Planning a getaway or need pet care during your busy days? Finding the right pet sitter may seem daunting, but there are loads of loving pros ready to pamper your pet while you're away. Plus, we've got tips and a free, printable pet sitting form to help you find, interview, and prep the perfect pet sitter. No worries, just wagging tails!
Finding a Pet Sitter
Once you decide to hire a pet sitter, it’s time to look around.
In Your House or Theirs?
The very first step to finding a pet sitter is deciding where you want the "sitting" to take place and how often. Some pet sitters will have your pet stay at their home, with their families and pets. Others will come to your house — either to take care of your pet at least once a day or to stay in your home as a de facto house sitter. Consider which style works best for you and your pet. A social dog might do well staying at a sitter's home, while a shyer pet might prefer to stay at home and have someone stay with them.
Costs for in-home 24/7 sitting are usually the highest, but having a single person stay in an environment familiar to your pet can do wonders for anxious or medically sensitive animals.
Ask for Recommendations
Start by asking friends, family, neighbors, and even coworkers that have pets if they know of any reputable sitters. They might have recommendations, which can help you be at ease knowing they have already cared for other pets responsibly.
You can also ask your veterinarian for pet sitter recommendations. The veterinarian's office may know a pet sitter personally and testify to their level of care. If your friends, family, and veterinarian aren't aware of any pet sitters or you want to continue looking, there are other places to search.
Pet sitters’ busiest seasons are when people travel most, so look for a good sitter early, before any holidays.
Review Online Pet Sitter Profiles
Online platforms like Rover, Care.com, or PetSitter.com could be incredibly helpful in your search. These sites show pet sitters in your local area that are available in your area. Pet sitters on these sites can list their qualifications, prices, availability, and have sometimes already completed a background check.
Platforms facilitate secure communication and payment transactions, protecting both parties' information and financial details. Instead of having pet parents and pet sitters go back and forth about how to pay, most platforms charge a small fee and take care of this for you. This step alone can help make the pet sitting process significantly simpler.
Not all sitters or sites provide background checks. Since this is your home and family, you can request that the sitter complete one if one’s not already available.
Review the Ratings
As you scroll through online platforms, read through reviews and ratings of the pet sitter by other pet owners. If the sitter isn't on an online platform, you can look for their qualifications on LinkedIn or ask them outright about their credentials. I have personally worked with Rover.com as a pet sitter and loved the experience. The platform keeps the pet parent, pet sitter, and the pet protected by providing:
- Background and identity checks
- Veterinary advice for sitters if they have a question
- Veterinary care reimbursement should an emergency arise
- 24/7 support for both pet parents and pet sitters
I have personally used these benefits as a pet sitter. For example, a samoyed once came for sitting. Not long after they dropped him off, tons of small bugs began to creepily crawl out of his fur. Yikes! He was just totally covered with them beneath his thick layers of fur. Guess what they were? Ticks! Rover support and a trip to the veterinarian were definitely a tremendous help on that day.
Vetting a Pet Sitter
Once you have a list of potentials with completed background checks, it's time for the interviews. Arrange times to meet them in person with your pet. Seeing how they interact can go far to setting your mind at ease.
Verifying a pet sitter's claimed qualifications is an essential step to ensure your pet’s safety and well-being. Start by asking the sitter for any certifications, training, or licenses they may have, particularly those relevant to pet care, first aid, or animal behavior. Check the validity of these documents and contact the issuing organizations.
If the prospect lies about their qualifications, this should be an immediate no.
Questions to Ask
Even if your potential pet sitter's references come out as perfect as pie, you should still ask questions to get to know them better. It's not only important to know they're qualified, you need to make sure they will be compatible with your needs, your pet's needs, and your lifestyle.
Consider what's important for your pet and ask them how they would handle those things. You can also add:
- What experience do you have with pet sitting, particularly with my pet's breed?
- How do you handle pets with special needs or behavioral issues?
- What specific services do you offer (walking, feeding, administering medication)?
- What is your availability, and how flexible is your schedule?
- How do you handle medical emergencies?
- Can you administer medication if necessary?
- How often will you update me about my pet?
- What mode of communication do you prefer (text, call, email)?
- Are you willing to send me photos throughout the stay?
- Do you have a backup plan in case you can't make a scheduled visit?
It’s critical to set clear expectations. If you are both in agreement, continue. If not, or if you have any reservations, listen to your gut and move to the next prospective pet sitter.
Pet Sitter Pricing
Paying a pet sitter involves several key considerations to ensure a smooth and transparent transaction. Start by discussing and agreeing on the rate before the pet sitter begins. Rates will vary a lot based on region, whether they're staying in your home or theirs, their experience, and your pet's needs.
Provide Important Information in One Place
Once you're all ready to head out, make sure your sitter has all the information they need in a simple, easy-to-access place. I've created this simple, printable form with all the information I needed as a pet sitter, but feel free to create your own or add to it. The idea is it should be somewhere your sitter can access quickly, without having to scroll through
Paying a Pet Sitter
I can tell you, I personally requested a 50% deposit before services started. While this may sound unsettling, it does protect both you and the sitter. Some platforms will also take full payment upfront and hold it until services are complete.
Once the rate is settled, clarify the preferred payment method of the sitter, whether it be cash, check, electronic transfer, or through a dedicated app or online platform.
Giving The Pet Sitter Tips
Tipping a pet sitter isn’t required, but it’s a nice way to show appreciation for their services, especially if they’ve done anything special. If your pet sitter has spent extra time with your pet, handled any special requirements exceptionally well, or managed unexpected situations, a tip is a great way to show your gratitude. As a general guideline, a tip of 10-20% of the total bill or a flat amount based on the length of service is common.
Leaving a positive review or referring them to friends and family can also be a great way to show appreciation.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Life is unpredictable. You shouldn't rely on your pet sitter 100%. They could call in sick, have an appointment, or have another issue come up that doesn't allow them to make it to your pet on time. Having a backup sitter or a nearby friend or family member on standby is a prudent move. Discuss contingency plans with your pet sitter to ensure that your furry friend is never left behind and you'll be able to breathe easy, knowing your family is covered.