How to choose a pet sitter

Wednesday, 30th September 2015 at 14:19 PM

The question of how to choose a pet sitter as an alternative to kennels/catteries you find many different options! This guide on how to choose a pet sitter should help you ensure that you the right questions and ensure that you are in fact getting the service you require by a pet sitter you can trust.

The term 'pet sitter' is used to cover so many options and some are not really what they say on the tin!  Here are a few:

Live in Pet Sitters
We are the true pet sitting service because we only offer live in sitters.  In the same way that a babysitter would come to your home and look after children we stay on site to ensure that your pets receive the care and attention they require. Pet receive dedicated one to one care and your sitter will only be caring for your home and pets.

Pop in Pet Sitter / Dog Walker
This is someone who will call at your property a couple of times a day to feed (and walk your pets).  They will be caring for a number of homes at the same time and you will likely be given an allotted time slot which will only allow them so much time.  They provide basic care leaving your pet to fend for themselves the rest of the time and no real property care. A dog walker may well provide this service. They are likely pick up your dog along with others and drive them elsewhere to be walked in a group.

Home Boarding
This is where your pets will go to stay with a host family in their home.  There may or may not be other dogs present.  Some companies will allow you to meet the host families and some will not.  

Websites: register to view sitter profiles and adverts
Our business has been established as a professional pet sitting company for 15 years.  As such these websites horrify me!  It is so very easy to pretend to be someone you are not on the internet and to take someone on the value of them paying to post a listing is a huge risk.  If you choose to go down this root you need to be so very careful that you check, check and double check that they are who they say they are and have the experience that they suggest.  Pet sitting companies are there for a reason; to provide reference checked, professional sitters.  These websites promote themselves as a free way to travel the world and explore and you have to wonder if the people are doing it for the right reasons.  If they are wanting to travel how much time are they actually going to spend with your pets?  Are they insured? What come back is there in the event of a problem?  I would suggest very little.  With a professional company you quite simply do not have this problem.

Everywhere we look these days there are adverts for ‘pet sitters’ and dog walkers; flyers and cards posted, entries on websites charging people to post profiles, people mentioning that so and so down the street has been doing it for years.  But are they the right people?  The very first questions you need to ask are:

Are they insured/registered?
Any reputable company should be insured. Answers such as 'I've been doing it for years and have never had a problem' are simply not acceptable.You need to ensure that you are covered in the event of an accident or problem.What back up do they have in place in the event of illness or a problem?We get numerous phone calls from people who have taken the cheaper option only to get a call a few days before their holiday with excuses and let downs. Please note that live in pet sitters are not required to be registered but should still have professional operating procedures with your pets welfare and insurance in mind. There are a good number of pet sitting organisations around and you may well see their logo on the pet sitters site.  However, they are not always what they are made out to be so you still need to ask the right questions as it can actually mean that have simply taken advantage of a cheaper and less comprehensive level of group insurance. 

Can they provide testimonials?
Anyone offering pet sitting services should be able to provide countless testimonials. Get them in conversation, find out how they work, do they sound like they have a passion for animals? Do they sound organised and professional? Make sure alarm bells ring if you hear ANY negative comments about animals they have cared for! A good pet sitter will be happy to chat for hours about the pets they have cared for and will tell you all sorts of lovely stories.  You are looking for someone with a passion for animals, not passion for making money from something they see as 'easy'.

How long have they been established?
This is a tricky issue!Ideally it is always beneficial to go with an established company who know what they are doing and are not likely to disappear prior to your holiday.However there are also a scary amount of people who have muddled along for years doing private pet sitting with problems not coming to light. Likewise you may well get someone who can list endless courses and qualifications but are they also the right person?It is important to get a good feeling about them, after all, you are trusting them with something so very precious to you!

What are their basic operation procedures?
There are a few basic questions you should ask with regards to operating procedures.What plans to they have in place in case of illness or emergency? How many sits do they take on at once?If they are transporting your pets how is this done?How many hours will they spend away from the property? What background checks can they provide?

Are they happy to meet you?
Any pet care company should be more than willing to meet you prior to confirming a booking in fact they should encourage it and sooner rather than later. It is so important to ensure that you and your pets take to them, in fact your pets reaction will often confirm things for you! We have witnessed dogs pulling away from pet sitters and if horrifies us, there should be a real bond between the pet and their sitter and this is often instant. During this meeting they should ask the right questions such as your pets routine, quirks, medical history along with VET contact details.

Pet and Property Sitters do not offer pop in care as we find that the pets we care for thrive on the attention and would be unhappy with just a quick walk and a stroke.  Many of the pets we sit for are rescues who would be likely to fret if left alone for long periods of time.  Likewise, a poorly pet can become much worse if problems are not pick up on quickly.  Out clients get total peace of mind and do not have to worry about what is happening the other 22 hours of the day!

Having live in sitters also ensures that someone is on site to see to the daily upkeep of your home.  In the event of a problem we can ensure that action is taken and damage is minimilised.  Some pop in services offer to open curtains etc but this is not the same as having someone around to keep an eye on things for you. We offer a professional, discreet service: if it needs doing it will be done!

A little bit of research when you are looking at how to choose a pet sitter does show that other companies are now adding pet sitter to their services.  However, this can often be an after thought rather than the professional service we provide. It is always worth checking prices as what may initially seem a cheaper service can actually work out to be twice the price of an all in service such as ours. By the same example be wary of anyone offering a much cheaper service: why are they so desperate for business?  A good pet sitter will be very much in demand and will charge accordingly. If things are being done correctly they will have a certain about of outlay and this will be reflected in the price.

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