Pet-Sitter Hiring Checklist

Heading out of town? Whether you're looking to book Buster a room at the nearest pet hotel or to find a sitter who makes house calls, follow these steps.

Two Months Before Your Vacation

  1. Check Research boarding options or sitters.

    Sites such as can help you locate a kennel or pet hotel near you. Find sitters in your area at or through the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (

  2. Check If you plan to board your pet, visit your top two or three choices.

    Tour the grounds and the sleeping accommodations. Ask: What will my pet’s day be like, hour by hour? How much interaction with other animals will my pet receive? Is there an extra charge for individual playtime? How many people will my pet interact with during the day? What will you do if he gets sick? Do you supply food and treats for my pet? Which local veterinarians refer clients to you?

One Month Before Your Vacation

  1. Check If hiring a sitter, interview candidates.

    Ask whether he or she knows pet CPR (offered at many Red Cross branches), has commercial liability insurance (for accident and negligence coverage), and is bonded (to protect against theft).

  2. Check Discuss a schedule and payment with sitter candidates.

    Overnight sitting rates generally range from $40 to $80 per night, while daily visits cost about $10 to $20 per visit. If the sitter will also water plants and take in mail, expect to pay extra.

  3. Check If boarding, drop by the kennel unexpectedly with your pet.

    You want to make sure the kennel wasn’t putting on a show during your scheduled visit, and you want to see how your pet responds to the caregivers.

  4. Check Call references.

    Speak with at least two former clients of the sitter and ask about the family’s experience. Ask the kennel for names of a few clients to call.

  5. Check Make a boarding reservation or hire the sitter.

    Although some kennels offer short notice—or even same-day—sign-ups, reserving now ensures your pet won’t get turned down.

One Week Before Your Vacation

  1. Check Get a copy of your pet’s vaccination record.

    Visit your veterinarian and get a copy of documents showing your pet has had shots for rabies and bordetella, as well as a distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and parovirus (DHLPP) shot.

  2. Check Double-check the arrangements.

    Confirm with either the kennel or the sitter.

  3. Check With a sitter, arrange a home visit.

    Give the sitter a tour of your house. Point out where cleaning supplies are kept, and how to clean the litter box, if necessary. Show the sitter how to work your alarm system and where the circuit breaker is located, in case of emergency. Have a copy of your house key ready to hand over.

The Day You Leave for Vacation

  1. Check Make an emergency list for the sitter or kennel.

    Write down your travel itinerary, phone numbers at which you can be reached, and your local veterinarian’s information. It’s also a good idea to leave the number of a neighbor or friend in case of emergency. Include details of your pet’s allergies or medication needs.

  2. Check Create a detailed schedule for the sitter, if you hired one.

    Write down feeding instructions (how many times a day, how much food, where food is located), walking instructions (how many times a day and for how long), and grooming expectations. You might want to prepare your pet’s food portions to avoid any overeating.

  3. Check Pet-proof your home, if necessary.

    Close doors to rooms you want to keep your pets out of while you’re away, and let the sitter know.

  4. Check Display supplies for the sitter.

    Arrange leashes, toys, food, and grooming essentials in easy reach.

  5. Check If you’re boarding your pet, drop off him or her at the kennel.

    And then hit the road.