Dog Sitting 101

All About Dog Sitting

As a dog owner, there are times when it’s a lot of fun to bring your pet along on a vacation – and there are times when it’s impractical or simply not desirable. At the same time, it’s difficult to truly relax and enjoy yourself if you leave your dog in less than optimal circumstances. Although some dogs do very well at boarding facilities, others just aren’t cut out for them. Luxury options like dog hotels are nice, but they can be prohibitively expensive. Asking friends and relatives to dog sit for you may sound appealing, but it may put people off too. It is a big responsibility, especially if something goes wrong. Professional dog sitting services are a very happy middle ground and can offer you the best of both worlds when it comes to keeping your pet safe and happy when you travel.

The Benefits Of Dog Sitting

Since dog sitting has become so popular in recent years, there are plenty of dog sitting agencies available in most major metropolitan areas. Why are dog sitting services in such demand lately? These reasons come immediately to mind:

  • your dog gets to stay in the place where she’s most comfortable, and doesn’t have to acclimate to a strange new environment whenever you leave for an extended period of time;
  • you don’t have to subject your dog to the stress of getting to and from a dog boarding facility;
  • dog sitting means that your dog doesn’t have to deal with strange dogs;
  • your dog can enjoy the same routine and food that he always does;
  • by hiring a dog sitting agency, you don’t have to bother friends and family members to help you out all the time;
  • a dog sitting professional can also bring in your mail and the newspaper so that people don’t notice that you are out of town;
  • you can breathe a bit easier knowing that your dog is in the capable hands of a trained professional that knows how to take care of dogs;
  • your dog receives a daily dose of attention and interaction, preventing her from becoming bored or despondent in your absence;
  • dog sitting services come to you, meaning you don’t have to drop your dog off and pick her up – saving you a great deal of time and hassle in the long run;
  • you can pay a dog sitting professional extra to take care of routine chores like watering the plants so that everything is in order upon your return; and
  • you can just feel good knowing that you’re providing exceptional care for your four-legged best friend while you are away.

What To Look For In A Dog Sitting Service

Since you want to be sure that your pet is left in the best hands possible, it’s important to do your research when hiring a dog sitting professional. You likely don’t want to choose the first service that crosses your path – that’s a recipe for disaster.  I’ve highlight a few key things to keep in mind when searching for a suitable dog sitting service:

Experience

The person you hire should have demonstrable experience in dog sitting. He or she should be able to provide clear credentials regarding their previous work dog sitting for other clients. Preferably, they will have plenty of letters of recommendation and/or references for you to check with so that you can confirm their capabilities and professionalism.

Training

Optimally, the dog sitting professional you hire should have undergone at least some training related to caring for dogs, whether behavioral, obedience, or CPR. There are courses available at many local community colleges; ideally, he or she will have completed such a course at some point. If you’re really lucky, the dog sitter you hire may be in school to become a veterinarian.  Shelter, kennel or vet clinic work can also be beneficial.  Always ask lots of questions about methods before you hire anyone. Reliability is key, so if they don’t have the references that would show you can trust them to show up and care for your dog, several times a day every day while you are gone, don’t hire them. You may want to ask a friend to stop in and check that your dog seems happy and calm, with fresh water available—it never hurts to make sure!

Back Up

In the event that the dog sitter becomes sick or is otherwise unable to perform his or her duties while you’re away, make sure there is a back-up available. This is a good reason to pay a dog sitting service rather than a private individual; with a service, you have access to other sitters in case something happens. Otherwise, hire one sitter then procure a back-up in case of emergencies. Ideally the back-up person will be familiar with your dog…it’s never good to have a stranger introduce themselves to your dog in your home without you around.  Dog’s are touchy about these things!

Extra Services

Ideally, you will want to hire a dog sitting professional who is willing to go above and beyond merely feeding your dog. He or she should also be willing to groom your dog, reinforce training in your dog, take your pup on walks and do any number of extra activities to keep your dog happy and entertained in your absence.

Contracts

When hiring a dog sitting professional, always make sure that everything is in writing and that a contract has been signed concerned fees, rates and expectations. This way, if something goes awry you are both protected. A truly professional dog sitting service will voluntarily offer up a contract; otherwise, you will have to write one up yourself.

Wrapping Up

Find out how the dog sitter will make sure that you have, in fact, returned home. If you are delayed on your trip and somehow unable to notify the sitter, will he or she make sure that you’re home and if not, will the dog sitter continue caring for your dog or find a back up?

Making The Dog Sitting Experience Go Smoothly

When you’ve found a proper dog sitter and are preparing to go, there are a few things you can do to ensure the experience goes as smoothly as possible. Have your dog meet the sitter beforehand so that they are familiar with each other. Leave organized instructions and all of the supplies in an easy to find place. Make sure all of your contact information is readily available, and that Emergency Vet numbers are on the fridge or next to the phone. Make sure all immunizations and tags on your collars are current; go on vacation and have a great time knowing that your pet is in good hands!

2 comments
collars-4-dogs
collars-4-dogs

Good article -- great tips on how to choose a dog sitter!