For many, leaving your dog in the care of someone else can be a daunting experience.
Whether you are off to soak yourself in sun or perhaps on a work related break, there are some times throughout the year when you will need to trust someone to look after your four legged friend.
Dog sitters and walkers can help pet owners with a lot, from feeding and caring to walking and exercising. However, you wouldn’t leave your child just with anyone, so why would you with your dog?
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Meet your sitter first
According to Liverpool-based dog sitter, Catie Leighton, it’s a good idea to meet potential sitters before entrusting them with your pooch.
She said: “Get them to come and visit first, I always recommend that, as much for them as for me.”
Catie, who founded her pet sitting business, Sunnydays, in 2013, says trust plays a huge part when considering a sitter.
“Most of my work involves going into people’s houses, so trust is really important,” she explained.
Check your sitter is insured
Most professional dog-sitters and walkers should have insurance.
NARPS, the national association of Pet sitters and dog walkers in the UK, said you should ask to see their insurance certificate, criminal record check certificate if they hold one, local authority licence for home boarding.
They advised if pet sitters are being asked to show their certificates this will ensure that they are up to date and correct.
Caite added: “It’s a good idea to check whether your sitter or walker is covered. It’s unlikely anything will go wrong, but if they’re paying for insurance, you’ll know they’re serious about what they do.”
Find out how many dogs will be walking with your pet
We’ve all seen dog-walkers being dragged through parks by several excitable dogs, all straining at the leash.
But consider whether your pup might prefer being walked alone or in a smaller group.
Professional dog walker Katie van der Woude, founder of Homeward Bound Pets in Liverpool, mostly walks one at a time, which she believes is safer for both walker and dog.
Katie explained: “Our main thing is safety, so we don’t do the big dog walks that you normally see. We either do one on one, or two together if they live close by and are a good match,” she says. “We like to focus on making sure the dogs are getting exactly what they need.”
Consider overnight stays
When dog owners head off on holiday, the wrench can be fairly traumatic for their pets.
Katie says that getting a dog-sitter to stay at your home helps lessen the shock, whereas putting them in kennels could increase their distress: “A home stay means they’re going through as little change as possible.”
Will your dog sitter go the extra mile?
Like parents, dog owners often worry how their pups are coping when they’re not there, especially if they’re new to their walker or sitter.
Homeward Bound’s Katie knows exactly how to alleviate her clients’ concerns while their dogs are in her care.
She advises: “We send pictures and videos during the day, so they know their dogs are having a good time while they’re working.”