Tips for Finding a Pet Sitter
Many people travel in RVs specifically because it's easier to take their pets along, but there are some times when you may not be able to include the furry members of your family in your plans. If you want to spend the day at a museum or amusement park, join a tour group to see area attractions or hike at many of our national parks, you may find your dog isn't allowed.
Doggy daycare is one alternative, or you can ask friends or family stay with your pets - but when those options aren't available, finding a local pet sitter is an easy solution. Here are some simple suggestions for getting the best match for you and your family:
Locating a Pet Sitter
The staff at your campground or RV park may be able to provide information for local pet sitters, or you can reach out to friends in the area. If you're not having any luck there, try the websites of the national pet sitting associations: National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International. They maintain databases of their members, which you can search by location to find a good fit to meet your needs.
Before choosing a sitter, get a couple of referrals. If the suggestion came from a friend or the RV park staff, ask their impression of the pet sitter. You may also be able to find reviews on Google or Yelp!
Expect A Lot of Questions
A professional sitter will ask you a lot of questions -- and that's a good thing. Their inquiries will indicate their experience in caring for your pet's breed or species. Depending on how many hours you'll be away, you should expect questions about your pet's medications, routine, behavior, and temperament. When it comes time for you to ask questions, have a pen and paper handy to take notes and be sure to ask the following:
- How much experience does the sitter have?
- What training have they received?
- What services does the sitter provide? (Walking, feeding, playtime, administering medicine.)
- Does the sitter or agency keep regular hours? Are they willing to stay past these hours if scheduled in advance of if you're unexpectedly detained?
- How much notice is needed to schedule the sitter's services?
- What are their fees?
- Is there a contingency plan in case the sitter has an emergency and can't care for your pet as scheduled?
- What types of payment do they accept and when is a payment made?
- Are they bonded and insured?
Finally, ask the sitter to e-mail their contract to you and review it carefully. It should clearly define what to expect from the sitter, including a list of rates for all services to be provided.
Ask for Client References
Ask for references and be sure to follow up. This will help you get a better idea of what you can truly expect from the sitter. It's important that you feel comfortable leaving your pets in this person's care, and speaking to someone who has used their services can provide valuable insights.
Trust Your Gut
If something doesn't feel right, keep looking. You'll find a good fit, and when you do make the arrangements for your pet's care as soon as possible.
Preparing for the Sitter
Be prepared with detailed instructions and go over them with the sitter before you leave. Point out your pet's food, favorite toys, and any medications to be given. Also, let the sitter know how often and how far your pet likes to walk if they'll be going on any outings together. Finally, provide the sitter with your cell phone number in case of emergency.
It takes a bit of effort, but the rewards of finding a good pet sitter are worth it -- for both you and your pet! You get a day of guilt-free enjoyment knowing your pet it is good hands. And your pet makes a new friend ... and maybe a little spoiled while you're gone.
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