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Choosing a Pet Sitter for Your Pet

Sep 5, 2008
Far from just making sure your pet is adequately fed and watered in your absence, a good pet sitter should be a foster parent to your pet. They should provide quality time, exercise and all the home comforts your pet is used to.

Of course, the more you are willing to spend on a pet sitter, the more comfort and attention your pet will get. In-home pet sitters typically also offer services such as watering plants and general house-care in your absence. Do not mistake a pet sitter, however, for a house-keeper - or you may soon need to get a new one!

People can become a pet sitter without any qualifications and it may be hard to gauge the experience any candidate can bring to the job. This is why it is sometimes very hard to choose a pet sitter from classified listings. Sometimes your individual impression of someone, and watching how they interact with your pet can be a good way of choosing. However, also look for accreditation from the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, whose members abide by a code of ethics and have completed study courses and conferences.

Before selecting a pet sitter, interview the candidates over the phone or at your home. Try to find out the following:
  • Will the pet sitter work in your home or will you take your pet to them?
  • Will your pet sitter be caring for other pets at the same time as yours? If so, how many pets and how much attention will yours get?
  • Seek written proof that your candidate has commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and is bonded (to protect against theft by a pet sitter or her employees)?
  • What training and qualifications the candidate has
  • If the candidate cannot make it to work one day (an emergency, car travel etc.), can their agency or company provide backup?
  • What other services the pet sitter will offer - such as walking your dog or watering your plants
  • Will your pet sitter provide a service contract?
Find out from the candidate names and numbers of previous pleased customers who can provide a reference. Also judge your candidates on their interaction with your pet, and their interest in their well-being. For example, Does he/she seem interested when you are telling them about your pet? Do they take notes about feeding and medicating?

Once you have chosen a pet sitter, it is important that you do everything you can to make things as easy as possible for your pet and his new pet sitter. Pay particular attention to the following points:
  • Make reservations with your pet sitter well in advance of your requirements
  • Affix current identification tags to your pet's collar.
  • Maintain current vaccinations for your pet.
  • Leave clear instructions detailing specific pet-care responsibilities
  • Leave clear contact information for you and for your vet
  • Leave a key with a trustworthy neighbor as a backup in case of loss. Make sure your pet sitter knows how to contact them
About the Author
Daphne Reid is editor of www.petpeoplesplace.com, the thriving network for pet owners and enthusiasts since 2000.
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