Imagine this: You’re lounging on the balcony of a luxury, waterfront hotel sipping a refreshing margarita while a cool, offshore breeze caresses your face. However, instead of enjoying this blissful moment in a tropical paradise, you’re fretting about your dog who you’ve boarded at
a kennel back at home.
Unfamiliar environments, barking dogs, and different routines can make the boarding experience stressful for you and your pup, which is why many dog parents turn to sitters. On the flip side, the idea of leaving your dog alone with a stranger, whether for a weekend or a week, can also put a damper on your vacation.
Finding the perfect pup sitter takes research and dedication. Despite the time-consuming process of tracking down a great sitter, you’ll be rewarded with the peace of mind knowing your dog is in safe hands.
Related: So Hard to Say Goodbye: Separation Anxiety in Dogs
As the world is opening back up (hopefully), and we are heading away for a quick weekend trip, taking a much deserved vacation, or even needing a sitter for a few hours while at work, here’s everything you need to know about finding a great dog sitter.
Decide What Type of Dog Sitter You Want
Dog sitting isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal. Understanding what services you want will help you find the best dog sitter for your needs.
Some questions to ask yourself include:
- Do you want a sitter to stay in your home while you’re away, or do you prefer having your dog stay at the sitter’s place?
- What sort of routine do you want your dog to have?
- How many hours can your dog be left alone?
- Is size or breed-specific experience important? If your dog is larger, do you need someone who can sufficiently handle bigger breeds?
- If your dog takes daily medication, can the sitter administer it correctly?
- Would you like the sitter to provide other services, such as grooming or training?
- Does the sitter own dogs? Is your pet dog-friendly?
Referrals and Reputable Websites
Trust your network. Ask your family, friends, and neighbors about good dog sitters that they’ve used in the past. You can also ask your vet, groomer, or trainer for their recommendations. Check out each sitter’s website or social media channels. This may give you a good idea about their personality and animal experience.
If you can’t get any referrals, consider checking out pet sitting websites, including the below. Do your research, though, as while there are hundreds of amazing dog sitters out there, there are also bad ones.
- Pet Sitters International
- National Association of Professional Pet Sitters
Pro tip: When looking for a sitter on a website, be mindful of what areas they serve. Some pet sitters will charge per mile they drive to your home. Always search for sitters in your zip code.
Meet and Greets
After you’ve compiled a list of three to five potential dog sitters, reserve a time to meet each one. A public park is a great place to meet because you can bring your pooch along with you. (If you can’t meet in person, consider connecting via Zoom or at the very least on the phone.)When meeting them, be sure to ask lots of questions, including:
- Can they elaborate on their dog experience?
- What is their everyday schedule? Will they be out of the house during the day or evening? If so, for how long?
- Are they insured? If so, what does it cover?
- Have they ever watched a dog similar to yours? (e.g. size, temperament, breed)
- How do they deal with unwanted dog behavior?
- Are they comfortable with your dog’s daily routine (number of walks, medication, feeding schedule, bedtime routine, bathroom breaks, etc.)?
- Do they have a plan in place in case the dog gets injured or sick while you’re away?
- How many times do they plan on walking your dog? And how do they ensure your dog is safe on walks?
- Can they provide references from current and past clients?
- Will your pet be cared for alone or will the sitter be working for other clients?
Related: 19 of the Best Interactive Dog Puzzles and Games for Your Bored Pooch
Setting Your Dog Sitter Up for Success
After you’ve selected a pet sitter, it’s wise to make sure they have everything they need to properly care for your dog. If they’re staying at your house, invite them over for a quick tour of your space before you leave, along with discussing the house rules. You should also leave them detailed instructions on your dog’s diet, daily routine, and any health or behavioral issues your pup might have.
Provide them with relevant contact information, including yours, your vet’s, and friends’ and family.
Other things you should share include:
- Your Wi-Fi information
- Details about neighborhood amenities, including a local pet store or grocery store
- A trusted friend or neighbor’s phone number
- Your dog’s favorite things, including walking trails, toys, treats
- What to avoid (e.g. certain areas in the neighborhood, particular dogs, etc.)
- What tricks your pet knows
- How you reward your dog
- Where, when, and how much your dog poops
- The room your sitter will sleep in and where your dog will sleep
- Where to park
Finding the right dog sitter will ensure that both you and your pup will have a nice time while you are a way from each other.
Related: How to Soothe Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety When You Return to Work With Music and Videos