How to Find a Fabulous Dog Sitter
Having moved to a new state recently, I’m trying to find a dog sitter and it’s stressful. We’re planning a trip to Hawaii, which means I’ll be far away if something should happen. So, I started the process and finally found the best dog sitter–we love her!
Of course, I’ll share these tips with you. Follow these steps to narrow down choices and help you find the perfect trusted dog sitter who your dogs will love too.
Ask Dog Professionals
Ask your veterinarian, dog trainer and fellow pet lovers for recommendations and, then go one step further, ask how their visits went while away. Don’t stop with just one referral. Keep asking until you have several leads. If a specific dog sitter is really good, you’ll notice his or her name popping up often.
Refrain from finding a dog sitter online–either independent or through larger companies. I’ve been burned. My dogs were fine–it didn’t get that far thankfully–but I noticed miscommunication, lack of follow-up and complete lack of professionalism in the beginning.
As a pet professional, I’ve heard horror stories of multiple dog sitters visiting during a single day and mixing up prescription dog food resulting in very sick dogs. Could this happen with anyone? Maybe, but the chances are less likely if pet professionals recommend a pet sitter instead of selectively gambling an unknown person online.
Run a Background Search Online
Now turn on your computer and search each individual’s full name online. I recommend Google, as it really narrows down searches to specific criteria. Many years ago, someone recommended me a specific pet sitter and, after a simple Google search, I noticed three major complaints stating she never showed up for any visits over a four-day period.
If it’s just one complaint, maybe it was just a disgruntled person. Four complaints though? Something is terribly wrong. When digging in, I noticed this person changed the name of her dog sitting company, which is another red flag. When I informed the person who recommended the baby sitter, she set up a hidden camera and was shocked. The “dog sitter” walked up to my friend’s front porch and sat in a rocking chair, chatting on her cellphone for an hour and never went inside to take care of the dogs. Yes, true story!
Check Better Business Bureau (BBB) for any complaints. Do your research until you uncover any and everything.
Screen By Phone
Once you’ve narrowed down your referred list even further, give each person a call. Tell the potential dog sitter who referred you to him or her, and explain a bit about yourself and your dogs. Now, ask the person to tell you about his or her background, experience and services offered.
As you’re chatting, listen closely to this person’s voice. Does he or she sound happy, patient, trustworthy and kind? Happy folks sound like they’re smiling while talking and easily elaborate answers to all your questions. Stay away from someone giving short, curt answers. That’s never a good sign.
Meet in Person
Once you’ve shortened your list further, schedule an in-person interview preferably with your dogs present. Meeting a potential dog sitter face-to-face does not guarantee acceptance. It’s so important to watch him or her interact with your dogs before signing any paperwork or exchanging keys. If needed, take a day or two and think it over. Take your time–your dogs and home are depending on your decision.
In-person interviews usually narrow down my list quickly because having a 120-pound Rottweiler slobbering all over you and a Miniature Bull Terrier looking up your skirt can be intimidating to say the least.:) Some dog sitters state their hesitance immediately and others fumble around, trying to remove slobber from their shirts and shoo Stella away. As you guessed it, the fumblers are immediately eliminated.
Watch how this person reacts when your dog jumps up into his or her lap or gets licked on the face. The person should have gentle hands, meaning he or she is not pushing, pulling or yelling. Instead he or she should ask your dog to sit instead of jump or lick, and reward with petting and treats. If someone is scared of your dog, he or she is not the right person.
Schedule a Trial Vacation
Once you’ve selected a dog sitter, set up a mini vacation and see how things go. This could be the perfect spouse getaway you both need. Stay overnight at a high-end hotel or visit family over the weekend. If all goes well, then you’ve found your perfect dog sitter. If not, at least you were close by, and you now know how to find the right one!
Good luck and trust your gut!