THE SCOOP ABOUT PET SITTING, PART I – How to choose a good pet sitter/dog walker

 The Scoop download THE SCOOP ABOUT PET SITTING, PART I   How to choose a good pet sitter/dog walker

 by  Debbie “Doglady”

I first started a pet sitting business in 1994,  after being “downsized” (a nicer way of saying “fired”) from my corporate job and not finding a suitable replacement.  We were apartment dwellers at the time, so it was mostly house calls for cats, plants, birds, fish etc., plus dog walking all over town.
After about 10 years or so, the running around 7 days a week with no time to myself was wearing on me, so I switched to offering home boarding for dogs only.  (We had become home owners in the meantime and have a large back yard.)  This has worked out well and my house is like a little “doggie commune”. 
With so many years experience behind me, I can offer multiple insights.
How to choose a good pet sitter/dog walker
You wouldn’t trust your babies to just anyone, so, it’s important to find someone experienced, conscientious and reliable.  Word of mouth is the BEST recommendation, but, if that’s not available, then always ask for references and make sure you contact them. 
Just because someone is bonded and insured, does not necessarily mean they are good. I remember watching a van pull up to a house one day, with the name of a large, well-known pet sitting service written on the side.  The person went into the house, came back out about 5 minutes later and drove off! 
Observe carefully how the person interacts with your pets during the initial meeting.  You will be able to tell right away whether or not they have an affinity for animals.  Too many people go into this line of work, thinking it’s a quick and easy way to make money and they aren’t fully committed to the clients!  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their background, experience, etc.   When making house calls, I always left a note for each visit.  If they don’t offer to do this, it’s a good idea to ask for it.
When you travel and can’t take your dog along
You have several options here. 
1. Boarding Kennel:  This, to me, is like putting your dog in jail, because he will spend most of the day in a cage, no matter what they tell you. 
2. Pet Resort:  Much better!  Dogs usually have actual rooms and lots of green space to frolic in.
3. Have someone live in your home:  This is a great option, but is also generally very expensive.  It would have to be someone who has your full trust, as well.
4. Home Boarding:  This is what I do.  The dogs are part of the family and have the run of the house. **  They loll on the furniture, hang out on the bed with us, go for walks together, play in the backyard, etc.  (See photos.)  Many of them consider this their “second home” and owners have told me they get excited as soon as their car hits the neighborhood.  No better advertisement than that!
On a couple of past occasions, people have left their dogs at home and asked me to visit them three times a day.  In my opinion, this is NOT a good option.  Dogs are social creatures and get lonely, especially overnight.
** must be spayed/neutered, fully housetrained, non-aggressive and sociable with other dogs and people
This touches on a few basics. 
Please feel free to ask questions or offer comments,
by clicking on “Contact Us”, above.
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©D.D.B. 2013
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Debbie “Doglady”
is a life-long dog owner and animal lover
who has been a self-employed pet sitter since 1994. 
She currently operates a “Doggie B&B”,
(with plenty of help from her husband of 40 years),
in her home
and is writing a memoir,
which can be found on her personal blog,
Find her also on:

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