Never Do This When Hiring a Pet Sitter, Experts Say
Keep your pets happy and safe by avoiding this common mistake.
Owners are not always able to be with their pets every second of every day. Whether you've been called away for work or you're headed out on a vacation, there are going to be times when you can't bring your animal along. Fortunately, you can still make sure your pet is getting all the human care they need by hiring a pet sitter. There are several ways to go about this, including asking around your neighborhood or using popular apps like Rover or Wag. But no matter how you do it, there is one major mistake you should always avoid. Read on to find out what experts say you should never do when hiring a pet sitter.
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More Americans now own at least one pet.
The pandemic had a significant impact on pet ownership in the U.S. In Jan. 2022, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) revealed that over 23 million American households (nearly 1 in 5 nationwide) had adopted a pet during the COVID pandemic, The Washington Post reported. As a result, statistics for sitters have risen as well. According to the newspaper, the overnight board and dog-sitting platform Rover reported a record $157.1 million in revenue for the quarter that ended in Sept. 2021 alone.
"Hiring a pet sitter is a big responsibility. After all, you are entrusting the care of your beloved pet to someone else," Jill Taylor, an expert who runs a local pet-sitting service and the founder of Happy Farmyard, explains to Best Life. "But not just anyone will do—you want to ensure that your pet is in good hands."
Fortunately, experts have one major piece of advice on how to avoid picking the wrong person for the job.
You should never do one thing when hiring someone as a pet sitter.
No matter what you're looking for in a pet sitter, there is at least one mistake you will want to avoid during the hiring process. Iram Sharma, an experienced veterinarian and content creator for Happy Whisker, says you should never hire someone without meeting them first. "This is not some sort of a sale. You are hiring someone to look after your beloved pet, and that should not be taken lightly," she explains. "Always meet and get to know your pet sitter before setting up a contract with them."
According to Sharma, there is no specific amount of time you must spend with someone before deciding whether you should hire them or not. "The initial meeting might last a couple of minutes, or it might take more than an hour. It all depends on how well it goes and how much you or the sitter have to ask and say," she tells Best Life. "You can meet the sitter at the park or at your home. Either way, tell them all about your pet."
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There are several signs that might indicate whether or not someone is right for the job.
If you've never hired a pet sitter before, it can be hard to know what you need to look for. Jacquelyn Kennedy, a canine behavioral specialist and the founder of PetDT, tells Best Life the one thing pet owners should always pay attention to is whether or not the sitter asks questions. "A good pet sitter will ask a lot of questions about your pet so that they know the specific needs in detail, to best cater to them," Kennedy explains. "A bad pet sitter will barely ask anything, meaning they won't be giving your pet personalized care."
According to Aaron Rice, an expert dog trainer at Stayyy, other signs of a good pet sitter include responsibility, prior knowledge about pets, good communication skills, empathy, patience, and reliability. "When looking for a pet sitter, it's important to do your research and make sure you're hiring someone who is reliable and has a good reputation," Rice says. "The importance of hiring the right pet sitter is that they should have a good understanding of the needs and care of your pet. They should know what to do if your pet is sick, how to handle a new animal, and what type of food and toys are appropriate for your animal."
Consider setting up a trial run with your potential sitter.
While looking for someone who has the characteristics of a good sitter is necessary, it is also important for you to know how your specific pet interacts with a certain person. Aleksandar Mishkov, a dog expert and owner of The Daily Tail, recommends that all owners do a trial run with someone before hiring them as a pet sitter. "Not all dogs are friendly towards strangers," he explains. "During a trial walk or trail afternoon, make sure to let that sitter know what your pet likes and doesn't like."
You should take this time to watch for certain things, according to Mishkov. This includes observing how the potential sitter behaves with your canine companion, whether or not they pay attention to small details, and ultimately, how your dog is reacting to the sitter. "We consider dogs as part of our family, so we do not want to leave them with a stranger they do not like or love," he says.