When you plan to go away on vacation or a weekend getaway, make sure you hire a sitter for your dogs. You don’t want just anyone, because this person will be taking care of your home as well. Dog sitters should always make time to meet your family before they stay in your house. This also gives you time to show them how to get into the house or give them a key to borrow. Ask as many questions as you can beforehand and then these 5 questions to your dog sitter in-person when they meet your dog before your trip. 

An owner asking a pet sitter questions before leaving to go out of town

What is your prior experience? 

A dog sitter should have at least a few successful dog sitting experiences in the past. If they were not successful, ask why. Sometimes the family and dog is just not the right fit and that is okay. Many pet sitters have previous experience at a vet clinic, dog groomer, or pet store. These are often great places to look for a pet sitter as well. If you have a special needs dog or a dog that needs to be medicated, prior experience in the veterinary field is especially helpful. 

Can you provide any references? 

Call and talk to at least 2-3 references on their list. You want to make sure this person left the house clean and the dog happy. Most people will be up front about a bad experience but get all the details before you make a judgement. Some animals are very hard to care for. 

A dog sitter and owner sitting in back yard talking and asking questions

How do you handle emergencies?

A pet sitter should already have a plan. They should know where the closest emergency veterinary hospital is and how to bring a pet in. Before you leave, write down your regular veterinarian’s number and the number to your preferred ER hospital. Make sure the dog sitter knows how much you are willing to spend on your dog and if you prefer CPR or not. It can cost almost $50-100 a minute to preform CPR on a dog at an emergency clinic. 

If the emergency has to do with the house, they should have a number of people to call that know your family. A plumber, the fire station, the police station and the electric company are all great numbers to have in case of an emergency. Make sure your home has an emergency sticker on a window to let fire fighters know to rescue any animals inside the home. 

How much time will you be at home with my dog? 

Always know when the dog sitter will be out of the house. Make sure they know how long your dog can stay alone or in the crate for. If a dog is not to be left alone at all, this can pose a problem for the sitter if they have a normal, full-time job. Most pet sitters do have other jobs to make enough money, so please be understanding. Let them know when you bring your dog outside to play or when they usually get a walk. The dog sitter should try their best to keep your dog’s normal routine. 

Two met sitting at a picnic table while one asks questions about dog sitting

What makes you the best dog sitter? 

This is a great question that often makes pet sitters think. What do they have that others don’t? In this world, they need to be able to stand out and impress their clients. Are they pet CPR certified? Do they have a Bachelor’s in pre-veterinary science? Do they sit over 100 animals each year? This is where they should tell you something interesting about themselves. 

Before you leave, stock the treats, kibble, and any medications that your dogs need. If you think your flight will be delayed by a couple days or weeks due to weather, always tell your dog sitter this before they commit to the job. This is why it is important to exchange numbers with them and be in contact every other day or daily. Last but not least, always provide written instructions and rules on the counter. Just because you said something verbally, does not mean they will remember it. 

Pet standing in door way
@girlplusbulldogs

Ask your dog sitter for photos and videos of your pet! You shouldn’t have to worry or miss your dog when you are gone. This is a great way of seeing how they are doing throughout your vacation, so you can have fun! 

Find more tips for dog owners on our blog.

Author

Caitlin is originally from Vermont and has been working with animals since she can remember. She studied Behavioral Neuroscience and is now Mastering in Animal Shelter Management in Colorado. Her hobbies include horseback riding, fostering animals, and hiking in the Rocky Mountains. She has volunteered at five different animal shelters and worked in three different vet hospitals. Her passions include animal health, behavior, and enrichment. Caitlin also spends time taking high-quality photos of shelter animals to help them get adopted faster.

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