When a Kennel Isn’t an Option – 10 tips for finding temporary lodging for your pet

2010-08_dog-sitter As pet parents, we have all been faced with the decision of what to do with our pets when we have to travel and our best friends can’t come along. Often times we are fortunate enough to have a caring family member or friend who will pet sit for us while we are gone. But what do we do when our pet’s temporary family is not an option and we are going to be gone for longer than a few days?

Consider a professional pet sitter.

Hiring a pet sitter doesn’t have to be a stressful process. It is surprisingly affordable and, fortunately, there is no shortage of pet sitters available these days. Whether you are looking for a pet sitter who will care your pet in your home or in theirs, before you lay down your hard earned cash, consider the following tips for finding a top-notch professional:

  1. Use a reputable source. Locate a pet sitter in your area using a reputable source, such as Pet Sitters International or Fetch Pet Care. You want to go with a recognizable name, a lauded small company, or a stunning referral from a friend. Don’t risk your pet’s welfare to save a buck.

  2. State your expectations and boundaries.
    Clearly state your likes and dislikes in terms of walking, playing, feeding and cleaning your pet(s). Be honest, so you get the best results from the pet sitting service. 

  3. Check references and do an interview. Before hiring, interview a potential pet sitter with your pet(s) present to observe interactions and establish a “comfort level” for everyone. Diligently check the entire pet sitting company’s references. The company should have at least three available for immediate review. Also check to see if the sitter is associated with any pet sitting organizations such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. 

  4. Look for “Plan B.” Don’t drop your precious pal off with any pet sitter that doesn’t have a backup ready to take over caring for your pet in the case of an emergency.

  5. Seek availability. Ensure the pet sitting company you choose offers telephone and email availability seven days a week. Some pet sitters will text and email you updates while you’re away. If you can’t communicate with your sitter easily, move on.

  6. Your house or mine?  If you’ve decided to go with a pet sitter instead of a kennel or boarding facility, then you have to decide whether you want the sitter to care for your dog in their home or in your own. There are pros and cons to both options. Obviously your pet is more comfortable in his/her own territory, but you may have concerns about having a stranger stay in your house. 

  7. Get proof of insurability. Ask the pet sitting company you are considering for proof of bond and insurance. These two pieces of documentation will protect you from any potential financial loss regarding your pet.

  8. Ask for a background check. Verify that your potential pet sitter has undergone a recent criminal background check as well as proper training. Don’t let a sweet face and friendly exterior fool you. Pet theft and abuse still occurs, and you don’t want to be a victim.

  9. Offer history on your pet. Provide your sitter medical and behavioral history about your pet. This information should include veterinary and other emergency contact information, as well as notes on your pet’s food preferences, vitamin regime and favorite treats.

  10. Get face-to-face.Whether you choose a kennel, boarding facility or local pet sitter, the most important thing is to make an in-person visit before finalizing your decision. Sometimes people and places that look great on paper are a different story in reality. And don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. How much time will your dog be left alone? Does the sitter have transportation? How many other animals will her or she be caring for at that time? Your concerns should easily be handled by a professional, confident sitter.

Finding the best temporary housing for your pet really comes down to what works best for your circumstances. When you find the right sitter, you should feel comfortable and confident that your pet is in great hands and will be safe and well cared for in your absence.

Kristen_Buck-60x60

Written by:
Kristen Levine, pet lifestyle expert

August 06, 2010

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