It takes a lot of trust as a pet owner to give someone that you might not know a key to your home, let them know when you will be out of your house and let them have access to your four legged pride and joy! So how do you know what you are opening yourself up to and how can you minimise the risks?

With the large array of dog walkers and pet sitters available the choice is vast and can be a bit of a minefield as to who to choose. Top priorities in choosing a dog walker or pet sitter that you don’t know might include:-

1. They should always have insurance. This should include for all pet services that they are offering, insurance to cover the loss or injury to your pet in their care, key and lock insurance and third party insurance. Most insurance companies only cover for six dogs to be walked at any one time, ensure your dog walker sticks to this number for your dogs welfare as well as the insurance risk.

2. They should have a DBS check. This is the new form of CRB check to prove that they do not have any criminal records or burglary.

3. They should be able to provide references from other clients.

4. If they are visiting your home when you are not there you should ensure they are providing a discrete visiting service. You should consider carefully if choosing a pet siting service which arrives at your home in a liveried vehicle. There are many many horror stories of homes being broken into if the vehicle is being followed, your dog may also be at risk from theft if travelling in a marked sign-written van. It is a well known fact that more often than not dog walkers are usually visiting house which are unoccupied. They even remove the guard dog for an hour or so!

5. You should ensure that your dog is not left unattended in a vehicle for any period of time. If your dog is walked in a big group what is happening to your dog whilst the pet sitter is collecting and delivering all of the other dogs on the walk? I the summer they may get overheated within minutes if left in a non- temperature controlled vehicle. If they are not securely separated then this could lead to unsupervised, confined conflict between dogs.