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How to Find the Dog Sitter Your Dog Deserves

Nobody loves your dog like you love your dog. But wouldn’t it be great if your dog sitter was a close second?

by Kate Sheofsky
July 18, 2022
A woman packing her suitcase with a dog laying nearby.
Danil Nevsky / Stocksy

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

It’s true, finding someone to care for your dog while you’re away can be stressful. Not only will that person be in charge of your best bud, but they’ll likely be in your home. Around all of your things. While you’re not there. But with a little time and research, you can find someone you and your dog feel good about. Sound good? Let’s do this.

Determine the Type of Services You Need

Dog sitters provide care in several ways. Some sitters drop by your house a few times a day to walk, feed, and check on your pup. Others stay at your house while you're gone. And some offer boarding services where you bring your dog to their home for care. So the first thing you need to decide when finding a sitter is which type of situation best suits your dog. And if your dog has special needs, you’ll also want to be sure you choose someone that can provide the specific care your pup requires.

Where to Look for Dog sitters

There are many ways to find a dog sitter. Probably the easiest place to start is by asking people you know. If your family, friends, or neighbors have a sitter they love and trust, get that person's contact information. A referral from someone in your circle goes a long way.

Online platforms like Rover or Fetch Pet Care are also popular. These and other companies like them do some vetting for you (including performing background checks and verifying insurance). They also make it easy to see a dog sitter’s reviews from other pet parents. Another great resource is the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. This non-profit organization is dedicated to raising the bar for pet sitters and offers a searchable directory so you can find a pro in your area.

And, of course, there’s always a good old-fashioned Google search. Plenty of dog sitters have set up websites for their business and give detailed information about their services, rates, and availability.

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Questions to Ask Potential Sitters

Once you’ve found a few people who might be a good fit, reach out to set up some time to talk. And have your list of questions ready. Here are a few topics you’ll definitely want to cover.

Background and Experience

Ask them how long they have been a dog sitter and what qualifications they have. Do they have their own pets? Have they completed any special training or certifications? Do they have a business license? Are they bonded and insured, or are they affiliated with a company that covers liability claims?

Services Provided

What does a typical set of services include? If they are coming to check on your dog throughout the day, how often will they come, and how long is each visit? How long will they walk your dog? Are they comfortable giving medication if needed? In addition to caring for your dog, will they water your plants, bring in the mail, and tell the neighbor kid not to ride his bike on your lawn?

Reference Check

If the conversation goes well, you can take the next step: checking references. Ask them for the phone numbers of a few of their clients so you can hear firsthand from people who have used their services. Ask those references not just about how the sitter cared for their pet, but also how they treated their home while they stayed there.

The Benefits of a Test Run

At a minimum, you’ll want to do an in-person meet and greet with your dog sitter before officially hiring them. Not only will this alleviate any catfishing fears you may have in the back of your head, but it will also give you the chance to see how this person interacts with your pup. After all, you're not the only one who needs to give this person the green light. You’ll want to ensure your dog responds positively to any potential sitter.

If you have the time, try out the sitter before you leave for your actual trip. See if they’ll come by while you’re at work and take your dog for a walk or feed them dinner. The more your dog gets to know the sitter, the more comfortable they’ll be when you leave them alone.

Set Your Sitter Up for Success

Before you head out of town, leave your sitter with detailed information. Even though you probably went over every last detail when you talked, it never hurts to provide a cheat sheet. Include specifics about your dog’s food and exercise schedule, bedtime routine, and any needed medications. You should also provide the contact information for your regular vet and a nearby after-hours emergency vet. And it's always a good idea to leave the phone number of a trusted friend or neighbor who can provide backup if needed.

And then, once all of that is done, take a deep breath. You’ve done your job finding a sitter worthy of your dog. So turn on that out-of-office. Vacation mode starts now.

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Kate Sheofsky

Kate Sheofsky hails from San Francisco, where she developed a love of writing, Giants baseball, and houses she can’t afford. She currently lives in Portland, OR, and works as a freelance writer and content strategist. When not typing away on her laptop, she enjoys tooling around the city with her two rescue pups searching for tasty food and sunny patios.