Updated December 3, 2021 . AmFam Team
Your pets mean the world to you, so leaving them behind while you’re traveling is never easy. Not only will you miss them, but packing up all their essentials, loading them into the car and heading to the kennel can be stressful for you both.
Cats and dogs alike do much better staying in their own, familiar environment. So why rock the boat when you could hire in a pet sitter instead? Just take these steps to find the perfect pal for your pets while you’re away, and feel secure knowing your four-legged family members will be well cared for.
Before you begin, take a moment to think about what kind of services you’re looking for by considering your pet’s needs and lifestyle. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before starting the search for a pet sitter:
Answering these questions will help you identify the right pet sitter and set you up for an interview later.
To start off your search, ask your veterinarian who they’d recommend. You can also ask family and friends if they’ve used a good pet sitter. Make sure they’re talking about a qualified and trustworthy pet sitter by doing your own basic background check. Cruise social media for the sitter’s posts, especially if they run a business. Look at Facebook and Google ratings and read reviews from actual customers.
A professional pet sitter is someone who comes to your home to take care of your pet. But unlike a family member or friend who can do this, a professional pet sitter is trained and experience to work with different breed types, administer medications, and are usually licensed. If you’re hitting a dead end with suggestions from your circle, check out the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (Opens in a new tab) or Pet Sitters International (Opens in a new tab). These sites will show you options of real, licensed pet sitters in your area. Plus, you’ll get a list of their credentials and skills so you know exactly what they’re qualified for. These sitters will be the most qualified, but they’ll also likely be the most expensive.
Once you’ve landed on a solid option, it’s time to set up a face-to-face interview. Suggest meeting for coffee to go over the basics. Here’s a list of questions to include in your interview that will help you figure out if this sitter is right for your pet:
You want someone with a passionate, professional attitude, and someone you can trust to be in your home while you’re away. Unless your pet is staying with the sitter, they’ll need access to your home and your pet’s things, so find someone trustworthy who has a proven track record with pet sitting.
A good pet sitter will have a list of satisfied clients you can connect with to ensure they’re capable of watching your furry friends. Ask previous customers if they were satisfied with the sitter, if their pets were taken care of properly and if they would hire this pet sitter again.
Never shake hands on it until you know your pet will be comfortable with their potential sitter. Arrange a time for them to meet and see how they interact. It’s important that both the pup and the pro get along — after all, they’ll be spending some time together and you want them to be happy!
Watch for any signs of aggression or discomfort in your pet. Both your pet and the sitter should feel safe with this arrangement. If anything seems off with either party, end the meeting and start looking for another sitter.
Once you’ve finally landed on a trustworthy pet sitter, it’s time to agree to the rules. If you’re hiring a pro, odds are they’ll already have a contract for you to look over. Study it carefully and make sure you’re comfortable with all the services and charges before you sign. And remember to keep a copy for your records.
If the sitter doesn’t have a contract, you’ll need one drawn up to help protect yourself from any surprises later. You may be able to find one online, but your best bet is to speak to a lawyer. A standard employment contract won’t cover some things specific to pet sitting, like requirements regarding your pet’s schedule or special needs. You’ll also want to make sure your homeowners insurance is up to the task of helping to protect you in the event of a liability suit should your pet injure their sitter.
Getting pet insurance is an easy way to be prepared in case your pet has a health emergency while you're away, and can cost as little as $1 a day.
Did you know you can also add pet coverage to your homeowners insurance for up to $1,000 of coverage for veterinarian or final expenses for your fur baby? Connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to customize your homeowners policy to fit your family’s needs.
Leaving your pets behind can be difficult, but knowing you’ve got a professional pet sitter watching over them can help ease any worry. So take these steps and enjoy your time away knowing your pets are covered!
This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.