How to Find a Pet Sitter

A pet sitter is a professional that comes into your home to watch and care for your pet while you are away. This can also take place at the pet sitter’s home or place of business.

A pet sitter’s responsibilities include feeding the pet and providing fresh water, exercising and playtime, cleaning the litter box and other messes caused by the pet, giving medications and keeping your furry friend company. Here are some tips for finding the right candidate to pet sit for you.

Resources to Find Pet Sitters

Finding a trustworthy pet sitter may feel like an impossible task, but there are several reputable resources that can help you through the process. Here are a few different ways to go about finding a pet sitter for your four-legged pal:

  • Use online services. Websites such as Rover and Care.com are places for people seeking pet sitting jobs and pet owners seeking pet sitters to connect. Additionally, websites such as Craigslist can be a place to find potential pet sitters.
  • Ask your vet. Talk to your vet and ask if he or she can recommend an individual or pet sitting service. Your pet’s vet may know of or work with responsible pet sitters.
  • Reach out to your local community. The app Nextdoor connects you to other people who live in your town or city. You can post a short message that you are looking for a pet sitter and watch the responses roll in.
  • Talk to those you trust. Ask your friends, family and coworkers for recommendations. Perhaps you know someone who has used a pet sitter in the past and can vouch for his or her services.
  • Post to social media. Put out a call for a responsible pet sitter on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. Follow up with anyone who you are interested in.

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Qualities to Look for in a Pet Sitter

Since pets are widely regarded as part of the family, it’s important to find a caregiver that will treat them like their own while you are away. Here are traits to look for in a pet sitter:

  • Ask the pet sitter for reviews and testimonials from past clients. Also, ask to speak with previous clients to assess the pet sitter. The candidate should have ample experience caring for pets and come highly recommended.
  • Ask the sitter how he or she would handle an emergency situation and what he or she will do to ensure your pet stays safe.
  • Observe how long it takes for the pet sitter to communicate back and forth with you. It should be in a timely manner, especially in case of an emergency. The candidate should also be able to convey information clearly.
  • Must love dogs (and other pets). Sure, most people can care for animals, but it’s important that this person actually enjoys dogs, cats and other animals. Set up a trial run and see how the pet sitter interacts with your animal (and vice versa).
  • Properly educated. The right pet sitter will have professional experience dealing with dogs and cats, as well as other household pets. The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International offers pet sitter certifications in general care, health and nutrition and business, behavior and more.

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Compare Pet-Sitter Service Prices

On average, you can expect to pay your pet sitter anywhere from $14 to $18 per hour. This rate varies on where you live, what type of pets, how many pets and specific services. Here are several ways to determine a fair pay rate for your pet sitter:

  • Compare and contrast. Check pet sitting rates from several different websites and mobile device apps such as Rover and Thumbtack. Put in your Zip code or city to see what rate comes up.
  • Consider the payment frequency. Some pet sitters offer hourly rates for their services, while others prefer a daily or flat rate.
  • Boarding vs. pet sitter. Research what it would cost to board your pet and compare that to the price of hiring a sitter. Your pet will feel more comfortable if it’s able to stay in its own space while you are out of town instead of in a kennel.
  • What’s included in the price? Some pet sitters offer basic care such as stopping by to let the dog out or feed the cat. This generally costs less. Other pet sitters offer more involved care services such as walks, playtime, grooming and giving medications. This typically costs more.

Questions to Ask in an Interview

Pets are like family. Just as you might interview a babysitter for your children, you want to treat your pet the same way. Here are questions to get you started on your quest for finding a top-notch pet sitter:

  • How much experience do you have pet sitting? Tell me about your qualifications.
  • Why did you become a pet sitter?
  • What is your availability? Will you stay overnight or stop by throughout the day?
  • Can you stay at my house or will you take the pet to your home?
  • Can you provide references that I may contact?
  • Are you comfortable pet sitting for more than one animal?
  • Where will you take my pet if an emergency situation arises? What protocol will you follow?
  • Are you bonded and insured? Can you provide official documentation to account for these items?
  • Do you have any certifications or special qualifications that make you a standout candidate for this job? If so, what are they?
  • What services are included in your rate? What services are not included? How much is it to add additional services?
  • Are you the only person who will be watching my pet? Is there anyone else involved?
  • How do you handle bad behavior? For example, if the dog chews up a pair of shoes how will you discipline the animal?
  • Will my pet be around other animals? If so, what kind of animal and how many?
  • How can I reach you while I am away?
  • Can you send pictures of my pet to me and provide me with regular updates?

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