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Hiring a Pet Sitter for Your Dog

Finding someone reliable who is willing to stay with your dog or drop in on him several times during the day while you're away can be a better alternative than boarding your dog in a kennel. He'll get to stay home with familiar smells and sounds. He'll have access to all his favorite toys and bedding. He won't be exposed to kennel cough or fleas. Plus, he may get some extra attention — and treats — from one of his favorite humans!

Your neighbor or friend makes an excellent dog sitter during short trips, but if you're going to be away for an extended period, you can hire a professional dog sitter to care for your pet. They typically charge between $10 and $30 per day, depending on the services they provide and how many pets you have.

Ask your veterinarian or fellow dog club members for pet sitter recommendations. Often, word of mouth is a good reference. You can also visit the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International to search for a pet sitter in your area.

When you have a list of potential dog sitters, schedule an appointment with each one to visit your home and meet your pet. You'll know right away if you — and your dog — like her! A good dog sitter will develop a rapport with your dog right away.

Use this list of questions to interview potential dog sitters.

  • Do you belong to a professional pet-sitting organization, such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters? Your candidate doesn't necessarily have to belong, but members of groups like these have met basic handling standards set by the organization.
  • Do you have references? Confident pet sitters will happily provide you a list of satisfied clients. Call the references and ask if they would hire the pet sitter again.
  • Are you insured and bonded? Ask to see proof of commercial liability insurance and ask exactly what coverage it provides.
  • How long have you been working as a pet sitter? Have you ever dog-sat for a breed like yours? A top candidate should have some experience caring for breeds similar to or the same as your dog — or at least for dogs of similar size.
  • What experience do you have with medical care? Do you know canine CPR? First aid? If your dog has an emergency, this person should be able to provide or obtain emergency care and treatment.
  • When will you come to my home? How long will you stay? Your candidate should come at least twice a day to feed and check on your dog. She should also spend some time with him playing fetch, taking a walk, or just hanging out and watching television.

When you find a quality pet sitter, hold on to her! Notify her well in advance of trips so she can block off the time. Invite her to your home while you're there so she can bond with your dog before you leave. She will be caring for your baby during your trip, so prepare everything she'll need to make her job easy — and fun!

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