Holidays are something that everybody needs. They’re a few glorious days or weeks (or months if you’re lucky!) where you get to recharge and unwind from the hectic schedules of everyday life. One thing that can put a damper on your relaxation, though, is stressing about your pet being home alone for a few days or worse – in a kennel that you had to book last minute but didn’t get to check out properly. Don’t leave it to chance for your next holiday, take a look at our top 5 essential steps for choosing a pet sitter that can look after your fur babies from the comfort of your own home.
Whether you’re trying to decide between hiring an individual pet sitter or a sitter from an agency, the best way to scout them is usually via word of mouth recommendations. Knowing that the pet sitter has successfully looked after the pets of a person you know well, is a great sign and can be extremely comforting should you choose to hire them.
If you’re going to hire someone you’ve heard about from a friend or family though, it’s essential to do all the proper checks on them yourself anyway – just to be sure.
If you haven’t heard of any great pet sitters then it’s time to do a little research on the World Wide Web. Reputable, larger pet sitting agencies will be your best bet for hiring a professional and will have the best range of options, they’ll most likely also have a streamlined process for allocating you a great sitter which will make everything that much easier.
Regardless of if you’re hiring an individual or from an agency, only choose someone who has a great reputation. We know this is a no-brainer, but it can be very tempting to simply trust that the agency or sitter have all the necessary experience and hire them to avoid doing any extra research.
Check the reviews
It’s crucial that you check out their recent experiences by scouting the internet for unbiased (hopefully) reviews such as those on Google or Facebook. This will give you an idea of the quality of their work and how happy their customers have been in the past, repeat customers are especially important because this means the sitter is consistently great.
Be sure to take all negative reviews, however, with a grain of salt. If you have any concerns about the review’s validity or the situation, be sure to ask the sitter or the agency for more details about what happened. And if you’re unsure of their resulting explanation, go with your gut and steer clear of them.
Relevant training, experience and qualifications
Whilst having a cache of glowing reviews is a definite plus, there’s a few more items you’ll need to see from your pet sitter to be sure they’re qualified for the job. This is especially important if you have a pet with special requirements or behavioural issues.
This is what you need to be looking for:
- Liability insurance – Whether you’re hiring from an agency or not, your pet sitter MUST have liability insurance. This protects you and your pet if anything goes wrong whilst in the sitter’s care.
- Qualifications – Any licences or course completion certificates that are relevant to pet minding and animal management are great to have. Bonus points if they’ve done any kind of veterinarian course or work experience.
- Experience – The pet sitter will be able to give you a resume with a summary of all the past work they’ve done. If any of it is too vague, feel free to ask for extra details. A sitter with a lot of varied and difficult pet sitting experiences will be the best option.
- Police check – This one isn’t going to be common if you’re hiring an individual, but if you’re hiring through an agency it’s often a requirement that the sitter has had a national police check completed (shows their record is clean).
When going through all the qualifications the pet sitter has, try to pick an individual that will be specifically suitable to your pet and their needs. For example, if you know your dog is particularly misbehaved on walks and tends to snap at other dogs then pick a sitter that’s worked with difficult dogs before. A great idea is to ask them what they would do in those kinds of situations, a sitter that is familiar with that kind of behaviour should have no hesitation in answering your scenarios in detail.
To make sure you, and most importantly, your pet get the most out of this experience you’ll have to be willing to go through all your requirements and expectations in detail with your potential pet sitter. A professional pet sitter will ask you if your pet has any special requirements or behavioural issues so make sure you’re prepared with all the answers – no detail is too small.
Be sure to mention any:
- Dietary requirements/favourite foods
- Behavioural issues (e.g. scared of storms, has anxiety, bites other dogs, etc.)
- Health issues (e.g. allergies, heart problems, etc.)
- Exercise requirements – you want your pet to keep up it’s normal exercise levels
- Routines – ensuring your pet’s special routines stay consistent will comfort them whilst you’re away
- Medications – if required, make sure to have all medications stocked up and ready to go
- Grooming specifics
- Emergency contacts/neighbour’s contact details/preferred local vet
- Extra services you might want to request (e.g. bins taken out, plants watered, etc.)
- Updates – how often would you like to hear how your pet is going?
Have a contract written up with all your requirements listed and make sure you go over it with a fine-toothed comb – don’t be afraid to take your time and make as many corrections as you need. This will make the process not only easier for you and your fur baby, but also the pet sitter as they will be fully prepared for any situation.
You will also need to clarify your expectations for care with the sitter before they commence the job. For example, will they be staying at your house overnight, full-time or simply visiting your pet to check up on them? And if it’s the latter, you’ll need to work out the number of visits you’d be happy with each day. You might feel more comfortable with a couple visits a day or just one, it totally depends on the needs of your pet.
Bonus tip: In this amazing digital age we’re living in, taking and sending a quick photo on your phone is almost as easy as breathing. Many pet sitters will happily take a few cute snaps of your pet over the period of the job and send them to you so that you can see your pet is comfortable and enjoying themselves. If this is something you’re interested in, let your sitter know and they should be happy to oblige.
Just like with everything, you get what you pay for. This means that there’s a huge range of prices you can pay for pet sitting depending on the level and quality of care you’re after for your pet.
As a rule though, the usual range is about $25-$85 a day/night. The higher end of that range caters for pet sitters that stay overnight or full-time in your home whilst you’re away. A pet sitter that only visits once a day for around 30 minutes will be closer to the bottom end of the range. So the more attention and care your pet needs, the higher the price will be.
When it comes to negotiating a price, most agencies will have set pricing so this won’t be an option. With individual sitters you may be able to negotiate the price to bring it down a bit, but always be prepared to fork out a little extra for top care because having the peace of mind that your pet is going to be expertly cared for is ultimately priceless. We would recommend focusing on the other essential steps mentioned in this article instead of the price. Budgets are very important, but your fur baby’s comfort and happiness is the most crucial element in this process.
The price that is agreed on should always be specified clearly in the contract and confirmed prior to the job commencing. You should also be aware of any extra costs that may be incurred in the case of an emergency or extra care that needs to be given, be sure to ask about these before you leave on holiday.
Avoid extra fees
To avoid any extra fees, stock up on all the food, kitty litter, grooming supplies and whatever else your pet will need whilst you’re away. This will mean that your pet sitter has everything on hand and won’t have to pop out to the shops to pick up extra supplies – which could result in a fee on top of the nightly pet sitting price.
Leave these items in a place that’s easy to find so your pet sitter doesn’t have to text you on vacation to find out where you’ve stowed them. It’s a good idea to over stock rather than risk under stocking – so if you’re not sure, buy more.
As with all contracts, ask about any hidden costs before signing on the dotted line. There shouldn’t be any but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
This is a very important step! Sometimes, a new person comes into the house and your dog growls at them or your cat runs off to hide. For most pets, it can be out of character for them to act this way so always pay close attention to their behaviour – animals definitely have preferences when it comes to the types of people they want to be around. And sometimes, it’s like they can sense things that we humans can’t!
Have a meet and greet with the potential sitter
To test this out, it’s a great idea to have your potential pet sitter come over to the house so you can see how your pet reacts with them. Try to have them stay for around half an hour or so and get them to interact with your pet as much as possible. If your pets are usually friendly and don’t warm up to the pet sitter, then you might want to consider hiring someone else. After all, you wouldn’t want them to be uncomfortable or feel threatened in their home whilst you’re on holidays and unable to comfort them.
Any professional pet sitter will completely understand if you decline their offer due to your pet not finding them compatible, so don’t be afraid to be honest if this is the case.
Similarly, if you don’t get those pet-loving vibes from the sitter or you’re sensing that this person won’t be as attentive to your pet as you’d hoped then it’s best to go with your gut. You need a sitter that’s going to be as invested, enthusiastic and attentive of your pet’s needs as you would be. As the parent of your fur babies, you’ll be the best judge of character so don’t doubt your judgement.
As long as you follow our 5 essential steps when hiring your pet sitter, we’re confident you’ll find a professional, loving individual that will be able to care for your pet no matter what situation gets thrown at them.
It’s always best to book everything in early, so once your dates for your getaway are confirmed you should be searching for a pet sitter straight away to avoid missing out on that perfect sitter. Once you’ve done the hard yards finding, researching and booking them in, you can jet off on your holiday and enjoy every second of your time away – the only thing you’ll have to worry about it is missing your fur baby!