With Summer almost upon us, vacation preparations are in full swing! If you are a pet parent, this probably means you'll be leaving your pet in someone else's care. One of the most important decisions you can make as a pet parent is who will take care of your furry loved one when you are out of town. Chances are there are many pet sitters available in your area, but do you know what traits you should be looking for in a potential sitter before you entrust them with Fido or Fluffy's care?
Here are seven traits you should make sure your pet sitter has before you hire them.
1. A Love For Your Pet
While you want to hire someone who loves animals, your sitter needs to loves your pet. Hiring someone who will love your pet just as you would can make your trip less stressful and more enjoyable. Before you hire a sitter, schedule a meet and greet with them to see how they interact with your pet. Does the sitter seem happy to be around your pet? Does the sitter engage with them? How does your pet react to the sitter? If it's a total love fest, chances are the sitter is a good fit!
Experience with animals alone is not enough; you need a sitter who is experienced with pets who have similar temperaments or health concerns as your pet. For example, if your dog has separation anxiety, you want a sitter who knows how to soothe the nerves of stressed-out pups. Or if your cat needs pills twice a day for a health issue, your sitter needs to know how to administer medication. Ask your potential sitter to share with you experiences they've had working with pets who are similar to your furry loved one.
If you can't trust your sitter, how will you be able to relax while your pet is in their care? It is vital to meet your potential sitter before you hire them. If you get a bad feeling or you don't think they are the best fit, trust your gut and find someone else. Also, ask your potential sitter if they have references, have been background checked, and have insurance, or use a site like Sitting for a Cause to find sitters who have verified they can provide you with one or more of those items.
Pets like their routine maintained, especially when the people they love are away, so you need a sitter who can follow your pet's schedule! Find someone who returns your calls quickly and shows up on time for meet and greets or to pick up your spare key. If your sitter doesn't respond to you in a timely fashion or is unable to keep meeting times, find someone who is more dependable so you won't worry about if your pet was let out in time for potty breaks or if they received their medication on time.
Having a sitter who is calm has a couple benefits for your pet. The first is that having a calming presence can minimize the anxiety your pet feels while you are away. The second is that if things don't go according to plan and your pet misbehaves or there's an emergency, it's important to have someone who can maintain composure so as not to further agitate your pet. To get a gauge on your sitter's ability to be calm, watch how they interact with your pet. If they keep interactions engaging but relaxed, chances are they will maintain a peaceful environment while you are away.
Find a sitter who wants to do a fantastic job of taking care of your pet. Take note of the questions the sitter asks and if they write down the information you share with them to ensure they are taking your pet's care seriously. Also, ask them how many other pets will be in their care while they are watching yours. This can help ensure your furry family member receives the attention he or she deserves instead of getting shortchanged by a sitter who takes on too many clients at once.
It's not just hard for your pets to be away from you, it's hard for you to be away from them too! Look for someone who is sensitive to your pet's needs as well as your needs. Think of things you do for your pet to boost their spirits when they seem down, and ask your sitter if they'd be willing to do those things as well. Also, ask if they'd be willing to send you photo updates of your pet to minimize your separation anxiety.
By hiring the right sitter, you and your furry loved one will both have a great time while you are out of town. Make sure your upcoming travel plans are stress-free for yourself and your pet by ensuring the sitter you entrust with their care has these traits.
Ashley Jacobs is the founder and CEO of Sitting for a Cause, a pet sitting website that donates 50 percent of its profits to animal-related causes. She is passionate about helping animals in need and resides in Newport Beach, CA, with her 8-year-old golden retriever, Diamond.