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halter 1837Do you use a pet sitter or pet walker? Have you decided you need help with your dog or cat because you travel a lot or work long hours? Your pet does not do well at normal boarding places? Perhaps your dog has a medical condition and would be more comfortable at home. How do you decide how to select and hire one? You mean there are professionals that do this? Just what is a pet sitter or pet walker and what is the difference?
Some of the many questions we had... And some surprising answers too!

What is a pet sitter?

Anyone can say they are a pet sitter. But just because someone calls themselves a pet sitter doesn't mean they are qualified to do the job. A professional individual that you have paid to care for your pet can offer you and your pet many benefits. The benefits of leaving your pet in your home in a familiar environment and keeping a regular diet and routine is only a few of the obvious ones. Knowing that your pet will not have to travel and stay in an unfamiliar place with other animals such as a boarding kennel when the dog is already having a health or behavior concern can be a big plus. Then there is the knowledge that someone will be paying attention to your beloved pet while they are away can also be a nice feeling. Sometimes you can make arrangements for the sitter to do additional small things like bring in the mail and newspapers, which gives your home an added safety feature so it is less likely that anyone will know you're not home. Someone who will come to your home so you don't have to drive your pet to a boarding kennel. Other services provided by most pet sitters, such as plant watering and pet grooming.


Have you decided you would need to find a pet sitter?

What should you do first?  I would ask your friends, neighbors, your groomer, your veterinarian, local rescues. You might even contact the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (856-439-0324) or Pet Sitters International (336-983-9222).

 As we mentioned before, anyone can say they are a pet sitter. But just because Mardi Speaks1someone calls themselves a pet sitter doesn't mean they are qualified to do the job. With this in mind, it's important to learn all you can about a prospective pet sitter's qualifications and services. To help we have some questions, you might want to have some answers to before you hire this person.

  • Can the pet sitter provide written proof that she has commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and is bonded (to protect against theft by a pet sitter or her employees)?
  • Is there a written service contract spelling out services and fees?
  • What training has the pet sitter completed?
  • Will the pet sitter record notes about your pet such as habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines? 
  • Is the pet sitter associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services? 
  • Does she have a backup should she get sick? 
  • What other services will the pet sitter provide such as in-home grooming, dog walking, dog training and play time?
  •  Does the pet sitter have references for you to check with?
  • What are the specific times she agrees to be with your pet? Is this detailed in the contract?
  • How does your pet sitter make sure that you have returned home?

It's important to have the prospective pet sitter come to your home to meet your pet before actually hiring her for a pet sitting job. Watch how she interacts with your pet — does your pet seem comfortable with the person? If this visit goes well, start by hiring the pet sitter to care for your pet during a short trip, such as a weekend excursion. That way, you can work out any problems before leaving your beloved pet in the pet sitter's care for longer periods.
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  • It is our belief that there are two sides to this arrangement and you should realize you may not be the only client your prospective sitter may have. With this in mind we suggest that you make your reservations early, especially during holidays.

 Ensure your pet is well socialized and allows strangers to handle him.

  • Affix current identification tags to your pet's collar.
  • Maintain current vaccinations for your pet.
  • Leave clear instructions detailing specific pet-care responsibilities and emergency contact information, including how to reach you and your veterinarian.
  • Leave pet food and supplies in one place. 
  • Leave a key with a trustworthy neighbor as a backup, and share phone numbers amoungst him and your pet sitter.
  • Show the pet sitter your home's important safety features such as the circuit breaker and security system.
  • And remember to bring your pet sitter's phone number in case your plans change.