Most pet owners who can’t take their pets with them when they travel don’t want to put them in a kennel or have them boarded at the local vet. By hiring a professional, experienced pet sitter, your pet will remain in the comfort of her own home, saving her from the stress of having to go to a kennel, where she’ll be around unfamiliar people and animals.

Furthermore, your pet will be able to stick with her everyday routine, as the pet sitter can ensure she gets her meals at the proper time and enjoys the amount of daily exercise to which she has become accustomed.

Talk to pet sitters

Once you’ve decided you want to hire a pet sitter, you’ll need to find potential pet sitters, which you can do by asking family and friends for recommendations, by looking in your local phone book, or by using such organizations as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. The NAPPS provides a list of pet sitters nationwide at their Web site:

When you’ve got a list of potential pet sitters, you’re ready to interview them. You must find someone with whom you’re comfortable and who has the necessary experience and licensure.

Talking to pet sitters is one of the most important, if not the most important, step in the process. In fact, you should ask a lot of questions to determine if an individual pet sitter is a good fit for your needs.

Start by asking the following questions:

1 Are you licensed and bonded?

2 Do you have liability insurance?

3 Can you provide me with physical proof that you have insurance and are licensed and bonded?

4 How long have you been a pet sitter?

5 What is your experience with pets?

6 Do you know animal CPR and first aid?

7 What will you do if there’s bad weather and you’re unable to make your scheduled visits?

8 What happens if you have an emergency? Do you have a backup pet sitter to take over for you?

9 How many times will you visit my pet each day?

10 How long will each visit last?

11 Is there an extra fee for bringing in my mail and watering my plants?

12 How will you get in touch with me in the case of an emergency?

13 Do you have a written contract, which clearly states your fees, that we will both sign?

14 Will you come to my house for an initial interview and to meet my pets?

15 Do you have certification through a professional pet sitting organization, such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters?

Add other questions as you think of them, and consider jotting down the answers, especially if you’ll be talking with several pet sitters. Before you hire a pet sitter, have the pet sitter come to your home for an initial interview and to meet your pets. Whether you ask your questions on the phone or during the initial interview is really up to you.

dog, cat, pet

Pets are family

Get references from your sitter

Always ask potential pet sitters for the names and phone numbers of previous or existing clients who have agreed to serve as references. Make sure you call each reference to determine what type of experience he or she has had with the pet sitter, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, such as: How long has the pet sitter been pet sitting your pets? Are you satisfied with the experience overall?

Before you sign a contract with a pet sitter, always check references.

Schedule an initial in-person interview

When you’ve whittled your list of potential pet sitters down to one or two, schedule an initial interview. The initial interview will give you a chance to talk with the pet sitter in the comfort of your home and to have the pet sitter meet your pets. It will also give you the chance to see how your pets react to the pet sitter. Most pet sitters don’t charge for the initial interview.

Hire the pet sitter

When you’ve found a pet sitter with whom you’re comfortable, make sure you and the pet sitter sign a contract that states the cost per individual visit, how many times a day the pet sitter will visit your pets, and the total estimated cost of the pet sitting services.

After you’ve signed the contract, you’ll want to give the pet sitter a set of keys to your house, along with detailed instructions for caring for your pet. For example, if your cat takes medicine daily, explain in detail the process, including the exact dosage, to your pet sitter and also write it down. Also provide a list that includes your vet’s phone number, your phone number(s) and any emergency contacts.

Hiring a pet sitter doesn’t have to be a stressful experience, especially if you follow the above tips. Start the process of finding a pet sitter early, so you’ll have time to interview to find the best pet sitter for your needs.




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