Fur babies are just as much a part of the family as any human family member, and so, when planning for a holiday you should make sure they’ll be cared for by someone who understands how much they mean to you. A pet sitter is an excellent choice for keeping your pet safe and happy in the comfort of your home to minimise the stress of you being away. Read on for our 5 essential steps for hiring the perfect pet sitter.
You’ve got two main options when you’re hiring a pet sitter; a sitter from an agency or a sitter who’s self-employed. Whether you’ve heard about the sitter via word of mouth from friends and family who’ve used them before or you’re going in blind and considering a sitter from an agency you might not know nothing about, it’s equally as important to check out their reviews and recommendations before you move onto the next steps.
Don’t get too swept up in glowing reviews that you don’t do your own research. You need to know exactly who’s going to be looking after your pet and home whilst you’re away.
Google and Facebook can be reliable, unbiased review platforms where you can view past customers’ experiences with the sitter. Be sure to take any negative reviews with a grain of salt and query them with the sitter if you’d still like to consider hiring them. Always trust your gut instinct on these issues though – it’s usually right.
Qualifications, insurances and experience
Reviews are one thing but actual, hands-on experience, formal training and qualifications are a whole other ball game.
We recommend making sure your sitter has:
- Liability insurance – This protects you, your pet and your property in case anything goes wrong, it’s an essential third party insurance. Most agencies will have this but it might be harder to come by with individual, self-employed sitters.
- Police check – This is another advantage an agency pet sitter may have over a self-employed one. This shows their record is clean and gives you extra peace of mind.
- Qualifications – Look out for any relevant pet minding, animal management and veterinarian training certificates or licences. Be sure they’re real, valid and current.
- Experience – Your pet sitter should be able to provide a resume with their pet-sitting experience. It’s a great idea to look for sitters with experience that’s similar to your pet’s needs, breed and situation.
This is an important step; it ensures that both you and your pet sitter are completely clear on exactly what you’re expecting from this experience. It also makes sure your pet will get the best care possible that’s tailored to their specific needs.
Be sure to mention any:
- Dietary requirements/favourite treats
- Behavioural issues
- Normal exercise routine
- Health issues/medications
- Grooming requirements
- Emergency contacts (neighbour, vet, relatives, etc.)
- Extra services requests (e.g. take out bins, water plants, etc.)
- Frequency of updates you’d like on how your pet is going
Clarify each and every expectation and requirement you have with your pet sitter well in advance of your holiday and don’t be afraid to contact them for any new ones you remember before you leave.
Also consider if you want the sitter to live in your house for full-time care whilst you’re gone or just visit to check up on food, water and anything else your pet might need (determine how many visits a day). Different pets require different levels of attention and care so this is totally unique to your situation.
This is an important step but try not to focus on it too much when deciding who you’re going to hire. Whilst you can’t put a price on your pet’s happiness, it’s good to know what to expect.
Pet sitters will generally range from $25-$85 a day/night, depending on what kind of sitting you’ve agreed on. The cheapest sitters will be those that visit once a day or every couple of days for pets that require minimal checking up on (cats, fish, etc.). You should expect to pay a fair bit more for sitters that stay in your home with your animal full-time, this will be suited to older or more energetic animals that require higher levels of care.
Negotiating price usually isn’t possible with sitters from agencies so there’s a slight advantage here when choosing an individual sitter. Self-employed sitters will most likely charge less as well because their overhead costs are lower.
Whatever price you agree on should be specified in a contract or written form of communication so there’s no confusion. And make sure to ask about any hidden fees or extra costs – there shouldn’t be any, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
We’ve saved the best till last because this is the most important step! Pets can sense things that humans can’t, every pet parent knows that. So it’s important to have a meet and greet with your sitter and your pet before you hire this person.
Have them come to your house for coffee so that they can meet your pet and you can see how they get along. There’s two reactions you should be looking for here that are just as important as each other. You want to see that your pet enjoys being in their company and you have to be sure the sitter genuinely cares for your pet in return – enthusiastic and pet-loving vibes are an essential sign from your sitter and help you feel at ease leaving your fur baby in their care.
It’s not often that you get a holiday, but when you do you want to make sure that both you and your pet enjoy your time away. They may not be coming with you but they should be comfortable and content with the experience nonetheless. Hiring a caring and professional pet sitter is going to be key to this and following our above steps ahead of time will ensure you find the perfect companion to keep your pet company whilst you’re not there.