1) Get a referral. Check with your vet, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International for a pet sitter in your area.
2) When choosing a potential pet sitter, make sure she has experience dealing with your pet's unique needs.
3) Hire a pet sitter who can relate to your emotional attachment to your animal, preferably someone who has owned a pet.
4) Make sure the sitter meets and interacts with your pet before being hired. See how she and your animal get along. If they don't click, keep looking until you find someone your pet likes.
5) Make sure the sitter is willing to care for the pet your way, regardless of what you request. She should be aware of your pet's daily routine, and your expectations and fulfill them.
6) Check that the sitter is bonded and insured. If something happens in your home or to your pet, you want to be sure that you'll receive appropriate compensation.
7) Ask the sitter for a comprehensive service agreement listing services, methods and rates. Avoid disputes over service by knowing:
- What services are offered
- The time frame for each provided service
- The service fee
8) Ask for references and check them out. It's the best way to find out what level of service the person provides.
9) Discuss an emergency contingency plan with the sitter. Make sure she has your telephone numbers as well as the phone number of a reliable, backup pet care provider.
10) Give the sitter the name and number of your vet, other doctors in the area and organizations that provide emergency service.
11) Inform the sitter about neighborhood dog-runs, pet stores and parks. Your dog will be happier if the provider knows about the area's best spots for walking and playing.