7 Steps To Find A Dogsitter
by Ellie Dennie
You're going on your summer vacation, but can't take your dog with you. What to do? Here are seven pointers on how to leave your furry friend in safe, caring hands while you're away:
1) Choose a petsitter over a kennel
Many pet owners prefer hiring a petsitter over a kennel, because petsitters offer animals a comfortable home environment, plenty of companionship and attention, and are present 24/7. In contrast, kennels generally don't have employees working overnight.
2) Plan ahead
An owner should look for a petsitter well in advance. In fact, I recommend you start as soon as you get your dog so that you have a few options before travel time arrives. Barring that, give yourself at least a month to locate a few petsitters, interview them and select who you think is the right fit for your dog and your own comfort level. Don't look for a petsitter three days before a trip, because they might not have time for an interview prior to your departure and/or space for your dog.
3) How to find a petsitter
The best way to find a petsitter is to ask family members, friends or neighbours who have pets. There's a good chance they already have a good one. Or ask your vet. Some petsitters post or leave their information at vet offices, so even if the vet is not familiar with these sitters, they will likely have their numbers to pass along to you and you can research them. Of course, you can always Google "pet sitting" and "dog boarding" in your area. (Note that petsitters operate petsitting companies which are largely one-person or one-couple operations, folks who own a home and do petsitting. I'll refer to these companies as "petsitters" here.)
4) What to look for in a petsitter
Find one who has been in business for at least a couple of years as opposed to starting out. Nothing beats experience. Also, the sitter should be insured. (A pet/dogsitting company is business, which would be insured. A person who petsits is not.). The sitter should also be certified in pet first-aid, and offer references. These should be clients whom you can call (or they call you) and tell you of their experiences with the sitter.
5) Have a back-up plan
Ask if the petsitter has a back-up plan in case an emergency demands him/her to leave suddenly (i.e. family health issue). If the petsitter doesn't have a plan, ensure the sitter can offer you phone numbers for another petsitter, or to a vet who does kenneling. Pets are like kids--the more options you have, the more secure you will feel about leaving them.
6) What the petsitter needs from you
A reliable sitter needs to arrange an interview with you and your dog. There will be paperwork to fill out that includes your dog's basic information as well as health and behaviour questions. The sitter will want to do the interview at your premises to observe your pet in its regular environment in order to get an idea of your pet's normal behaviour. The sitter may even require a trial stay where your dog does an overnight with them to make sure he/she is comfortable
taking your dog for a longer duration. The sitter will also want your vet information in case a health issue arises with your pet while in their care.
This can vary from sitter to sitter, based on experience. Home boarding can cost up to $40-50 per night. Generally, a more qualified will cost more. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Remember that trips can suffer unexpected delays (i.e. late flight, bad weather), so it's a good idea to inquire if, aside from the cost of an extra night's stay, whether an additional fee will be incurred.
Ellie Dennie is the owner and operator of Best Paws Forward, which provides boarding and daycare for pets in Scarborough, ON.