Hiring a Pet Sitter for Your Dog

Keep Your Dog in Good Hands While You Travel

Do you need to hire a pet sitter? Perhaps you are thinking about taking a trip, or maybe you have already planned your next vacation. What about your dog - have you made arrangements for him? If you cannot travel with your dog, remember to plan his accommodations, too. You may consider boarding your dog or asking a friend or family member to take care of your dog. If you prefer the peace of mind from knowing that a trained professional is caring for your dog in your home, then you might want to hire a pet sitter.

Pet sitters provide customized care for your dog, working to create as little stress as possible for you and your dog.

About Pet Sitters

Pet sitters are often animal lovers with a background in animal care, such as veterinary medicine, training or grooming. Some pet sitters maintain a primary career while pet sitting on the side. Others will work full-time for a pet sitting business. Some pet sitters will even start their own business. Most pet sitters have their own pets and realize how hard it can be to leave your pets in someone else’s care.

How to Find a Pet Sitter

Many pet sitters rely on word-of-mouth for new business. If you are looking for a pet sitter, ask other pet owners if they have recommendations. Talk to your vet’s office and you might find that one of the staff members does pet sitting on the side. If you prefer to hire a professional pet sitter from a nationally recognized company, you can search online at National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International for pet sitters in your area.

Be sure to check references for potential pet sitters before you choose one.

One alternative to finding a professional pet sitter is to find a group in your area that helps you connect with like-minded pet owners in your area who can watch your pets while you travel. In turn, you care for their pets when they are away.

Plus, these groups usually have free membership. Search online or ask local pet professionals if they know of a group like this in your area.

The Cost of Pet Sitters

Once you have found some pet sitter candidates, discuss fees and policies in detail. Be clear about what you want, and then get an estimate of cost. Most pet sitters charge a base fee to come to your house, then a specific fee per pet. Additional costs may apply depending on the number of visits per day and special duties such as administering medications. Compare the prices of multiple pet sitters in your area to be sure you are being charged appropriately. Typical fees can be anywhere from $10 - 50 daily per depending on the situation.

What about tipping? While tipping for any service is never a requirement, it is always appreciated. When it comes to tipping your pet sitter, there are a few factors to consider: If you are paying a company to send a pet sitter to your home, a tip is especially appreciated, as the entire amount you are paying does not go into the pet sitter's pocket.

However, if the pet sitter is the business owner or a type of "freelance" pet sitter, then the fees alone are usually sufficient; tipping is less customary in these cases. In general, it is a nice gesture to at least bring back a small gift or souvenir for your pet sitter upon your return.

While You Are Away

Once you find the right pet sitter, you can rest assured your dog will be in good hands. Have the pet sitter come to your home in advance so you can explain where things are. Give your pet sitter clear, concise instructions and be sure to provide a list of the following contact numbers:

  • Your cell phone (if applicable)
  • Cell phone of others traveling with you (if applicable)
  • Your hotel or other lodging information
  • Your veterinarian
  • The closest emergency veterinarian
  • Family members and/or friends' contacts in case you cannot be reached

Most pet sitters understand that you may worry about your dog while you are away, so they understand that you might want to check in. A brief call once or twice while you are gone is perfectly reasonable. The rest of your trip will be more enjoyable if you know your dog is doing well. You can let loose and have a great vacation! When you get back, your beloved companion will be waiting and wagging.