Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vacation Checklist for Your Pet Sitter
July Newsletter

Charlie Brown and Snoopy by Charles Schultz

Going on a trip can be complicated when you have pets, especially if you can’t take them with you. You typically have three options—board them, leave them with a relative, or hire a pet sitter (or ask a neighbor, relative, or friend to act as the pet sitter). Some pet sitters will live in the house with your pets, and others will come by several times a day to feed and entertain them. Here’s a checklist to leave for the sitter:

1. Make sure that the sitter has the proper keys and remember to leave her with all the information about your security system, including all codes. You can change the codes when you return.

2. Show the sitter where the circuit breakers are and how to turn off the gas and water supply to the house in case of an emergency.

3. Type out your itinerary and all of your contact information, including your cell phone number and the numbers to the hotels or homes where you will be staying.

4. Leave the sitter with the name and phone number of your pets’ regular veterinarian, as well as the name and number of an after-hours emergency veterinary clinic.

5. Write down the names and dosage information for all of your pets’ medications and show the sitter how to administer them.

6. Write down your pets’ microchip numbers and HomeAgain telephone number, 1-888-HOMEAGAIN (1-888-466-3242) in case your sitter needs it. When you get home, change your registration password. Make sure your pets have collar tags, too, so if they do get out, people can see they belong to someone right away. Order a HomeAgain collar tag today to prepare for your trip! Don't forget Col. Potter's tag program either, you can use our lost dog number as your primary number and keep your information updated through CP.

7. Let the sitter know how many times to visit and set expectations for each visit. Be sure that you are both clear about feeding, walking, and playtime schedules.

8.Leave all food and medication in clear view and label it clearly.

9. Leave cleaning supplies in clear view, including an enzymatic deodorizer and paper towels.

10. Make sure that the sitter has a partner or a backup plan in case she can’t complete the duties.

11. Also, make sure that you have a friend or relative that can watch your pet in case of an extreme emergency. If possible, introduce the sitter to this person before you leave, and make sure to leave all contact information with the sitter.

12. Let the sitter know about the areas of your home where pets are allowed or not allowed. Close off any areas of the house where you don’t want your pets or the sitter to be.

For safety's sake, lock up all valuables—don’t tell the sitter where they are, of course! If you choose to hire a professional sitter, make sure that the company is bonded in case there’s a problem or loss of personal property.

To be nice, buy the sitter some beverages and snacks, so she can nosh while she’s playing with your pets—this might actually keep her there longer, and will certainly put you and your pets at the top of her list of favorites.

Nikki Moustaki, MA, MFA, is a dog trainer, bird care and behavior consultant, and a freelance writer in New York City. She is the author of more than 26 books on pet care and training and is the host of

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