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Eight Imperatives to Prepare for a Pet Sitter

by Kathleen Huffman


How to effectively prepare your pet and your home when using a professional pet caregiver

Your vacation is scheduled and you prefer to have your pet stay at home while you are away. In choosing the perfect sitter, you should of course do an interview, check references, and make sure the sitter has a business license, is bonded and insured, and LOVES pets. But there are some additional steps you should also take to help ensure your pet will receive the best care possible:

    Schedule - Most pet sitters book appointments far in advance. Make reservations as early as possible to guarantee a spot for your pet’s care. If your schedule changes, alert your pet sitter so additional care can be scheduled if necessary.

    Pre-visit introduction - Make sure your pet has had an opportunity to meet the sitter before your vacation. Give your sitter your pet schedule and feeding and medication instructions. If possible, have the sitter take your dog for a walk so that your pet and sitter get accustomed to each other, or the sitter bonds for a few minutes with your cat or other pets.

    Pet care information and supplies - Don’t make your sitter search for pet care items. Place everything your sitter will need in one specific place. This includes food and treats (including a can opener, utensil to mix/chop food, and scoop for measuring dry fare), extra food and consumable supplies just in case, medications (with clearly written instructions), leash and collar/harness, paper towels and cleaning supplies, broom/dust pan or vacuum cleaner, plastic bags for waste disposal, litter and scooper, and potty pads if necessary. Clearly write out and review with your pet sitter any special instructions you want them to perform.

    Thermostat - Your pet will be in your locked, sealed home. Make sure the thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature for your pet. Leave instructions on how to adjust the temperature range for your thermostat in case of a power outage.

    Pet proof your home - Pets can be more inquisitive and bored when they are left alone and can get into mischief. Put toilet lids down, close cupboards and closets, and store medications, perfumes, small loose objects, and household cleansers away and out of your pet’s reach.

    Alarms, off-limit areas, home access - Are there areas where your pet is not allowed? Make sure you close off the rooms and let the sitter know that those areas are to be kept off limits. Close and lock windows and doors, including garage and patio doors before you leave. Use timers to control indoor lights so your pet’s day/night schedule is similar to when you are at home. Check to make sure gates and fences are closed and locked.

    Visitor list - If you live in an apartment or gated community, advise and authorize security that your pet sitter will be visiting and, if appropriate, let your neighbors know too. Also let the sitter know if you plan to have friends, family, or someone else also checking on your house and pets in your absence. To avoid confusion, clearly explain what the pet sitter is responsible for and what the other visitors will be doing. Also let the sitter know about gardeners, or pool or house maintenance providers who might be on the premises in your absence.

    In case of emergency - Your pet sitter should have the information about where to take your pet in case of a health emergency. You should also notify your veterinarian in writing that a sitter will be watching your pet and authorize the veterinarian to provide medical care during your absence if necessary. If there is a natural disaster and your sitter needs to remove your pet from your premises, have a pet emergency kit available and a pet carrier too. You should also communicate with your sitter if you would like to get updates about your pet via text, email, or phone.

Preparation is the key to make sure your pet sitter has all of the information needed to properly care for your pet while you are away. If they don’t have to search around for your pet supplies and instructions, they will have more time to spend giving love and attention to your pet.

Kathleen Huffman is a franchise owner with Fetch! Pet Care—the nation’s largest and most trusted franchisor for professional pet sitting, dog walking, and pet fitness/exercise services—serving thousands of pets and pet parents throughout the United States from coast to coast. Learn more online at www.FetchPetCare.com.  


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