10 Things To Look For In A Pet Sitter Or Dog Walker
By Toni Wing, Pet Sitting Super Hero
We’re often asked by many of our clients, especially those leaving us because they are moving to a different part of the country, 'What is it that differentiates the good pet sitters from the bad ones, and what is it that they should look out for when hiring someone new'?
We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 things you need to look out for when taking on a new dog walker or pet sitter!
1. Establish if it’s a professional or a hobbyist. In this day and age, there are many people setting up as ‘part-time’ pet sitters or dog walkers who think they can do it to ‘fill in the gaps’ when the kids are at school. I personally wish them good luck, as we all have to start somewhere, however speaking from experience, I’ve found that unless someone makes the commitment to invest in this profession full time, invest their own money in creating a business which they want to succeed, then chances are, you & your pets aren’t their top priority. Before I hand my pets over, I make sure that they'll put my pets first no matter what, and that it’s not just some temporary fad. There’s a few reasons for this:
- I want my pet to have a long term relationship with its carer
- I want safety in knowing the work will get done properly
- I want my house to be safe whilst I’m gone
- I want my pets to be very well looked after
- If there’s a problem with the pet sitter, I want peace of mind knowing they have a back-up plan (because things can go wrong!)
- I want to know they are genuine animal lovers and won’t upset or harm my pet if they accidentally poo on the carpet!
- I want to know my indoor cats won’t escape or be accidentally let out
- I want to know what the pet sitter will do in an emergency, how will they fix it?
I’m not sure a local teenager or local mum who lives down the road, albeit who may be very kind hearted, actually has the experience under their belts or the processes in place to know how to act responsibly and take care of things when they go wrong. Things will go wrong. What differentiates an amateur from a professional isn’t to gauge performance when things are going great, but what defines us is how we cope when things are really not going great and going very wrong! With my pets & home, I need 100% certainty my pet sitter knows their stuff and really really cares and can use initiative in situations.
2. Do you like & trust the pet sitter? In my opinion, if I don’t like the person I meet who I’m considering looking after my pets, then they don’t look after my pets. Trust is the foundation of all relationships and it's very hard to trust anyone if you don’t like them. If you don’t like them, chances are they haven’t put in enough effort to prove to you they are right. Or maybe it’s just not the right chemistry, either way – end it there. It’s not worth the risk; they’re in your home with your family members ie pets. For that reason, do a little more hunting and get the right person. You & your pets will appreciate it so much more!
3. Do your pets like the new pet sitter? The introduction a new pet sitter has with your pet is vital. Pets have amazing senses, and know when something is or isn’t right. If your pet is extremely uncomfortable with the new person, then take this into account when building your decision making process. A dog walker or pet sitter is likely to be under a tight schedule when looking after your pet, the harsh reality is that sometimes unprofessional sitters just neglect, don’t attend, or limit the time they spend with pets. Make sure this isn’t you! For example, some pet sitters just like dogs....try to get a vibe if the person is a cat or dog person and if they will give your pet the level of care it deserves.
"Fun Fact: When a rabbit is happy, she will click her teeth."
4. Don’t always go for the cheapest. This one sounds rather obvious, however frankly for a lot of people that’s exactly what they do. Why would anyone have a pet and then value it so little that they go for the cheapest all of the time?? If it’s cheap then it’s cheap for a reason. Where are you losing out? You will be losing out somewhere. If someone is offering to walk your dog for £5-7 a dog walk, ask yourself, is this feasible? By the time they pay for fuel, car expenses, tax, accountants, marketing, insurances etc how are they making any money? They aren’t...and if someone isn’t making money, then sadly it’s the pets who suffer. Be aware!
5. Are they providing the service they want or the service you ask for? One of the biggest pains I had when using lots of previous pet sitters was they although they sort of agreed to do as I asked, things like texting me at the end of a job, or attending at the times I wanted, didn’t get done. They basically ran their businesses they wanted to and I wasn’t their priority. They were their own priority. Look out for it and avoid it.
6. Insured & DBS checked? Again, this sounds really simple! Yet I’m astounded that in years in business I have only been asked a handful of times. Ask to see your pet sitters DBS certificate. Again, trust is the foundation of all relationships; make sure your pet & home isn’t in the hands of someone dangerous.
7. Presentability & Manners. If someone doesn’t take the time to be presentable when meeting you, if they don’t care too much about their website, if they don’t care too much about what they say, if they don’t care too much about what you want.....then how much will they care about your pets when you’re not around?
8. Reviews & Testimonials. Third-Party endorsement is absolutely essential. Don’t take what they say for granted and find out more by doing your own research. Hear what other people have to say on places other than just their website. Look on sites such as Facebook & Google, where independent reviews are promoted and the business owner has no control over influencing them. If they only have 2 or 3 testimonials on their website, and no online presence I would have massive alarm bells going off in my head asking why. Expect to see images of the person, feel confident to ask for phone numbers of existing clients, and make sure to do your diligent checks.
9. Do they have a vehicle and is it sign written? A lot of times it’s seen as a sign of professionalism if a company has sign written vehicles. I tend to agree...however for the pet sitting industry I don’t. Why? Because do you want everyone to see & know that your house is empty whilst your away? That’s why all our company cars have zero sign writing, so we don’t make it obvious the house were sitting at is unattended.
10. Verify if the dog is being taken anywhere and with how many dogs. This is particularly important if you have a nervous dog or a dog which is uncomfortable around other dogs. Avoid your dog suffering from anxiety or depression, eventually leading to aggression, by being driven in a van to other areas with lots of other dogs, and make sure they have a ‘no dogs off the lead’ policy in place! As that’s just asking for trouble otherwise...
If you have any questions about our pet sitting service or if there's anything I haven't covered, please either call 01234 953 991 or enter a comment below! Please also add comments and give us feedback, as it helps us develop our service for everyones' benefit.
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