If you’re traveling and need to leave your pets at home, there’s more than one way to get the help you need. You can board your pet at a boarding center or veterinarian’s office, you can ask family or friends to watch your pets or you can hire a pet-sitter.
Because many people don’t like the idea of boarding pets and loved ones aren’t always available (or willing) to help, hiring a pet-sitter has become a popular option.
Depending on the pet-sitter you hire, they may watch your pets at their home or at yours. Some pet-sitters also offer extra services like watering plants, getting the mail, or long walks and belly rubs for your furry-friend.
This may sound easy and ideal, but for it to work well, you have to be careful who you hire for the job. This is your fur baby you’re leaving with this person, after all. Not all pet-sitters meet the qualifications you look for, or have the proper judgment required to handle any issues that could arise while you’re gone.
Before you hire a pet-sitter, there are questions to ask beyond the most obvious one – how much their services cost. Here are six important questions to ask anyone before you put the life of your pet in their hands.
1. What do you love about being a pet-sitter & what parts of the job do you loathe?
While plenty of pet-sitters absolutely adore their jobs, there could be just as many who watch animals because they can’t get other types of work. Think about it: Watching pets isn’t that hard, nor does it require a lot of knowledge or skill. Your pet-sitter could dote on your pet all day or watch TV and ignore them altogether, and you would probably never know either way.
Asking your pet-sitter what they love and hate about the job can help you gain insight into how their mind works. Do they really love animals? Or do they watch pets for an easy way to make some cash?
2. Can you provide references?
One of the best ways to gauge the quality of a pet-sitter is through personal references. Ideally, you’ll want references from other pet owners who have used their services in the past.
Get a list of references and call at least one or two to see how they felt after letting this particular pet-sitter watch their animals. Once you get these references on the phone, ask a few simple questions about their experiences. Were they happy with their treatment of their pets? Would they use them again?
3. Are you bonded & insured?
Because of the potential risks when you hire a pet-sitter to stay in your home and care for your pet, any pet-sitter you hire should be bonded and insured. What this means is, they offer their own form of insurance to cover property and pets in their care at their home, at yours and in transit.
If you hire a pet-sitter through a service like Rover, they have a certain amount of insurance coverage already. Independent pet-sitters, on the other hand, need to purchase this coverage on their own.
4. How would you handle a pet emergency?
What happens if your pet gets sick or runs away? It’s important for your pet-sitter to have a general idea of emergency procedures you have set up just in case something goes wrong.
Generally speaking, pet-sitters also need to know what to do and where to go if your pet experiences any health problems. If you use a specific veterinarian, you’ll want to make sure your pet-sitter has their office information and contact number. If you have insurance for your pet, you’ll also want to make sure your pet-sitter is aware of this information.
5. What services are included in your rate & what services cost extra?
Hiring a pet-sitter should be a fairly simple transaction. You’ll pay your sitter a daily or nightly rate and, in exchange, they’ll feed and care for your pet.
These days, however, you can pay more for an array of additional services. As we mentioned earlier, your pet-sitter may be willing to do extra things like water your garden, take your dog to the park or do some basic cleaning at your home.
Make sure to ask your pet-sitter what extra services are available and how much they cost. From there, you can decide if the splurge for convenience or extra pet care is worth it.
6. How can we stay in touch while I’m away?
Whether you’re leaving the country or just going on a weekend getaway a few hours away, you’re leaving your beloved pet behind. Make sure you establish how your pet-sitter can get ahold of you if they need something while you’re away. Can they call you, or is email a better idea? You’ll also want to know their prefered method of communicating in case you want to check in on your pet.
Whatever you decide the right method is, it’s important to set a communication goal ahead of time. If you want a daily picture of your pet emailed, say so. If you want your pet-sitter to call you every few days, let them know. By setting standards and expectations early, you’ll be able to enjoy your trip without losing sleep over your precious pet.