How to Choose a Pet Sitter

There are many ways to get your pets taken care of while you are traveling. One method is to hire a pet sitter (much like a babysitter) to come by and visit your pets several times a day while you’re gone.

In this article, we explore the various aspects of the business of pet sitting to help you ask the right questions about your prospective pet sitter’s qualifications, experience, and ways of working. These questions will enable you to have a good conversation with each sitter and ultimately find one that feels right to you.

Before You Begin

Check the market for sitters near you. Besides a google search for “pet sitters near me,” you can also look for pet sitter suggestions from friends, family, your veterinarian, Google Maps, and neighborhood apps such as NextDoor. If you live in a remote location, a site like Rover can help you to find a sitter who is willing to serve your area. Once you’ve got your list of names & phone numbers, you can print out a set of questions each sitter to take notes while you talk.

Area 1 – Pet Sitter Qualifications and Experiencepet sitter photo 1

  1. What experience do you have caring for others’ houses and pets while they are away? How long have you been doing this?
  2. Do you work by yourself or do you have multiple pet sitters?
  3. Do you have any special credentials such as dog behavior certification, pet CPR certification, or are you a CPPS (certified professional pet sitter)?
  4. Are you a member of Pet Sitters International or any other professional organizations?
  5. Are you bonded and insured? Who is your insurance carrier?

Area 2 – Day to Day Service Delivery (How Does it Work?)

  1. What kind of software or tracking system do you use to schedule and track visits? Does the customer have visibility to the tool?
  2. How often and by what method do you communicate to the pet’s owner during their trip?
  3. Do you provide photos? How many, how often, and what kind of photos do you provide?
  4. Besides food and water, do you provide a daily dog walk as part of your service? Bring in the mail? Roll the trash carts in and out on the right day? Bring in packages? Water the yard and patio/container plants?
  5. Can I request certain exact times for my pet’s visits?
  6. During what hours of the day is the phone answered and during what hours do you respond to text messages?

Area 3 – Questions for Single-Sitter Providers

  1. What happens if you are sick or have a flat tire? Who takes care of my pet then?
  2. How does knowledge get transferred from yourself to the backup sitter in the event of an emergency?
  3. What would happen if the primary sitter were to become incapacitated entirely? Then what would happen?
  4. What are the qualifications of your backup sitter(s)? Do they have access and training with the same the same tools and processes?

Area 4 – Questions for Multiple Sitter Providerspet sitter photo 2

  1. Who are your sitters? Where can I see their experience and tenure with your company?
  2. Do you background check each employee?
  3. Can I meet all the sitters ahead of time?
  4. What kind of training do you give your sitters?
  5. Do you provide refresher training for sitters who have been with you for a long time?
  6. What kind of tools do your sitters use to ensure quality?
  7. What kind of oversight is there to ensure that all the sitters complete all visits on time?

Area 5 – Questions to Ask Pet Sitter about Special Situations

  1. My dog or cat requires daily medications. Are you able to provide this? How can I be sure the medication has been administered?
  2. My dog or cat requires a daily injection. Are you able to accommodate this?
  3. I will have various people in and out of the house and caring for my pets at the same time you are caring for the pets. Is this fine?
  4. Do you have experience with exotic pets such as bearded dragons, iguanas, rats, hermit crabs, and snakes?
  5. Do you have experience with saltwater or freshwater aquarium care?
  6. My dog is a senior. How would you handle it if a pet had a major accident requiring cleanup (e.g., diarrhea on the carpet)?
  7. Do you have experience with pets who have dog-to-dog aggression? Food guarding?
  8. What would you do if one of my pets needed emergency medical care while you were caring for them?

Area 6 – Questions to Ask Pet Sitter about Pricing and Invoicingpet sitter photo 3

  1. What do you charge per visit?
  2. Is the pricing the same if the customer has 2 pets versus 6 pets?
  3. How long does each visit last?
  4. If the visit lasts longer than the normal amount of time, is there any “extra” charge?
  5. If the pet has a major accident such as diarrhea on the carpet, are there any extra clean up charges for that?
  6. Is any portion of the fee payable in advance?
  7. What methods of payment do you take?
  8. How is the invoice delivered?
  9. What is your policy for last-minute cancellations?
  10. What happens if we need to return early from our trip?

Bringing it All Together

The amount of time your sitter is willing to spend with you ahead of time tells you a lot about what it’s like to work with them.  The strongest candidates will be easy to spot! When complete, this process will give you enough information to feel confident about your decision. Although it will take some time and effort to go through the process, it will definitely be worthwhile to help you find the perfect match for you and your pet.

For further information about pet sitting and other pet care options, refer to these articles:

How to Choose a Vacation Pet Care Provider

Pet Sitter or Boarding Facility?