How to find a pet sitter

So, You Need A Pet Sitter (Part 3) What To Expect

As I jotted down some bullet points for this post, I had a good bit of difficulty narrowing it down. This topic is so very important that I could really talk about it all day, but I also really want you to be able to read it in less than a day, so…

I decided that the best way to approach it was to take a good hard look at what I want for my dogs, my buddies, my furbabies, Cody and Lukey, when I’m not around. This is exactly what I did when my husband and I had the crazy idea to give up our corporate jobs to start Whoa Doggy! and do work that we are passionate about.

So here I am again, with Cody snoring loudly at my feet, and Lukey “running” in his sleep in his big cozy bed. Neither of them have a care in the world, and it’s up to me to keep it that way. That is the best part about being a pet, isn’t it? That’s what it all boils down to. When I’m not home, I want the peace of mind in knowing that their lives are still stress-free and fun, and that the people caring for them truly love them, and love what they do. In fact, I feel I deserve that peace of mind, and you do too.

If you are just joining us on the blog, you might want to check out the last two posts in this series. In part one of the series, we talked about how important it is to find the best professional pet sitter for you and your furbabies, and in part two we talked about what to consider when you are searching for “The One”. Today, I’m going to talk about what to expect from your professional pet sitter, so you can rest easy when you aren’t home.

Connection, with your furbabies, and you!
It doesn’t take long to know whether you and your furry family have a real connection with your professional pet sitter. This one kind of goes without saying, but it’s definitely important.

How your professional pet sitter interacts with you is just as important as how they interact with your pet, and you can certainly tell a lot from this interaction. You should expect them to truly love your pet, and you should expect nothing less than a real professional.

Don’t forget, they are going to be inside your home while you aren’t. They are the people your neighbors will say hello to when they pass by. They will be the ones handling emergencies, should they arise (more on that later). Their professionalism will set the tone for everything they do. 

IMG_0007.jpg

Communication.
No news is good news, right? Not always. And who only wants to be updated when something bad has happened? Not me! I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough pics of my furbabies. Even if they are just sleeping in a cute position, or just came back from a fun walk. I love hearing about how fun and cute they are, and it will never get old. It should never get old for your pet sitter either.

Your pet sitter should fill you in on how things are going at least once every day they are with your pet. You should be able to request more (or less) communication if you want, but they should certainly adhere to the communication plan you agree on. And if you want to check in, you shouldn’t be made to feel like you are nagging or bothering your pet sitter.

Ease and Reliability of Scheduling.
Are you taking your pet sitter’s word that your visits are on their schedule? Are you confident that they’re scheduled the way you want them (times of visits, feedings, medications)? Do you have to look back at texts and emails to see visit requests or changes to the schedule? What about sticky notes? Surely they’ll see the sticky note you leave on the counter, right?

That’s scary. Especially if you consider how many other clients your pet sitter has leaving sticky notes, texts, emails, adding visits, cancelling visits, adding feedings...that’s a lot to manage for one person. All it takes is one missed text or sticky note and your puppy goes the whole evening without his dinner visit. Yikes.

Your professional pet sitter should have a smooth, reliable, secure system for important notes on your pet and home, and for scheduling purposes. You should be able to see your schedule at any time, without having to wonder if your visits are written down correctly in a notebook, or their [unsecure] Google calendar. You should be able to know that your visit requests have been received, even if it’s midnight.

You should also be able to update important information for your pet (oh yeah, Cody now insists on eating ½ can of wet food mixed in with his usual dry), and be confident that your professional sitter will see the updates when they are with your pet.

Scheduling is the most basic part of a pet sitter's job, and yet the majority of horror stories we hear when we meet new clients for the first time stem from their previous pet sitter not showing up on time, or sometimes, not showing up at all. Wondering and worrying about your pet sitting schedule is the last thing you need. Be sure you are comfortable with the system your prospective professional pet sitter uses.

Experience and Preparedness.
Professional Pet Sitters run into all types of situations and emergencies on a regular basis. They should have an understanding of pet safety, equipment, and proper fit (leashes, harnesses, pet gates, crates), but being prepared goes way beyond basic pet safety. Their experience as a professional pet sitter allows them to create policies and procedures to protect you, your pet, and your home in the event of an emergency, or if there is a special, unusual circumstance that requires attention. They should be prepared with a system for knowing who to call and what to do, especially if they are unable to reach you. You should be able to ask them about their emergency plan in advance, and have a good understanding of how an emergency would be handled, should one arise. Because they do. Remember “Snowpacalypse 2014”? We do too. 


What happens if your pet sitter has an emergency (we are all human, right?), or if there is an emergency with a pet at one of your sitter's previous appointments? Be sure that they have a suitable backup plan that you can count on, so that Barkley doesn’t have to hold it in for an extra few hours (or longer!) as a result. Will they send a professional in their place? A friend? A relative? How will this new person know exactly what to do when they arrive? What kind of experience do they have, and can you really trust them with your alarm code and house key? Trust me, you want to know detailed answers to these questions and be very comfortable with them.

Reliability and Consistency.
What good is a Professional Pet Sitter that you can’t rely on? What about consistency? Will Bailey really know if the routine is a little different? You bet! Have you ever tried not giving Bailey a treat after her night time walk, when you usually do? You should be able to count on your Professional Pet Sitter to be there within the timeframe they are scheduled to arrive. Bailey should be able to count on her sitter to know exactly what to do when they are with her. She should still expect that night time treat, or morning belly rub that she is accustomed to.

 

IMG_6766.jpg

You should expect all of this. Every time.

Whew! That’s a lot to take in! Finding the best professional pet sitter for you sounds like a lot of work, but it’s so very important and totally worth it. In our next post, we are going to give you some ideas on how to find “The One”, so you can rest easy. Ahhh.

Wags & Hugs,
Whoa Doggy! 

 

 

So, You Need A Pet Sitter (Part 2) - What To Consider

Finding the right pet sitter is serious business. In last week's post, we talked about the guilt and anxiety that come along with not having a professional pet sitting service on your side (not to mention the risk). We understand. We've been there. Our clients have been there. We want to help.

Finding the perfect pet sitter or dog walker seems overwhelming. Especially since you don't look at your pet as a pet. You actually kind of hate the word, "pet" a little, because it doesn't seem to have enough meaning. "Love of my life", "partner in crime", "workout buddy", "therapist", "best bud", and even, "bestie" would be more appropriate.

So, where do you start? You're busy. It's not like you have the time to interview every professional pet sitter in town! That's the whole reason you need a pet sitter in the first place, right?

It goes without saying that the right professional pet sitter will have an amazing connection with you and your furbabies, but that's not all they need to have. We've put together a little list of other important things to consider. This will give you a good place to start.

Your schedule. How busy are you? How often will you need your pet sitter? Will you need them sporadically, or have you daydreamed about clearing out your spare bedroom to move them in? Do you need someone that can be available in short notice? Same day? Getting clear on this is the first step in finding the right professional pet sitter for you.

If you need someone all of the time, and they are only available some of the time, it will never work. You'll find yourself back at square one, scrambling for help, every time you need them. Stress City, no thank you.

Your privacy. This is so important, and I can't tell you how many times we meet prospective clients that haven't considered this. How will your confidential information be handled? How will your sitter maintain their schedule and notes? Do they have a secure system for your information, like your address, alarm code, and dates that you'll be out of town? Or do they carry it around in a notebook? Will your keys be stored in a ziplock baggie somewhere? How will they be tagged or labelled? Will they be left in your sitter's car? Or are there secure policies in place to protect them? 
 
You deserve to know exactly how your information and keys will be treated, as well as the peace of mind in knowing that keeping them safe and secure are a priority.

Their team. Who makes up their team of professional pet sitters? Do they have employees, or independent contractors (ICs)? Yes, there is a BIG difference between employees and independent contractors, that's a topic for a whole separate blog post...stay tuned.

Are they solo-sitters (I just made that a word, it means that they have no team and do it all alone), and if so, how busy are they? How do they ensure availability? Will they be able to accommodate extra time for an emergency if the need arrises? Who will be there when they can't

Do they have a large team? Will there be a new sitter visiting every day?

Or are they somewhere in between? 

How are they trained? Are they background checked? What does their experience look like?


Relationships are important, y'all. Getting to know your professional pet sitters is part of the fun! The size of your professional pet sitting service's team should be intentional, with you and your needs in mind. They should be able to accommodate your schedule and needs (including emergencies and last-minute requests), while still being small enough to foster real, meaningful relationships with you and your furbabies.

We are going to keep this conversation going. In the next few weeks, we'll write about what to expect from your professional pet sitting service, and where to find the right one, because if you do, you'll only have to go through the process once. Doesn't that sound nice? We think so. You deserve that peace of mind, and your bestie will surely thank you for it too.

Wags & Hugs,
Whoa Doggy!  

So, You Need A Pet Sitter

Whew, you made it through the holidays and that work trip that got extended last week because of the snow. Thank goodness your neighbor and friends were around to help out with Mr. Snugglesworth. You couldn't help but notice that the water bowl was empty when you got home. And that's when you started really thinking about your pet sitting arrangements..."Maybe Mr. Snugglesworth was really unusually thirsty this afternoon???... I didn't receive a phone call or text while I was away, no news is good news, right???... I wonder how long he enjoyed one-on-one interraction each day... He did have company each day, right?!?... Why is he looking at me like that?... He's totally mad at me for leaving!". And the guilt trip ensues.

Ok, ok, maybe that's a little exaggerated, but we totally understand the feeling. Before Whoa Doggy!, our pet sitting plans changed everytime we went out of town or had a long day where we needed a hand with our furry sons, Cody and Lukey. We always felt like we were burdoning our friends (even when they insisted that "they didn't mind") and we hated checking in with them while we were away, because we didn't want to insult them by appearing like we didn't trust them.

Sure, the 12 year old kid in the neighborhood walks your friend's dog from time to time, and that's all good, until the 12 year old kid forgets to visit, or forgets to feed your dog, or worse...forgets to lock the door! And what would the 12 year old kid do if he walks into your house to be greeted by a burst pipe, or another emergency that needs immediate attention?

These are all questions that we've learned the unfortunate answers to, either through the previous experiences of our clients, or our own. We truly believe that the peace of mind that comes along with having a relationship with a professional pet sitting service is invaluable. We also believe that the consistency, accountability and professionalism that a professional pet sitting service provides are non-negotiable, especially when it comes to your pets - your babies - your furry loved ones. 

Over the next few weeks, we are going to write more about what it looks like to work with a professional pet sitting service, what happens in case of emergencies, and most importantly, how to find the perfect service for you and your furry family. Because it is that important. In the meantime, take comfort in knowing that there are options - real, professional options - for you and Mr. Snugglesworth.

Wags & Hugs,
Whoa Doggy!