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The time before you leave for a vacation can be chaotic. There are all sorts of last-minute details that you need to take care of, and you may feel rushed and stressed as the date of your departure approaches. But one element that you can’t leave to the last minute is hiring the right pet sitter for your dog. Not only will your pet sitter be responsible for your dog’s safety, but bringing a stranger into your home can be a safety issue for you, too.
There are many great pet sitters out there, but to find a great match, you’ll need to start the process early and hire a pet sitter with safety in mind.
Be Careful to Find the Right Pet Sitter
You’re sure to have plenty of pet sitters to choose from, thanks to the prevalence of the gig economy. According to Western Governors University, about 11% of workers in the United States earn income from freelance opportunities like pet sitting.
But pet sitters aren’t all the same, and just because someone is advertising their availability as a pet sitter doesn’t mean that they have the experience necessary. To find a pet sitter you can trust, look for someone who is insured and bonded. Ask specific questions about a pet sitter’s experience, communication methods, and the plan they have in place in case they are sick or injured during the stay. Be sure to request – and then contact – references, too. If you’re working with a pet sitting agency, make sure that you use an agency that performs background checks on their employees for an added layer of safety.
Prepare For the Pet Sitter
Taking the time to prepare for the pet sitter properly can also help to ensure your dog’s safety. Make sure that you’re clear about your care expectations from the start. Be upfront about your dog’s schedule, whether you want the pet sitter to stay in your home overnight, and any other special needs that the sitter will need to be able to accommodate. It’s essential to go into this level of detail early on in the hiring process to make sure that the sitter is comfortable and can commit to the job.
If your dog requires medication or any other health treatments, then make sure to train the pet sitter in how to administer these treatments so that they’re comfortable with the process, and so your dog is comfortable with them, too.
Before you have to leave, contact your veterinarian and give them the pet sitter’s information. You may also want to leave a credit card on file so that the pet sitter can bring your dog in for emergency treatment if necessary. Be sure to leave the sitter with emergency contact information for yourself, as well as with contact information for your vet.
Make Your Home as Safe as Possible
If you’re gone for long periods of time, your dog may be bored and more likely to get into mischief that he wouldn’t usually. Before you leave, take a walk through your home and look for potential dangers.
If you’re going on vacation during the holidays, your home may be filled with extra holiday decorations that could be dangerous for your dog. If you have a Christmas tree up, make sure that you either put up gates so that your dog can’t get into that room, or that you’re able to close the doors to that room for your dog’s safety. Be sure also to avoid placing other holiday decorations, like garland and candles, within your dog’s reach.
Take out the trash before you leave and secure any cleaning products out of your dog’s reach. Now is also the time to put any valuables away out of the pet sitter’s sight and access, just in case. To keep your dog as safe as possible, have him stay in a crate or a single room, like the kitchen, unless the pet sitter is present.
Consider Using a Video Surveillance System
Home automation advancements mean that installing a video surveillance system in your home is relatively easy. You can access your system with a phone or computer and can instantly see the inside of your home, depending on camera placement. Plus, with smart door locks, you can monitor when and how often a pet sitter unlocks the door to your home and checks on your pet.
This might seem like the perfect way to check in on your pet and your pet sitter but use caution. Hidden nanny cams or home surveillance cameras are not always legal according to state laws. It’s essential to protect a pet sitter’s right to privacy by making sure any cameras in your home are in full view of the room and aren’t recording sound. To be extra safe, share the fact that you have cameras in your home with your pet sitter, and explain that you use them to check in on your dog. Preparing to go on vacation can be a stressful and busy time, but when you carefully choose a great pet sitter, your dog’s health is one less element that you’ll have to worry about.