The benefit of sharing my home with two dogs and two cats is that I get to enjoy the antics of this “furry fab four.” But when I’m traveling and can’t take my pets with me, I have to figure out who is going to take care of my pets while I’m away. Personally, I prefer to hire a professional pet sitter who comes and stays at my house. This way, my pets get to remain in their own home.
When I’m picking a pet sitter I’ve learned to be, well, picky. Just because someone tells you that they love pets, doesn’t make them skilled in dealing with companion animal issues. Facing a lot of trips this year, I knew I could not afford to have just any person stay at my house and care for my pets.
I contacted two national organizations: Pet Sitters International and National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. Both referred me to local pet sitting companies who belonged to one – or both – of these organizations. The information on the websites of these local companies provided me with their fee schedules and pet policies.
In picking a pet sitter – and hiring that person for future trips, I suggest considering the following:
- Punctuality of the prospective pet sitter for the initial face-to-face meeting with me and my pets.
- Availability of the pet sitter for future trips to provide continuity for my pets.
- Comments from others who had hired the pet sitter in the past.
- Knowledge of cat and dog behavior.
- Acceptance that my pets are not perfect. My dog, Chipper is afraid of skateboards and will turn into a 60-pound puddle at the sight of one on a walk.
- Willingness to provide daily walks for my dogs and daily brushings for my cats.
- Receptiveness to meet close neighbors who keep an eye on my house and are available should an emergency arise.
- Accessibility by phone or email to provide me with daily updates on my pets.
- The body language of my pets when they were around the pet sitter. The pet sitter I use brings out pure joy and goofiness in my dogs and dignified acceptance from my cats.
- I prefer to use a professional who is licensed and bonded.
The next time you face a business trip or a long-awaited vacation, be sure to plan ahead and make arrangements for your pets to receive the best possible care.
By Arden Moore, a certified dog and cat behaviorist, author, radio host, and writer for Pets Best, a U.S. pet health insurance agency since 2005. You can learn more about Pets Best and pet health insurance at PetsBest.com.