“Pete1” (cropped) by Todd Petrie is licensed under CC BY 2.0


With so many pet care options for travelers, how do you choose between a traditional boarding kennel, a professional pet sitter, friend or relative to care for your German Shepherd?

Pet-sitting is a great option for German Shepherd owners whose dogs are comfortable and happy inside the home, or owners of multiple dogs who do not want their animals to be separated during their absence. While some of the advantages over traditional kenneling — such as lower stress and arousal levels, comfy surroundings and familiar routines — are obvious, there are some additional advantages to pet-sitting, especially if you take the time to carefully select a professional pet sitter.

Other advantages to choosing a professional pet-sitting service over traditional kenneling or a friend or relative include less exposure to disease-causing organisms; personal, one-to-one care for your dog; expert attention to your dog’s health and routine; no travel stress or complications for your dog; and peace of mind knowing your home is being cared for, as well.

Here are five questions to ask a professional pet sitter:

  1. Are you licensed (if required), bonded and insured? Insurance is the hallmark of a professional pet sitter, and demonstrates the sitter’s commitment to his or her business, and to your German Shepherd.
  2. How many other clients will you have while caring for my dog? Professional pet-sitting is busy and demanding job, and while a full schedule is a sign of good business, an overly full calendar can be detrimental to your pet’s needs.
  3. Can you provide references? A professional pet sitter should provide at least three references from clients who have used his or her services in the past year.
  4. Will I be able to contact you while I am gone? Pet-sitting, like most entrepreneurial endeavors, can mean long or unusual hours, so make sure your sitter has a cell phone or e-mail address available should you want to check on your pet. Keep in mind, however, that pet sitters also need to sleep, and may have set hours for communication.
  5. Are you familiar with and comfortable handling all types of dogs? German Shepherds are, by nature and breed description, often reserved with strangers. Although you may not have an excitable, aggressive or overly fearful German Shepherd, many in the breed take some time to warm up to new people. If you have such a pet, and the pet sitter you choose has little experience with the type, be sure to provide the pet sitter detailed instructions and information on your dog. Better yet, see if he or she will arrange a few free or discounted visits to get to know your animal while you’re still near home should a problem arise.

To find a professional pet sitter, ask your veterinarian, dog training instructor or groomer for recommendations. Pet-sitting organizations, such as Pet Sitters International, also have search directories available on the Internet to help pet owners locate a professional.

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