Our four dogs are an important part of our family, but sometimes we’re unable to take them along with us, such as on a family vacation. We want them to not only be safe and well-cared for, but also have an enjoyable time while we’re away. After talking with other pet-parents, as well as through our own experience the past handful of years, we’ve learned some things you should consider When Looking for Pet Sitters.
First of all, I’m a very firm believer in the value of word-of-mouth. Hearing from someone who has actual experience with the dog boarding (or daycare, or sitter) facility means so much. I would never tell a friend to go to a certain company if I didn’t have a good experience with them. So ask people you know and trust for their recommendations.
Now, I’m going to be a bit confusing here – take into consideration the location of the place. This is especially true if you’re taking your pets here regularly, or if the person is coming to your house, be sure they’re not too far in case something happens. That being said, we drive over an hour to our dog boarding place because we love them so much and won’t go anywhere else. We first used them when we lived closer, but because they were so amazing, we still use them despite the distance.
Check the safety precautions and rules they have in place. Can dogs get out of the yard easily? Are they supervised? Do they have rules against allowing aggressive dogs, or keep small/big dogs separate? Are the toys, play areas and pools appropriate sizes and such to allow for safe play?
This one is HUGE guys! A place can be amazing, super fun, close, affordable, extravagant – whatever – but the staff is one of the single most important aspects to your pet sitters. Do they truly love dogs? Will they play with them, watch and supervise them? Are they TRAINED to properly care for your animals, and know what to watch for in case something comes up?
Our story – three years ago, we were on a trip to Disneyland. Day 2 of the vacation, the director of the dog boarding facility called because our Tula had acted really lethargic and weak that morning. They checked her, decided it was worrisome enough to take her to the pet hospital, and kept us updated every moment. We couldn’t just hop on a plane and fly home right then, so we had to trust they could act in our place for many things regarding Tula’s care. As it turned out, she had a belly full of blood requiring surgery to fix. Many tests later we still have no clue what caused this, but we were told by doctors and our vet that had the staff not paid enough attention to notice Tula wasn’t being herself, she wouldn’t have been saved in time. Not only that, they helped us figure out the bills and everything while we were so far away, because they really wanted Tula to get the help she needed. THAT is true caring for animals!!!
Just a couple of weeks ago, when we were at Disney World, they called because Leia had a swollen foot. They checked if we knew anything, what we wanted them to do, then they kept a close eye on it to make sure it wasn’t anything worrisome. It went away after a day or two, but knowing they were aware of even little things – like one swollen foot – set me at ease while someone else was caring for our dogs.
Comfort & Fun
This is definitely not a HIGH priority, but it is still important – you want your dogs to have a fun time while you’re away, so be sure the sitter or pet daycare will interact and play with your pups. Check if they have play equipment (dog climbing ramps, tunnels, etc.) or even fun pet pools. Do they also have enough shade/cover for the pets to protect from the weather? Will they throw a ball for those pups that love playing catch?
Policies & Procedures
Be sure to find out all of the company’s rules and regulations. Are there extra fees if they have to apply medicine for your dog? Do holidays require advanced reservations or deposits? Can you board your multiple pets in the same area, or do they have to be separate? What are their operating hours?