The Do’s and Don’ts When Hiring a Pet Sitter
There will always be instances when we have to be away for a long time that no one will be left to care for our pets. You can always get your friends or relatives to look after them but they may also have other things to do. Hence, we hire a pet sitter. However, like everything else, it is important to choose the right one. Here are the dos and don’ts whenever you are hiring a pet sitter.
Evaluate the Sitter’s Knowledge of Pet Care
Pet sitting does not only involve “being” with the pet of someone else. It involves being the temporary “pet parent” of somebody else’s pet. That is why it is very important that you try to evaluate the prospective sitter’s knowledge of fundamental pet care. You do not want to leave your pet to someone who does not know a thing or two about the basic care of pets.
A pet sitter needs to know how to feed your pets the correct way. The health of animals is contingent on having the right amounts of nutrients that their bodies need. One cannot scoop a pet food and place in the food bowl without knowing the correct measurement. A pet sitter should also be knowledgeable about the different activities that a particular pet has every day.
For example, dogs need to walk outdoors at least twice a day. Cats require ample interactive playtime at least 30 minutes every day. These things are already natural to you but they may not for the pet sitter. If the animal requires some medications, the pet sitter should also know how to administer these medications. If something goes wrong, he or she should also know what to do.
The point is that a pet sitter is not an individual who will only watch your pets whenever you are not around. He or she must be able to take on the role of a pet parent, albeit on a temporary basis. Having said that, it is a must that you conduct a very comprehensive interview of the prospective pet sitter. It is your right to choose only the best. Professional pet sitters understand this. And if the individual takes offense in your in-depth interview, then it only goes to show that he or she is not what you are looking for.
Be ready to ask hypothetical questions. Present them with a problem to determine how they would react or manage the issue. Ask about any difficulties they have had in the past related to their care of the pets of other individuals. Also ask them how they managed those difficulties and what the experience has taught them.
After the interview, you should be able to gain a better understanding of the pet sitter’s knowledge and skills related to caring for pets.
Ask the Pet Sitter for Letters of Recommendation
Most pet owners will want a pet sitter who already has the necessary experience required of the job. It would matter a lot if the pet sitter you hire is someone who has worked with the same type and breed of pet that you have. This helps guarantee that they are more than capable of handling many of the issues that are inherent in a certain type and breed of pet.
If the pet sitter already has the experience, then you should always ask for letters of recommendation. This will give you a clue to the trustworthiness of the individual. If she is the one who say she is, then she will never hesitate to provide you with recommendation letters. These must come from the different pet parents that the pet sitter has served in the past. It would be ideal if you also know the pet parents whom the sitter has served. This way, you can always have a chat with them and verify the information you obtained from the prospect.
You should never entertain a pet sitter who will not give you a letter of recommendation from past clients. It is a red flag. Some will say that they are only protecting the privacy of their clients. While this may be true, a professional pet sitter will always ask his or her clients if he or she can recommend the sitter’s services to others. It is one of the ways pet sitters can expand their business. There will always be pet owners who will not want to give a letter of recommendation, but most will.
It is quite impossible that none of the pet sitter’s previous client will want to issue a simple note of recommendation. This is unless they do not find the pet sitter’s services to be satisfactory. Pet parents who are delighted with the pet sitting service will more than be happy to recommend the pet sitter to others.
As such, if the pet sitter refuses to give you a letter of recommendation, then you can interview the next pet sitter in line.
Perform a More Thorough Background Check
In most cases, interviewing and asking for letters of recommendation are not enough to make an intelligent decision. The process of interviewing always prepares individuals applying for a job. They can prepare for any question that you might have for them. Potential pet sitters can also brush up on their knowledge of pet care prior to the interview. As such, when you do ask them questions, they can provide you with textbook answers.
The same is true with letters of recommendation. It is quite easy to fabricate a document, especially if you do not recognize the individual giving the recommendation. For all you know, the pet sitter had one of his or her friends to write the letter. There are many ifs and buts if you only rely on these two methods of screening a potential pet sitter. You have to do more.
All employers today use a very thorough background check. Consider yourself an employer since you will be getting the services of someone else to look after the welfare of your pet while you’re away. You are also going to pay this person for his or her services rendered. It is only fitting and proper that you find out everything you can about the individual who will stand up as a temporary parent for your pets.
You do not need a private investigator for this purpose. Ask for the resume of your prospective pet sitters. Make sure that they have social media accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or any of the other popular social media platforms. You do not need to be friends with them. It is always possible to look into the social media account of these individuals.
Doing this will give you an idea of what kind of person the pet sitter is. Professional pet sitters will often have a social media account dedicated to their services. If they do, make sure to read the comments and posts on their walls. This gives you an insight into how well the pet sitter responds to queries or how other people rate his or her services.
If there is no dedicated social media account for the pet sitting services, then the person should have a personal account. Look at how the person interacts with others. Does he or she always talk about his or her passion about animals? Or is the person more of the happy-go-lucky type? Would you feel comfortable leaving your pet in the hands of this person?
Make Sure that the Pet Sitter Has a Working Mobile Phone
Whenever you are away, you should still make it a point to communicate with the pet sitter. While you can always call your residential phone, the individual might be outside with your pets. As such, it is important to make sure that the prospective pet sitter has a working mobile phone or a smartphone.
Smartphones are better than conventional phones as these have video calling capabilities. You can call your pet sitter at home and ask him or her to get your pets for you. You can then talk to your little friends. If your house has wireless internet, then the pet sitter does not need to worry about incurring airtime charges for the video call. He or she can connect to your wireless internet so you can conduct a video call with them.
Before you do this, however, make sure that the pet sitter has a valid and working mobile phone. It should be the same number as the one that the individual posted on his or her social media account. It should also be the same number as the one in his or her resume.
You can also check the working condition of the phone. In the final stages of the selection process, let the applicant go outside the house. Call the pet sitter in the number that he or she gave you. Start a conversation and make sure that you both can hear each other. The line should also be clear. If it is not, you can only imagine the worse if you are already away.
Do Not Assume that the Pet Sitter Knows Everything
Be very thorough in your data gathering. The interview should be as exhaustive as possible. Do not stick to common questions that the pet sitter may be ready to answer. Throw him or her off-balance by giving a hypothetical scenario. Do not be afraid to ask follow-up questions or to make the pet sitter elaborate on his or her answers. Do not assume that the pet sitter will already know everything there is about pet care. This is an ordinary person who doesn’t hold a veterinary degree.
Be thorough in your questions. If there are gray areas, do not hesitate to ask for clarifications. Always check if you are talking about the same thing. For example, both of you may know what positive reinforcement is. But the pet sitter may have a very different understanding of how this principle gets applied during training.
The same is true in the giving of treats. We always know that the 10 percent rule applies. However, does the pet sitter know how to make the necessary adjustments in the pet’s main meal? Most pet parents consider these small details as inconsequential but they do matter. Everything relates to the welfare of your pet.
As such, it is best to come up with a list of the things you want to find out in the pet sitter. It can be as simple as how to operate an automatic dog ball launcher or a more complicated task, such as cleaning the house of a pet hamster. Do not assume that the pet sitter already knows what he or she is doing. Be very thorough in your interview.
Do Not Hire a Pet Sitter Who Lives Out of Town
As much as possible, hire a pet sitter who lives in the same community as you. In most cases, many pet sitters live within the same neighborhood where their clients also live. This way, it is much easier to build trust and confidence in the person. It is also a lot easier to find out more about this person since almost everyone in the neighborhood knows the pet sitter.
Pet parents in the neighborhood may have also hired pet sitting services in the past. This makes it easy for you to learn more about their experiences. They can tell you how good the pet sitter is or how mediocre his or her services are. They can also tell you a thing or two about the pet sitter that you won’t get from interviews, letters of recommendation, and background checking. All these can help you form a better assessment of the person’s suitability as a pet sitter.
Hiring a pet sitter can be a daunting task for some pet parents. The important thing to remember is to always look at yourself as an employer. Hence, you want to hire only the best individual who can become a temporary parent for your beloved pets.
- Does Leaving Your Pet When You Travel Give You the Jitters? – Mercola Healthy Pets
- 5 Signs of a Bad Pet Sitter – PetMD