Posted Date: October 8, 2015
In the second part of our series, use the tips below to find the best pet sitter or boarding kennel for your pets.
In my previous article, I discussed important factors to discuss when looking for a caregiver for you and your pets. Often competitors and judges may be
faced with finding care for a pet or pets while we are traveling to events, or
traveling on business or vacation. There are three basic options for having
someone care for your pets when you're away; a friend or family member, a
professional pet sitter, or a professional boarding facility.
A pet sitter can often
be a good alternative for a pet that is uncomfortable with change, is anxious
in new environments, is uncomfortable around other animals, or is a senior and
no longer in the best of health. I always suggest that when looking for a pet
sitter that you look for someone that can not only check in on your pets during
the day, at least twice, but will also be there at night to watch over your
pets and your home. While cats can technically get by with someone stopping by
for a half hour twice a day, the same cannot be said for dogs. You want to keep
your pets schedule as normal as possible, so a pet sitter should be in your
home the same times of the day that you and another family member are there.
In addition to asking
the questions above, I suggest you also ask:
- Are you a member of the National Association of Professional
Pet Sitters, Pet Sitters
International or the Pet
Professional Guild? Although not the same as being licensed, a pet sitter that is
a member of at least one of these associations is demonstrating commitment to
their profession and to humane care for your pets.
- How much time will you be spending with my pet(s)? In addition
to feeding your pet and taking care of bathroom breaks, a pet sitter should be
playing with and exercising your pets and depending on your pet, just spending
some time with them relaxing.
- What steps will you take if my pet accidentally gets away from
you and runs off? Make sure that they can safely handle your pet when taking
them outside so that your pet does not inadvertently run off.
- How many employees do you have?
- What happens if you get sick, are in an accident, have car
trouble or there is a blizzard? What is your backup plan to ensure that my pets
will be cared for on schedule, every day? Many pet sitters are one person
businesses, so please be sure they have a contingency plan in place.
- Are you and your employees bonded and insured? Remember, a pet
sitter will have keys to your home.
In most states, a
professional boarding facility must be licensed and must follow your state
regulations for the boarding of pets. These regulations govern housing, feeding,
sanitation, record keeping and basic standards of care. However, these
regulations are often very basic and the best facilities will do far better.
The best facilities will have staff training requirements for pet first aid,
pet behavior, health, and handling skills. They may often include daily
playtime as part of their package. Most facilities will have detailed contracts
which you will be asked to sign for the benefit of you as well as the facility.
Most pets do very well
when boarding and many facilities suggest you give your pet a test drive by
either boarding during the day or maybe even trying an overnight before you
book a weeklong vacation. In addition to the questions above, the following are
some suggested questions for the kennel.
- Are you licensed? Even though it's a legal requirement in most
states, some try to get around the law.
- Is anyone on your staff credentialed as a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant or Certified Professional Dog Trainer?
Understanding pet behavior is critical when caring for pets, especially for
longer stays. Individuals that have the above certifications have been
accredited by internationally recognized organizations and must continue their
education in order to maintain their certification. Having at least one such
individual on staff is a sign of a superior facility.
- Do you allow interactions between other dogs and if so, how are
they supervised? Supervising dogs at play, especially dogs that do not normally
interact, requires knowledge of canine behavior and communication. Staff need
to be thoroughly trained via professional programs and dogs should be evaluated
for size, age and play style. Dogs should be supervised at all times.
- Does someone stay at the facility at night? In some cases owners
may live on site, but there are facilities where that is not the case.
- Do you promise that you will not use any of the aversive tools
or techniques defined as harmful in the AAHA
Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines?
Hopefully you now have some ideas of what to
look for if you need someone to care for your pets.
Part one of this article can be found here.
photo credit: JR
in bed via photopin (license)
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, ME a pet-friendly pet care facility where they been caring for pets since 1965. Don is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He has a blog at www.words-woofs-meows.com.