Considering 47 percent of Americans have at least one dog — and 94 percent of them consider their dog a member of the family — the question of how to find the perfect pet sitter is increasingly important.
Rover.com polled dog sitters to find out the secret things they wish their (human) clients knew. These insights will help you get to know your pet sitter, but they’ll also help you and your dog enjoy peace of mind until you’re happily reunited again for hugs and licks.
1. I get attached to every dog
Wondering if I’m gonna fall in love with your dog? Spoiler alert: I will. Even before our stay kicks off, tell me your cute stories. I genuinely want to hear about how your dog was a ring bearer at your wedding or learned how to balance a treat on his nose. Hearing about your dog’s idiosyncrasies and charms will only help us bond.
2. Pet sitters don’t just sit around
We’re running around, exercising your dog, hitting the dog park, jogging the neighborhood and rolling on the ground. There’s not much sitting to speak of, in fact!
3. Tell me how to take care of your house
If I’m watching your dog at your house, I want to take care of your home with the same attention to detail as I take care of your dog. I’m not a mind reader so definitely send me the details in advance. Tell me your preferred way to wash the sheets, the dishes, where the trash goes, if any plants need watering and where any scooped poop should go. I’m happy to do things your way!
4. Get your dogs microchipped
As a dog sitter, part of my job is to expect the unexpected. While it’s super-unlikely your dog’s microchip data will be needed, keeping his information up-to-date is vital — just in case. Lost dogs without microchips are returned about 22 percent of the time, but dogs with microchips find their way home over 50 percent of the time!
5. Tell your neighbors I’ll be at your house
If I’m staying at your place, give your neighbors a heads up. That way, when they see a friendly stranger wandering around, they’ll know who I am, and you’re less likely to get a confused phone call.
6. Be sure you leave us with a safe leash
Your dog will be safest if you include a fitted harness and fixed-length leash. They’re comfortable yet hard to wriggle out of, and they make walking a cinch.
7. Bring along some favorite toys
If your dog is staying at my house, she’ll be happiest if I can emulate your home environment. Bring along her favorite toys, her familiar dog bed and maybe even a shirt that smells like you. Let me know your routine. I’ll do my best to replicate it, so she feels right at home.
8. Special needs? No problem
I’m happy to accommodate your dog’s medical needs, behavioral issues or weird quirks. Does she insist on sleeping under the sheets with you? Or sit on your shoulder like a parrot? Those are just two things I’ve seen in real life. If I don’t feel comfortable with something, or your dog needs more specialized care than I can provide, I’ll let you know and you can hop online and find a sitter who’s an even better match.
9. No information is too minor to share
When it comes to dogs, more is more. Leave me with a backup contact and your veterinarian’s information. If your dog has some quirks — separation anxiety, for example, or a deep love of darting out the door — let me know before it happens.
10. I want to text you photos
Your dog just did the cutest thing, and I want to tell you about it! Let me know how frequently you want photo updates, and I’ll send them your way. I mean, who doesn’t want a few cute photos of their dog romping at the dog park or curled up asleep on the couch?
11. Ask me lots of questions
Yes, I want to keep your dog happy, healthy and up to his ears in snuggles, but I also want you to feel at ease. Ask me any questions you have, from my daily schedule to my dog-walking route. In my experience, communication is key.
For example, sitters on Rover will meet you prior to your trip for an in-person meet and greet, they’ll send photo and text updates while you’re away and they’ll cap it off with a video of your dog’s favorite moments when you get home.
Next time you leave town, find your dog’s other best friend. Meet in advance, talk through the details and help set up your sitter for success. You hit the road happily, knowing your dog is in good hands.