly, an extremely high-energy dog needs to spend his days hiking and staying active, so you would more likely consider a host who has the physical ability to provide that.

Read host profiles and browse photos

Often, pet sitters/dog walkers will post in-depth profiles about their personal experiences, their love of animals, as well as photos of the pets they care for.  Many pet sitters are very experienced and have been working in pet care for years, either professionally, through volunteering or both.  If you have, for instance, a pit bull or other “bully breed”, you will want to be sure your sitter accepts those breeds.  I’ve had clients call me who had been turned away by other pet sitters because of their dog’s breed.  On my site I have pictures of pit bulls I care for, making it obvious that breed is not a problem for me.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Maybe your dog eats hand stirred grain and sliced chicken meals and you want to be sure your sitter knows how to prepare it. Or maybe there are other special needs, such as handicaps or allergies. They want to put you as much at ease as they do your dog, so ask away!

Determine if they can customize to your pet’s routine

Animals live according to routine and no two routines are exactly alike. To make sure your dog’s routine, such as eating at the same time every day, stays intact while you’re away, someone who is willing to work with you is key.  If your animals sleep in the bed with you, your pet sitter needs to be okay with that if you are asking them to stay overnight.  It’s important for pet parents to feel like they’re leaving their best friend with someone who respects the rules they’ve set and is willing to adapt to them.

 

Schedule a Meet and Greet

Everything may seem perfect but believe me, you will feel much better about leaving your pets in the care of someone you have met with face-to-face.  There might be some little unforeseen item that could put a wrench in the best-laid plans.  I have only met with one potential client whose needs I was not able to meet but it does happen.  Don’t rely solely on online or phone communication. Schedule an in-person meeting in your home. This way, you can discuss any additional needs and see how your dog interacts with them. Once you find the perfect sitter, it’s potentially a relationship that both you and your dog can enjoy for years to come.

We all work hard for our vacations. And vacations should be relaxing, rewarding, and wonderful. With a little planning, your pet will enjoy his or her vacation as much as you will yours.

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