Whether we’re planning a vacation or working long hours or are attending a special event, thinking about leaving our dogs behind really can be stressful. And then thinking about who to get to take care of them can be even more stressful! Do you trust your friend from work who says they love dogs? Do you really want to ask your cousin/brother/niece? We’ve got some tips to help you pick a great dog sitter.

Pet sitting is great for dogs that are more comfortable staying in their own home while you’re away. Some dogs are fine with going to a kennel for a few days. This is one of those “know your own dog” things. What’s their personality? How will they handle each of those situations?

When looking for an in home sitter, it’s often the case that people know someone who is doing dog sitting as a side gig. This is tricky. You might prefer to give your business to a small, hard working entrepreneur, but there are some key things to consider. And these considerations apply even if you’re going with a larger pet sitting company.

Here’s a national pet sitting organization that has a good search tool to get you started.

tips to pick a great dog sitter

Key questions for any dog sitter

  • are they insured and bonded?
  • do they have at least three professional references that they can provide to you?
  • are they trained in Pet CPR and first aid?
  • do they have an agreement or contract, which includes terms of payment, cancellation and bad weather policies, a veterinarian release form, and an emergency contact form?

Before hiring your dog sitter

They should be willing to come to your home for an in-house interview and consultation. And if this is a larger pet sitting company, make sure you’re meeting with the person who will actually be your dog sitter and not just some manager/scheduler.

This is your opportunity to see how your dog interacts with and responds to this person. That’s number one. You can observe their meeting and some play and see how the sitter responds to any challenges.

It’s also, of course, your chance to fill your sitter in on the routines and structures of your dog’s days. And they better be taking notes!

Again, make sure to get references that pertain to your particular sitter and not just the company.

If you have time, you could also consider hiring this sitter for a day or part of a day to see how things go with your dog. Have them spend some time playing, taking a walk, doing their feeding, etc.

What to expect from the sitter

This should be all settled up front, of course, and written out explicitly in your contract or agreement.

Make sure, especially, to be clear about time. How much time will they spend with your dog each during each visit at the house? And how many times per day do you need them to show up?

How often do you expect updates from your sitter and how much information do you need? Do you need regular photos? Video? What are they willing to do?

A good sitter will also keep a log. They will date and time their visits and make notes about what they did or anything unusual that occurred.

Other considerations

If you have an older dog or a dog with special needs, such as a dog needing daily medications, there are pet sitters out there with vet assistant training. Look for someone like that. And of course, ask for proof of their training.

(And if you’re looking for a new pup, here are our Sundance Retrievers planned litters for this year and into next.)