Pet sitter, happy dog with woman on couch

Picture this: You’re all ready to head out on your dream vacation, your flight is booked and your bags are packed, but there’s one thing you forgot. Who’s going to take care of your pets? Who can you trust with your best fur-iends? How will you find a good pet sitter?

A good pet sitter does more than just let your dog outside or clean the cat litter box, and pet sitting involves more than putting some food and water in a dish. A good pet sitter will act as your pet’s mom or dad in your absence. They will comfort your pet, give them love and attention, and help them get over the loneliness of missing the human they dearly love.

However, not just anyone can be a good pet sitter. There are far too many horror stories of pet parents who left their pets with someone they trusted, only to have their pet wind up sick or missing when they return. And with the prevalence of websites like petsitter and rover, it seems easier than ever for just about anyone to claim to be a pet sitter.

HOW CAN YOU FIND A PET SITTER YOU CAN TRUST?

Start close to home

The first place to start searching for a trustworthy sitter for your fur-baby is locally. Consider whether you have any relatives or friends that could care for your pet. Maybe your pet already has a best friend, and he or she could stay with that dog or cat’s family while you are gone. Perhaps a retired relative, who is home a lot, wouldn’t mind watching your kitty. Choosing someone to watch your pet who already knows them, and is comfortable with them, goes a long way in ensuring a peaceful vacation for both you and your pet.

Ask for recommendations

Another great way to find a pet sitter you can trust is to ask for recommendations from people who have already used a pet sitter. Ask your veterinarian, ask your pet groomer, ask your friends and family, ask other pet parents who are out walking their dogs. Finding a pet sitter that others have used and had a positive experience with will go a long way toward ensuring your peace of mind while you have to spend time away from your dog or cat.

Find a pet sitter using an online service

If you haven’t had luck finding a pet sitter using the traditional methods, then perhaps using an online pet sitter service is the way to go. Most online pet sitter services have a review system so you can read about other people’s experiences with various pet sitters. Pet sitter websites often complete a background check on pet sitters, which is important when you’re having strangers come into your home to care for your pet.

SO YOU’VE FOUND A PET SITTER, NOW WHAT?

Once you’ve chosen a pet sitter you think you can trust, it’s more than just leaving a key or dropping your pets off at their house. You need to meet the pet sitter and ensure they’re a good fit, and can comfortably and safely take care of your furry family.

Set up a meeting

Set up a time for the pet sitter to meet your pets and ask lots of questions during the introduction. Monitor how they interact with your pet and how your pet responds to them. Find out how long they have been pet sitting, find out their experience and ask for references. Follow up and call the references to make sure they have positive things to say about the pet sitter.

Set up a test run

If your initial consultation with the pet sitter went well, and you think they may be a good fit for caring for your pets while you’re away, then the next step is to set up a test run and let the pet sitter care for your pets for the night. Pack your dog or cat’s overnight bag, and act just as if you are going on vacation. When you pick up your pet the next day, gauge their reaction. Obviously they are going to be beyond excited to see you, but do you notice any other behavioral changes? Speak with the pet sitter about how it went. Find out if your pet ate their food while at the pet sitters. Were they good? Does the pet sitter think they can properly care for the pet in your absence? The test run should help you make your final decision on whether or not the pet sitter is a good fit for your fur-child.

Make the job easy on your pet sitter

If you’ve settled on a pet sitter to take care of your dog or cat while you’re gone, there are a few things you can do to make the pet sitter’s job a little easier.

  • Communicate with your pet sitter regularly
  • Leave detailed instructions on caring for your pet
  • Leave a list of emergency contacts with your sitter
  • Leave a note authorizing the pet sitter to seek veterinary care for your pet if necessary
  • Send along a sturdy leash and collar or harness and a kennel or crate
  • Attach identification tags to your pet’s collar
  • Keep your pet updated on vaccinations and have a digital copy of the vaccinations on file to send to the pet sitter if necessary
  • Provide all of the pet food and supplies the pet sitter will need for the duration of your absence.
  • Ask a neighbor you trust to keep an eye on your home and your pets and leave them a spare key to use in case of emergency.
  • Send along some extra Treats and Snacks for the pet sitter to use to spoil your fur baby while you’re gone.

Just remember that things come up, plans change and vacations don’t always go smoothly. As long as you’ve found a good pet sitter and you’ve made a backup plan, your pet should be fine spending a little time away from you while being spoiled by a pet sitter. Have a safe and fun vacation!