As nice as it would be to be with your dog wherever you go, there will be times when you'll have to leave your little friend at home, such as when you have to go on long trips.

The good news? Your pet doesn't need to stay home alone. With the Internet, finding good pet sitters are just a few clicks away. Here are a few tips to help you find the right pet sitter for your furry friend.

Tip #1 First, Ask Around

Asking for referrals is a good way to find a pet sitter with experience and credentials. Ask your relatives, friends, and veterinarian for trustworthy dog sitters with years of experience.

Tip #2 Look For Professionals

Professional pet sitters have the basic pet handling knowledge, and undergo special training (like pet first aid), but most dog owners aren't even aware of this!

Professional dog sitters also come with commercial liability insurance and are bonded to ensure that any accidents involving your pet will be covered financially. This also protects your home from theft and negligence.

Our advice? If you can afford them, go for professionals.

Tip #3 Be Price Smart

The fees of pet sitters vary widely due to factors like competition, location, and the spectrum of services offered. Dog sitters tend to charge lower fees in areas where there are lots of them around.

Some pet sitters charge higher fees because their services might include extras, such as in-home grooming and picking up of mail. Be careful to note the complete list of services the fee covers, and choose the sitter who best covers the needs of both you and your dog.

Tip #4 Interview Several Candidates

Pick your top candidates and invite them to your home for an interview. This step is important for two reasons:

First, you'll see for yourself how dog-savvy your candidates are. You can also test them for promptness, and how willing they are to adjust to your pet's schedule and special needs, if any. You can also clarify your protocols in case of emergency.

Secondly, you'll be able to introduce your dog to them early on and observe their interaction. Pay attention to your “gut feel,” and trust it.

Tip #5 Background Check (Criminal History)

Remember that regardless of the protection you get from insurance and bonds, you're still letting a stranger into your home. It's still a good idea to check the sitters you're considering for any criminal history.

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