Hello readers! It's finally the end of June and that means school is out, the weather is getting nicer, and your vacations are coming up! So, now that you've booked your flights and hotels, what do you need to do next? Book your pet sitter of course!
For those of you who have never used a pet sitter, let's talk about what you may want to look for (and what to ask) when choosing your pet's new companion and caretaker.
- First, they should be licensed, bonded, and insured. This helps separate the professional pet sitters from the "hobbyists". By hiring someone who is licensed, bonded, and insured you can have some added comfort in knowing that this person takes your trust in them seriously. You can ask the sitter about these qualifications when you contact them or you can look for it on their website. It may look something like this:
- Look for someone who is certified in Pet First Aid and/or Pet CPR. We always hope they will never need to use these skills, but you'll be comforted in knowing that if anything happens to your pet while in their care, the pet sitter will be prepared to take the actions needed to take care of your pet and help them get prompt medical attention.
- You should request a Meet & Greet if they don't offer one. Meet & Greets are important because it gives you a chance to get to know the person you will be trusting your pets and home with in your absence. Is your pet responding positively to the sitter? Does it seem like there is a good chemistry building between them? It's important to make sure you and your pets feel comfortable and confident with this person, and if you don't feel that the chemistry is right, don't hesitate to tell them it's not a good fit. All parties should want to make sure that this partnership feels right for everyone. For more information on Meet & Greets, check out my blog post here.
- During the Meet & Greet, you should ask lots of questions to learn more about the sitter and their qualifications. For example, if you have a cat that has diabetes, you may want to ask if the cat sitter has experience giving insulin injections. Some of the more experienced cat sitters will probably have come across a diabetic cat and are prepared to give injections. However, some cat sitters may not have done this. That's okay too. This would be a great time for you to show them how you do it and ask if they are comfortable doing this on their own after you've given a demonstration. It might be a good idea if they do a practice run with your cat while you're there to supervise them. Most new pet sitters will offer this for free since you're helping them learn a new skillset!
You should ask about the sitter's key policy and security procedures. Do they write your address on the keys? Hopefully not! Where are the keys stored? What steps are taken to ensure the security of your home if the keys are misplaced or lost? What backup measures are in place to make sure your pets are still taken care of in case this happens?
What forms of accountability does the pet sitter provide? Some pet sitters rely on your trust in them and don't have any built in accountability. Are you okay with that? Other pet sitters provide GPS check in and check out, and some will offer full GPS tracking during the whole visit. This is more helpful for the dog clients since it allows you to see where your pet walked that day with the sitter. Note: Please keep in mind that sometimes GPS data is not always accurate with these systems (especially when most of the time is spent inside), so please account for some wiggle room.
- What kind of updates will you get and how frequently do they send them? Will you get picture and message updates with every visit? Daily? Weekly? Or none at all. Is the sitter active on social media? Like them and brighten your day with pics of their cute cat and dog clients. Most people love getting pictures of their pets and hearing how the visit went. If you're one of them, don't hesitate to ask for it!
Does your pet sitter have a plan for emergency procedures? What happens if there were a medical emergency while you were away? A professional pet sitter should be able to clearly explain what their steps are and how you will be notified.
Unfortunately, a professional pet sitter will also typically require you to fill out a series of paperwork. This usually includes general information about yourself and your home, emergency contacts, pet information and personality profiles, etc. While the forms can be time consuming, it is important to be as detailed in your answers as possible so that the pet sitter doesn't have to guess or interpret what you're saying. Remember: we visit with a lot of pets and sometimes Meet & Greets are scheduled weeks before the service occurs, so detailed notes in our files is the most helpful you can be to ensure your pets will get the care they need and deserve!
What is the sitter's payment and invoicing policy? Do they accept credit cards? Can you write them a check? Is payment due upfront or after the services have been completed? Are you invoiced weekly, per trip, or monthly? Are you okay with these policies?
- How will the sitter be spending his/her time during the visit? Specify what needs to be done with the sitter upfront. It helps when you lay out the daily routine of your pets from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep. Let them know when/how much your cat should be fed. Specify if you want your dog walked during most of the visit or if you just want a short potty break and more cuddle time inside. Each pet is different and you know your pet best, so don't be shy and speak up for your pet (since they can't)!
In the end, you'll know when it's a good fit, and most pet sitters are adaptable enough to accommodate your wishes or needs. If you've had a great experience with them after the services have been completed, let them know. We love hearing how we helped you relax on your vacation and gave you comfort in knowing that your pet is in great hands. Trust me, compliments are always welcome. And if you really loved them, write a review online. Most sitters are on Google, Yelp, or Facebook and would love for you to spread the news on how much you loved them with great reviews. On the other hand, if you didn't have a great experience, let the pet sitter know that too! Constructive feedback is helpful because it allows the sitter to better understand what you were looking for and where they can improve. Most sitters should be open to improving their skills, customer service, and business!
Have any topics you'd like to see covered in next week's blog? Post them below in the comments!
Have a Waggly Tail Day!