Search Menu
woman with dog at home

There are many options for pet care when owners are away. Some owners board their pets with their veterinarian or a dog-boarding kennel. Some have a family member or neighbor take care of them.

Increasingly, when dog owners need someone to watch out for their best friend when they travel, they are turning to professional pet sitters. What’s the difference between hiring the teenager down the street from paying a professional pet sitter? Read on.

Professional pet sitters can offer a variety of services, from dog walking to overnight stays at your house. According to Pet Sitters International, “Caring for pets in the client’s home is what separates pet sitters from boarders or doggy daycare.”

In Partnership with logo
Find Your Perfect Home white dog paw print
*Dog friendly rental filter applied to results

What Pet Sitters Offer

Pet sitters are a great option for households with multiple animals, special needs animals, or when owners prefer that their dog stay in the comfort of the home environment.

A professional pet sitter offers reliability and peace of mind while the owner is away.

  • Most pet sitters are trained in Pet CPR and first aid.
  • Professional pet sitters should have a business license, be insured and bonded, and offer client references.
  • They should also have an agreement or contract, which includes terms of payment, cancellation and inclement weather policies, a veterinarian release form, and an emergency contact or guardianship form.
  • Many pets are less stressed when they can stay in their own homes and follow their normal routines.
  • Having a pet sitter in your home avoids exposing your dog to other dogs and possible illnesses.

Happy African American young man sit on couch having fun with dackel dog, smiling black male relax at home with funny animal companion, millennial guy laughing playing with pet on home sofa

Before Choosing a Pet Sitter

Ask the pet sitter for an in-home consultation before hiring. This gives you a chance to meet them and ask questions about the sitter’s experience, methods, education and training, and communications with you when you’re away. Ask about rates and cancellation fees. Find out how the pet sitter deals with emergency situations.

An in-person interview also gives the prospective sitter an opportunity to meet the dog and ask about any special needs, the dog’s routine, and where the dog food and supplies are kept.

Just as important, you’ll get a chance to observe how the pet sitter interacts with your dog – and whether they seem to get along. Find out how well suited they are for each other. If you have a young, active dog, how much exercise is the pet sitter willing to give him? If you have a big dog, does this person know how to handle him?

Before you hire a specific pet sitter, even if you and this person seem to click, ask for references and check them. You’re considering someone to stay in your home when you’re away and to care for your canine pal, so solid recommendations are very important.

If you have time, it’s a great idea to test out the sitter with your pet. Hire the person for one day, go out for the day, and see how your dog is when you return.

How to Find a Pet Sitter

Many owners find pet sitters by asking their friends and neighbors, veterinarian, groomer, or dog training facility.

There are also organizations for professional pet sitters, including Pet Sitters International and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. These websites include pet sitter locators to help you find a professional pet sitter member in your area.

There are also for-profit national clearinghouses that post information about pet sitters in your area, their rates, experience, and references. and are two of them.

Think about a backup plan. Does the pet sitter have an alternate or business partner who can fill in if there’s an emergency? You may want to meet that person, as well.

Many pet sitters designate the size dog they are willing to take care of, so find that out before scheduling an interview. And if the person is unwilling to meet you and your dog ahead of time – consider it a red flag and look elsewhere.

Related article: Should You Bring Your Dog to Work? Pros and Cons of Dogs in the Workplace
Get Your Free AKC eBook

Tips for Responsible Dog Owners

This e-book is a great resource for anyone who's considering dog ownership or already owns a dog. Download for tips on how to be the best dog owner you can be.
*Turn off pop-up blocker to download
*Turn off pop-up blocker to download