What Experience Should I Look for in a Pet Sitter?

September 27, 2016

As much as pets are a part of your family, unfortunately, you can’t take them everywhere. But, not to worry! Finding someone to watch your pets is easier than you think. However, when choosing a pet sitter for your furry friends, there are things you should keep in mind and a few questions you should ask yourself along the way.

What kind of pets do you have?

The type of pets you have will help to determine how much experience you’ll want your pet sitter to have. If you have small pets that need little maintenance (i.e. a fish or a hamster), a young pet sitter such as a niece, teen neighbour or friend may suffice. If your pets are larger or require more attention (like cats or dogs), you’ll want to make sure this person has some experience and is licensed and insured.

Another thing to consider is how many pets you have. For example, if you have multiple dogs, they’ll all need to be walked. If they’re larger (or rambunctious) dogs, you’ll need to let your pet sitter know to set aside time to walk them one at a time, bring a friend to accompany them, etc.

What kind of pets do they have?

A great starting point when asking a potential pet sitter about experience is to enquire about their pets. Experience with animals usually stems from a person’s own pets. Did they have pets growing up? Do they have pets now? How much time do they spend with their pets? Do their pets have any special needs? These are all valid questions to ask a potential pet sitter.

How long will you be gone for?

The amount of time you need a pet sitter for will also help determine how much experience they’ll need. Is it just a night? A weekend away? A week (or more) long vacation? These are all very different and would require a different skillset.

If you’ll be gone for more than a week, you also may want to consider having the pet sitter come over a few times before you leave, especially if your pet is unfamiliar with them. This will make it easier on your pet sitter and your pets! You may also want to consider a pet sitter who has house sitting experience as well.

Do you need to leave instructions?

No matter how small the task is, you should always leave instructions for your pet sitter. Written instructions, as well as verbal ones will make sure everything goes smoothly. Be sure to also include phone numbers of where you’ll be as well as another family member or close friend that can be contacted if you’re unreachable. Another thing to remember is to make sure to leave everything in one spot for easy access for your pet sitter.

What to provide Pet Sitters

  • Written instructions
  • Leash
  • Food/treats
  • Favourite toys
  • Doggy bags
  • Emergency numbers (for you, your vet, other family members)
  • Places your pet likes to be (under a certain bed, behind specific furniture, etc.)

Special Instructions

Do your pets need special care such as a flea bath or medication administered? These instructions should be written separately from the general ones to avoid confusion. You should also try to have your pet sitter present to watch you give your pet their medication or flea bath, so they know how to do it and just how your animal reacts.

What should you ask in the interview process?

Before hiring a pet sitter, you should conduct an in-person interview (preferably in your home – this way the potential hire can interact with your pet(s) and get to know them) and ask your potential pet sitter some questions.

Example pet sitter interview questions

  • Do they have a business license for your city/country?
  • Are they licensed and bonded?
  • Do they have proof of insurance?
  • Do they have any specialized training (i.e. first aid, other special care)?
  • Can they provide a contract or agreement?
  • Can they provide references?

More Example Pet Sitter Interview Questions: 43 Pet Sitter Interview Questions

What should pet sitters ask?

A good pet sitter should also have some questions for you about your pet and your home. Don’t be alarmed if your sitter asks several questions – it’s normal and shows they’re serious about the job.

Example questions pet sitters may ask

  • What is your pet’s diet like? Do they have any allergies or sensitivities?
  • What is your pet’s daily routine? How many walks do they take? For how long? Do they need special exercise?
  • Does your pet have any special medical needs or conditions? Do they take medication? If so, how is it administered?

What’s more important than experience?

Although experience does come into play when hiring a pet sitter, there are other things that are more important.

Here’s a few to consider

  • Trust – the most important thing between you and your pet sitter (and your furry friend!) is trust. Of you can’t trust someone, it won’t matter how much experience they have. It may be a good idea to request a background check before you hire them, just to be sure.
  • Caring – having a caring pet sitter is one of the most important traits you should look for. After all, you want your pets to feel comfortable with whoever looks after them while you’re gone.
  • Love for animals – being caring also means having a genuine love for animals. When someone is passionate about something, it makes them a better candidate.


Ask family, friends, and neighbors what they look for in a pet sitter in terms of experience, pay expectations, etc. This will give you a great starting point when you begin to look for a pet sitter. However, in the end, you need to listen to your gut. Your instincts will tell you who is the right candidate for you and your furry friends.

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