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Guide to choosing a pet sitter

Choosing a sitter for your beloved pet can be a daunting task—travel is often unavoidable, and our sweet babies can’t always tag along. Fear not, because it is possible to secure a loving individual to care for your dog while away. Be thorough, use reliable connections and consider all scenarios before finalizing your decision. Because let’s face it, dogs can be like children to many, and we’ve got to take this business seriously.

Start with Friends

There’s no greater comfort than knowing a close friend or family member is the one staying in your home, or welcoming your pet into theirs. Finding someone you know immediately eliminates the fear factor of correctly interrogating a stranger.

Keep in mind, you should fairly compensate. Maybe it’s as simple as returning the favor, or leaving the fridge stocked with great snacks—regardless, a little courtesy goes a long way and can lock in a reliable pet sitter for life! Indeed.com notes that the average pay for a sitter is $10.99 an hour, and there are other sources that can help determine a fair rate.

Ask for Referrals

No besties or family members on hand? A solid referral is the next best thing. Ask your vet for reputable candidates, or rely on friends and family for suggestions or connections to pet sitters they’ve used in the past. There are sites like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters that can help, if you’re still unable to find someone.

Do an Interview

An official interview may help weed out those who aren’t truly interested in investing themselves in the process. Have your questions ready—consider asking the following:

  • What’s your experience and what types of dogs have you worked with?
  • Do you have any training that may particularly qualify you?
  • How much time do you have to devote to my dog alone? (This is realistic because a sitter could have multiple clients, rely on a secondary occupation or may be in school.)

Another important part of the process should be an introduction between the candidate and your pup, because if they don’t mesh, it won’t work. Tip: You can find other interview suggestions on Care.com.

Here or There?

Your dog will likely be most comfortable at home, and there are perks and downsides to having someone stay at your place. If you don’t know them well, this could be a source of worry. So some dog owners will arrange a visit to the potential sitter’s home, and good candidates won’t mind this—if they are okay with basing things at their place.

Either can be a good choice, just do the proper investigation. Also, ask if other animals will be cared for at the same location, and if they require proper paperwork and medical info on each one. This will be vital in deciding if this is the right choice for your baby.

High-End Boarding

Pet boarding has gotten pretty swanky these days, with Wagsworth Manor in Pennsylvania being a prime example. Pups get their own suite, top of the line food, multi point wellness checks, outdoor roaming time on premium K-9 Grass and an extensive amount of relief breaks every day. If you are lucky enough to have a facility like this in the area, it’s certainly worth looking into.

Checklist for Finding a Pet Sitter

You may know the basics of picking a sitter, but let’s break it down into a checklist, to simplify. Here are a few additional things to consider:

  • Go with who you know, if possible
  • Ask a trusted individual to refer candidates
  • Plan out your interview
  • Let your dog get to know interviewees
  • Check out their home if applicable
  • Explore luxury boarding facilities
  • Take your pup for a checkup before leaving them with a sitter
  • Type up clear instructions if there are particular things your dog needs
  • Be sure expectations are clear (Some expect baths, playtime, walks or special food preparations)
  • Make sure the sitter is comfortable with what you expect

Don’t fret, it’s all fairly clear-cut. Taking the proper precautions will help you find a loving, perfect pet sitter.

Editor’s Note: Finding a trustworthy sitter in the city for your pup doesn’t have to be a challenge. We offer tips and resources for finding the best urban pet sitter.


Karyn Wofford is a “Mom” to her fluffy, sweet dog Halli. She spends much of her time traveling and advocating for Type 1 diabetes—and Halli sometimes accompanies her on her adventures. You’ll find Karyn’s work on sites like Mother Earth Living, and in magazines such as Diabetes Forecast.

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