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10 Important Questions to Ask When Hiring a Pet Sitter

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d field meaning, anyone can say that they are a pet sitter. But there is a difference between someone who watches the neighbor’s dog once in a while and someone who has dedicated their life to the care of other people’s pets. 

When interviewing a potential pet sitter for your furry family member there are important questions you should ask to help you decide who is best for you and your pet.

  1. Are they insured and bonded?

While it’s not a 100% guarantee, the fact that someone took the time and spent a good amount of money to have their business bonded and insured can indicate that they are more professional and reliable. They are taking the appropriate steps to make sure that everyone is covered in case of an accident, theft etc.

  1. Are they members of any pet sitting industry organizations?

Associations such as NAPPS- National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International are two of the largest. These associations offer continuing education to serious, professional pet care givers and help keep them abreast of the latest information, care and trends in the pet care industry. There is a fee to become a member, which further shows that the person caring for your pet and coming into your home has a vested interest in doing what’s right for you and your pet.

  1. What is their emergency backup plan should they become ill, in a car accident or unable to care for your pets?

When you hire someone like a friend, family member, neighbor or a one-person pet sitting business, you need to know the answer to this question because, things happen! Who is their back up should you need service while they have a vacation scheduled?

When you hire a professional pet sitting service they have more than one

pet sitter.

If there is an emergency they have multiple pet sitters so the care of your pets is uninterrupted. Use a service who’s pet sitters have undergone a rigorous interviewing process, references have been checked  and the pet sitter has been professionally background screen. 

  1. What is their plan if your pet becomes ill?

Do they know what to do if your pet becomes ill? Can they notice the signs of a sick pet? Do they have any experience with situations such as this? Will the pet sitter take your pet to your vet or theirs? Spend some time thinking about what you would like them to do in such an event and make sure they are willing to follow your plan.

  1. Are they comfortable administering medications or injections?

If you have a special needs pet you will want to be sure that the person caring for your pet is comfortable doing whatever is necessary including administering medications, injections, and following directions to do so. Even if you don’t have a special needs pet this is important as it shows they have experience, and who knows, down the road your pet may need meds or special care.

  1. How will they handle your keys and personal information?

Remember, whoever you choose to care for your pets will have the keys to your home, access to alarm codes and other personal information. Where will they keep your keys when not in use? How will they keep your personal information safe? Will anyone else have access to this information? Many hobby pet sitters may not understand the importance of confidentiality. Many professional pet sitting services do and as such take great measures to insure your pet, home, possessions, and personal information are safe. Choose someone that has a system (preferably online) to collect and secure your personal information. Having a lockbox which stores your keys and stays on YOUR property is safest.

  1. What is included in each visit?

Knowing what is included in each visit up front will eliminate any confusion or misunderstanding of what is expected. Will they make visits, spend the night or live-in? Of course they will feed, water and potty your pet but what else will they do? A professional pet sitter will also administer medications, take your dog for a walk if needed, scoop poop and litter boxes, water plants, take in your mail, take out your trash, clean up any pet accidents, do a daily pet check for any lumps, bumps or changes in your pet, as well as pay attention to your HVAC to make sure it is in good working order and change your lighting around to give your home that lived in look, And most importantly, giving your pet the time, love and attention they will need while you are away.

  1. How will you know that they have visited your pet as scheduled and for the agreed upon length of time?

This is tricky if you are trusting that the person you hire, be it friend, family member, neighbor or hobby pet sitter will do what they promise to do.

Many professional pet sitting service companies now have GPS tracking systems to ensure their pet sitters arrive safely and in a timely manner to care for your pets. Eliminating worry on the part of the pet owner. Furthermore, a professional pet sitting service provider will send you photo updates of your pet and most importantly, leave a detailed report card with notes from each visit, to share with you how your pet was cared for and the fun they had together while you were away.

  1. Will they meet you and your pet beforehand?

An initial meet and greet is important for your pet’s comfort and yours. This gives you the opportunity to see how your prospective pet sitter will interact with your pet. It also allows you to get to know the person who will be taking care of your pet and home. You want your pet to be relaxed and in good hands. Are they taking detailed notes or just leaving important information to memory? If you don’t feel comfortable find someone else.

A professional pet sitting service will usually collect all important information before the meet and greet. Nowadays many use an online system to do so. At the meet and greet they will review the collected information with you and make note of any additional important points. This gives the pet sitter time to get to know you and your pet.

  1. Do they have multiple references and experience?

Ask for multiple references and be sure to call them! You will get a feel for how this person has cared for others by the responses you get from their references. Remember, this is the person who will have full access to your home, possessions and your pet.  If it’s like pulling teeth to get their references to talk, you may want to rethink your pet sitter. Also, do they have plenty of experience caring for other people’s pets? It’s not the same as caring for their own.

Getting the answers to these questions is important. As important as who they will be caring for… your pet and your home! Whoever you choose, getting the answers to these questions will help you feel a sense of comfort and peace of mind so that you can enjoy your time away knowing that your pet and possessions are in the best of care.


Hugs & Happy Tails,

Terie Hansen

Good Dog! Coaching & Pet Care – Unleash the Happy!

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