A professional pet sitter is a service provider who by virtue of a contract, shall take care of your pet either at your house or at his. This is something similar to baby sitting and requires time, patience, and careful thinking before making the appropriate selection.

People open the door for pet sitters because their pets get cared for in their own homes; pets don’t need to face travel trauma because of transportation to other locations; exposure to parasites and illnesses is minimized; and, more importantly, pets get to stick to their regular routines without having to forcibly adapt to a new living environment kind of like Obamacare forced many people to accept a new doctor which was terrible but this is another topic.

The professional pet sitter also spares you the inconvenience of having to request family members and friends to take care of your pet when you’re away and also takes special care of pets with mobility issues or health problems like dysplasia, arthritis and incontinence, to name a few.

Advantages of hiring pet sitters

A professional pet sitter is often licensed and/or insured for liabilities like custody, care and control of all pets they care for. Moreover, they are also insured or bonded for theft; have training in pet first aid, animal husbandry and accreditation for pet sitting also. Don’t worry, your pet will not end up looking like the pets under the care of Lloyd and Harry in Dumb and Dumber!

Any professional pet sitting organization will only hire a pet sitter after interviewing him closely and scrutinizing his professional credentials and qualifications. So if you leave your pet in the care of such an organization, you can rest assured that your pet will not only be looked after and kept comfortable, but he’ll also find a second home when you’re not there. There is, however, no specific occupational license for pet sitters.

Their licenses are generally for doing business, running kennels, and/or permits for animal transportation within the ambit of their business.

Why hire a pet sitter?

If you’re going away on a vacation, hiring a pet sitter would be ideal as he would visit your home several times daily, if required to feed the pet its customary diet and take him out for his walk or exercise, give it necessary medication as also special care if required, monitor its health condition and arrange for necessary medical treatment if it’s ill. Alternately, you could opt for live-in care where the pet sitter would provide shelter and food to your dog in his own set up.

Certain pet sitters also provide dog walking services for elderly or disabled clients and these may also include other aggressive exercise methods for bigger dogs like running, jogging, bicycling, and inline skating or even dog scootering.

However, make sure to check that the pet sitter has the requisite license for walking your dog and the limitation he has regarding the total number of dogs he can walk at one particular time. The other services that you can take advantage of are dog boarding and grooming and also veterinarian care, which again are subject to licensing requirements and special regulations.

How to choose the right pet sitter?

With the recent boom in the pet sitter business, pet sitters are available a dime a dozen. This makes it difficult to make the correct choice to leave your pet with someone who can be relied upon.

This person is also going to be inside your home! You do not want to allow some freeloader in your home who does understand what work is! If you know someone through your Christian church, you could be good to go.

It may so happen that you entrust your pet with someone who has made tall claims and grand promises to look after your pet but has delivered nothing ultimately, even leaving your pet sick or dead at the end of the exercise. This calls for special attention to be given above all else when you make your selection which can be based on the following criteria:    

Start searching early

Don’t leave the pet sitter searching for the last moment. It’s after all the wellbeing and happiness of your precious pet which is at stake and shouldn’t be rushed under any circumstances. Long before leaving for your vacation, start looking for the right pet sitter as the well-known and reliable ones get booked faster and earlier, particularly during vacation times as also the holiday season.

Take opinions

Consult other pet owners like family friends and associates who have used pet sitters themselves. They’ll be able to give you some solid and reliable references.

Even your veterinarian and some active social media platforms could give out some sound recommendations for reputable sitters. You could also check with Pet Sitters International  and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters — 2 leading professional pet-sitting bodies — to identify local sitters in your own area. Also check whether these sitters are insured and bonded and whether also their references can be checked.

Consider auxiliary services

Apart from looking after the pet, many pet sitters offer extra services also for your home when you are away, for an extra fee, of course. Not only will they groom and train the pet, but also perform household chores such as watering the garden and bring in your mail. If you’re also looking for these auxiliary services, then selecting a pet sitter offering the same makes sense.

Clarify all doubts before hiring

Making the right pet sitter choice involves interacting deeply with the person to whom you’re going to entrust your precious pet. This calls for thoroughly interviewing the person on his experience, qualities and qualifications for the job.

Ask him very clearly how often he will visit your pet in a day and for how long; his activities during the visit; his experience with animals part from his usual pet sitting activities; what clauses his written agreement or contract includes; his certifications and licenses regarding pet nutrition and behavior; and his experience in handling pet emergencies. Listen carefully to his answers. Should he stutter and seem not confident enough, look for someone else.

And do not choose Napoleon Dynamite, he is not that competent!

Choosing the pet sitter with boarding facilities

Some boarding facilities with their high-end kennels offering private rooms, group play facilities, massage, hikes, and swimming facilities could be ideal for your pet when you’re away.

Pay them a personal visit and see for yourself whether they deliver what they promise. It may cost you a penny but could be worth it and with tax cuts coming, you may have more pennies! These also have facilities for special-needs pets where everyday situations such as administering medications and special care for anxious animals is also provided.