Brandon and I are currently in the midst of planning our 2019 travel experiences and we plan on hiring a dog sitter for a couple of our trips this year. We normally take our dogs with us whenever we travel but we agreed that despite how much we love them we need a trip or two that gives us solo time so we can enjoy the destination without worrying about scheduling in time for dog walks, dog meal times, and other pet care obligations. Hiring a dog sitter so we can enjoy a solo vacation and they can still be well cared for and spoiled just makes sense for us this year.
There is a lot to consider when you start thinking about hiring a dog sitter to watch your pets while you travel. You need to consider things like…
- Do you board the dogs in a kennel or hire a dog sitter?
- If you hire a dog sitter, do you hire through a network or hire a private sitter?
- Do you take your dog(s) to their place or do they stay in your home?
- What are the rules surrounding walks, activities, and trips to the dog park?
Not to mention the anxiety and worry of leaving your dog(s) with someone while you’re hours and hours away. I can readily admit that as a dog mom, leaving my pups with someone else while I’m traveling causes me a lot of anxiety and worry. It’s the #1 reason we usually take our dogs with us. Well, that plus the fact that Wilkins isn’t exactly the most sociable little dog and it takes him a good long while to get used to someone else being around.
If you’re thinking about hiring a dog sitter to take care of your pets while you’re traveling, I highly recommend that you consider the following before making your final decision:
- Start looking early because quality experienced sitters book fast
- Find someone with experience with your type of dog
- Consider the environment where your dog will be staying
- Create and sign a contract for care and liability
- Make sure your dog sitter has
- Develop an emergency plan and discuss it together
- Review special needs, allergies, and other pet requirements
7 Tips for Hiring a Dog Sitter
…because you don’t want to leave your dog with an inexperienced caretaker!
Start looking early
If you plan on hiring a dog sitter, you should also plan on starting your search early enough to set up a meet-and-greet with the dogs and reserve your dates. This especially applies if you’re going to be hitting the road during the summer, over the holidays, or during other popular travel times. I’ve known some dog sitters to book 3 months in advance!
Before you leave for your trip (like…at least a week or two in advance) schedule time for you, the dog sitter, and your dog(s) to casually get together. The more familiar your dog is with the dog sitter, the easier it’ll be for them while you’re gone. I like to try to meet up at least 2 or 3 times but that may not be possible for everyone depending on schedules. At the very least, get together once so the dog sitter isn’t a total stranger.
Look for experience with your type of dog
Before hiring a dog sitter to watch your dogs, make sure you find out about their past experience with your specific breed / size. Our dogs are small and small-breed dogs are prone to health problems and injuries that larger dogs typically aren’t. Dog breeds vary wildly when it comes to things like aggression, tendency to escape, independence, and potential for injury so it’s important to find a dog sitter that is familiar with your specific type of dog whenever possible. You may even find someone that specializes in your breed! That would be an ideal fit for everyone.
Consider the environment
It’s easy to think that your dog(s) would be happiest staying in their own home while you’re away but that may not necessarily be the case. Some dogs (like my Wilkins) are territorial and tend to be overly protective of their space. Inviting a dog sitter into your home (and into your dog’s personal space) may actually make the entire experience worse especially if they aren’t used to having people over frequently.
If your dog is protective of your home or if you don’t regularly have guests, consult with your vet before hiring a dog sitter. You may find that your dog would be more comfortable visiting someone else’s home while you’re away.
Create and sign a contract
A contract is handy for both you and your dog sitter when you’re out on the road and they are staying home with your dogs. Having a contract lets you both clearly define your expectations and requirements during the time you’ll be away.
You can address your expectations for the number of daily dog walks, keeping the dog on a leash at all times, and whether or not the dog is allowed to go anywhere like a dog park or downtown. The dog sitter can identify the limits of their liability, expected compensation, and their rights when it comes to approving emergency care for your pet. Pet Sitters Internationally did a great job of clearly explaining what should be in your pet sitter contract if you need more information although I’d recommend you contact a local lawyer that deals with contracts and put something simple together.
Leave all necessary info for your dog sitter
In case of emergency, does your dog sitter know how to contact your vet and your emergency vet? Are they familiar with your dog’s diet and any special needs? What about their microchip number or county license number? This is information your dog sitter should have before you leave town just in case something happens while you’re away and they need to get your dog medical care.
To make it easy for you to ensure that your dog sitter has all of the necessary information (including your home address, dog gender/age/weight, and more) I’ve created this free printable dog sitter information sheet for you. No sign up required, just click and print.
Develop an emergency plan
On the pet sitter info sheet above, make sure you leave your dog sitter all of the pertinent information for your regular vet as well as your emergency vet. If anything were to happen while you are away, your dog sitter should know who to contact to get your dog the care it needs.
Additionally, you and your dog sitter should clearly define what is acceptable care, how much they are allowed to
Review special needs and requirements
We are really fortunate when we are hiring a dog sitter because neither of our dogs have any special needs. I mean, other than Wilkins severe anxiety but that’s nothing compared to a dog that requires insulin or other medications or a dog that is physically restricted in some way. If your dog has any special needs at all, even if it seems minor, make sure you make a note of it on our pet sitter information sheet (above) so they are fully aware of everything they need to do to take good care of your pupper.
Other than that, try to relax and enjoy your trip! You deserve it and the pup will be ok.