You love your pet and want it to have the best care at all times. But sometimes you can't be there to provide it. So you need to look into finding pet care options in your area. One considerable choice may be a pet sitter, who comes to your house to look after, walk, feed and play with your four-legged family member. But choosing a pet sitter is not a task you should approach casually. Once you've posted a pet care job on Care.com, the applicants will start rolling in. But how do you choose one?
The interview process is key. You need to interview candidates with the same care you would when interviewing a babysitter or nanny. Go through the applications you receive and narrow the choices down to a handful that show promise. Reach out to the candidates and set up interviews -- in-person if possible. Here are nine questions you should ask during the interview process to help determine the best match for you and your pet:
- Why Do You Like Being a Pet Sitter?
Starting with an open-ended question like this gives you the opportunity to assess the sitter's level of enthusiasm for animals and for this type of job. If a person seems animated about this field, it may be something she's doing because she actually enjoys it -- not just as a way to earn some extra cash.
- Will You Play with My Pet?
Bring your pet along to interview to see how compatible it is with the sitter. All the training in the world doesn't matter if your pet doesn't get along with the person you're interviewing. Sometimes pets have an instant negative reaction to a person. See how the candidate interacts with the pet. Is she comfortable playing with and being around your animal?
- What Training Have You Received?
Having someone who is enthusiastic is important, but also ask what type of actual training the person has had. This may include a degree of some sort. A Veterinary Technician who is licensed to give shots, help with exams and assist in surgery would be quite a catch. In lieu of that, make sure the sitter can spot health problems and react accordingly.
- What Previous Experience Have You Had?
Has she cared for similar types of pets in the past? What did the sitter like and dislike about these experiences? What did she learn from them?
- What Services Do You Provide?
Do you want your pet to be groomed while you are gone? Do you think it's important that he spend at least an hour a day catching a Frisbee. Do you want a sitter to provide a checklist of what she did with your pet? A pet sitter can do all these things. But you need to find out if your pet sitter will do them. And ask specific questions. What types of grooming products does she use? What does she look for in a dog park?
- Do You Have a Contract?
A contract that lists services and fees is good for your peace of mind. (Although this is information on a nanny contract, read this article about contracts to get an idea on what a contract should say and provide for). Read any contract thoroughly before signing, so you know what you're getting. For example, make sure the pet sitter doesn't have a clause in her contract that states "Will feed but will not water."
- Can You Provide References?
You really want a pet sitter who can prove that he or she satisfied customers before she got to you. Call the references and ask what their experience with the sitter was like.
- Are You Bonded and Insured?
This would cover many dire contingencies(accidents, negligence, theft of your property, etc,).
- How Many Other Pets Are You Currently Sitting for?
You want to make sure she has enough time to care for your pet. If she also watches over numerous other animals, she may not be able to devote lots of special attention to yours.
Remember that this interview isn't only about you and your pet. The pet sitter should be asking you as many questions as you are asking her. If the candidate doesn't seem curious about your pet or isn't asking thoughtful questions, that is a red flag.
Steve Penhollow is a writer and editor specializing in trends, arts and entertainment for families.