Why would you employ a pet sitter – and what to consider if you do?

28th Nov, 2022

Written by Scotty Valadao – Canine Behaviourist

Going away for a while and worried about what to do with your furry friend? Not all dogs and cats are candidates for kennels, going to other people’s houses, or doggy day care, and there’s a reasonable chance that a time may come when you may consider having a pet sitter come in to look after your pooch or kitty.

Reasons why you may consider a pet sitter

  • Any dog suffering from separation anxiety and owner cannot be with the dog as much as needed while the modifications to change separation anxiety are being done – the sitter must be shown what modifications to undertake while they’re staying with your dog. To really change separation anxiety, you should always get the help of a professional canine behaviourist.

  • If you’re going away during the storm season and your dog suffers from storm fear, you can give your sitter the instructions as to what you do, so your dog is less stressed.

  • Any dog that has fear issues.

  • If your dog is in, or reaching, his senior years, he’ll be much more comfortable in his home environment and the sitter can monitor his health. Older dogs don’t adapt to change as easily as younger ones.

  • All dogs tend to feel a lot safer when staying in their own environment and are likely to stress less if you aren’t home.

  • The time the sitter stays with your dog can be tailored to your needs, ranging from an hour or two to a few weeks.

  • The sitter can ensure that your dog still receives his walks, play time and attention to keep stress levels down.

  • The majority of sitters will send you daily messages and pictures of your dog if you’re away on holiday or business – a sure way to make any owner feel better!

  • Most sitters will also watch over your home and water plants and garden when you’re away.

  • Having a professional sitter takes the burden off family and friends, and is much better than just having somebody to come in just to feed your dog twice a day.

  • If your dog is off-colour, a sitter will be able to let you know, take them to the vet, and give any medications needed.

  • Your home isn’t left alone, and it’s less likely for a break-in to occur.

Finding the right pet sitter and what to consider

You can’t just leave your dog with anyone – it’s important to first do some homework.

  • Ask your local vet and friends if they know of anybody – there’s nothing better than having a positive reference from somebody who’s used their services.

  • Have a look on the internet for sitters who service your area. There are also sitters that belong to organisations that keep sitters on their books. This is often a good option, as references and experience are checked beforehand by the employer (or should be), and in the event that the sitter may become ill, the organisation will have somebody else on their books to take their place. Always arrange to meet the sitter in person and agree on what’s to be done beforehand and that they can meet with your dog first.

  • Find out the person’s experience with dogs, if they have any canine-related qualifications, the training they’ve done in relation to the sitting, and if they know basic first aid, and how long they’ve been pet sitting for. See if they have insurance that covers them whilst in the home, in the event that something goes wrong.

  • Ask for references, and check them all.

  • Find out if they’re happy about meeting family and perhaps neighbours who could visit on occasion or offer help if necessary.

  • Tell them exactly what you want done regarding your dog – daily walks, games, giving medications, taking to the vet, sending you daily messages and even pictures using WhatsApp.

  • Tell them what you expect regarding watering plants or garden, taking rubbish outside, and so on. It’s important that you both agree before you decide if the sitter will be correct for you.

  • It’s always a good idea to have a contract between the two of you, stating all that is required.

  • If your dog has any behavioural issues or health concerns, it’s important that the sitter is made away of same, and ensure they can handle the concerns.

  • Ensure that any extras are included in the price agreed upon, the terms of payment, and if using a pet-sitting organisation, if paid to organisation or to sitter.


Before you make a final decision, it’s always wise for the sitter to meet and interact with your dog and see if they get on. If you decide the person is right for you, it’s advisable for you to accompany them on taking your dog for a walk and see how they handle this.

As an extra safeguard, have your dog microchipped (if not already done), as well as phone your vet to tell them a sitter will be with your dog and make arrangements for any costs that may be incurred due to a vet visit or medication.

What info you should give to your sitter
It’s always a good idea to put all of this in a file, with any other pertinent information or documents, including a recent picture of your dog.

  • Contact details: Your own, where you’ll be staying, your veterinarian, and any family or neighbours who may be needed.

  • Microchip: If your dog is microchipped, give them the information – number, company, etc. –

in the event that your dog gets out.

  • Security: If you have home security in your area, give them the details of same and contact numbers.

  • Feeding: Show them the dog food to be given (ensure you have more than enough), explain how often you feed and the manner in which you feed, as well as the times of day. If any treats are to be given, how often and how much at a time, and why given.

  • Medical: Show them where your basic first aid kit is for your dog, if you have one, ensuring they know how to use what’s inside. If your dog is on medication, explain how it’s to be given, the easiest manner to give it to the dog, and the times the dog is to receive it.

  • Routine: The daily routine that you’d like them to follow for your dog and anything to be done around the home that you’ve discussed.

  • House rules: If any areas are off-limit to the dog in the home, and if there’s a swimming pool, is the dog allowed to swim by itself, or the rules regarding same.

Although there’s a lot to consider, once you’ve ticked all these boxes, you should be able to relax knowing that your beloved fur kid is in the right hands.



FB: 0