Choosing a pet sitter

We all know how hard it is to go on vacation and leave behind your furry friends. How can you enjoy your vacation while thinking about your beloved dog sitting in a cage at the vet’s office? It is important to find a reliable, trustworthy pet sitter to care for your fur babies when you are away. There are plenty of options other than kennels or the vet’s office. Many pet sitters open their homes to your pup and treat them as their own. Even kennels have come a long way offering group doggie playtime and socializations. Here are some things to consider when choosing a pet sitter and some tips to follow once you have made your decision.

  • Research. Talk to friends and family members to see if they know or someone or have used someone in the past.
  • Ask for references and follow through by calling them.
  • Make sure your pet sitter is insured.
  • This next step is one of the most important one. Physically go where your pet will be staying and see in person where your dog will be housed while you are gone. Make sure it is clean and safe for your pet. Be sure to ask exactly where in the house or kennel your dog will be staying.
  • Make sure all dogs coming onto the premises are up to date with their vaccinations. If they are not asking you to provide proof of UTD vaccinations, more than likely they are not asking others.
  • Make sure your pet sitter has a plan in case an emergency medical issue arises (eg. they know where the closest 24 hour emergency clinic is). Also make sure your pet sitter is financially capable of paying for your pet’s care in the event you cannot be reached. Most emergency clinics will not treat a dog without payment up front.
  • If possible, make sure your pet sitter will send pictures to you while you are away. Digital cameras and smartphones are readily accessible, so it should not be a problem showing you what your pup is doing. This also will ensure that your dog is safe and healthy.
  • If possible, take your dog to the pet sitters a few times before you leave him for a long stretch. This will help your dog feel less stressed having been there previously and understand you will be coming back for them. This will also give you a chance to visit multiple times and see the consistency of cleanliness and staging.
  • If your dog will be housed with other dogs, make sure you ask if they will be together unsupervised. Even dogs that seemingly get along can have a tiff over a bone or bed. Make sure your dog’s interaction with other guests is always supervised or monitored. If your dog is under-socialized or would rather not play with other dogs, does the pet sitter have the space and means to keep your dog separate and safe?
  • Make sure you are honest about any of your dog’s behavioral issues or medical problems.
  • Make sure you leave your veterinarian’s contact information as well as an emergency contact.
  • Ask what the daily schedule will be for your dog (eg. walks, playtime, etc.) Be sure to ask how long your dog will be left alone during an average day.
  • Pack some comfort items for your dog. A favorite blanket, toy or dog bed. Always pack extra food in the event that a flight gets delayed or canceled.
  • Lastly, please make sure your dog is wearing identification with current phone numbers or is microchipped. If you will be out of the country or cell phone range, please make sure either your pet sitter’s phone number or an emergency contact phone number is on their tags.

Make sure you consider what type of environment will work best for your pup while you are gone. They should feel safe, comfortable and happy on their vacation while you are on yours!

Jennifer Towers is owner of Lead the Pack Dog Training. You can also find Lead the Pack Dog Training on Facebook.

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