6 Critical Questions to Ask a Pet Care Provider

Written by: Robin Bennett, CPDT-KA

Please note, I received compensation in exchange for this blog post. – Robin Bennett, CPDT-KA

Few pet parents realize that the pet care industry is an unregulated industry. Anyone can make business cards and claim to be a pet sitter, dog walker, dog trainer or own a daycare/boarding facility. The good news is that there are many talented and positive people who are passionate about providing the best pet care possible for your pet, and it’s easy to find the right ones if you know what to look for. So how can you identify the best pet care professionals? Here is a list of 6 questions you can consider!  

  1. What training/education does the business owner and employees have? Great businesses believe in education and spend time learning about trends and practices in their pet field (this might be online, attending seminars, working with consultants, reading specific books, etc). Training should be more than just shadowing another person. The very best pet care providers will have certification and belong to an industry trade association such as the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), Pet Sitters International (PSI), or the International Boarding and Pet Care Service Association (IBPSA).
  2. What should they find important when it comes to your pet’s health? It is not uncommon for pet care providers to ask about your pet’s vaccinations. Great pet care providers comply with state and local regulations on vaccination requirements and will defer to your veterinarian’s decision on what is best for your dog based on his age and health. If your dog will be around other dogs these requirements are even more important.
  3. What should you look for in the enrollment process? Most pet care providers will include some sort of behavioral intake form to be completed to ensure that your dog is a good fit for their services. If you are looking for a place where your dog will play with other dogs, ask about their enrollment and testing process for dogs. This should include a visit to the facility so the dog can be formally assessed with other dogs.
  4. Are there safety measures for overnight care?
    If you will be boarding your dog, ask about overnight policies. If there is not a staff member overnight, a facility should have some sort of monitoring system that will automatically alert police and fire departments in the case of emergency.
  5. What is the staff to dog ratio for off-leash play supervision?
    For dogs in daycare, a safe daycare operates with no more than 1 person for every 10-15 dogs (depending on the size of the dogs). A smaller ratio is even better. Supervision of dogs should always be a priority when the dogs are in a group together playing, so avoid facilities that let the dogs play unattended.
  6. How are the dogs disciplined?
    A high quality pet care professional uses obedience cues for control rather than relying on physical methods of punishment. Yelling, physical punishment, or the use of tools that scare the dogs are not appropriate or necessary management tools.

Leaving your dog with any pet care provider is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. With these questions, hopefully you’ll be well equipped to begin a partnership that will benefit both you and your dog!

Robin Bennett is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). To learn more about her, visit her website.