Whether you're heading out for vacation or have an upcoming work trip, traveling with your pets can be difficult and sometimes impossible. For times when you need to leave your pet behind, hiring a pet sitter is a great option to ensure your pets are cared for while you're gone.
Professional pet sitters typically provide in-home pet care so your pet can be more comfortable, but they may also offer dog walking services, litter box cleaning services, and more to meet your needs. Read on to learn how to find the right pet sitter for you and your pets.
How to Find a Pet Sitter That's Right for You
There are few things you should keep in mind when searching for a pet sitter. Here are some simple tips to help you find the perfect person:
1. Ask for Recommendations from Other Pet Owners
One of the best ways to start your search for the perfect pet sitter is to ask for referrals from friends, family, and neighbors with pets.
A pet sitter may have all the right qualifications, but it's hard to know if they'll be a good fit for you without hearing from those who have first-hand experience with the individual or company. You can also ask around in your neighborhood's Facebook group or Nextdoor page for local recommendations and what their experience was like.
2. Look for Professional Pet Sitter Companies
Pet sitting is an unregulated field, so it can be tough to weed out who's trustworthy and who's not. When it comes to hiring a pet sitter, choosing a professional pet-sitting company over an independent hobbyist comes with a lot of benefits.
Professional companies often have more accessible points of contact, better customer service, and more training. They're also more likely to background check all of their employees, as well as have insurance, so you can trust the person coming into your home and taking care of your pets.
Searching professional pet sitter organizations for companies in your area is a great way to find a reputable company. Sites like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) offer directories with accredited pet sitters to choose from.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Before you hire a pet sitter, it's important to interview any potential candidates to find out which one is the right fit for you and your pets. While you can learn a lot from websites and online profiles, an interview gives you the chance to ask specific questions and better understand how they'll interact with your pet.
If you want to quickly find the best fit for your pets, here are a few key questions to ask:
- What type of pet-sitting experience do you have?
- What are your business credentials?
- Do you have any specific pet training?
- What would you do if my pet had an emergency?
- How do you handle pet behavioral issues?
- Do you have references or reviews I can look at?
- Do you have pets of your own?
In addition to these questions, it's also important to understand what's included in their service and what their schedule looks like. Depending on when you're booking a pet sitter, availability can get tight, so it's vital to be upfront about your schedule expectations.
You'll also need to determine if you're looking for in-home pet care or if you're comfortable having your pet stay in someone else's home. Different pet sitters offer different options, so make sure you understand and are comfortable with their policies.
4. Understand the Pet Sitter's Communication Style
When you leave for vacation, do you want everything to be handled with minimal communication with you, or would you prefer daily photos and updates about how your pet is doing? Different pet sitters will have different communication styles and processes, so how hands-on or hands-off you'd like to be will determine which one you hire.
Some pet-sitting companies even have their own apps for providing photos, videos, and daily updates to make communication simple.
5. Schedule a Meet-and-Greet Ahead of Time
Above all, you need to make sure that your pet sitter and your new pet get along well, and that you're comfortable having the pet sitter care for your pet. The best way to do that is through a scheduled meet-and-greet before you leave.
By having a meeting beforehand, you can see how the pet sitter interacts with your pet, how experienced and confident they are in handling your pet, and ultimately get a sense of whether they're the right fit for your family.
If you get a bad feeling during your meet-and-greet, don't be afraid to go with your gut when you make a decision.
How Much Does a Pet Sitter Charge?
Pet sitter rates are influenced by many factors, such as where you live, how much experience the pet sitter has, and what service you're looking for.
The national average range for pet sitting is between $10 and $25 per hour, depending on where you live, how experienced your pet sitter is, and what type of pets you have. These rates may also increase if you need overnight care or if you’re trying to book a pet sitter over a holiday.
When Do You Need a Pet Sitter?
There are a variety of situations in which a pet sitter is a great option to have. While going on vacation is a common reason, many people also hire pet sitters when they:
- Work long hours
- Have a special event to attend like a wedding or concert
- Have children with late after-school sports or activities
- Need to care for a sick family member
- Are sick and physically unable to care for their pet
Pet sitters are great options whenever you know you won't be home at your regularly scheduled times to provide your pets with the exercise, food, and attention they need throughout the day.
Find the Perfect Pet Sitter for Your Dog or Cat
Many pet owners opt to ask a friend or family member to watch their pet while they're out of town, but a professional pet sitter offers the experience, training, and credibility to give you peace of mind while you're away.
With careful vetting, you can find the right pet sitter to keep your dog or cat happy and healthy, no matter what life throws at you. So, do your research, ask questions, and find the perfect pet sitter for you and your companion animals.
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