Find a Pet Sitter

A pet sitter does much more than provide pets with water and food while their owners are away. Reliable pet sitters spend quality time with animals, give them exercise, and determine when they need specialized attention. In many cases, pet sitters offer extra services, such as watering plants and checking the mail. However, just because someone refers to themselves as a pet sitter, that doesn’t mean they are qualified for the job. Professional pet sitters offer benefits such as:

  • Keeping pets in a well-known environment
  • Keeping them on a regular routine and diet
  • Attention while owners are away
  • Peace of mind for owners
  • Avoidance of crowded boarding kennels

In this guide, pet owners can learn more about finding a qualified, reliable pet sitter.

Where to find the Right Pet Sitter

Like other professional services, referrals are an excellent place to start the search for a pet sitter. Friends, family, and neighbors can be a great source of recommendations, as can veterinary offices. Finally, owners can look online for help. Babysitter’s Registry has a pet sitter location service that puts pet owners in touch with professional sitters in their area. When the owner inputs their ZIP code, they can filter results by experience and services offered, among other criteria.

What to Look For

It’s important for pet owners to learn everything possible about a potential sitter’s services and qualifications. Before making a selection, the owner should interview each candidate in person or over the phone, asking the questions listed below.

  • Can the sitter offer proof of commercial liability insurance and bonding?
  • Has the sitter completed any training programs or received any certifications?
  • Does the sitter take notes about pets’ likes, dislikes, habits, fears, routines, and medical conditions?
  • Can the sitter get in touch with an emergency vet if the need arises?
  • Does the sitter have a backup plan in the event of illness or other issues?
  • Is there an outline of fees and services?
  • Can the pet sitter provide references from past clients?

Even if a pet sitter’s references check out, it’s important for them to meet the pet before they’re hired. Observe how the sitter interacts with the pet, and if the visit goes well, hire the sitter for a short time. That way, the client can work out any issues before hiring the sitter for a longer period.

Compare Pet Sitting Prices

Most pet sitters set their own pricing, and it’s possible to find good (and not-so-good) deals. According to the latest information, basic services cost about $10-$20 per visit, with the average being about $15. Overnight pet sitters charge about $40-$80, with the average being squarely in the middle at $60. There are other factors for pet owners to consider as well, such as animal species and timing. Cats are typically less expensive than dogs, and booking on a holiday usually comes with higher fees.

Pet owners should remember that these figures are broad averages, and local sitters may charge more or less than the quoted average. An owner should compare each sitter’s prices, but they shouldn’t be ashamed to haggle. If a client finds a lower price with one pet sitter but they prefer another, call them up and ask if they’ll match the lower price.

Helping the Sitter Help the Pet

Although a pet sitter may be extremely reliable and trustworthy, they may run into trouble if a client doesn’t hold up their end of the agreement. Below are a few tips on pet owners’ duties.

  • Clients should make reservations with a pet sitter as early as possible, especially during the holidays and other busy periods.
  • Ensure that the pet is properly socialized and is willing to allow strangers to interact with them.
  • Attach an up-to-date identification tag to the pet’s collar
  • Ensure that the pet’s vaccinations are current
  • Leave detailed instructions on specific pet care responsibilities
  • Offer emergency contact info for the owner and the pet’s veterinarian
  • Leave pet supplies and food in an easy-to-find place
  • Get extra supplies in case the trip goes longer than expected
  • Leave a house key with a neighbor as a backup plan, and ensure that the neighbor and the sitter have each other’s contact information
  • Show the sitter the home’s safety features, like its security system and circuit breaker

Finally, have a fun and safe trip. Don’t forget to bring the pet sitter’s number in case of a change of plans, or if the owner simply wants to find out how their pet is doing.

Introduce the Pet

After selecting a pet sitting service, bring the sitter over to meet the pet before leaving for a trip. The initial meeting gives the owner a chance to ensure compatibility between the sitter and the pet, and it gives the sitter the chance to get to know the pet a bit better.

Get Things in Writing

Finally, pet owners should get a contract between themselves and the pet sitter. The written contract should include:

  • A complete list of services the sitter will provide, such as dog walking, feeding, bathing, grooming, overnight visits, and household chores like plant watering.
  • The cost of services broken down by the day and by the visit, along with any additional charges. For instance, if a pet sitter imposes a surcharge for holiday visits, it should be included in the written contract.
  • Number and frequency of visits: The contract should outline the days on which the sitter will be needed, in addition to the number of visits the sitter will make each day.

Most people treat their pets like family members, and as such, they want to take care of them in the best way possible, even when they’re away from home. Hiring a professional pet sitter can be daunting and stressful at first, and many owners are understandably nervous the first time they leave their furry friends in someone else’s care. However, following the tips and steps in this guide can make the hiring and pet sitting processes go much smoother, and it may even help the pet owner save time and money.

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