How to Find a Pet Sitter: What to Look For

Posted By Sunshine Pet Hospital Sunshine Pet Hospital on 06-04-2022 2:22 PM
How to Find a Pet Sitter: What to Look For

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A simple internet search for the term “pet sitting” yields over 3 billion results. Even if you narrow that down to just local results, the prospect of finding a sitter you can trust with your pet and your home may seem overwhelming. But having an in-depth screening process in place can go a long way toward helping you find the right person to care for your very important four-footed family member. 

Here are some guidelines to help you in your search for a potential pet sitter, so you can make the right decision for you and your pet.

  • Ask for pet sitting service referrals from trusted sources—friends, family members, the veterinarian, dog groomer, and neighbors. 
  • Compile a list of questions in advance of any conversation with a potential pet sitter. Be sure to ask about their previous experience, whether they are insured or bonded, whether they have any specialized training, how they would react in a medical emergency or if your pet was lost, and any references who’d be willing to speak with you about their services. If you have several pets, make sure the sitter has multi-pet experience.
  • Before engaging a pet sitter, have them stop by to spend some time with your pet as a trial run. This can also help you identify and work out any kinks or questions you did not anticipate before they become larger issues. 

 

  • Agree on how many updates you would like a day from your pet sitter and what method of communication you will use (e.g., text, video), so you can rest assured that your pet’s well-being and needs are being met. If you have surveillance cameras in your home that are accessible through your phone, you can also let them know that you will be checking in this way as well.
  • Work out all the details in advance, including rates, schedule, meals, off-limit foods or activities, and emergency info. Add all of these details to a contract signed by both you and the pet sitter, to ensure everyone is clear on the expectations. 
  • Establish a backup plan, so that you’re not stuck if the pet sitter is late or has an emergency. Ask the sitter what their emergency plan is, as well.

“You want a pet sitter who understands that animals are as complex as humans and someone who loves animals deeply,” long-time pet sitter Emmy Scammahorn shares. “During an interview, I often sat on the floor with animals.”

Pet sitting apps and sites give pet parents a simple and convenient way to connect with pet sitters about in-home pet care. The beauty of pet sitting apps is being able to manage everything from a mobile phone and see what the pet sitter’s reviews are from previous clients. 

Most pet sitting apps allow people to find care for their pets like any dating or matching service. It can be nerve-wracking to hand a family member over to a complete stranger, which is where the review process comes in. Carefully read reviews and don’t just look for the multi-star ratings. If there are negative reviews, consider whether they are random complaints or an indication of a consistent problem. 

Before committing to a pet sitter, Cocker Spaniel mom Rebecca Tolbert did some in-depth research in Windsor, Colorado. “We used 

Aurora IL animal hospital to find a pet sitter when we moved to a new city and didn’t have a support system,” she recalls. “We picked the three highest-rated sitters with the most return customers.”

Tolbert and her husband scheduled meet-and-greets with the prospective sitters and took their dogs along. The couple went with their gut instincts and left their dogs in the care of one of the pet sitters, who they ended up using for years. 

During the screening process, keep an eye out for red flags that could indicate the pet sitter is less than trustworthy—such as an unwillingness to answer basic questions or share references, poor reviews on apps and pet sitter websites, or refusing to meet with you in advance. 

Pet parents will often ask if a pet sitter is bonded, insured, and/or licensed. Though requirements vary from state to state, pet sitting, at its core, is a professional business. If you’re using a professional pet sitter, a reputable one would have no problem answering these questions. 

Bonding insurance compensates you if something goes missing from your home while under the pet sitter’s care. Liability insurance covers the pet sitter in the event of an accident or damages that occur in your home, instead of your homeowner’s policy. Both protections benefit you and the pet sitter, so it’s worth asking these questions upfront so you can make an informed decision about your pet’s care. 

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