With so many Dog Walking & Pet Care Services around, how do you know who to use? Who is going to care for your pet to the high standard that you expect and what should you be looking for in your pet care provider?
Here are our top 5 tips:
#1 Choose a Level of Service
Pet sitting is as varied as your needs may be so start your search early. Good pet carers get booked up usually way before the holiday season starts. Decide what you require. Some services offered may include grooming along with live-in care, while others may offer play time, outdoor exercise, and training. Some may also combine their services with nutritional regimens such as weight loss or elderly pets. Once you and your pet have determined which is the best level of care, a bit of research (website, social media, reviews etc) will have you finding the best fit for your pet care needs in no time!
There are a lot of online resources you can use depending on the type of pet you have including Facebook, directories such as Findpetboarding, Tailster, The Good Vet & Pet Guide or DogBuddy. Don't discount new style boarding services. Pet Sitting & Pet Boarding has moved on, there are many new services out there. Such as Animals at Home, House of Mutts or PetStay
Other ways to find the right pet sitter for your pet is by word of mouth, ask your local vets or recommendations from friends or colleges are good. Also have a look for a local pet sitter through their individual websites which you can find on Google. Some might be well established and already answer all your questions you might have.
#2 Let Your Pet Give Them a Try-out
Make sure you and your pet meet the person that is going to take care of them while you can't. Ensure the carer has sufficient time to understand your expectations, routine and get to spend time with your pet so that your pet knows who they are and recognise them when they start looking after them.
Look for signs of a good pet sitter. They usually have liability insurance, some sort of formal training, an established website and/or social media site with lots of reviews and feedback. Trustpilot could also be a portal to check reviews. Dog Boarding, Home Boarding, Catteries & Kennels now all need to be issued with a license by the local councils in the UK. So make sure you also get a copy of that before deciding who to choose.
They also should be asking questions about your pet and interact with them in a professional manner. And make sure you treat your first meeting like an interview. You have every right to ask the potential new carer of your pet all the questions you need answering.
It may take some time your the new pet carer and your pet to trust each other, but after about 3-4 meetings, this should easy. If you still feel some tension, ask the pet carer why that might be and review whether you have made the correct choice.
#3 Read the Small Print
For most of the pet caring services such as house sitting and services you will more than likely be required to sign a contract or agreement. Make sure you are honest about your pet(s) conditions to ensure the pet carer does not have any unforeseen surprises when you are away. But also make sure you understand what you are signing.
With house sitting you will be passing the keys to your house to a stranger and essentially granting access. So make sure you know who will be in your property ad looking after your pet(s).
#4 Help your Pet Carer succeed
You also play an important role in how well your pet is cared for while you are away, in the form of educating your pet carer about your pet’s needs and routine.
Provide clear and detailed instructions regarding feeding, medications, emergency contact information (including your veterinarian's contact information and the closest 24-hour emergency vet) and other important information.
You should also leave out a schedule of your dog’s routine (times of meals, playtime, walking and bedtime). Pet supplies should be left in one easy-to-access location and purchase more than enough to last for the duration of your trip (in addition to food and treats, other supplies you should leave handy include extra litter if your pet is a cat, brushes, toys, a leash and a carrier.
You may also want to leave cleaning supplies handy in case of accidents.
Be sure to also show your pet sitter how to use your home's security system, circuit breaker and any other important features.
#5 Price isn't everything but it is important
The most important aspect is that you trust the person you choose to look after your pet, irrelevant of price. In my experience you can get anyone from doing it for free to luxury service providers. And usually the price you pay equals the service and professionalism you get.
But it ultimately comes back to your individual requirements and budget as to who is right for you.