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How To Find The Best Pet Sitter or Doggy Daycare
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How To Find The Best Pet Sitter or Doggy Daycare

Critter Culture Staff

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Your dog is your best friend, and it can be stressful to leave them at home while you're at work or away. What if you have to travel overnight or longer? Fortunately, a pet sitter can come to your home to feed your pet, exercise them, and keep them company. You can also take your pup to a doggy daycare for some social interaction during your trip.

The question is, how do you know you're choosing the best caregiver for your furbaby?

1

Make a checklist

Before you begin your search, make a checklist of the qualifications you want in a petsitter or doggy daycare. Cost is a key factor, but your dog's specific needs are also important. Add any questions you'll have for the business: their skills and experience, hours for drop-off and pick-up or times they'll visit, and any special training or certifications they may have.

woman making checklist for dog Pra-chid / Getty Images

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2

Ask for recommendations from friends and family

Do you have friends, neighbors, or family members who use a petsitter or doggy daycare? Ask them for recommendations. Check neighborhood social networking sites such as Nextdoor or regional Facebook groups. You're likely to find a few folks more than happy to sing the praises for their favorite daycare or warn you away with their bad experience. If you're lucky, you might have a friend or neighbor interested in a pet-sitting exchange.

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3

Talk to those who work with canines

If you can't find a sitter or doggy daycare through your inner circle, ask pet professionals such as your veterinarian, trainers, groomers, or employees at your local pet store. They might have a list of reputable care providers they recommend. Research associations for petsitting professionals. For example, you can search the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters website for the names of providers in your area.

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4

Use a pet-sitter app to find a provider

Wag and Rover are two of the best-known apps dedicated to connecting pet parents with dog walkers and pet-sitting services. Rover reviews sitter profiles and requires them to pass a basic background check. A big plus with an app is that you can quickly compare prices and profiles of various providers in your area.

Keep in mind that many service providers on these apps do it as a side gig and not as their full-time profession. Each one will have different availability, capacity, and interest.

Woman with red hair looking on screen of her mobile phone. Guido Mieth / Getty Images

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5

Consider a professional pet-sitting service

Another option is to hire a care provider from a professional petsitting business. These companies typically have insurance and a team of petsitters that work for them. So if something happens while you're away—for instance, your sitter falls ill—another team member can step up to watch your dog.

Most professional services also provide their employees with specialized training, such as first aid. Another plus is that professional petsitting businesses are typically bonded.

dog being walked M_a_y_a / Getty Images

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6

Reach out to the provider

When you've decided on two or three candidates, email or call them to set up interviews and check availability. Ask the questions on your checklist to determine if the person or company is a good fit for you and your dog and vice versa. This is also a good time to ask the provider for references from past or current clients.

woman in living room talking on the phone with cat Vesnaandjic / Getty Images

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7

Contact pet sitter references

The most important step in finding an excellent care provider is to check their references from past clients. If a sitter is reluctant to give you client contact information, it could be a red flag or a sign that they're new in the business. If it's the latter, ask for personal references instead.

Call or email each reference and ask if they were satisfied with the provider's service or about their general reliability. On apps like Rover, you can check each provider's profile for reviews from clients.

Customer review satisfaction feedback survey concept, rating service experience on online application. Kenstocker / Getty Images

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8

Arrange a meeting with the pet sitter or doggy daycare

If you find a provider that ticks all the boxes on your checklist, arrange a meet and greet. You'll want to ensure your pet is comfortable with the sitter and their home, the pet sitter or dog walker coming into your home, or a daycare's place of business. If you're going to them, look around.

Does the place look clean? More importantly, does the daycare staff or petsitter clearly like dogs and interact with your pup? How does your dog respond?

Happy dog playing playground on grass field in dog park. whitebalance.oatt / Getty Images

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9

Be honest about your pet's needs

Honesty on both sides is essential to choosing the best provider for your canine. Inform them of your preferences and your dog's special dietary or medical issues, such as diabetes or allergies, and whether they'll need to give your canine medication. Are they qualified? Tell the provider about your dog's training, any behavioral issues (such as leash-lunging), and anxieties your pet may have. Professionals understand that all pets have their quirks.

Woman giving tincture to cat at home, closeup Liudmila Chernetska / Getty Images

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10

Book your provider quickly

When you find the perfect match for your best furry friend, reserve the service quickly. Top-notch, popular petsitters and doggy daycares can book up quickly. If you plan to leave your dog for an extended period, you may want to book a short trial so you can evaluate your pet's experience and the service. Finally, ask to sign a contract outlining your expectations and the provider's responsibilities.

Young Asian female and her pet dog at home Young777 / Getty Images
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