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Finding a good pet-sitter

Detailed instructions are crucial for your pet-sitter to understand your pet’s routine and dietary requirements

Outline any safety measures your pet-sitter should follow.
Outline any safety measures your pet-sitter should follow. (Unsplash/Matt Nelson)

Pet-sitters can be a big help for pet owners. They allow you to take short breaks or leave the house for a while. Having a pet-sitter means your pet can stay in familiar surroundings, but it is crucial to make sure your pet-sitter is well-prepared so that your pet doesn’t feel stressed while you are away.

First, look for a pet-sitter who has experience with or is comfortable with your pet. If no one you know can take on this responsibility, consider hiring a professional pet-sitter. Companies like Petcetra or Tailspin offer such services, but it is essential to thoroughly research any company or individual you are considering to ensure the safety of your pet and home.

Also read: How to choose the best veterinarian for your pet

Attempt to understand your pet-sitter’s schedule beforehand so it matches your requirements. Some sitters may only be available for a few hours each day, while others may have more time to dedicate to your pet. If you are hiring a pet-sitter with whom your pet isn’t familiar, it’s crucial to introduce them beforehand. This prevents your pet from being startled by the sudden presence of a new person. If your pet is territorial or uneasy around strangers, consider conducting this initial meeting in a neutral setting, like a park. This introductory interaction is vital for both the sitter and your pet to become acquainted.

Ensure that the pet-sitter has everything they need, such as food, treats, medications, litter, toys and grooming tools. Clearly explain where these items are kept and how to use them correctly. Include information on where they can be bought if needed. Additionally, include comforting items like your pet’s favourite blanket or toy to help them feel more at ease while you are away.

Detailed instructions are crucial for your pet-sitter to understand your pet’s routine, dietary requirements, medical conditions and any specific preferences. Provide contact details for your vet and emergency contacts, along with precise feeding schedules, medication dosages, exercise routines and any behavioural peculiarities your pet may exhibit.

If you have multiple pets at home, inform your pet-sitter about their dynamics. Discuss any hierarchy or relationships between your pets and potential hiding spots, especially for cats. Let your sitter know each pet’s preferences and aversions. If you have a separate dog walker, ensure your pet-sitter has their contact information and the schedule of your dogs’ walks.

Encourage your pet-sitter to involve your pet in enrichment activities to keep them mentally and physically engaged. This could involve interactive play sessions, puzzle toys, or brief training exercises to reinforce positive behaviours and stimulate their minds.

Outline any specific house rules or safety measures that your pet-sitter should adhere to. This might include defining restricted areas, providing guidelines for outdoor activities and implementing precautions to prevent accidents or injuries.

Make sure your pet-sitter is aware of potential hazards, such as toxic plants or household chemicals, and knows how to address them appropriately. Discuss potential emergency scenarios and provide clear instructions on how to handle them. Leave written consent and financial arrangements for emergency veterinary care.

Keep communication channels open with your pet-sitter throughout your time away. Encourage them to share regular updates on your pet’s welfare, including details about their eating habits, bathroom routines and any unusual behaviours. Inquire if they are comfortable with scheduling regular video calls.

Preparing your pet-sitter for success involves meticulous planning, effective communication and mutual trust. Keep in mind that a properly equipped pet-sitter can offer you the reassurance of knowing your pet is well-cared for.

Nameeta Nadkarni is a practising veterinary soft tissue surgeon and pet blogger from Mumbai.

Also read: Why it's important to pet-proof your home


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