Some pet owners are lucky and have reliable family and friends to take care of their pets when they need them.  However, for those who don't finding a pet sitter is a big deal.  You can choose just anyone—a good pet sitter spends time with the animal, provides him with exercise and knows all of the details that come with pet care.  Read all of the helpful hints below to help you find the best pet sitter around!

Why hire a pet sitter? 
This is a question many people ask because most owners’ first instinct is to bring their pet to a boarding kennel or leave them with a family member.  But a pet sitter is helpful if you want to keep your pet in the environment he is most familiar with and keep him on his regular diet and routine.  Pets that do not get along with other animals benefit from pet sitters and will not be deprived from attention.  People don’t want to worry about the safety of the pets they love while their away and taking the time to hire a pet sitter will offer you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your pet is being cared for by someone you trust.  Hiring a pet sitter will also probably be less expensive than a boarding kennel (depending on how much you’re willing to pay), and you will likely have other services provided to you, such as plant watering and mail pick up.

Where can I find a pet sitter? 
You have several options when it comes to finding a pet sitter.  First, ask for recommendations from friends, neighbors, veterinarians, human societies, or dog trainers.  You can also check online or in the yellow pages; a quick search in Google with your city name + pet sitter will most likely bring up lots of options for you to explore. There are phone numbers you can call to find reliable and professional pet sitters offered by the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International.

What should I look for in a pet sitter? 
When finding the right pet sitter, the list could be endless with qualifications and characteristics a pet sitter could and should possess.  You should find out what training your pet sitter has completed and other experiences he/she has had with pet sitting.  It is also necessary to find out the services the sitter is willing to offer besides just feeding and looking after, such as grooming, dog walking, training, play time, etc. If you do choose a pet sitter, make sure to introduce the individual to your pet(s) beforehand to make sure that they get along.  Ensure that the sitter is responsible and caring and is willing to record notes for you and contact you with any questions or problems. 

What should I provide the sitter with when I leave? 
Be sure to buy all the necessary food and supplies before you leave so he/she doesn’t have to spend any money.   Leave the supplies in one area and provide the sitter with clear instructions with details of routine pet-care responsibilities and emergency contact information.  Give the sitter a tour of your home and point out important safety features.  Maintain current vaccinations for your pet and ensure the animal is well socialized and interacts well with strangers.  Leave a spare key with a trustworthy neighbor for backup—provide the sitter with extra phone numbers for neighbors, family, etc…in case you cannot be reached. 

If you follow all of these steps, you will be well on your way to finding the perfect pet sitter!