Whether or not you can trust rover dog sitters has been a massive debate since the beginning.
Millions of people have used Rover, and the vast majority of them have found it to be an excellent way to connect with high-quality walkers, boarders, and more.
However, it doesn’t take long to find a much darker side of the story.
Pets have gone missing. Dogs have died while being watched. Homeless people have abused the system and used in-home stays as a way to get a free place to stay. Some horrible people have even sold pets online.
Although Rover and Wag work hard to weed out bad sitters and stop repeat offenders, there isn’t anything they can do to ensure that bad things never happen. They do.
Please, do NOT simply trust someone just because they are on Rover.
However, that doesn’t mean that ALL Rover people are bad. The overwhelming majority of people on Rover fall on the good to great side of the scale.
First, don’t give up hope, and don’t give up on Rover.
It’s important for pet parents to understand what Rover REALLY is. It’s a platform to connect you with sitters. No more, no less. Don’t trust everyone on the platform.
Yes, Rover does a vetting process that includes background checks and an extensive application & review process. This weeds out people with criminal records and those that are OBVIOUSLY ill prepared to work in the field.
However, there isn’t really any way for Rover to ensure that EVERY single person is good-hearted.
It’s up to YOU to ensure that you’re handing your precious little one to a good home.
If you follow these 6 steps, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else in finding quality sitters.
I’ve found that people place far too much trust in Rover’s background checks. It’s important that you understand what they actually mean.
Background checks are severely overrated.
Not because they aren’t accurate. They are extremely accurate! However, they don’t measure what most people think it measures.
It’s crucial that you understand what they actually represent.
Rover’s background checks are a criminal background check.
It ensures that they are not a sex offender, on a terrorist watch, or listed on the national criminal database.
That ensures that the sitter isn’t a criminal.
No more, no less.
This is good news, because you know that this person has never been convicted of major crimes, including animal abuse.
However, in no way, shape, or form does this verify that the person is qualified to handle pets.
Seek out other ways to ensure that they will be good to your fur baby (listed below).
Another good thing to look for is if they are “gold shield” sitters.
The blue shield means that they have gone through Rover’s normal background check.
The gold shield means that they’ve personally paid (out of their own pocket) a $25 fee to have a 3rd party do ANOTHER background check. This 3rd party background check is more extensive, and follows them through every single address they’ve ever lived in.
Few sitters pay to have 3rd party testing done.
The gold shield doesn’t test their ability to get along with dogs. It just further proves what the blue shield already proved.
HOWEVER, spending money to get the gold shield DOES prove that this sitter is dedicated to watching your dog. They’re dedicated enough that they want you to feel extra safe about their criminal history.
They’ll only do this if they want to make Rover a long-time commitment. Most people that intend to scam, or are only doing Rover halfheartedly, aren’t going to pay for that.
So, just the fact that they were willing to pay for a Gold Shield is DEFINITELY a good sign.
You probably already know what a meet and greet is.
It’s where you meet in the place of your choosing with the rover sitter.
It could be at your house, their house, a park or home depot. It is completely up to you.
These visits should be taken seriously.
I like to think of it as a job interview. You get to ask as many questions as you like to make sure that it is a good fit for you.
I think people put the right amount of emphasis on meet and greets.
People see the value in meeting in person and seeing how dogs interact.
This is the time to really decide if you are going to go forward with the boarding or doggy day care.
Here are some points to consider:
Do you take the dogs on walks?
Will other dogs be staying with you during my dog's stay?
Where will they sleep?
Do they have access to fresh water?
There are plenty of Rover sitters that aren’t comfortable accepting strangers from the internet to come into their homes. That’s fair, especially if they live alone, were victims of home invasions in the past, or are vulnerable in some way.
I wouldn’t discount a sitter just because they want to meet in public. However, it does mean you won’t be able to see their house and set up where the dogs will be.
If you want to see where the dogs will stay, you can always ask for some pictures for you to see at the meet and greet.
If they have the space, tools, and hands for it I don’t see why not.
If there are eight dogs in an apartment, obviously too much.
Personally I only take three dogs at a time because you never know how all of the dogs are going to interact together.
If you don’t have multiple fenced areas to keep dogs separated then you shouldn’t have a lot of dogs.
Depends on the mess.
If it is messy because of dog toys. That should be fine.
But if they are not cleaning up dog poop and trash is everywhere, then I would steer clean of that house.
Reviews are a great way to find out about other peoples experiences.
There are two different reviews that you will find. Verified Stay and Unverified Stay.
Verified stay can be found in the upper right hand corner of the review.
These reviews are given by people whose dog stayed with the sitter. Simple as that.
Unverified stay reviews won’t have any sticker on them.
They are given by people who didn’t have their dog stay with them but had experience with the sitter as a person.
Most of the time the unverified reviews are from family or friends.
Reviews are emphasized the right amount.
Everyone looks at how many reviews someone has to determine if you will go there.
If some place has one review then you would steer clear of it but if they have five then you are more likely to trust them.
What is a “Verified Stay?”
A verified stay is someone who had their dog stay with that sitter and then left a review.
Just because a sitter has some unverified reviews doesn’t mean that they are trying to scam you.
All Rover sitters have to start somewhere.
When they first start off, it’s often difficult to find clients without any reviews.
So starting off with a few unverified reviews isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
However, if they continue to have unverified reviews after their initial launch, that’s a bad thing.
Luckily, reviews appear in chronological order. That means that you can tell if the unverified reviews came from when they first started, or if they are padding their reviews throughout their Rover experience.
My recommendation: If they only have 2-5 unverified reviews, and all of those reviews were at the very bottom of the page, that’s a good sign. If they have any more than that, or unverified reviews scattered all over, that’s a bad sign.
Travel has started to pick up a little but not everyone wants to travel.
Repeat clients can be hard to come by because not everyone travels a lot.
They can be a good way to see if people liked that sitter but don’t put too much trust in it.
In the rover sitter profile scroll down a little and it will be on the right hand side.
To the right of the reviews.
It means that the owner and the sitter had a good experience and they trust them to continue to watch their dog.
The owner found a good match for their dog and they are happy with the results.
I think they can be overrated.
Just because someone doesn’t repeat their stay doesn’t mean they are a bad sitter.
Some owners don’t travel very much.
Or nothing was wrong with the stay, and they just prefer if family watches them.
It could also be that they had a trusted sitter before that was busy at the time, and they used this sitter instead.
It’s important to remember that not all Rover dog owners need to use Rover frequently.
That will have a large impact on how many repeat clients a Rover sitter will have. Even if 99% of their clients were thrilled with their experience and would never use a different sitter, it still may take months or years before they will actually need Rover again.
So don’t view this percentage as a client satisfaction percentage. Use reviews for that instead.
This depends greatly on how long they have been a sitter. If they have been using Rover for less than a year and a half, it’s likely this number will be severely underrepresented.
Unfortunately, Rover doesn’t disclose how long the sitter has been using Rover. It may be wise to ask them this question during their Meet & Greet.
If they have been around for more than a couple years I would say their repeat clients should be around 30%-60% of their reviews.
For reference, almost all of our clients have seemed greatly satisfied with our service at Happy Home Dogs. However, during the first couple of months of our sitting experience, none of our 40+ clients went on another vacation.
It wasn’t until month 3 that we got any repeat clients. By month 4, we only had 4% repeat clients, even though we had a 100% satisfactory rating.
Getting a picture of your baby while you are gone is always fun.
They may have gone someplace fun or made a new friend.
Sometimes getting that update helps you so you can relax on your trip.
You can actually see how many people receive photo updates from the sitter you are considering.
All photos will be sent through Rover.
If you are looking for a picture update about your dog you will find it on the app, and every time they send one you will get a notification.
At the top of the page in the bottom right hand corner of their profile, you will find the percentage of clients that receive a picture of their dog.
It means what you probably think it does.
It is the percentage of clients that receive a photo of their dog while they are staying with that sitter.
It's NOT a percentage of how many photos per day.
So, for example, if they had 2 clients that stayed for 10 days each, and sent each client 1 photo during their visit, they’d only have sent 2 photos (not 20) to get a 100%.
Photo updates are very important to some parents, and not so important to others.
If you want pictures of your dog everyday while you are gone then it is a lot more important.
Sometimes you may only want one or two pictures while you are gone so you are right in the middle.
And some don’t want any at all or just don’t care if they get them.
Everyone has their preference and everyone will tell you differently.
However, the percentage that shows on the Rover page is pretty underrated.
This is a great chance for you to see whether the sitter doesn’t care too much, does the bare minimum, does everything that they think you want, or goes above and beyond!
Not everyone asks for photo updates.
Someone wanted them everyday and others just wanted a few pictures.
Most sitters will only send you photos if they feel like the dog’s parent actually wants them.
I know that sounds bad but if a client don’t specify I assume they are ok with a little break and it will make them that much more excited when they see them.
Like I stated above, only about 50% of doggy parents want photo updates.
Most of the clients that want the updates want them everyday.
If the sitter hasn’t sent you a photo or update for the day don’t be afraid to ask. Sometimes they are trying to get a picture but they are moving too much. Or they just got busy and forgot to take the picture.
They are most likely more than happy to make sure you get your photo update for the day of your baby.
If their percentage is 0%-15%, they will only send photos if they are bugged to do it. That’s a bad sign.
If it’s 15%-40%, they may forget to do some of the more forgettable things every once in a while. They probably still focus on the most immediate and important things, but the rest may be slipping through the cracks.
If it’s 40%-60%, they are on top of it. They are trying not to bug the people that don’t want to be bugged with photos, but they are consistently delivering the best experience possible to those who do.
If it’s above 60%, they are going above & beyond. If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and hassle free experience, these sitters will likely come off as a little overbearing.
When you look at how much a rover sitter charges it can sometimes give you a good idea on if your dog will be the only dog.
I charge $25 a day.
If I only took in one dog I would be making a little over $1 an hour.
No one wants to work for only $1 an hour. No matter how cute and loveable your job is.
Because of this I will take up to three dogs a day. Some people will take more because they may have the space and hands and others will take less.
You can find this number underneath the calendar.
Just ask them at the Meet & Greet or over the phone when you are talking to them.
That completely depends on the situation.
The more dogs you take the more you risk that some of them won’t get along.
Having crates and land and extra hands can make it possible to take a lot of dogs but at that point it’s like going to a kennel.
Also, if someone lives in an apartment, they probably shouldn't have eight dogs stay with them.
It is hard to leave your fur-baby alone with someone you don’t know. If you do the work and ask the right questions, you can maximize your chance that your precious little one will have the best experience possible.