Have you got a dog sitter

The flights are reserved, the bags packed and the kids are finally ready! But just as you’re rushing out the door, you run into Fido with those big, sad puppy eyes. Oh NO, what about Fido?

When planning vacation and holiday getaways, our pets are often a forgotten, last-minute detail.

Next time, consider using a pet sitter. It allows your dog to stay in the comfort of their home and maintain their normal routine. These are things even well-meaning friends or family, and certainly kennels, cannot offer. Also, having a trusted pet sitter in your home can help protect your home from intruders.

But how do you find the perfect pet sitter? Start looking before your next trip and follow these 10 recommendations:

1. Personal Referrals. Ask trusted friends or family members if they can recommend a pet sitter they have used. Word-of-mouth is often the best reference.

2. The Interview. Set up a meeting in your home with each potential pet sitter. Watch how the sitter relates or interacts with your dog. Are they actively involved with the dog or are they distant or restrained around them? Does your dog want the pet sitter’s attention? Don’t second-guess your dog’s reaction (or your own); if they don’t seem engaged, move on.

3. Questions, Questions. The kind and volume of questions pet sitters ask will showcase their actual experience in caring for your particular breed of dog. A professional sitter will take notes; you should too. If they don’t ask questions, cross them off your list!

4. Affiliations. Judging solely by an organization affiliation (such as PSI Pet Sitters International or NAPPS National Association of Professional Pet Sitters) is tempting. However, remember these national organizations do not know these individuals or their reputation. Instead, ask for local affiliations and follow-up.

5. Client References. Ask for other client references. These will help you get a clearer idea of what to expect if you hire this person.

6. Bonding & Insurance. Bonding and insurance protects you in the case of damage or theft of your property. However, is does NOT ensure that the pet sitter is reliable, caring or trustworthy.

7. The Dotted Line. Ask for a copy of their contract and carefully review the details later. A contract will protect you and your dog. It will also spell out exactly what you can and cannot expect from the pet sitter. It should also list the appropriate rates for all services offered. Do not hesitate to ask questions!

8. Arrange another visit. Arrange for the pet sitter to spend some alone time with your dog. A walk is a great idea. Monitor your dog’s reaction; is he happy and comfortable with the pet sitter? Or does he seem eager to get away from them? This also gives the pet sitter a chance to see if they can appropriately handle your dog (particularly if the dog is a large-breed, strong or very energetic).

9. Listen to your gut! Finally, go with your gut feeling! If it doesn’t ‘feel’ right, it’s not! Keep looking.

10. Before you leave. Leave detailed instructions (prepared earlier), phone number(s) in the event of an emergency, and your vet’s name and number.

Investing your time in advance and following these steps will ensure the best possible pet sitting experience. So the next time you’re making those early travel plans, remember to put Fido, and his pet sitter, on your checklist to avoid those big, sad puppy eyes!