Much as you'd love to spend every waking hour with your dog, life often forces you to do other things - from the 9-5 grind to out-of-town trips. But you may not want to leave your dog unattended for too long, either. Dogs not only need the basics such as food and water, but they usually benefit from human attention and affection as well. Some dogs can experience separation anxiety when left alone, while canines with health issues need careful monitoring.
A professional dog sitter can come to your rescue in these scenarios. A skilled, experienced sitter can watch over your dog and respond to urgent needs while also bonding with the animal. Read on to educate yourself about the nuts and bolts of choosing the best sitter for your pup.
Why Hire a Professional Dog Sitter?
You might feel tempted simply to ask a neighbor or friend to stop by a few times a day to keep an eye on your dog. While this arrangement can work, it also has some obvious shortcomings. That individual, now matter how trustworthy, may lack any real knowledge about how to care for a dog, what trouble signs to watch out for, or how to respond in a veterinary emergency. They may also have personal circumstances that prevent them from visiting your pet on the agreed-upon schedule.
Some pet owners leave their dogs with doggy daycare and/or pet boarding facilities. This option certainly protects your dog better than an untrained well-wisher might. However, many dogs feel more relaxed and comfortable in the familiar surroundings of their own home -- another point in favor of dog sitting.
Where Do You Find Dog Sitters?
Some dog sitters work independently, while others work for a dog sitting service. Either option can work well as long as you're looking for your sitter in the right places. You can start by checking with professional pet sitting associations, which maintain lists of registered professionals in your area. Examples include Pet Sitters International and the National Association of Pet Sitters. Your veterinarian can also serve as a valuable referral resource.
What Should You Ask Dog Sitting Candidates?
Asking the right questions plays a crucial role in dog sitter selection, just as it does in selecting any professional for any job. Make sure each of your dog sitting candidates can answer these questions to your satisfaction:
- Are they trained in pet CPR and other emergency responses?
- Do they carry pet sitting insurance and bonding?
- How much experience do they have, not just with dogs in general but also with your specific breed?
- How much time can they reliably provide on a daily or ongoing basis?
- What range of services can they provide, from walks and feeding to peripheral tasks such as getting the mail?
- How much experience do they have at administering medicines, grooming, and other home care techniques?
How Much Do Dog Sitters Charge?
In addition to the questions listed above, you'll obviously want to ask prospective dog sitters how much they charge for their services. But even if their answer fits your budget, you should also know the market so you can tell a good deal from a bad one.
Dog sitter prices vary according to your region, setting (urban versus rural), the number of pets you have, and the number of daily visits you want to book. The national average daily rates range from $70 to $125 for multiple daily visits and basic care. An overnight stay typically costs $75 to $85. Medical care, multi-pet care, and 24-hour care will almost certainly cost extra.
Should You Schedule an In-Home Consultation?
No dog sitter selection process is complete without an initial in-home consultation. You’ll want to make certain both you and your dog feel comfortable having this person in your home, and that your pet seems to like your potential dog sitter.
You can conduct this consultation either during the initial interview process or as a separate "meet and greet" before signing any binding agreement. Even if you've already spoken with the dog sitter in person and feel confident about your choice, you'll want to observe your dog's reactions closely. After all, this is the "customer" whose opinion really matters the most!
Once your dog sitter passes all the tests, you can feel confident about that first scheduled visit -- but that doesn't mean you should take that confident feeling for granted. Ask your dog sitter to take pictures or videos, record feeding times, note any medical situations that needed addressing, and leave other documentation of a successful visit. Make sure your dog sitter can reach you, and knows how to contact your veterinarian or emergency animal hospital.
Dog Sitting Done Right
Now that you understand the ins and outs of hiring a dog sitter, take the time to research your options and choose the ideal professional for your canine pal. It goes without saying that your dog will still prefer your company to somebody else's -- but a good dog sitting experience will give your best friend even more reason to love and appreciate you for doing it right!
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