How could you possibly leave your pup for more than an afternoon? We’ll tell you how — with the help of a loving and trusted pet sitter. If this seems too good to be true, rest assured: Your dog’s adoring, magical and ever reliable Mary Pupins is out there just waiting to sail down on her umbrella into your dog’s life. So what if she can’t turn curtains into doggie coats or produce steak treats from thin air? Mary has skills your dog needs.

So before you cancel your vacation to spend more quality time with your precious pet, try this: Imagine your dog’s Mary Pupins. Then send out a wish to the universe and wait. And um…while you’re waiting, you may want to take a tip or two from the experts at the Humane Society of the United States. Get the facts on finding, keeping and preparing your pet sitter for a few days or weeks with your best friend.

Finding Mary Pupins
Where can you find your doggie nanny? First, ask for references from friends, neighbors, your vet, local humane society, dog owner’s group or dog trainer. Try and read others’ experiences and ratings. You can also contact the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (800-296-PETS) or Pet Sitters International (336-983-9222).

Then, start making calls and emails to get to know each candidate.  Here’s what to look for:

Written Proof: Is the pet sitter covered for accident and negligence through commercial liability insurance and bonded, so you’re protected against theft by any of her employees.

References: Will the pet sitter provide you with contact information for current and past clients?

Back up: Does the pet sitter have a partner who covers for her in the case of illness or unscheduled absence from work?

Contract: Does the pet sitter agree to walk, play and spend quality time with your dog? Does she call or visit your home to confirm that you’ve returned from your trip? Find out what services are included and ask for a written contract spelling it out.

Before hiring your pet sitter it’s absolutely necessary for her to come to your house to meet your pet before you leave. You’ll see how she interacts with your dog and how your dog responds to her. If the pet-sitter passes, try her out on a short trip first before working up to a long vacation away.

Doing your Part: Hold up your end of the bargain by leaving detailed lists and information your pet sitter needs. Below are some of the HSUS’s recommendations.

Tag Him: Make sure your dog’s current ID is attached to his collar.

Leave Clear Instructions: See the links below for a downloadable Woof Report Pet Sitter Checklist to provide all the necessary info.

Organize Supplies: Buy extra food and supplies and keep them all in one place for easy access while you’re away.

Have a Back Up Plan: Provide a friend or neighbor with key to your house and your pet sitter’s contact information. This ensures that another responsible caretaker is on call if necessary.

With the peace of mind that comes from trusted pet care, you’re free to enjoy your time away without worry.  Bon Voyage!


The Scoop:

Download the Woof Report Pet Sitter Checklist
Complete the form for your pet sitter before you go!

PDF version 


See More Tips for Choosing a Pet Sitter from the HSUS