When you are looking for someone to provide care for your pet when you cannot be there, does it really matter if you hire a professional? After all, isn't the neighbor, who loves your dog and seems good with them, just as good? She is certainly more affordable, and that's not a bad thing right?
In todays society, it does matter. A professional pet sitter or dog walker is more expensive than the teenager down the street, but there good reason for that. People who choose to do this career professionally, have chosen to do so because they have a passion for pets and caring for them. That's not all, though, professional pet sitters have a network of other professionals to reach out to for information when needed.
Pet sitting involves caring for a pet in their own home while you are away. This provides a host of benefits to your pet including providing companionship to your pet and reducing their anxiety. Often times, pets experience anxiety when they are removed from their home environment to go to boarding (even at someones home). In addition, your pets routine is minimally disrupted.
Pet Sitters do more than provide care for your pets. They bring in newspapers, mail and packages. Many of them will water plants and take care of the house while you are gone. They turn lights on and off, giving your home a lived in look. Many pet sitters will even stay overnight at your home providing your pet a sense of comfort and company.
Professional pet sitters have a standard that they expect from themselves. They have undergone training on canine and feline behaviors. They understand the different breeds and generally know what behaviors are typical for each breed. This gives the professional pet sitter an advantage over the neighbor. For example, a professional pet sitter is aware that your beloved Basset Hound requires a lot of consistency and attention. They also understand the importance of maintaining your pets routine and schedule.
Dog walking is when a care provider comes to your home and takes your dog for a walk, then returns them home. Dog walking requires a skill set that many people overlook. While out with your pet, the dog walker will navigate introductions with other dogs and people, distractions like squirrels and rabbits, cars and traffic. Each of these needs to be handled and navigated well to ensure your pets safety.
A non professional, may not understand canine body language enough to read subtle signals of distress or anxiety in your pet. If your pet is nervous or fearful of other dogs, and the dog walker allows a strange dog to meet your fearful pup, the interaction can go badly quickly, increasing your pets anxiety in the future (and increasing the risk of injury to one or both dogs!). Professional dog walkers use their knowledge of canine behaviors and signs of anxiety to keep your pet safe. They also are trained in how to avoid situations that are anxiety producing for your pet.
Professional walkers have also been trained in how to handle it when a strange dog or person approaches your pet- keeping your pet and people safe. Dog walkers will also monitor your dog for physical signs of distress or injury while walking them.
Benefits of a Professional:
Professional pet sitters and dog walkers have many benefits for you and your pet.
- They are insured and bonded: this provides you with ease of mind and protection in the event that something unavoidable happens.
- They have undergone training in canine and feline behaviors
- Most are certified in Pet First Aid and Pet CPR
- They have a business registered in your local state
- Professionals belong to organizations of other professionals. This allows them to seek out information more easily when needed and provides them with regular updates on the best practices in pet sitting/dog walking
- They are reliable and dependable: this is not a hobby for them, it is their business, their livelihood. It is not likely that they will "forget" to stop by and let Fido out because they lost track of time while at the beach.
- As such, many have software and websites that you can view and determine if their vision of pet care aligns with yours. For example, you can see our website here.
In summary, it is important to hire a professional. You can find local professionals by visiting Pet Sitters International Official Pet Sitter Locator. Pet Sitters International also has a lovely infographic differentiating the hobbyist pet sitter from the professional. See it here
Hiring a professional makes a difference for your peace of mind and for the care of your pet.