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Are you going out of town for vacation? Or maybe you’re working long hours and don’t have time to get home to take out Fido? Dog-sitting services are like Airbnb for pups, giving them the luxury of a home-stay with the freedom and attention they deserve while you’re away. Some even offer other services like grooming, walking and training. Now isn’t that preferable to a crowded kennel or roughing it in a cage?
Find out which of the top pet sitting websites provide background checks, how much they cost, where geographically they’re available and which is the best fit for your needs.
- Dog Sitting vs Kennel vs Boarding
- Must Know Before You Read/Book
- Dog Sitting Website Reviews
- Sitters Should Be Bonded & Insured
- Pet Sitting Infographic
- Do You Think Pet Sitting Is Better Than Boarding?
More than 43 million households own dogs in the United States. That’s a lot of dogs that need love and attention. Combine that with our busy lives and you may find it difficult to take your dog on walks and feed them throughout the day (or when you’re traveling). That’s where dog sitting services come to the rescue.
What are the benefits of dog sitting over a more traditional kennel or boarding?
- Flexibility – You’re not restricted by closing times or the hours that the boarding center is open.
- Convenience – Some sitters offer to pick up and drop off your pet. You are likely to find a sitter in your neighborhood. This is also good for finding sitters while traveling.
- Peace Of Mind – Most pet sitting services have limited insurance that will cover some damages or theft, should the sitter be guilty of the act.
- One-On-One Attention – Nothing beats knowing your beloved animal is in a loving, happy home with someone who will give them extra love and the freedom to roam around.
- Familiarity & Consistency – If you find a sitter you like, you can build trust with them and have a home away from home (or in your home) for your pup.
- Personalized Service – In addition to more attention and lots of walks, the sitter will feed your pup, play with them, administer medications and more.
Pet sitting rates vary based on location, experience and type of pet.
Proceed With Caution
While we have personally had great experiences with these services, we are aware of many disappointments as well. Many of the sitters employed by online pet sitting services are untrained, non-professional, unlicensed individuals. A love for pets is what brought them to work in this business, but a lack of knowledge, experience, CPR and first aid training may lead to complex and heart-wrenching circumstances.
Be sure to choose sitters who have a long history of positive reviews. We have read several complaints of sitters who are hired to come to the house but don’t visit enough for feedings, walks, potty breaks, etc. Be sure to discuss in detail your expectations and make sure they are taking note.
We also recommend that you always meet the sitter before leaving your pet to make sure you are comfortable with the person, their schedule, the lodging situation, etc.
If you have any concerns about your pet staying with an unlicensed and unbonded individual, search your local listings to find someone who better meets your needs.
Below are reviews of some popular online pet sitting services.
Rover.com offers pet sitters for your dog at your home, or your pet can stay at the sitter’s house. Browse their site by zip code and view the possible sitters in your local area.
The company conducts background checks, provides reviews of dog sitters and shows their availability dates. Also, sitters receive “badges” for various items, e.g., Rover 101, which is pet care best practices training. Dog sitting rates are listed upfront along with the services offered and what types of animals the sitter is comfortable with.
Rover offers 24/7 support, a reservation guarantee and pet health insurance (vet bills are covered up to $25,000 per claim, after a $250 deductible). Sitters can also send updates along with photos and even videos of your pets to “stay in touch” with your fur babies while you are away.
Their site is clean and easy to navigate.
Personally, we have had great experiences, but we understand that not everyone has. So be sure to research the sitter options carefully, read their reviews and do a meet and greet in the home to make sure you are comfortable with the situation before you leave your dog.
DogVacay & Rover Merger
Note: In March 2017, Rover announced its acquisition of its biggest competitor DogVacay. In June 2017, all DogVacay users (both dog sitters and dog parents) officially moved to Rover. The companies joined forces to become the largest network of 5-star sitters and give those looking for a pet sitter more options, including a wider geographic range.
Check out this 30-second video to find out why dog people make great sitters (over boarding your dog at the kennel).
Use this link and you will receive a $25 credit towards your first booking with Rover!
Fetch! Pet Care does things differently. You don’t get to hand-pick your sitter. Instead, Fetch! personally matches every client to the most qualified sitter on their “staff” for you. Simply submit your request and they find you the most qualified professional in your area that is available on your dates. However, they do schedule a free in-home consultation for you and the sitter to meet. There are also client testimonials on the website.
Each sitter goes through a background check and your dog has limited insurance during the reservation. You should expect to receive updates via text, email and phone call to know how your pup is doing. Fetch! also offers dog walking and overnight visits.
Care.com offers pet care as well as other types of care (senior care, child care, etc.). For pets, they will pet sit, walk your dog, train, groom and board them as you need. How does it work? Sign up for an account and create the job you need to be completed, e.g., a pet sitter for a weekend.
Care.com guarantees caregivers will contact you within 3 days after posting your job. So, given this extra lead time, you will need to plan ahead for your job. Once they respond, you can review the profiles of the candidates and request any background checks. You can then conduct interviews and check references to hire whomever you like best.
HouseCarers matches you with a house sitter in your area. The house sitter will take care of your home and pets while you are away, so you don’t have to worry about boarding. Your house will also look “lived in” while you are away so criminals won’t see your home as a target.
The downside is HouseCarers does not have any guarantees and does not perform a background check, so you don’t have that peace of mind. When we searched for a house sitter near our area, we found results for people who were available for any location – not necessarily locals. We thought this was strange and not very helpful.
Petsitters.org (run by National Association of Professional Pet Sitters) is a pretty basic pet sitting service. They don’t provide any background on the person who will watch your pet and there is very little information about them provided.
There are no reviews of the sitters so you can’t see how they have done in the past. You have to do a bit of your own investigative work for this one: contact the person, conduct an interview, ask for references, conduct a background check, etc. It would be helpful if some of these things were provided in their profile.
You’ll want to hire a pet sitter that is bonded and insured. What does this mean?
Bonding for pet sitters protects the dog sitting company against employee theft. How does this work? If something goes missing while a pet sitter is staying in your home and you accuse the sitter of potential theft, should the police become involved and convict the sitter of the crime, then the bond would be covered by the company. The guilty sitter would then be responsible for paying back the bond to the company.
If your pet sitter has insurance, your property is protected from any damage that the sitter may cause while in your home. In some cases, the coverage extends to items in your home being stolen during house sitting. So, make sure that your pet sitter has insurance before contracting with them.
Pet Health Insurance
Oh no, Fido was bitten by a horse fly and is acting sluggish! No worries. If your dog doesn’t already have pet health insurance, some pet sitting services offer it for accidents, illnesses, and injuries to your pup (or others) during any pet sitter stay.
Rover.com comes with a Rover Guarantee which is an added layer of protection for when the responsible party is unable or unwilling to pay for costs arising from damage or injury attributable to his or her negligence, and when insurance is not available.
We summarized some of the benefits and why you should try out one of these services in the infographic below.
Source: Best Pet Sitting Websites
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Next time you’re leaving town or working late, you may want to search for a dog sitter online. That way your dog can stay in the comfort of its home and not be boarded at a strange place where it may or may not be comfortable.
Want to take your pet with you on your next trip? Learn some tips for successfully traveling with your pet. Are you interested in becoming a pet sitter? Read our dog sitting guide to get started. And lastly check out our reviews of dog walking apps if you just need some help while you are at work.
Have you used a pet sitter before? What was your experience?
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