I absolutely love my dog Maggie and if I could, I’d take her everywhere with me. People gravitate to her easy going and chill personality which means people end up gravitating to me, which I love. Unfortunately, it’s not realistic or feasible for me — or anyone else for that matter to bring her everywhere I go so I end up needing to leave my baby girl behind.
For doggy moms and dads everywhere, there are two basic options: a dog sitter or a dog boarding facility. For this doggy dad and many others, the latter is out of the question. Boarding facilities/kennels can be extremely traumatic for pets since they’re in unfamiliar environments, around other animals and most of the time overnighted in a crate. I did it once when I was stuck in a jam and felt really crappy about abandoning her in an environment where she wouldn’t be loved. When I picked her up after the weekend, she was behaving timid and unlike herself. That was the last time we did that.
At this point, I either find a dog sitter I trust or I don’t go away. I prefer having friends stay with Maggie in my apt so she can enjoy our bed and her routine but it’s great when she’s the guest of honor for a few nights of puppy sleepovers and unconditional love too.
Finding a dog sitter isn’t exactly easy…
Of course, finding a dog sitter isn’t as simple as booking that trip and figuring out where you are going to stay. There is a lot of embedded friction and stress in the process from being able to find someone, feel like you can trust them with your pet and in your home and working out the logistics. Referrals and recommendations from friends or vets are a good place to start looking for dog sitters.
It’s hard enough to leave our dogs behind, no one needs the additional stress when it comes to finding a sitter.
7 ways to find a dog sitter the next time you travel:
1. Friends, Family & Neighbors: probably most obvious and most natural option and usually free… Friends and family are great and they offer us peace of mind and a sense of trust that we crave. The only downside is asking them one by one or over and over again can be time consuming and a bit of a burden and they aren’t always available.
2. Pet Sitting Associations: Pet Sitters International and NAPPS offer professional sitters in your area. You can search by zipcode and services offered. Almost all the sitters are insured and first-aid certified. You’ll most likely want to check their references, meet them in person, establish a contract and introduce them to your pet.
3. Google/Yelp Search: I know, I know duh…thanks captain obvious but if you have the time, local search can yield results of professional sitters, dog sitting businesses and daycares in your area. The downside is that the results are completely random, ratings are unreliable and you have to do a lot of sniffing through profiles, reviews just to start the process.
4. Word of Mouth: The dog park, vet, friends, family, dog owners you know. While asking every person you know can be a little annoying, the upside is that they are usually already vetted and loved by the people making the recommendations. This cuts out a lot of the guesswork and but can be a bit of a hassle to track people down
5. Specialty Service Sites: A few of these have popped up over the past couple of years like DogVacay and Rover which aggregate local dog sitters, dog walkers and service providers into their network for you to choose from. While they usually have no personal connection to you, all of the sitters are dog owners or families in your area that are willing to host your dog have insurance though the companies and have reviews.
6. Lead Generators: Care.com, Thumbtack.com, petsitting.com These sites are a hybrid between the pet sitting associations and the specialty service sites. You can pay a membership to have access and you simply submit a job and a price range, a query is sent out to sitters that fit the parameters and they can bid on your job.
7. Social Networking w/ DoggyBnB: While Facebook is can limit who it sees your posts and Twitter can be like shouting into a forest, DoggyBnB, a new mobile app and dog sitting network, finds you a dog sitter through friends, family and social connections rather than strangers. Using your contacts and Facebook connect, it maps a network of dog loving friends within 3 degrees of separation that are willing to dog sit or board your pet. These can be your best friends, friends of friends or dog sitters your friends know, trust and recommend. And to make things easy, rather than asking friends one by one or cornering them to help, DoggyBnB broadcasts a message to everyone you are connected to at once and lets the help come to you.
With the travel season in full swing, hopefully you are fully armed with as many options to take care of your furry family member as possible. My suggestion is to download and try DoggyBnB and create a network of love with the friends you know and trust the most. Let me know which options you love or end up trying this summer! Best of luck. Paws Up!