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How to Interview and Assess a Pet Sitter

Hiring someone to come into your home to care for your beloved pet while you are away can be a confusing and stressful task.  How do you choose the right one from those recommended to you? Who is the perfect fit?

First, decide what you want from the pet sitter.

Is basic care including feeding and cleanup all you require or do you want the sitter to correctly engage your pet to lower their stress? Is medication administration needed?

pet02Start assessing the candidate during the initial contact, preferably on the phone. Do they seem interested in you and your pet or are they distracted, lacking enthusiasm?

Most pet sitters will want to come to your home for a consultation {meet and greet}. If they don’t, move on to the next one. A consultation gives you the chance to interview and assess the candidate. Your pet will get the chance to investigate and form their own opinions.

The sitter is able to see the” lay of the land”, allowing them to assess your pet’s needs so they can provide the best of care.

The following questions are designed to help you assess pet sitters during the interview:

  1. Why do you like being a pet sitter?  This open ended question will help assess their level of interest. Are they animated and enthusiastic or lethargic with their minds else where?person-texting-by-kakethesnakeld68
  2. What  training do you have?  Have they taken courses or even earned diplomas? Are they trained to administer medication if applicable?
  3. What is your previous experience? How long have they been caring for animals? Any animal hospital experience? Have they cared for pets with a similar situation as yours?
  4. Ask specific questions about any conditions your pet may have. What symptoms would warrant a trip to the veterinarian?
  5. What is their approach to handling emergencies? What would you do if you can’t get hold of me? An emergency plan must be in place before they start visiting your pet.
  6. What services do you provide? Do they cover everything your pet needs?
  7. Do you have a contract?    Make sure you are able to take a few days to look the contract over. Never sign anything on the spot.
  8. Are you bonded and insured? Ask to see proof. Shows they are a professional pet sitter, not a hobbyist.
  9. Can you supply references? References can be biased, investigating them may give you a sense of the pet sitter.animal-hospital-by-michelle-reitman
  10. Do you have a website? A  professional will, but remember, anyone can have a great looking website.
  11. How many pets do you visit in a day during busy periods? Will they be able to spend the time dealing with any emergencies that arise?
  12. Do you have a business license? Shows they are a serious, professional sitter.
  13. Are you a member of any pet associations? A committed professional will be.
  14. Can you supply proof of a clear criminal history? Should be no older than a year.contract-by-anita-cadonau-husby
  15. What is your availability for me to check in to find out how my pet is doing?
  16. How long do you spend with my pet and what does it cost?
  17. What are your payment terms?
  18. How do you confirm I have returned? It’s very important your pet sitter knows you are back and your pet is being cared for. If you are delayed and not able to contact the sitter, they know to check on your pet, avoiding any problems.
  19. How do you screen your sitters when hiring them?
    photo S Hearn
    photo S Hearn
  20. Will you or someone else be looking after my pet? You should meet all the caregivers.
  21. My pet is very shy, how will you deal with this? { If applicable}


During the consultation try to get a “read on the person”.

  • Do they make eye contact with out staring at you?
  • Are they comfortable answering your questions without being annoyed or impatient?
  • Any evasive answers?
  • Are they constantly shifting around?
  • Is their smile genuine?


  • Do they give off a “good vibe”? Trust your instincts, if they don’t seem the right fit, move on to the next candidate.


Did the sitter make sure you were comfortable with the consultation? Were you asked if you had any questions or concerns? Did they have a positive attitude and seem comfortable, confident and knowledgeable?

Were you asked questions by the candidate to reveal information about your pet’s personality and needs?

How does your pet respond to them? This is revealing if your pet is outgoing. If you pet has a shy side, it’s harder to judge. In this case you need to evaluate their behaviour towards your pet.

How do they approach your pet?

Does the sitter rush in attempting contact, or is your pet allowed to make the first move? During my consultations, I ignore the pet and wait till they approach and solicit my attention unless they are outgoing. If they don’t approach me, that’s OK, the pet remembers I am the man who didn’t force myself on them. This allows the pet and me to form a deeper bond.

Start the interview process as early on as you can so you can take your time assessing different pet sitters. Remember, trust your instincts . You don’t have to hire the first candidate.

Yes, there are a lot of question but to properly interview and assess a potential pet sitter for your treasured pet they need to be asked.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Excellent advice, including some questions you might not have considered. Having had one disastrous experience years ago when I left my dog in the care of what I thought was a professional.

  2. This is extremely helpful. We realise from our move how difficult it is to find someone like John, who truly cares about the animals he cares for. His understanding of each cats individual personality is totally unique and so helpful! Many thanks!

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