Pet Sitting: How to Prepare For a Vacation

While you escape for that well-needed vacation, do you know who takes care of your pets?  This is a decision I have never taken lightly, as my dog is my family.  Knowing your dog, or pet of any kind is important, especially when you are away.  Here are ten tips for being (mostly dog, but) pet-prepared for your upcoming trip.

Pet sitting: vacation preparation

  1. Know Your Pet
    Does your pet get stressed?  Lonely?  Bored?  These are questions you should be able to answer as your consider the best care for them.  Note the type of behaviors that are normal for your pet, and note the behaviors that indicate stress, boredom and other negative factors.  Inform your pet sitter.

  2. Wear Out Your Pet
    Do whatever you can to tire your pet before you leave.  An extra run, another romp at the dog park, whatever it takes to make sure your pet is satisfied and ready for a rest.  A tired pet is less likely to show stressful signs on your departure.  If you have a pet that gets grouchy when he/she is tired, take this into consideration.  You don’t want to leave a nightmare for your pet sitter.

  3. Temp Tag Your Pet
    Make sure the contact information for your sitter is attached to your pet while you are away.  If you turned off your phone so you didn’t get international data charges, it doesn’t do much good for a good Samaritan to call the number on their tag.  Leave the information on your pet, for those who can best help your pet while you are away.

  4. Write Everything Down
    If you have a house sitter taking care of your pets, leave them with a notebook of pet information.

    1. Photos of your pet.  
      These come in handy if your pet should get lost while you’re away.  Take photos from the side, front, back, etc.

    2. Your address, written down.  
      If any sort of emergency happens, authorities will ask for the address – your sitter may or may not remember your street address.  Or, perhaps they want to order a pizza and need to know which delivery zone you are in.  Help them out.

    3. Vet information.
      Your vet.  Most sitters will take an ailing animal to their vet, an emergency clinic or whatever they can do.  It’s good to first take your animal to their vet, where they have history of vaccines, allergies, history, etc.

  5.  First Aid & Other Precautions
    If you know your dog likes to dig in that one area of the yard, make sure you have instructions on what to do if he/she damages your fence to the point of creating an escape route.  Have fence-mending tools and supplies available.  Have first aid supplies available.  Instruct your pet sitter on how to fix the problem, or provide a number on where to find help.

  6. Your Contact Information
    If at all possible, write down information on how the pet sitter can get a hold of you in an emergency.  Write down your hotel name, vessel name, resort name, phone and address.  Maybe you turned your cell phone off while you are out, but if something happens at home with your pet and you need to make a decision (and want to be a part of that decision), give your pet sitter a way to get a hold of you.

  7. Inform Trusted Neighbors or Friends
    While you may not want to use your friends and family to pet sit, again… let someone you trust know that you are going to be gone and have them check in on your house/pet once in a while.  You may find the pet sitter your hired did a great job with your pet, but had a party at your house while you were gone.  Maybe no evidence was present when you returned, but nosy neighbors will help you know what really went down while you were out.

  8. The Extra Key
    Sometimes people lose things.  Unfortunately, sometimes those things are the keys to your house.  You don’t want your pet waiting inside crossing their legs until the locksmith comes, so be prepared and have a spare key somewhere available – hidden or left with a friend, anything.  Be sure your pet sitter knows where the extra key is, or with whom in the case of temporary forgetfulness.

  9. Choose the Right Sitter
    The bottom line on your pet sitter is to find one that YOU are comfortable with, for your pet.  Be sure to meet them ahead of time.  Watch how they interact with your pet.  Does your pet show any signs of discomfort or disinterest?  Your pet will let you know if the sitter is not right.  Watch them, and make sure the “right” sitter is here for your pet.

  10. Boarding, Pet Vacay, or In-Home Sitter?
    Make sure whatever pet sitter you choose is the right choice for your pet.  Be sure your pet is up to date on vaccines (namely Kennel Cough) and don’t be afraid to ask questions as to how often your pet will get out, exercised, interacted with, etc.  You know your pet, make the right choice for him/her.  Maybe Fluffy likes it better at Grandma’s house.  Maybe your pet likes the interaction of Doggie Camp where they can interact.  Or, maybe your pet is really just the most comfortable at home.  Know your pet, make the right choice for them.