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We all need a little R&R now and then. Still, for many pet owners, the idea of leaving our pets behind or boarding them in a high-stress kennel environment takes the relaxation out of R&R.
Increasingly, pet owners are turning to Pet Sitters to either stay with their pets or to have them come in and check on their furry friends while they are away. A good pet sitter will spend quality time with your pet, give him exercise, and recognize if your pet needs veterinary attention.
When done thoughtfully, there can be many benefits to hiring a pet sitter. Keep reading to learn how you can best look for a pet sitter and the important questions you should be asking before hiring someone to help care for your pets.
Benefits of a Pet Sitter
However, just because a friend or neighbor has pets, loves pets, or has walked your dog doesn’t mean they have enough experience to entrust with the care of your beloved pet in your absence.
You are placing your trust, your home, and your pet in the care of someone, so it is crucial that you take the time and do your part to find a qualified, reliable professional with whom you and your pets feel comfortable.
An excellent place to start looking for a pet sitter is with a recommendation from a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, humane society, or dog trainer. You can also contact the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, by going directly to their website and using their search tool to locate a professional in your area.
Ask trusted friends or relatives if they can recommend a pet sitter whom they have used before. Referrals are a great way to get names of Pet Sitters that have proven reliable.
Once you talk to the sitter and decide if it is a good fit, you should ask for a list of references, including one from a past client and one from a current client. The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters has a complete list of questions to ask references when looking to hire a Pet Sitter.
Can my pet meet you first?
Before settling on a Pet Sitter, you want to see for yourself how the person interacts with your pet. Pets often have an instant positive connection or negative reaction to people. A Pet Sitter can have all the training and experience in the world, but that will be of little use if your pet doesn’t take to him or her well.
What type of experience do you have?
Of course, you want someone who loves pets, is experienced with them and who has even had or has pets of their own. It would be best if you also looked for a Pet Sitter who has cared for a variety of pets over time.
How much time can you spend with my pet?
Whether you are looking for a Pet Sitter to stay in your home or to stop by a few times a day, you want to be sure whomever you hire can meet the needs of your pet and keep to your pet’s schedule as much as possible.
Ideally, a sitter should be able to take your dog on walks as frequently, and for the length of time, he is used to. If you are looking for someone to care for your cat, you will likely want the person to spend some time in your home playing with your cat or merely keeping her company.
Do you have commercial liability insurance, and are you bonded?
Commercial liability insurance covers accidents and negligence. Most professional pet sitting organizations suggest that pet sitters get insured and bonded, so they are covered in the event of costly accidents.
Most insurance companies will offer a certificate of proof that the person is insured.
What type of training do you have?
Many experienced Pet Sitters will have training in pet CPR, pet first aid, and animal behavior. You may also want to know if a potential sitter has experience or training with a specific breed or with pets with special needs.
Do you know where the nearest emergency vet is located?
It would be best if you also asked how a potential sitter would handle an emergency and what emergencies he has encountered in the past.
Will you be walking my dog alone or with other dogs?
This question is important, particularly since not all dogs get along with other dogs. You want to be sure the time a sitter is spending with your pets is dedicated to your pets unless you've made other agreements.
If the interview goes well and you click with a potential sitter, it is still crucial to have the person come to your home and see how they interact with your pets in your home. If you and your pets feel comfortable, start by hiring the sitter for a brief trial, such as a day trip or an overnight trip. Nervous about leaving your pet with someone new? Consider taking out a pet insurance policy to help provide coverage in case an accident should happen while you're away.
Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.
1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.
2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.