The Top 3 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Pet Sitter

Woman is dog sitting with three german shepherdsWith the holidays coming up, many people will be going out of town to spend time with family.

And, with the passing of time more and more people are employing people to come to their pet; instead of taking their pet to a boarding facility.

I personally think that pet sitting is much less stressful and traumatizing that a boarding facility IF you have these things under control!

I have been pet sitting professionally for almost as long as I have been dog training.

I suppose it is a natural progression for me.

But I have learned a few key things over the years!

Don’t Allow Just Anyone to Watch Your Pet

This seems like common sense to most of us; but sometimes people mistakenly trust the neighbor kids they barely know to take care of their furry family member.

I might let my neighbor kids water my plants or mow my yard, but I am not going to allow just anyone to watch my pets.

I once had a multi-million dollar client that would fly me across the country to watch his dogs.  He had mistakenly once asked an immature person to watch his pets (in my absence) and that person had thrown parties and totally ignored his pets.

From then on, they checked with me before making any travel plans!

I have seen dogs and/or cats forgotten for days on end.

I have seen dogs and/or cats escape because they are frightened to have someone new around.

I have seen dogs struggle and break off leash when being walked by a new person.

And, I have seen people allow a dog that is not theirs to interact with another unknown dog and there is an altercation.

But more commonly I have seen people simply not know or understand when there is a problem.

Not everyone knows and understands animals.

Not everyone may notice if the dog hasn’t eaten that day or just doesn’t seem normal.

And, unfortunately sometimes emergencies occur when people are away.

Would You Allow Anyone to Watch Your Toddler?

It is kind of ridiculous if you put it in those terms.

No one would drop their baby off with someone they didn’t know, with no experience, and with no referrals.

If you love your pet, invest in good skilled care or at least the someone with whom you trust who has referred and had a good experience.

Plan for the Best

Cat and dog sitting together and facing at the camera

Cat and dog sitting together and facing at the camera

Make sure you have all the supplies a pet sitter will need to keep your pet comfortable.

Your absence alone is unsettling, but if the person chosen sticks to your schedule as much as possible it will lessen the effects of stress for your pet.

If you give your dog a treat before bed, make sure the pet sitter follows your routine.

Make sure that there is ample

  • Food
  • Water
  • Medications
  • Treats
  • Bedding
  • Vaccination Records
  • And, any emergency preparations in case you live in hurricane alley.  I used to have tarps of water and food, etc. in case there was an evacuation.
  • And safe toys and chewies to play with!

If you trust your pet sitter to walk your dog (be careful!  Not everyone is a trained professional or uses their reasoning skills), make sure that they stick to the regular route and routine.

Prepare for the Worst


Prepare for the worst.

I was pet sitting once when the geriatric dog I was sleeping with started having seizures.

He had never had seizures (that the owner had seen before).

I was able to take him to the vet where he was diagnosed with a tumor pressing on his brain.

Unfortunately, it was just bad timing on everyone’s part.

So, always make sure that you contact your own personal vet and leave your credit card on file.

Also leave a hand signed note for your pet sitter that gives them the right to take your dog to an emergency clinic.

And, contact the emergency clinic (if you like) also with your information, your pet’s information, and your credit card number!

Always Make Sure Someone is Available

Please make sure that SOMEONE who can make medical decisions is available by phone.

You may be on a cruise, in another country, or in an important meeting; but emergencies never happen at convenient times.

Chances are, an emergency won’t happen but you can rest easy if you have taken care of all the particulars, and you can trust the person you leave with your pet!

Your Opinion Matters!

What else would YOU add to this list?


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  1. Shannon says:

    Thank you for this. Any advice for someone considering becoming a pet sitter?


  2. Barb Rogeness says:

    As a pet sitter for over 25 years, I think you covered everything. I would recommend taking an animal first aid course. Also, I can’t emphasize strongly enough that the client needs to leave their credit card number with their vet and to get written permission by the client. In my experience, I’ve had to take dogs and cats to the vet while pet sitting. In one instance, the dog collapsed and I rushed to an emergency clinic. If I hadn’t given $500 of my own money to them, they wouldn’t treat the dog. What would have happened if I hadn’t had $500?THEY WOULD HAVE REFUSED TO TREAT THE DOG!! You don’t ever want to be in that position!


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