Years ago, I did some pet sitting for neighbors that lived near me and I loved it. It's hard work and very fulfilling but an enormous responsibility to care for someone else's loved ones while they were at work or on vacation. There is a very important list of questions you should be prepared to ask a pet sitter before you book their services. Use this as your guide when you interview the folks referred to you or anyone you find with a service like Rover.
These five questions should be integrated into your interviews.
1. Make sure to ask if they require a veterinary release form in case of an emergency (they should)
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This form is to ensure your vet knows the pet sitter has your approval to take their pets to the vet for emergency care. If for some reason you cannot be reached, it's crucial emergency services are performed while the pet sitter is caring for your animals.
2. Ask about shared visits
Sharing visits always end up lopsided. One dog receives more attention than the other and even though your dog may get along fine with other dogs it's better that the policy be "no shared" visits. It's different when you're there vs. a pet sitter. Make sure your dog isn't sharing time with someone else's dog.
3. Are they insured and bonded?
A pet sitter's insurance coverage should protect both your home and your pets. Your pet sitter should also be trained in first aid.
4. Will the pet sitter meet with you in advance for a "meet and greet"?
The meet and greet should be mandatory. I recommend you have a list of all your emergency contacts and vet information printed out and emailed before the meeting. Anything you want the pet sitter to review with you during the meeting after meeting your pup. It'll make the meeting more organized as you review all the activities and needs of your pet!
5. Are there any special needs your pets have?
This is my dog Shermie that my pet sitter posted on her Instagram. Shermie is dog reactive and it's very important this is pointed out before you interview the pet sitter. Some pet sitters may not be comfortable with dogs that are leash reactive and it's fine to pass on someone that isn't prepared to do "u-turns" on walks when seeing other dogs on a leash or a stay at home visit with pottying in the backyard only to avoid other dogs.
The Pet Sitters International (PSI) organization is a wonderful resource for pet sitters. You can research reputable pet sitters by visiting their site. You can also look at dog walkers at this site too.
Finding pet care is not easy and it took an immense amount of research to find our wonderful pet sitter that I would be lost without. We have complete peace of mind knowing she's caring for our pets. We found her through word of mouth but asked all these questions of course!
I also recommend Rover.com as I did use their services while working there part-time. Pet parents, dog owners, and cat lovers should be very careful when making this decision as their dog or cat is a family member. Potential pet sitters know this and they should be able to articulate why their pet sitting services are above and beyond a trusted neighbor.
Also, different pet sitters have different strengths and they may prefer one type of pet over another. I'm not a big fan of a boarding kennel and would opt for a pet sitter!
What do you think about these questions? Please let us know in the comments.