How to Prepare for a Pet Sitter

Written by Meghan Ross, community member. Rover is the nation's largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.

Getting ready for a trip can be stressful, especially when it involves leaving behind your beloved pup. But thoughtful preparation is key, especially when booking through a service like Rover, when your pet sitter may not have met you or your dog or been in your home before.

Follow this simple checklist to ensure that everyone involved has a fun, safe and enjoyable stay, starting with the all-important step: hire a stellar pet sitter, and they'll be there to support you every step of the way.

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The week before:

Conduct a meet and greet with your pet sitter before booking, so they can meet your dog, get a tour and confirm the kind of care you're looking for. Ideally, this meeting should wrap up wherever the stay will happen: at your place or the pet sitter's home. This is a great time to ask questions, such as the sitter's paperwork requirements for dogs in their care, and whether your pet will be around any other animals. Use this handy checklist to cover all the bases during your meet and greet.

Stock up on food, treats poop bags and any other necessary supplies. If the booking is taking place at your home, make sure the pet sitter knows where to find all these items, as well as your dog's toys, food and water bowls, collar, and leash. If your dog will be staying at the pet sitter's home, begin to collect all of these items in your dog's "overnight bag," so you don't forget anything.

Make sure your dog's tags and vaccinations are all up to date and visit the vet if you need to stock up on any meds. Let your veterinarian know in writing that a pet sitter will be caring for your dog, and authorize the vet to extend emergency medical care during your absence if necessary. If you don't have one already, invest in a pet emergency/first aid kit.

If you live in an apartment or gated community, be in touch with your landlord or security personnel to add your pet sitter to the visitor list. It's also a good idea to inform any neighbors who may check up on your home, and let your pet sitter know ahead of time if they should expect anyone else to come by (such as friends, family, or yard or maintenance providers) while you're gone.

Even if you plan to be available by phone on your trip, designate an emergency contact who knows your dog and can be available in person if you're unreachable. Check in with your emergency contact to confirm that they will be in town and available should your pet sitter need to contact them.

A few days before:

Check in with your pet sitter and make sure they know exactly when you are leaving, your return date/time, and your contact information, including when, if at all, you'll be out of reach. Confirm their arrival date/time and any important details about accessing your home.

This is also a good time to let your pet sitter know how, and how often, you'll want to receive status updates about your pet. The Rover app makes it easy to send and receive updates, including photos, right on your device and logs all your communications in a central location in case you need to reference them later. You can even use GPS tracking to confirm when your sitter comes to your home or takes your dog for a walk.

Write out detailed instructions for your pet sitter. It's a good idea to type these out, so you can send a digital copy to your pet sitter, and so you can reuse the information for future bookings. This list should be personalized to fit your dog's needs. Just make sure it includes the following:

- Your travel and contact information
- Information on your dog's daily routine, including bathroom breaks and feeding schedule
-  Detailed instructions about any medications your dog take (Make sure to talk to your pet sitter about this ahead of time, so they know what to expect.)
- Your dog's dos and don'ts, like getting on the furniture or eating human food
- Specific food and treat brand names and where to buy them, just in case
- Regular vet and emergency vet contact information
- Emergency contact information
- Any useful info about your pet's habits, such as eating quirks, separation anxiety, hiding places, etc.

If the stay is happening in your home, it's also a good idea to include:

- Info about your dog's usual walking route
- House rules, off-limits areas, and safety instructions
- Instructions on any relevant technology in your home (alarm system, TV, etc.)
- Where to find cleaning supplies for any accidents that may occur
- Thermostat/climate control instructions (make sure to update these depending on the season/weather forecast)

Print out this list and keep a copy in a prominent place in your home, or give a copy to your pet sitter when dropping off your pet at their home.

The night before:

Do one last sweep to make sure all your pet's supplies are in the right places, and that your home is fully pet-proofed for your dog's needs before you leave. If the pet sitter will be staying in your home, make sure they'll have everything they need to be comfortable, like clean bedding, towels and so forth. If your dog is going to the pet sitter's home, double-check that all of their supplies are packed and ready to go, including a surplus of food, just in case.

The day of:

Set your thermostat and secure all doors and windows for your absence. If your pet sitter will arrive after you leave, make sure they will be able to get in! Double check that the spare key is in its rightful place, and that your dog has plenty of water.

When it comes down to it, solid pet sitter preparation is all about communication. Remember these steps, and you'll leave knowing that your pet sitter has everything they need to facilitate an amazing stay for your dog. And that means you can enjoy your trip, worry-free.

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