Know the right questions to ask to select the best possible pet sitter for your fur babies.

Are long work hours or out-of-town trips keeping you from your pets? Your first thought may be to ask a friend to pet sit—but think twice. A friend may love your pets like their own, but a professional pet sitter has the experience, educational training and insurance coverage for any scenario that may occur while you’re away. If you’re planning on hiring a pet sitter, read on for a list of questions to ask before handing over your keys!

1. Does the pet sitter have the proper business license, if required?

If your city or state requires a business license, any professional will have a valid license or permit.

2. Is he/she insured and bonded?

Ask for proof of coverage that is tailored to pet sitting. A pet sitter’s insurance coverage should protect both your home and your pets.

3. Can he/she provide proof of clear criminal history?

This person will have access to your property and pets. Ask for proof of a current, clean background check.

4. Does the pet sitter provide client references?

He/she should have a list of references for potential clients you may contact. Some pet sitters also include testimonials on their company websites.

5. Will he/she use a pet-sitting services agreement or contract?

The contract should detail the services that will be provided, along with all fees and the expected amount of time that will be spent with your pets.

6. Is he/she a Certified Professional Pet Sitter and/or has he/she participated in other pet-care training, such as pet first aid?

A qualified professional pet sitter will be trained in pet first aid and may also have a pet-sitter specific certification. Pet sitters committed to ongoing education will be up to date on best pet-care practices.

7. Is he/she a member of a professional and educational association that provides access to ongoing education?

Association membership demonstrates a pet sitter’s commitment to their profession—and provides them with access to up to date educational resources and business tools to help them offer the best services.

8. Will he/she meet with you in advance to meet your pet(s) and discuss their care needs?

Never book the services of a pet sitter you have not met in person. He/she should come to your home to meet you and your pet, learn about your pet’s routine, and document your care requests.

9. Does the pet sitter have experience with your specific type and/or breed of pet?

Make sure he or she has specific experience with the type of pet you have. Experience in caring for special needs pets is also helpful if that is what you need.

10. If he/she uses staff, are they also background checked and thoroughly trained?

Many pet-sitting businesses use staff sitters. If anyone besides the owner will have access to your home, inquire about proof of their background check and pet experience as well.


Beth Stultz-Hairston is the vice-president, marketing and operations, for Pet Sitters International (PSI), the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters and dog walkers. She is an award-winning writer, editor of Pet Sitter’s World magazine and a frequent contributor to The PSI Blog at