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Finding a reliable pet sitter

You've booked your next vacation or trip to visit family living far away, and have made all of the arrangements necessary. Except for who will watch your pet.

Millions of people across North America are pet owners. Although hotels and restaurants are increasingly amenable to pets, a good number of people prefer the convenience of leaving their pet home. Pets also seem to thrive in their familiar home environments. Keeping a pet home will require the services of a pet sitter to care for the animal.

At one time pet owners had limited options when it came time to arrange care for their animals while they were away. The choices were between asking a friend or family member to take on the task or dropping the pet off at a nearby kennel. Today, however, trained professionals are available to watch your pets, some of whom will even come directly to the house. Hiring a pet sitter is nothing to take lightly, as it requires finding reputable sitters who are thoroughly vetted.

When the time comes to hire a pet sitter, you want to ensure the person is trained and professional. After all, this person will be coming into your home and caring for your pet. Develop a series of questions you want answered, including a list of references, proof of bonding and insurance coverage, and fees. You also want to ensure that the pet and the sitter will get along together.

If you don't know where to begin the search, you can hire a National Association of Professional Pet Sitters pet sitter. These individuals have been trained in various pet sitting scenarios and should prove more than capable.

Once you choose a sitter, there are ways to make the experience easier for all involved.

* Make a list of the things your pet enjoys and does not enjoy.

* List any food allergies or problems with the animal.

* Provide recent veterinarian check-up information and a basic health history.

* Communicate your needs and wants about the animal.

* Establish rules for the home. Set up the home for the arrival of the sitter, including leaving out any necessary supplies for the pet.

* Clean up the house to prevent any hazards to the pet, including unplugging wires from outlets, and closing doors to rooms that are off-limits.

* Leave a radio on to simulate comforting noises in the house and keep the pet calm.

* Be sure the garbage is empty so that curious pets don't get inside and eat something they shouldn't.

The most important thing is the connection you have with the pet sitter and how well you both communicate about the needs of the animal. If you feel comfortable with the person, this improves the chances of a positive pet sitting experience.