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Should You Get A Dog Sitter?

Much as we love our fluffy babies, we can’t always take them away with us. Whether you’re going abroad on a dream vacation, or just going away for a few days for work, all dog owners will sooner or later find themselves having to leave their pet behind.

Of course, you’ll need to arrange suitable care for your dog while you’re gone. Some dog owners pay for dog boarding kennels, but others find that too impersonal. Dog kennels can also be tricky for nervous dogs or dogs with medical conditions. So, what’s your alternative?

Dog sitters come to your home (or sometimes take your dog to theirs) and care for your pet in your absence. So, is a dog sitter the right choice for you?

Let’s find out.

What Is A Dog Sitter?

Dog sitters are people paid to care for your dog while you’re gone. Unlike boarding kennels, your pet will usually get one-on-one care, as well as be able to stay in their comfortable, well-known surroundings.

Pet sitters are also available to care for cats (this is usually a better option for cat owners than cat kennels) and other small animals. You can have your sitter live in your house while you’re away, providing overnight care and housesitting services, although this usually costs more.

More often, dog sitters come in several times a day to care for your pet, feeding them and walking them.

Are Dog Sitters Safe?

Your first concern might be this – is it a good idea to invite a stranger into your home?

If you go for a professional sitter, chances are, you will be inviting a stranger into your house. While there’s no guarantee that the dog sitter has chosen this job out of love for animals, the dog sitting service will usually have insurance and a professional standard to reach.

If you’re not sure about hiring a professional dog sitter, why not ask a friend, relative, or neighbour to watch your dog for a fee?

Pros and Cons of Hiring A Dog Sitter

So, what are the pros and cons of hiring a dog sitter? What should you consider before you give them a call? Let’s take a look.

The Pros

  • One-on-one care. It’s a simple numbers game. In a dog kennel, your dog is one of dozens or more dogs, all wanting care and attention. The kennel workers simply can’t afford to spend too much time on your dog. They may also not give your pet the medication their need, especially if it’s tricky to get your dog to take their medicine. If your pet is used to being the only dog at home, beloved and spoiled, spending all day in a wire cage in a concrete enclosure will be a real shock.

  • It’s the best option for nervous dogs. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, fear of other dogs, or they are wary of strangers, they’re not going to do well in kennels. To ease your dog’s stress, hire a pet sitter, preferably someone they already know and are comfortable with.

  • Your dog can stay in their comfortable surroundings. Your dog’s temporary home in the dog kennels won’t be anywhere near as comfortable as their home in your house. Especially if your dog is anxious or stressed, it’s best to let them stay where they feel comfortable and safe.

  • Better quality of service. There’s no getting around it – your dog will receive better of quality of care from the average pet sitter than from the average dog kennel. While a dog kennel may cost less than a dog sitter’s base rate, bear in mind that’s the absolute basics of care – food, water, daily walking, and that’s it. Dog kennels usually don’t include much socializing, petting, or playtime, unless you pay for a higher band of care.

The Cons

  • You’re inviting a stranger into your home. This, for many people, is the biggest obstacle to getting a dog sitter. If you don’t have a friend or neighbour you can pay to care for your dog, you’ll need to go through an agency, and that means hiring a stranger. You don’t know who they are, or even really anything about them. Yet you’re giving them access to your house and to your beloved pet.

  • The dog sitter may not even like dogs. Most dog sitters adore animals – that’s why they chose to be a dog sitter! Some dog sitters have another primary job, and their dog sitting is more of a fun side-line. However, some agencies might not be too picky about who they hire. Checking that their employee actually likes animals may not be high on their list of priorities. This means that your dog runs the risk of being neglected, ignored, or even mistreated, although this is a rare occurrence.

  • Dog sitting can get expensive very quickly. Depending on the agency you go with and the type of care your dog needs, dog sitting can cost a lot. This is especially true if you need the dog sitter to stay overnight, as many dog sitters charge per hour. Some agencies may charge more if your dog needs to be given daily medical care, like pills or injections.

Alternatives to Dog Sitting

If you feel that dog sitting isn’t for you, there’s always the age-old way of dealing with it – asking a neighbour to pop in and check on your precious pooch.

Otherwise, you might look into doggie daycare (which is good if you’re out most of the day and need a daily dog sitter), or classic dog boarding kennels. Boarding kennels are ideal for when you go on holiday and need a few solid weeks of care for your dog.

With some research, you can find a good boarding kennel for your dog. If you can afford it, try plumping for the higher “bands” of care, to make sure that your dog has plenty of stimulation and entertainment while you’re away. Be aware that most kennels require your dog to be insured and up to date with their vaccines.

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