Australia, October 2012
Pet sitters offer a valuable service, especially for pet owners who don’t want to put their beloved animals into a kennel or cattery. But choosing a sitter can seem like quite a complicated choice: how do you decide on the person you’re going to entrust with your pet’s wellbeing? This guide covers a few of the essentials in helping you find the right person for your pet sitting assignment.
Create a Clear and Well-Defined Job Description
When it comes to finding the right pet sitter, the burden and responsibility in many cases falls to you: the pet owner. Your job is to come up with a list of the exact responsibilities the sitter will have for the duration of the assignment, and to be as detailed as possible in how you would like these carried out.
- Some common responsibilities include feeding, dog walking, grooming and cleaning out litter trays or cleaning up dog poop.
- Be specific in your description: for example, mention how many times you would like the pet fed each day, any diets they are on, and if they need any medication, what that his and how often they will need to give it.
- If the pet has any personality traits, quirks or medical history that’s worth mentioning, be sure to do so. It may feel like you’re overloading your sitter with information, but the reality is, the more information the better.
Set Up an Interview
Once you feel you have narrowed your selection down to a few promising candidates, set up an interview. This doesn’t necessarily need to be face-to-face, over the telephone or Skype is fine as well. Here you’re just looking to get a feel for the person and to see if they’re right for the job.
Ask them about their Experience
Having experience is one thing. Having relevant experience is completely different. All pets are different and at the very least your pet sitter should be used to looking after dogs or cats of a similar size, breed and mentality. Having experience with Lhasa Apsos, although helpful in the wider scheme of things, isn’t going to be very useful when looking after a German Shepherd.
Your applicant sitter should be able to produce a CV of recent pet sitting jobs; complete with a list of responsibilities that these entailed. Try to match off the responsibilities they have completed in the past with the ones you have on your job description to see how well-suited they are.
Ask for Background Checks
Most pet sitters will have background checks, which are usually carried out through the police or via a reputable and verifiable firm. A background check simply checks for criminal convictions, but seeing as you will be giving this person access to your home and life, it’s important to make sure you’re certain that they’re trustworthy.
Once you’re happy with your choice of sitter, the next step is to book them in as fast as possible before someone else does. After that it’s recommended that you invite them over to meet the pet and potentially stay over the day before you leave: this will allow them to ask any last-minute questions they have and most importantly for the pet to get to know them when you’re there.
James writes for Trusted Housesitters Australia, which connects Australian pet owners with sitters who are willing to look after their pets, in many cases for free.