There are times when you aren’t able to take your dog or dogs away with you when you travel. And when you aren’t you will certainly want someone who is qualified to take care of your pet while you’re away. So with that in mind, here are some things that you need to look out for when choosing a professional sitter to care for your dog.

Check credentials

Before you hire a sitter to watch over your pet, make sure to check a potential sitter’s credentials to see if they have enough experience in dog sitting. As we mentioned in a previous article here on The Possible Canine, a DVM or a Ph.D. is not necessary. However, the sitter should at least know the proper handling techniques for dogs. Otherwise, you may just end up getting someone who has zero skills and experience that’s only out to make a quick buck for looking after your pet.

It’s important to note that you should not just check how long they have been dog sitting. Inquire what type of dogs they have taken care of in the past. Think twice if the dog sitter you are interviewing to take care of your German Shepherd is more used to small dogs such as Pomeranians and Chihuahuas, since they might struggle with managing a big dog despite their years of experience.

If you’re aiming to hire a professional, there are organisations that provide certifications and training to pet sitters. So always make sure to check if the sitter you’re considering is licensed. On their website, Go Fetch suggests having an extensive list of potential sitters, and examine their credentials thoroughly so their qualifications can be factored in during the evaluation stage. This will obviously ensure that there are very few issues later on down the line that you may encounter.

Check references

Of course, good credentials do not automatically translate to a good dog sitter. PetMD recommends requesting potential dog sitters to give you a few references who can vouch for them. When consulting with their previous clients, make sure to ask questions that are relevant to your pet’s needs so you can get an idea whether or not the sitter will be able to take care of your dog.

Check if the pet sitter is insured and bonded

Don’t just check if the professional dog sitter is licensed; make sure that he/she is insured and bonded as well. Pets Lady explains that insurance protects all parties in case something unexpected happens.

Check if the sitter has contingency plans

In relation to the previous tip, Humane Society advises checking if the pet sitter is associated with a veterinarian in case emergency services might be needed. It was also mentioned to assess if the pet sitter can provide a replacement in case he/she experiences problems.

Check the personality of the dog sitter

Aside from the technical aspects, also pointed out the importance of evaluating if potential sitters have the right temperament to watch over dogs. Consider questions such as: ‘Can he/she remain calm even if unexpected things arise?’ and ‘Does the person have enough patience to take care of highly energetic pets?’ As well as ‘Is he/she capable of reining in animals without resorting to force? Is he/she sensitive enough to pick up your dog’s mood?’ and ‘Are they trustworthy enough that you would be comfortable leaving the keys to your house in his/her care?’

Check if the sitter is willing to adjust to your and your pet’s preferences

In addition, owners know that some pets are very particular when it comes to diet and/or eating habits. If you want to get a sitter who will put your dog’s interests first, make sure to get someone who is ready and willing to adjust to your preferences. It would be good to draft a list of instructions and show it to applicants, then ask them if they would be able to adhere to them while taking care of your dog. The best practice would be to draft a contract which defines the agreements for the sitter to sign.

Check if the sitter is easy to communicate with

Owners may sometimes worry about how their dog is doing while they are away. The sitter must be willing to open communication lines with owners so they can check how their pets are doing from time to time.

(A very timely Guest Post today from Olivia Wright.)