The first time we got a dog walker for Mylo we realized the importance of having a check list when looking to hire a dog walker or Pet Sitter. They do more than just take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood or to provide food and water while you’re away from home.
A good dog walker or pet sitter ensures they are exercised; that they don’t return home bored and notice if your pet needs veterinary attention or if he or she is showing any weird behaviors. A good pet sitter guarantees quality time with your pets.
Let’s be honest, anybody can walk a dog or look after a cat but you want a peace of mind knowing you are hiring someone that isn’t doing the job because of the money, but because there is a real enjoyment spending time with animals. Specially knowing they will be looking after your baby every day and they will also have access to your home.
It is okay if you try out many pet sitters if you feel your needs haven’t been filled. We went through two walkers before we found the perfect one. She was professional, knowledgeable, she had a real passion for animals and it was all about Mylo’s well being. This was reflected on his behavior. He really was a very happy dog!
Where do I find them?
You can ask a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, animal rescue organization, or dog trainer for a referral. You want someone who is recognized by Pet Sitters International since this organization offers pet-sitter accreditation to those who demonstrate professional experience. They have a directory that you can certainly use.
You can also look at your local pet services directory. For example, we recommend The Toronto Pet Daily listing. They’re a well-recognized Pet Services Directory in Toronto and Surrounding areas.
What to look for?
Choosing the right care giver is important, not only for your dog, but for you too. Here is a checklist you can use when hiring any pet sitter:
1. Is the business licensed and/or bonded?
If a dog walker or pet sitter is responsible enough to have obtained insurance and bonding, they’re usually going to be a trust-worthy care provider for your pet. This means they are serious about what they are doing. Ask your dog walker to show you documentation of his/her policy.
Use common sense when letting a stranger into your home. Make sure that all of your valuables are securely kept in a hidden area where only you have access. Cameras are another option to keep an eye on what is going on while they visit your pet. It’s not about you harassing the dog walker it’s about having a peace of mind that your dog is picked up at the right times and that it really goes out for the time expected. Plus, it’s a way for you to monitor how your furry kid behaves when their alone.
Make sure all the employees from the Pet Sitter Company you retain are under the insurance policy.
2. Dog walker or Pet Sitter experience, references and training.
For dog walking services, it’s hardly recommend to find out how many dogs are walked at a time – In case of group walks ask what the procedure is concerning any behavioral matters during the walk? – Also, inquire about “administrating medicine”. – Is the dog walker experienced?
Don’t be afraid to ask for references. If the pet sitter’s company is new, don’t be thrown out because the lack of references from clients. In this case ask for any volunteer references related to animals or past jobs. If the company is insured and bonded that is a plus and it’s telling how serious the business is.
Call up the references – your pet is a member of your family and you have right to be cautious when trusting your pet’s to someone else. Also ask for any special training courses such as Pet First Aid and verify such information.
3. Contracts, Forms and Services
Be specific about your needs and the service you are looking for. Is it an everyday thing or a few times per week? We suggest taking a look at their website so you are familiar with the services the company provides. Write down any question you have for the dog walker or pet sitter.
If a company is serious about their job, after you contact them they will arrange a FREE consultation appointment where the dog walker or pet sitter comes in to your house to meet you and your dog. This visit helps both parts to clear any doubts about the services and your wants.
A good company also will provide you with a form for you to fill out to understand your specific needs, as well as to obtain contact information and emergency numbers.
Some companies provide a separate contract outlining information about the walker’s services: times/dates of visits, the length of the dog walk, etc. However other companies include the contract within the form you fill out. That is okay too, just make sure the service’s details are there and that you keep a copy of it.
Finally don’t forget to ask how you’ll be paying for the service. What’s the billing cycle and the payment’s methods?
4. FREE consultation appointment
It is important for your dog walker to make a visit to your home when you are there so you me the pet sitter one-on-one. Pay attention to how she or he reacts towards your dog and vice versa? Can you see a person that shows security handling a dog or cat? Does the walker seem genuinely concerned about your dog?
Also this is the opportunity you have to ask as many questions as you have; including the handling of keys to have access to your house to walk the dog or cat sit.
5. Emergency medical care if you cannot be reached and pet’s health.
Emergencies arise at any given time. Make sure the pet sitter or dog walker have an emergency plan for getting medical attention even if your veterinarian is unavailable. This means, they should know where the closest vet is. Provide a release form and notify your veterinarian of your arrangement with your dog walker as well.
Always inform your dog walker about your dog’s dietary needs. A good Pet sitter will ask you if your pet can be given treats. Request what kind of treats they use. There are many brands out there that are not a healthy treats. If you have specific treats for your dog, be sure to give proper instructions to your walker.
6. Dog walker or Pet Sitter contact information.
A good pet sitter will provide you with their contact information so you can reach them any time. It includes phone number, email address, texts, paging services. Nowadays many businesses are involved in Social Media like Facebook and Twitter. That is another way to get a hold of them.
7. ‘Back-up plan’ in the event of illness or emergency where the dog walker or pet sitter cannot attend to your dog.
In the event that your dog walker is unavailable for a visit, who would he or she send in replacement? Are they under the insurance policy?
Make sure to provide different number where you can be reached in case of emergency. Also provide information of someone else than can be contact in case you are not available. Usually a good dog walker will ask you to write down such information to keep it on file.
8. Additional services or ADD’S ON services.
Most dog walkers will provide additional services such as bringing in your mail, newspaper, watering some plants and other safety issues at no additional cost. Some businesses will have such information on their website. However, always inquire about these services.
If you need a different service that is not included in the ADD’S ON the company offer, especially while you are going away for a long period of time, request about it and be aware of any extra charges.
Finally, hiring the right dog walker can be a difficult decision and stressful one. It’s not new that the pet
care industry is growing rapidly, especially in the dog walking field. At all times check for professionalism and true passion and love for pets. Among some research on your part, you’ll be able to select the right dog walker or pet sitter for your fur kid! . – Keep Smiling 🙂
Check out our website www.tail-waggers.ca