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09 Jul How to choose a dog sitter

Whether you’re away from your furry friend for one night or three weeks, you want to make sure that they are well cared for whilst you are away.

Finding the right person to look after your dog can be almost as stressful as booking a holiday. You want to know that your pup will get the right amount of exercise, be properly fed, have constant companionship and be in the hands of someone who knows what to do in an emergency.

Dog sitters are a popular option with dog owners who don’t like the idea of leaving their dog in kennels and don’t have friends or family available to help out. But when it comes to choosing a dog sitter, what should you be looking out for? Here are our top tips.

Location

When it comes to location, you’ll be faced with two options. 

The first is the ‘home from home’ dog sitting, where your dog stays with your dog sitter at their home. This option is great for dogs who love the company of other pooches, as a dog sitter will often take in more than one dog at a time to make it profitable for them. Dogs in this environment are rarely left alone and benefit from loads of new toys and spaces designed for your dog. 

The second option is the ‘house sitting’ choice, where your dog sitter will stay in your home with your dog whilst you are away, often including overnight stays if you have suitable accommodation. This is a great option for pets who don’t do well with other dogs and those who will be more comfortable and settled in a familiar environment. House sitting arrangements also act as a deterrent to potential burglars. Dog sitters who house sit may have additional jobs during the day, so make sure you ask exactly how much time, and during what hours they will usually be with your pooch.

References

References are incredibly important in helping you verify that your dog sitter is trustworthy and knowledgeable when it comes to dogs. Make sure you ask for verifiable references before agreeing to anything. Where possible, ask friends and family to recommend a dog sitter that they trust.

Experience

Vizsla licking lips

Experience is important, especially if you’re leaving your dog for an extended period of time. Ask for their experience with dogs generally, including breed specific experience. If your dog has complex medical needs, make sure they are completely comfortable administering medication and recognising any symptoms that would require a visit to the vet.

Introduce them to your dog

When meeting your dog sitter, before agreeing to any arrangements, you’ll want to make sure they get on well with your pooch first. Introduce them and observe your dog’s behaviour – do they seem thrilled by their new friend or are they more tentative? You’ll want to make sure they are able to establish a good rapport with each other. Consider a test walk – make sure your dog sitter is able to control your dog on the lead and that your dog respects their authority.

Ask the right questions

Make sure you ask plenty of questions – there’s no such thing as a bad question and any responsible dog sitter will be happy to answer and put your mind at rest. Consider asking:

  • Will my dog ever be left alone, and if so, for how long?
  • Will my dog ever be around other dogs (at home or on walks)? How many? 
  • If they will be with other dogs, are they all assessed for any aggressive tendencies beforehand?
  • If they will be with other dogs, how is conflict between dogs managed?
  • Does your dog sitter have any qualification in canine first aid?
  • Does your dog sitter have any experience administering medication?
  • What is the process for notifying you if anything goes wrong?
  • Will they take your dog to the vets or groomers if required, and is there additional cost for this service?
  • Where will they walk your dog, and for how long each day?
  • Will they provide basic at home grooming (such as bathing or brushing) as necessary?
  • Do they have experience handling dogs from this breed?
  • Will your dog get plenty of time with the dog sitter, including playtime and cuddles?
  • Will your dog sitter provide updates, and if so, how regularly?

Make sure your dog will be getting enough exercise

Husky cross Collie giving paw in city street

One of the most important parts of your dog’s routine are their daily walks and exercise. To ensure they are getting enough even whilst you are away, use a PitPat dog activity monitor to keep an eye of the amount of activity they do each day. 

Share your dog’s profile with your dog sitter and ask them to fetch data at the end of every day – you’ll be able to see the data instantly and understand if your pup is getting enough exercise.

If you decide not to use the ‘Share my dog’ feature, you can still sync your dog’s activity when you get home. Your PitPat will store up to 7 days of data, so make sure you sync as soon as you are reunited with your pal!

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