6 Tips to Find the Perfect Pet Sitter

Photo (cc) by Waldo Jaquith

If I could, I would take my dog with me everywhere I go, but that isn’t always feasible for me – or anyone else. Sometimes you have to leave your pet behind when you travel, leaving you with two options: a pet boarding facility or a pet sitter.

Boarding facilities can be traumatic for pets, since they’re in unfamiliar surroundings and around other animals. I keep my dog at home with a pet sitter, who comes over three times a day to feed, walk, and spend time with my dog. She even offered to stay the night. And as a bonus, she picks up my mail and checks on things around my house.

Of course, finding a pet sitter isn’t as simple as booking a plane ticket or choosing a hotel. In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson tells you how to find the best pet sitter at the best price. Check it out and then read on for more details.

Now, let’s hash out Stacy’s instructions…

1. Find pet sitters

Referrals are a good place to start looking for pet sitters. I found mine through my vet. And don’t forget your friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

Next, check out pet-sitting associations. For example:

  • Pet Sitters International: Use their Pet Sitter Locator tool to find professional sitters in your area. It lets you filter your results by services offered (overnight sitting, grooming, house sitting) as well as insured, first-aid-certified sitters.
  • National Association of Professional Pet Sitters: You can look up pet sitters by ZIP code through their website. Listings with a NAPPS-certified logo have passed a certification test on basic pet handling, professionalism, and first aid.

You can also find pet sitters through specialty service sites like:

2. Get to know the sitter with an interview

Once you find a handful of pet sitters in your area, set up a phone interview to get to know them better. Use these sample questions to help pick the best candidates.

  • What type of pets do you usually sit for? Obviously, someone with experience will put you more at ease, but it is a good idea to look for a sitter who has worked with your type of pet before. For example, I have a large pit bull with a habit of breaking out of her leash. I chose my pet sitter because she was familiar with the breed and knew she’d need to watch her at all times on their walks.
  • What training have you completed? Basic training courses, behavior modification courses, and pet first aid all indicate a knowledgeable pet sitter.
  • What services do you provide? Don’t assume all pet sitters are willing to stay overnight, take your dog to the dog park, or pick up your mail. Ask for a list of possible services.
  • Are you associated with an emergency veterinarian? Make sure your pet sitter will know who to call if your pet becomes ill or injured.
  • Can you provide references? Ask for a list of references and then contact them.

3. Find professionals

During your interview, find out if your potential pet sitter has insurance to protect your home and credentials to back up their experience. For example:

  • Commercial liability insurance: Your pet sitter should have commercial liability insurance to cover accidents with your pets or negligence in your home. For example, if your pet sitter accidentally cracks your kitchen tile playing with your dog, her insurance can cover the damage.
  • Professionally certified: Associations like the NAPPS offer certification for pet sitters that covers basic pet handling, routine care, and crisis prevention. If your pet sitter is certified, she knows how to take good care of your pet.
  • First aid knowledge: Organizations like the Red Cross offer pet first aid courses, which teach pet sitters how to spot an emergency, give CPR to pets, and treat common emergencies.

4. Compare prices

Pet sitters determine their own prices, so you’ll find great and bad deals. For example, SitterCity.com says basic pet sitting costs anywhere from $10 to $20 per visit, but the average is about $14 per visit. Overnight pet sitting ranges from $40 to $80, with an average of about $60.

However, there are other factors to consider. For example, SitterCity.com says cats are usually $1 cheaper than dogs. And if you book on a holiday, expect to pay $5 more per day.

Of course, those are just averages. Pet sitters in your area might charge more (especially if they don’t have much competition), or less than the average. For example, I only pay $25 per day for an overnight visit, but there are several pet sitters and boarders in my area and the competition drives prices down.

Your best bet is to compare prices for all of your potential pet sitters, but don’t be afraid to haggle. If you find a cheaper price with one sitter but like another better, call her up and ask if she’ll match the price.

5. Introduce your pet

After choosing a pet sitter, bring her over to meet your pets before you take your next vacation. This will help ensure that everyone gets along. For example, my pet sitter came over a week before my first trip away. She stayed for half an hour playing with my pup, and I knew they would be OK alone together when I left.

6. Get a contract

Finally, ask for a written contract between you and the sitter. It should include:

  • A full list of services the pet sitter will provide: Dog walking, feeding, overnight stays, and household chores like picking up the mail and watering plants.
  • The cost of pet sitting broken down per day and per visit, plus any extra charges. For example, if the pet sitter charges $5 extra for holidays, make sure it is in the contract.
  • Number of visits: Include the number of days you’ll need the sitter, plus the number of visits the sitter will make per day.

The bottom line: Hiring a pet sitter can be stressful at first. I was a nervous wreck the first time I left my dog at home alone with someone else. But these steps will make the process go a lot smoother – and may even save you some cash.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
5 Reasons You Should Work for as Long as You Live

These benefits might make you think twice about retirement.

How to Fix 6 Common Retirement Mistakes

Here’s how to strengthen your nest egg before or even during your golden years so these missteps don’t ruin your retirement.

20 Surprising Things You Can Sell for Extra Money

From your closet to the beach, the trash you find may be someone else’s treasure.

5 Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

5 Ways Retirees Can Lower Their Income Taxes

Here’s how to keep Uncle Sam’s mitts away from your nest egg.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon

Are you losing money due to any of these missteps?

7 Changes Coming to Social Security and Medicare in 2021

Recently, both Social Security and Medicare made some major announcements about benefits for 2021.

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

Longer Trips to This Type of Store May Raise Coronavirus Risk

An airborne-disease expert recommends exiting these stores within 30 minutes.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores

You don’t have to be a chef or a restaurant owner to shop here.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free

When you know the tricks, you can save big on all kinds of useful things that others pay for.

4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021

If you are eligible for these tax breaks, they will slash your federal income tax bill — dollar for dollar.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

15 Things You Can Get for Free in December

December is here, which means it’s your last chance to take advantage of fabulous freebies in 2020.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.