Finding a pet sitter you can trust to look after your pets is an important part of pet ownership. When you find the right sitter, it makes it much easier to enjoy your time away because you have the comfort in knowing that your pet is in good hands. To help make this search easier, we’ve put together a checklist of seven questions you can ask when speaking to potential sitters.
Professional pet sitters will always have a list of pet-related references ready to share upon request. In fact, these are usually proudly shared on their website, social media, or third party platform they advertise their services on, so you don’t even need to ask for them. If you’re considering a newer pet sitter who doesn’t have many references yet, ask if they can provide other pet-related references – perhaps from work they did at a local shelter or dog walking.
A sure sign of a good sitter is taking the time to get to know your pet before your departure. A common way to do this is by sending over a detailed questionnaire which you can fill out for each of your pets. This can include information on their medical history and feeding schedule, their favorite treats and toys, and emergency contact details. It’s important that sitters have these details in writing, so nothing is forgotten while you’re away.
In addition to asking you to share information in writing, a good sitter will ask to meet your pets in person before their first time watching them. This gives them a chance to clarify any questions they may have about the information you shared, as well as get to know your pets. Giving your pet the chance to meet their sitter with your there will increase their comfort around them and make their visits after you’ve left less stressful.
It may seem unnecessary to have a contract with your pet sitter, but doing so ensures that that the expectations from both parties are clear. Items to include in this contract are the number of visits a day, length of visit, whether your sitter will send updates while you’re away, and how the key exchange will take place. This is also the place where you can finalize the price, including any additional services your pet sitter will provide at an extra cost, such as cleaning, collecting the mail, or watering your plants.
You would expect that a babysitter for your children would have training in first aid, so why not your pet’s sitter? Qualified pet sitters have completed a pet first aid course and do regular refreshers to ensure their knowledge is up-to-date. Completing a first aid course teaches them everything from preventative care to dealing with the most critical emergencies – think breathing and cardiac energies, wounds, bleeding, and seizures. In addition to first aid skills, pet sitters should be comfortable administering different types of medication.
In addition to playing with your pet’s favorite toys during their visit, top-notch sitters come prepared with activities they think your pet will enjoy. This ensures that the time they spend with your pet enriches their day and lets them experience something new. Depending on how your pet enjoys the toys they bring, your sitter can even make recommendations of ones you can purchase yourself.
Pet sitters understand that it’s never easy being away from your pet – this is why great sitters are happy to share brief updates during each of their visits. Either in the intake paperwork or when they come to meet your pet, sitters will often ask if you’d like them to share updates while you’re away. This could be a quick text with a photo, a longer email with full details on their visit or something in between. They will often put together a daily report outlining what they did each visit and a summary of how your pet was doing, as well.
If the candidate you’re speaking to checks all seven of these boxes, you can rest assured that you’ve found yourself a top-notch pet sitter.