With the holidays fast approaching, many will be looking for someone to watch their dog while they travel. No matter if its your first time leaving your puppy, or you are a seasoned traveler looking for a sitter in a pinch. One thing is true. Finding a dog sitter that you trust can be stressful. Here are a few things to look for, that can help make things easier on you and your pup.
Finding a Dog Sitter
Sites like Rover, and Wag have made it deceivingly easy to find a dog sitter. While you can simply pull up your phone to connect with hundreds of sitters. Vetting can be time consuming and hard. Luckily there are some ways to spot and book a sitter that will work for you.
When viewing profiles, reviews are key. While 5 starts is great, the types of reviews are often more important and can help fit with what you are looking for. Is the sitter great at taking photos, did they help follow a dogs routine, or were they "laid back and easy going" patterns in reviews will help you identify a sitter that fits your needs.
Communicating With Your Sitter
Once you identified a few sitters that works for you, its time to start messaging and communicating with potential sitters. Setting time to meet in person should always be on the table, and important to ensure that any dogs your dog will be staying with get along. In addition, some questions you might consider asking:
- What experience do you have with dogs?
- Have you ever watched a dog similar to my dog? (in size, breed, temperament, etc.; It’s okay if it’s not an exact match.)
- How many times will you walk my dog per day? How long will the walks be?
- How long will you leave my dog alone every day?
- If my dog does something that annoys you, how will you respond?
- Will my dog be walked and cared for alone, or with other pups? You might like that your dog gets the social time, or you might prefer to avoid this risk. It's a personal choice.
- Do you plan on letting my dog off-leash? Most times, the answer to this should be no. It’s just not very smart to expect your dog to listen to someone who he doesn’t know.
- Do you have insurance? Most part-time sitters, like college students, won’t have this. Decide if that’s OK with you.
- Will you be driving my dog around? You might prefer not to have your sitter drive, or maybe the extra adventures are a bonus!
Note that while having a standard list of questions for all sitters is important, communication style can be revealing. If you are someone who prefers instant communication, and a sitter takes 48 hours to respond to basic questions... Know that its unlikely to change if your dog is in their care. Pay attention closely to communication styles as it reveals a lot!
Setting Your Sitter Up For Success!
Congrats you have found a sitter that fits your needs. Now what? When dropping off your dog, all sitters will appreciate a detailed list of instructions. That include a schedule, favorite foods, tricks, and anything else that might help make your dog more comfortable in their stay.
You should also consider including:
- Your Dogs food & teats
- Include more than they will need incase you end up being away for longer than planned.
- Dogs favorite toy
- Their Leash and collar or harness
- Vet Information
- Ground rules: Can your dog go to the park? Can they be off leash? Can they go swimming?
- The more information you can provide for your sitter, the easier it will be for them to provide great care.
Of course, you’ll go over most of this verbally when you meet your sitter. But no matter how simple the instructions seem to you, there is probably a lot of information for them (especially if they watch multiple dogs at once). Make sure you have all the information they will need at the ready, and above all, remember that communication is key.
Let Your Dog Be Part Of The Interview
While you are the decision maker, and your trust is the most important. It is also important that your dog likes the sitter and their pup (when applicable). Set up a meet & greet so you can observe how the dog sitter behaves around your pup and vice versa. If you and your dog agree, you can officially hire your pet sitter!