You are planning a trip, and it is impossible to take your pet. What do you do, now? Call your family members or neighbors to see if they can take care of your pet? This is okay for a short trip, but anything longer may aggravate your friends. If your pooch does not socialize well with other dogs, then a kennel may be out of the question. So, that leaves a sitter. If you have never used a pet sitter before, then here are some things to know before you hire one.

First you should consider the basics. Sitters do not just show up and feed your pet. The ideal sitter should spend a good amount of time with your pet everyday. Your pet should be played with and taken outdoors to get plenty of exercise. The sitter should also be trained to recognize and handle pet emergencies. Sometimes, sitters will even pick up your mail. A good way to think of a sitter is as a “replacement” to you. They should fill in where you leave off, and provide the dog with an adequate amount of attention.

To locate a sitter, first check with your veterinarian or friends who have used sitters in the past. There may be a few to choose from, but you want to make sure you are choosing the right one that others have recommended. You can also find sitters on the Internet or in the Yellow Pages. There are companies, such as Pet Sitters International, that offer recommendations for sitters in you area.

Once you have found a sitter, be sure that the person (or company) has proper insurance to cover any claims of theft, negligence, or accidents. Ask about any sort of training the sitter has received to make sure he or she is ready for the position. Find out if the sitter is associated with a particular veterinarian. If not, then provide the sitter with the contact information of your veterinarian in case of emergency. It is also a good idea to ask the sitter for a list of references. Call a couple of people on the list, and ask them any questions you may have.

Invite the sitter over for an “interview.” This may seem strange, but it is important to know how the sitter and your pet will react to each other. When you invite the sitter over, watch to see how well he or she gets along with your pet. If your pet is frightened or angry with the sitter, then you may want to look at other options. This does not mean that the sitter is inadequate; you just want your pet to feel relaxed while you are gone. While you are interviewing the sitter, watch to see if he or she taking notes. A great sitter will be listening to your every concern about your pooch and writing it down. Any medication, dietary restrictions, or special instructions should be relayed to the sitter. If your pet’s daily routine consists of being fed at noon, then your sitter should try to stick to the routine. The point of a sitter is to interrupt your pet’s life as little as possible. Once you have chosen a sitter, make sure there is a contract involved. You need to know when, how often, and for what price the sitter will be taking care of your pet. The contract should also protect you and your pet from harm.

Before you go, make sure you leave enough food, treats, and medication behind. It is your responsibility to make sure your pet has everything he needs while you are gone. The sitter is not there to run errands or pick up extra treats. Also, exchange contact information with the sitter. Leave a copy of the contact information on the refrigerator. You should both have a way to get in touch with each other in case of an emergency. Your sitter should be informed of your arrival home, too.

Pet sitters are a good alternative to kennels. If you can’t take your dog on the trip and he does not enjoy the companionship of other pets, then a sitter may be your only choice. A good sitter will have insurance, training, a relationship with a local veterinarian, and a solid list of references. Interview the potential sitter beforehand, so you can see how your dog reacts to the strange company. Before you leave, make sure you exchange contact information with the sitter and leave enough food and treats to last the entire trip. Leaving your pooch with a friend will make him a much happier companion to return home to!

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