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Pet Sitter 101


Would you believe there is a National Association of Professional Pet Sitters? I am not kidding. Here is the website address: www.petsitters.org While this service isn’t for everyone, it certainly has its place in the dog care industry. Many dog owners are very happy using a pet sitter; some have used the same sitter for years. Pet sitters are especially great for the family with more than one dog. Usually, the fee is very nominal when compared to boarding more than one dog. Here are some guidelines on locating that perfect pet sitter.

1. Ask around!
Ask neighbors, family members and your pets’ veterinary staff for a recommendation of a pet sitter they may use. Try the petsitters.org website above for a listing of pet sitters in your area. Check your local yellow pages; you may be surprised how many qualified pet sitters you can locate.

2. Initial contact.
Contact the pet sitter via telephone or email, ask if they have a website. You can gather a fair amount of information from this first encounter. Compile a list of questions for the pet sitter.

    Are they available the dates you will need them?
    How long have they been pet sitting?
    Can you get a list of references?
    Do they have pets of their own? If so, how many and what are their pets? Cats? Dogs?
    Meet them at a pet store or coffee shop, bring a couple of photos of your dog and ask them to bring photos of their pets.
3. Dog meets sitter.
If all is going well with the pet sitter you have interviewed, it is time then to unleash the hounds. Invite the sitter over and have her or him meet your dog. How does your dog react to the sitter? Of course, if you have a dog that acts like Velcro to anyone and everyone then you cannot use this method to see how the sitter measures up. You will have to trust your own instincts.

4. Prepare the sitter.
Well, so far so good. You like the sitter, the sitter likes the dog, and everybody is happy. Compile a detailed list of directions for the dog, complete with the amount of food the dog eats. From past experience, place a measuring cup next to the food and write down the exact amount each dog gets. Go over the whole feeding routine in your directions. Also, make sure you have laid out all the details concerning potty habits, exercise, etc. The dogs directions should be listed on its’ own sheet of paper. Medications should be in bold print.

5. Welcome to our quirky house.
Every household has its’ own language. If the sitter is going to function happily in your home while you are away, he or she is going to need some basic advice on how your home “works”. Basic remote control directions, alarm codes are also important. You will need to provide a key, possibly the garage door opener, computer password, etc. You want the sitter to be comfortable in your home, otherwise she is going to be tempted to stay in her own home and just “run by” to feed and put your dogs out. Do not crowd household directions on the dogs’ information sheet. List alarm codes in bold print, if he or she forgets the code it will stand out on the direction sheet.

Pet Sitter 101 List

Feeding directions
Potty directions
Medication directions
Veterinarian contact information
Your contact information
Neighbor or family members’ name and phone number