There has been a demand for dog sitters and home boarding in recent years which has given rise to inexperienced people taking advantage of pet owners, and charging considerable sums of money for inadequate service. Some have never even owned a dog, have no insurance; don’t hold a canine first aid certificate and haven’t undertaken any training.

While there are no mandatory qualifications required to run a pet sitting and/or home boarding service, in practice it is essential for the proprietor to have experience and skills in cat, dog and small animal handling, canine and feline behaviour, personal health and safety and pet first aid.

I was taking two of the dogs in my charge, out for a walk when I spotted a man walking a terrier thrashing and snarling at the other end of the lead. He explained that he was pet sitting the Jack Russell for a customer. Furthermore he said that while taking it for a walk a few weeks ago, it attacked another dog in the fields nearby. That he froze, and it took the owner of the dog being attacked to part them.

I was concerned for the dogs in my charge because this aggressive terrier was hot on the scent of exciting prey. A flurry of barking in the street told me that he had found his target the smaller of the two dogs I was walking.

The man looked me in the eyes and seemed to say thanks. Turning to the dog, I said,NOin a firm tone that meant business. Reluctantly, he shut up and looked at his sitter, disappointed.

I have heard many nightmarish stories of pet sitting gone awry.  Well-meaning friends, family and neighbours might offer to sit for free, but cheap can be expensive. One woman I met at one of my seminars was in tears as she told a story of sitting for her neighbour’s cat. When she went in one day to feed him, the Thump!she always heard as he dropped to the ground and ran for the door to greet her was replaced with dead silence.

Going away on holiday can be overwhelming enough without having to worry about what to do with your dog(s) while youre gone. If you are like me, your dog(s), are a part of your family.

To help you arrive at an informed conclusion Ive prepared this list, the good and the bad. Hopefully its a fair and impartial list, although you probably know which way Im going to lean.

It should serve as a good starting point for anyone wanting to get more details about the importance of choosing the right carer.

Good

  • If you’re going on holiday for any period of time, the advantage of having a professional and qualified animal carer who is insured to visit your or their house regularly is an added benefit.

  • A good animal carer will watch over your dog, not leave it home alone with the radio on, or in a crate for hours.

  • He/she will have sound general knowledge of many different kinds of pets and not just cats and dogs. I have cared for birds, turtles, hamsters, fish, and rabbits, to name a few, and have sound knowledge about how to care for each.

  • Dogs and cats generally feel safer, less anxious, and more secure with knowledgable carers.

  • A professional animal carer will be First Aid and CPR certified and qualified to deal with most emergencies as well as be able to administer medication on a regular basis.

  • Puppies, kittens, seniors or disabled dogs, or those on medication requiring a more regulated programme and intense care and supervision will benefit from a qualified, knowledgable carer.

  • A dog who has separation issues or is reactive to other dogs will certainly be in safe hands with an experienced, knowledgable animal carer.

Bad

  • A dog that is not well socialised or has not been exposed to other humans, at least initially, will have a difficult time adjusting to an inexperienced dog sitter.

  • Pet sitters charge the same rates as professional qualified animal carers. However, this can add up and ultimately become pricier if an inexperienced sitter gets it wrong or falls foul to the law.

  • Pet sitting is a very easy business to set up with very little restrictions. This means that in the mix with some highly qualified, caring, responsible, care providers you will find many unprofessional, uneducated, smooth talkers who are looking to make quick money.

BE VIGILANT DON’T LEAVE YOUR PETS WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO OR LITTLE EXPERIENCE OR KNOWLEDGE.