Choosing a pet care provider for your animals can be a stressful task. Most of us treasure our pets and don’t trust everyone to know all their quirks or care for them in the manner we deem satisfactory. Add to that—everyone has heard a horror story of some irresponsible pet sitter that makes us squeeze our pets in fear. So what is a busy pet lover to do? Don't fret! We're sharing our favorite tips for selecting the right type of provider for your pet!
Types of Pet Care Providers
When it comes to pet care providers, there are a number of different options for different needs. In your search, you will find some private individuals who run their own businesses and personally care for all their clients, small local companies who may have a few to a dozen employees (some who may be W2 employees or independent contractors), large companies like Wag or Rover that use independent contractors, and established brick and mortar daycares or boarding kennels with W2 employees. These providers also offer different pet care services such as solo dog walks, home visits, group dog walks, doggy daycares, and hiking groups.
What’s Right for My Pet?
The right choice of pet care providers and services is vastly different for every animal and pet parent, and all the options can be overwhelming at first. But think about what your pet wants and what you’re comfortable with, and that should help you make the decision. For example, if your dog has behavioral problems or doesn’t like other dogs—it’s probably best they’re with the same walker every day and on individual walks. If your dog loves playing with other dogs and has lots of energy, daycare or hiking groups might be good for them. If you have a cat and are going away for a week, it's probably best to get an in-home sitter as cats find the change of environment very stressful. You must also consider YOUR feelings about who you're leaving your pet with and if you feel comfortable with people having free access to your home when you're not there. If you're struggling with the choice, make a pro-con list of all the options and see what appears to work best for your family.
Assessing Their Knowledge
Once you've narrowed down your choices of pet care providers and decided to talk to some, you want to make sure they know their stuff! So, where should you begin? Do some research first! Ask the care provider or company a bit about themselves—namely:
How long have they been in business?
What’s the extent of their experience with animals (or your age/breed/type of animal)?
Do they have experience with animal health or behavior problems?
What happens if the animal becomes ill or is injured on their watch?
Do they have insurance?
If it's a business with employees—what sort of training do their employees receive, and is business or individual employee liable if something happens to your animal?
Make sure you record their answers and remember which providers seemed knowledgeable, caring, and responsible. Last of all, take to the internet! Go online and look up yelp reviews, go on local town or pet Facebook groups, and Instagram to see what the pet care provider looks like in practice.
Do they have a good or bad reputation in the area?
Does anyone recommend a specific provider for your type, pet, or desired service?
After you have all this information directly from the pet care provider, as well as opinions of different businesses from your community, you’re well on your way to making the right choice for you and your pets.
When to Change a Service
An awkward and uncomfortable thing to consider with pet care services and when you have them is when it might be time to change. Suppose the services aren't up to snuff, someone mishandling your pet, frequently arriving late or ending services early, or having poor communication and not following instruction, it may be a good idea to look into other options.
Even if the pet care provider is doing nothing wrong, you may realize your pet isn't happy
with the services. For example, your dog may not be enjoying daycare playgroups and instead prefer individual walks, or your pup may need more vigorous exercise than a 15-minute walk can provide and be happier in a hiking group. Occasionally, you may also need to change services or pet care providers when your pets’ needs change—with age, health or behavior. Regardless of the reason, never be afraid to make your feelings and needs clear to your pet care provider, even if it may mean “breaking up” with them.
Choosing a pet care provider is a big decision!
Make your choice carefully, and if you're in a Bark Building, we've done a lot of the vetting for you, so make sure you check out our recommended service providers on your community dashboard! Need more personalized help? Our pet concierge is a complimentary service and can help you find the perfect local provider for your pet.