Discriminating pet owners tend to be picky when it comes to ensuring a furry friend’s well-being. When you care that much, it can be hard to leave your buddy alone with strangers, even for just one night. But if there’s no one handy, no friend or relative who can step in and pet-sit, it may be time to find a proxy pet parent to provide hugs and snuggles for your pampered pooch.
Pet sitters come is all varieties. Some are professionals with extensive experience. Others are simply animal lovers that have turned their passion into a source of income. They’ll provide quality care and give you peace of mind while you’re away. Nevertheless, it’s important to look for certain things when researching facilities.
Many pet sitters provide individual spaces for their guests as well as clean and spacious exercise areas. Your sitter will pay close attention to your pet’s demeanor in case he needs special attention getting comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. And there are often opportunities for supervised socialization, which can also ease their transition. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that your dog won’t be dropped into a cold and impersonal kennel with 50 other pets. He or she will have a chance to enjoy couch snuggles, belly rubs, and lazy afternoons in the sun.
What to look for
Word of mouth is a good way to find a quality animal care provider. Check also with your veterinarian about reputable, responsible sitters in your area. It’s advisable to start researching well in advance of your reservation dates and make sure they have availability, can accommodate your pet, and are able to meet any special needs (i.e. medications, grooming, etc.). Most sitters provider care in their home and will allow you to take a tour so that you’re satisfied with their capabilities.
Pay attention to whether the house looks and smells dirty. Of course, anywhere with dogs will have plenty of pet-related smells, but it’ll be apparent if it is poorly maintained. There should be plenty of lighting and the entire place should be well-ventilated. Take a good look at where you pet will be sleeping. It should be kept at a comfortable temperature, and you should be able to provide your dog’s bed or bedding from home to help make them feel more at ease. Cats and dogs should be kept apart, and cat litter boxes placed nowhere near food/water dishes.
Your expectation should be that your pet will be comfortably housed and given ample opportunity to stretch his legs each day. Check out the back yard and ask how many times each day your pup will be played with. Runs should be sheltered and protected from wind, rain and snow. If you have a reasonable concern about whether your pet will be able to move around adequately during its stay, that should be enough to send you to another sitter, especially if you have a large and athletic dog.
Meet and greet
Once you find someone you like, spend some time talking with them to get a feel for how attentive and committed they are to caring for your pet. They should be knowledgeable and willing to go the extra mile to make you happy. Do they already know your veterinarian? Do they keep first aid supplies handy? Ask how often the animals are fed, and make sure it’s OK to bring your pet’s special food. Ask how many dogs they are scheduled to sit for while yours is in their care. These are the kinds of things a reputable sitter should be able to answer without hesitation.
As a loving, caring pet owner, you should demand the same level of consideration for your pet that you would provide yourself. Anything less is unacceptable. If you get the strong impression that the sitter is the kind of person you would call you right away if anything went wrong, you’ve probably found the right one.