Tips on finding a reliable pet sitter.

Whether going to work and leaving a pet alone for the day or going on vacation, having the right pet sitter will put your mind at ease when away. Finding that perfect sitter is important, but not difficult.

Sitter or Kennel?

First, you’ll want to decide if you would like to opt for a kennel or a pet sitter. A pet sitter visiting the home to feed, play with and walk a pet can be ideal for some because your pet will be in a familiar place, and most likely keep to its familiar feeding and walking schedule. You might also keep the same sitter, who can even become “part of the pack” as he or she becomes familiar to your dog or cat.

When some pet owners think of kennels, they sometimes imagine places where pets can be isolated in small cages. This isn’t necessarily the case, and a kennel or daycare can have some benefits over a simple sitter. Kennels often allow animals to socialize with one another, so social dogs can enjoy meeting and playing with others of their size. Some also feature services such as pet training.

Choosing a Kennel

There are a number of things to consider when choosing your kennel. While many will offer the amenities mentioned above, some will not–and when putting your pet in an unfamiliar place for an extended period of time, you will want to be absolutely sure of what to expect.

It’s best to make an unannounced visit to a kennel so you can get a feel for the place without worrying about the staff putting on an act. Check how much interaction between animals is offered, and be sure to ask staff what a pet’s day at the kennel or daycare will be like. Also check if a live webcam feed is available so you can check up on your pet while away. This puts the mind at ease for pet owners who might be reticent about putting their pet in a kennel or daycare for the first time.

Choosing a sitter

There are important things to consider when choosing an at-home sitter as well. Be sure to interview any candidates to get an idea of their experience with animals, as well as what their schedule is like. You also want to go over finer points like when your sitter will need to walk your dog, and how often a pet will need to be fed. Some owners can rest easy knowing their sitter is able to perform pet CPR if need be, and this can be worth asking as well if it seems important to you.

Will your pet sitter be staying at your home while you are away, or will he or she only stop by once a day for visits? This is an important thing to discuss with a sitter; if you are asking them to stay overnight, it’s courtesy to leave a little treat in the form of food, wine or what have you. And don’t forget the Wi-Fi password! If your sitter is staying in your home, see if they can bring in the mail or water plants as well for a little extra money.

It’s a good idea to have your sitter keep a log of your pet’s behavior or record anything unusual that might have happened each day. This can include minor things, like your pet’s bathroom habits. This gives you a clear picture of everything that’s gone on in the day.

In case of any issue, it’s important to have vet records and other important documents together and available for your sitter if he or she needs them. And before you leave, invite your sitter over to show them where everything is–important documents, food, your pet’s preferred sleeping place–so they know what to expect when they’re on your own with your pet. Establish lines of communication so they can get in touch with any questions they may have.

For more tips on finding a pet sitter, check out the segment on the May 10, 2014 episode of the Home Wizards below.


This post is adapted from the May 10, 2014 episode of Home Wizards that was released on iTunes May 14, 2014. You can find this segment during Hour Two of the podcast.