5 of the best rules to follow when looking for someone to watch your dog

By following a few guidelines, you can find a caretaker for your pet to minimize your stress and that of your pet.

By guest blogger, Lynell McCready

Pets can serve as both friends and family. They provide comfort when we are lonely and a listening ear when we need to talk. They’ll walk by our side and sleep on our laps. Finding the perfect caretaker for your pet in your absence is no easy task with all this in mind.

Will they be accessible and responsible? Will your pet get along with them and vice-versa? Are they just looking for an easy way to make some money, or do they have a love for animals? Can you trust them with the care of your pet?

There will always be at least some concern for those who love their pets when you are apart. However, by following a few guidelines, you can find a caretaker for your pet to minimize your stress and that of your pet. Here are five key rules when looking for a caretaker for your pet.

1. They Need to Have Experience

Do you want to have your pet be the one supplying on-the-job training for a new pet caretaker? Probably not. The more experience a sitter has for caring for your type of pet, the better. The person you choose for your pet should have experience with your type of pet and with pets with a similar personality to yours. Do they have experience with a large, super-friendly dog or a skittish cat? Are they prepared to handle the needs of an older pet or a pet who can’t quite manage their diets? The more experience a pet sitter has, the more likely they have successfully maneuvered through various situations they may encounter with your pet.

2. Always Check References

If a potential pet caretaker claims they have taken care of pets for “friends and family,” at the very least, you should contact some of those previous clients. Ideally, though, you should prefer a caretaker who has garnered the trust of strangers in their pet sitting careers. This also helps assure you that they can build relationships with pets with which they may not have had a previous relationship. Check references to make sure they can verify what your caretaker candidate told you about their Experience.

3. You and Your Pet Should Have a Rapport with the Caretaker

As a pet owner, you know your pet has their own personality. They have specific fears and respond differently to various people. What you may not know, however, is how they behave when you are not around. This is why choosing a pet caretaker who has a rapport with you, and your pet is critical. Sure, it may take a little while to build a strong bond, but you can usually get a good feeling, whether your pet and the sitter will get along with you in a short visit. While this may not be so important if a sitter is just filling up food bowls and cleaning litter boxes, it will be if the caretaker is asked to play with, walk or otherwise interact with your pet for an extended period.

4. Ask Open-Ended Questions to Get to Know Your Caretaker

You will gain more insight into a caretaker by asking, “Why do you love pets” as opposed to “Do you love pets?” When you ask open-ended questions, you provide a person an opportunity to tell you about what’s important to them. Questions like “Who was your favorite pet and why?”, “Do you talk to your pet?”, and “What is your favorite way to interact with pets?” can elicit some interesting responses that could be very helpful in making your decision.

5. They Should Have a Connection with a Veterinarian

While a pet caretaker doesn’t necessarily have to be a vet or even employed by a vet, it can be helpful if they know or have a good relationship with a veterinarian. Having access to a vet can be invaluable in your absence should your pet become ill or involved in an accident. Of course, you should always provide any caretaker with your pet’s vet’s name and phone number.

Caretakers appreciate well-trained animals, so if you have taken the time to address excessive barking, jumping, chewing, and other behaviors, you may find more willing, higher-quality pet sitters. Be sure to make sure they are aware of any “habits’ your pet has to determine better if the pet is behaving normally or is acting out. Finally, make sure you allow enough time to properly find a caretaker you trust and depend upon to treat your pet as you would!

about the author

Lynell McCready has had pets all her life, and each one has taught her something different about not only herself but how she wishes to view the world. For the last 15 years, she’s been a pet-sitter, offering and assuring people who do have to leave their pets that they will be well-loved and taken care of while they are away. But it wasn’t until a job in the late nineties that took her away from her animals that she realized the impact we have on our animals’ lives.

She’s had to acquaint herself with many different breeds and types of animals over the years, and when she gains their trust and love is something she’s always grateful and proud of it. And in achieving their love, she becomes a trusted member of the family, often being called on for years.”

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