A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Dog Sitter

October 07, 2019

A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Dog Sitter


It can be difficult to find someone to look after your dog while you're away. There are so many things to consider when looking for a pet sitter such as: How will you know if they're doing their job correctly? Can you trust a stranger with a key to your home? Is it possible from someone other than you to take care of your furry friend? And so much more!


Questions to ask yourself before you get a pet sitter

What you need to know before hiring a dog sitter

Can I afford to get a pet sitter?

The pet-sitting industry is growing, and what started off as a hobby has now become a full-time job. Pet sitters can charge anywhere between twenty to forty dollars depending on the services needed for your dog. Thirty-minute visits can cost up to $30, while overnight pet sitting can cost you up to $100. Twenty-four-hour pet sitting will cost you a whole lot more than that. Discuss what you want first and adjust the budget from there. If you can't afford to spend that much money on a professional pet sitter, have a family member or trusted friend watch your dog instead.


Will I trust a stranger in my house with my dog?

It's essential that you find someone whom you can trust to be inside your house while you're gone. Ask your friends for referrals because if their pet sitters were trustworthy, maybe you should give them a shot.


Are my pets comfortable around strangers?

Most dogs are sociable creatures, but some need a little warming up to. Don't introduce your dog to their sitter on the day that you leave. Have your pet sitter come by a few times, so your dog gets used to their scent and is okay with having them around. Dogs who are put in uncomfortable situations tend to get defensive, and this could easily lead to aggression.


What happens when my sitter runs out of supplies?

You can either ask your pet sitter to run over to the pet store and buy more supplies, reimburse them when you get home. Or, have a delivery service — such as Amazon, deliver the supplies straight to your house.


Qualities every pet sitter should have

What to look for in a pet sitter

Fine attention to detail

Your pet sitter should be taking notes not just nodding their heads while you're meeting about the arrangements. More than anything, your pet sitter should be attentive to what you say, which is an indicator of what they will be like when they're with your dogs. When your pet sitter finally meets your pets, they should be running the routine through with you, not just sitting down. Someone with attention to detail will not only watch what you do but try to imitate how you're doing things.


A desire to get to know your pet

Your pet sitter should have a connection with your pet. Aside from doing it for the money, they should genuinely enjoy what they're doing. Otherwise, it wouldn't be a pleasant experience for both your pet and their sitter. A good pet sitter will take the time to grow a connection with your pet, not just walk, feed, and brush them and call it a day.


Open and communicative

The pet sitter you hire needs to be open with communication and transparent when it comes to problems. They can't beat around the bush when it comes to telling you if something didn't go as planned. Your pet sitter can't wait until you get home to tell you what's wrong. And it would be nice to receive updates without asking for them. Things don't necessarily have to be problematic; a cute picture of your dog is always endearing.


Consistency with how they care for your pets

Most dogs are creatures of habit; your pet sitter should understand their schedules like the back of their hands. They should always be on time to avoid indoor accidents. If you're worried about tracking your pet's schedule, you can always install a CCTV camera in your home to check on them. The cameras can be accessed through an app on your phone, making it easy for you to spy on your furry friends wherever you are in the world.


A strong pet sitting resume

Professional pet sitter or not, they should always have a resume on hand, so you know what you're getting into. This proves that they have a level of professionalism that you're after and they're transparent about their work history. Stalk them on social media — but what we really mean by that is do a sweep of their pet’s Instagram.


Energy level should match that of your dog

Your pet sitter should know what they're getting into before you accept them to watch over your pets. Their energy levels should match that of your dogs. You won't exactly be expecting them to yell mush and sled through the dog park every day, but they do need to be able to keep up with your dogs.


What to do before you leave your dogs in the hands of your pet sitter

The owner's checklist

Inform your veterinarian that you're leaving

Your vet should know if you're going out of town, so they know who to contact if it's time for a checkup. When your pet sitter shows up at the clinic, your vet will know that it's your dog and how to treat them.


Prepare all the necessities

Place all your supplies and necessities where the sitter can find them. It will be difficult for both ends to call each other constantly, especially if you're flying to a different country. If possible, have all the items in one room like the kitchen or the living room. Label your dog's vitamins and medications to avoid any switch-ups and store their grooming essentials in a clear container that your sitter can easily identify.


Lock the doors

This is just a precautionary measure; you can't be too complacent. This is also for your dog's sake because they might find something in your room that they like and chew it up.


Raise any health concerns

If your pets have any health concerns brief your pet sitter about how to manage them. Leave a copy of their health card with updated vaccinations and medication.

Stock up on medicine to last the duration of your trip (and a backup set just in case). Post your dog’s medicine schedule on the fridge. Some medication is time-sensitive, and others require special handling. Teach your dog sitter what to do and when to give your pet their medicines.


Stress the importance of emergency care

You need to stress the importance of emergency care to your pet sitter. If something goes wrong, you can't just fly home right away. Emergency vet numbers should be in a place where your pet sitter can find them. Ensure that your pet sitter has a way of getting there, either through a pet ambulance or with their own cars. Avoid public transportation such as the train as it might inconvenience other people, and you're limited to the schedule of the metro. If possible, delegate this task to a friend you can trust and is willing to drive your pet to the vet at any given time. Worst case scenario, tell your pet sitter to take an Uber or a cab. But hopefully, this is avoidable, and you can make it through your trip without having to worry.


Discuss grooming process

Grooming isn't a one-size-fits-all situation and depending on how high-maintenance your dog is, you will need to put grooming either at the top or bottom of your list. Chihuahuas, for example, are relatively low maintenance. Short-haired chihuahuas need their full-body brushing and a bath once a week, and that's about it. An Afghan wolfhound, on the other hand, will require daily grooming in its routine to keep their long, luscious hair flowing in the wind. Dogs with longer, fluffier coats — such as the Maltese need the hair around their faces trimmed to avoid water stains and matting. Older dogs need their nails filed instead of trimmed because they have brittle, delicate nails.

Be sure to inform your pet sitter about the grooming process and walk them through it. If you have a groomer that you go to for weekly touchups and deep cleaning, leave their address and contact number with your sitter.

Also, provide your pet sitter with the equipment they will need for the duration of your trip.


Leave feeding instructions

Most dogs adhere to a strict feeding schedule and diet. Make sure your dog sitter understands this. They shouldn't be overfeeding or underfeeding your dog.

Leave instructions for dogs with a special diet. Don't expect your pet sitter to remember every aspect of your dog's feeding habits. It's your prerogative as the dog owner to make sure that your dog sitter knows what to do. Post the schedule on a bulletin board at home or use a magnet and put in on the refrigerator door.

Feeding your dog kibble is reasonably straightforward; they can scoop the required amount in your pet's bowl and call it a day. However, if you're the type of owner who prepares your dog’s food fresh every day, that could be a little trickier for your sitter. What you can do to avoid any trouble when it's time to eat is to "meal prep" all of your dog's food and stick it in the freezer. When it's mealtime, your sitter can pop it out of there and heat it up, serving your furry friend fresh food every mealtime.


There are certain expectations fur parents have when choosing the right pet sitter. It’s not a process that you should rush because you want to make sure you’re getting quality service and a loving handler. Overall, trust your gut and select someone you know you can trust.

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