Your pets are your best friends. You would spend all your time with them if you could taking them on long walks or just snuggling on the couch. But what about those times when you can't be there such as long work days or out of town trips? Some use people they already know such as family or friends to take care of their pets but what if that's not an option for you or you want something a little bit more professional? Once you start your search for a dog walker or pet sitter how do you distinguish between a well intentioned animal lover and a pet professional? What should you look for? Here are 4 questions that you should ask any potential dog walker or pet sitter before hiring.
1. Are you Insured?
If nothing else, ask this question! This shows the level of commitment someone has to conducting themselves as a professional. They have made sure that your pets are covered in case of an accident while in their care. You can also ask to see their insurance card to make sure they are up to date with coverage.
2. Are you certified in pet CPR or first aid?
CPR and first aid certification is NOT a substitute for a licensed vet! It can, however, give you some piece of mind knowing that your pet is left in the hands of someone who truly cares about their well-being. CPR and first aid certified means they have taken the time to learn about what care can be given in the event of an accident. Will your dog walker or pet sitter know how to perform CPR if your pet collapses? What about if your pet gets attacked by another pet or animal? Do they know how to tend to a wound till it can be seen by a vet? You want to make sure you leave your pets with someone who has some knowledge of what to do in case of emergency.
3. What experience do you have with dog walking or pet sitting and do you have references?
Don't be afraid to ask about their pet care experience. Check for any online reviews, ask for references and actually get in touch with any reference they provide. A current or previous client of theirs can give you a better idea of what it is like working with them. Someone may be amazing with dogs but turns out is lacking in communication with clients and is hard to get a hold of. Maybe they are constantly late, or have even forgotten a visit! You want to make sure the person you hire is not only a good fit for your pet but for you too!
4. What is the best and worst part of being a dog walker or pet sitter for you?
Sounds like such an innocent question but this question alone will tell you a lot about the person. Are they in it for the money? Do they have a genuine love for pets? Is this just something they do as a hobby?
A few other tips
Don't be afraid to interview more than one pet professional before making a decision. I highly recommend you have at least 2 pet care professionals familiar with your home and pets in the event of an emergency and one is not available.
Try not to wait till the last minute to book care. If you're going out of town and feel your pets might be nervous about a new person in the home I encourage you to do a "trial run" before you are a 6 hour drive away for a week and find out that fido won't let the pet sitter near him and the sitter doesn't know what to do. Have them do a visit while you're at work one day before your trip that way you will know how your pets will respond to their new caregiver.
You adore your pets and want to make sure you are hiring someone who will treat them and your home with love and respect. Finding that person can be stressful but if you take your time and ask questions along the way you should be able to feel confident in whomever you hire.