Friday, 18 January 2019

Choosing a Pet Sitter

Choosing a Pet Sitting Service 

Trusting someone with your pets can be difficult, trusting someone you don’t know well (or at all) is even more so!

When you are considering using a professional pet sitting service, here are some important points to keep in mind.

Your pet sitter should…

  • Insist on meeting you and your pets before committing to any pet care services.  
  • Be insured and bonded.  
    • This protects you in the event that their error causes damage to your home or injury to your pet.  Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of insurance.  
  • Be registered with your province, state, or city, depending on your local licensing requirements. 
  • Have formal training and professional experience with animals.  
  • Have a written contact that they discuss with you and explain clearly so that you understand it.
    • Don’t be afraid to interrupt and ask questions, the important thing is for you and your pet sitter to be on the same page. 
  • Have an emergency back-up plan and also ask you for at least one emergency contact in the event they cannot reach you.  
  • Have a back-up person or team who can help if they become sick or injured
  • Have a clear, step-by-step plan in case of a storm or other emergency
  • Be certified in Emergency Pet First Aid.  Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of certification.  
  • Be willing and able to provide you regular updates. 
  • Be 100% transparent with what methods they will use to deal with behaviours.  
    • If your pet has any behavioural concerns, please let your pet sitter know.  Ask them how they will manage and let them know what works best for you.  
  • Be clear and honest about how often they will be visiting your pet and how much exercise and stimulation they will receive during each visit.
  • Your pet sitter should take notes while getting to know you and your pet, including any feeding instructions, medication instructions, or any other important care instructions you are providing.  Don’t be afraid to leave lots of notes and/or send emails, it’s always best to have everything in writing!  
  • Be willing and able to provide references from clients who have used their service. 

We recommend our clients leave a spare key with a trusted neighbour in case of emergency, it can also come in handy if you lose your own key on your trip and arrive home from a long journey on a late flight!

Please don’t proceed unless and until you are completely comfortable.  We would much rather you give too much information than not enough, and there is no such thing as a dumb question or too many questions.  It’s your precious family member that you are entrusting to their care, so your pet sitter should want to provide you a sense of security and peace of mind.

Your pet sitter should be a professional.  If you are going away for an extended period of time, or if your pet has any special needs, behavioural issues, medical issues, or is in any way more than “easy and straightforward” to care for, we recommend you choose someone who pet sits full-time as their profession.  While friends, family, or neighbours can be wonderful helpers and can help save costs as well, they just won’t have the experience and knowledge to deal with any complex needs or unexpected situations that could arise.

Look at online reviews.  Check the local Better Business Bureau and/or Consumer Protection Agency (or related local agency, depending on your region), check with people in the animal care professionals for referrals (your veterinarian, local shelter, a trainer or groomer you know and trust).

Receive and provide the important instructions and conditions in writing.  It's always safer to provide and ask for too much information than to make assumptions or have miscommunications.

When you feel comfortable with your pet sitter, you can relax and enjoy your time away from home rather than worrying about your pet while you are away... of course, we know you'll still miss them and they'll miss you, but your pet sitter should be the next best thing to your pet's own family :)

About The Author

Jillian Enright has owned and operated Pawsitive Pet Care in Manitoba Canada since 2010.

Pawsitive Pet Care is insured and bonded and licensed with the province of Manitoba.

Jillian is a certified professional (CPDT-KA) and fear-free certified trainer.

Pawsitive Pet Care staff are trained and certified in emergency pet first aid as well as attending workshops on dog body language and animal behaviour.

Pawsitive Pet Care is a Positive-Reinforcement and evidence-based service.  It is our policy to not use any force, fear, or intimidation in the delivery of any of our services.  More information can be found on our blog post at

If you specifically need a dog walker (rather than a pet sitter), check out our blog post on getting the most from your dog walker.

  To learn more about Pawsitive Pet Care's services, please visit our website. 

  To learn more about us and read our reviews, please visit 

Going away?  

Before you go, here are some things you may want to consider:

  • Let your veterinarian know you are going away and give them your pet sitter's name and contact information.  You may even choose to leave a credit card number on file in case of emergency.  Of course, your pet sitter should have an emergency contact as well and should contact you or your appointed person in case of emergency.
  • Let a trusted neighbour or nearby friend know you are going away and provide them with a spare key.  If your pet sitter has an emergency they should have a back-up plan and/or assistant to cover for them.  However, in case of very severe or dangerous travel conditions, it may become impossible for them to reach your pet.  In this unlikely but possible event, you'll need someone close by to check on your pets. 
  • If you don't have friends or family you can rely on consider hiding a key in a secure spot somewhere on your property (you can also purchase lock boxes with combinations on them).  If you get home in the middle of the night from a very long travel day only to find you lost your keys somewhere along the way, you may not be able to reach anyone for help if they're all asleep!  
  • Plan for delays: provide extra pet food and other supplies and have a back-up plan in case of extensive delays.  

Happy Travels!

 Pawsitive Pet Care is a professional pet care service that has been caring for Manitoba pets since 2010.  

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