We've had lots of Meet & Greets over the years. Each one is unique, and each one has varying levels of effectiveness.
We've had super parents that knew exactly what they wanted, what to look for, and were able to find out whether or not it was a good fit in minutes.
We've had other doggy parents take tons of time stumbling over what they should ask, only to leave feeling like they didn't get an accurate idea of what their fur baby's stay would be like.
Your doggo wants to find a place that is safe. comfortable, and will keep them well stimulated. We've made finding that match a little easier by compiling 22 questions that you should consider asking at your next meet & greet!
Not every parent will need to ask all of them, but hopefully you'll be able to pin down the ones that are most important to you. Read on!
If you’re the type of person to do tons of research before using Rover, you likely already know that Rover already provides insurance for their sitters.
So, why would you need to ask this if you already know the answer to it?
To get an idea of how much the SITTER understands it.
Most good Rover sitters will have a basic understanding of what type of insurance Rover provides. If they do not, that’s a bad sign.
They should be aware that Rover offers insurance.
Bonus points to them if they know WHAT Rover will and will not cover. Rover will cover injury to either your pet or the sitter’s pet, property damage to the sitter’s home caused by your dog (on a case-by-case basis), and damage your dog causes to a 3rd party (such as neighbors, strangers, etc.).
EXTRA bonus points if they know HOW MUCH Rover will cover. They cover up $25,000, but only after the first $250. So if the damage is $249, Rover will cover nothing. If it’s $251, they’ll cover a dollar. If it’s $50,000, they’ll cover $25,000.
If they also have additional insurance on top of what Rover covers, that’s going way above and beyond. Don’t expect this from your Rover sitter (few can afford it, and what Rover provides is already sufficient for most needs).
Knowing how the backyard is set up will lead to a lot of insight as to how your dog’s stay will be. When looking at the backyard, I’d look out for the following things:
While looking around, I'd ask myself the following questions:
Is there a fence?
Is the fence strong/big enough to hold your dog?
Is there enough room for my dog to run around and be exercised?
Is there debris that could prove harmful to my dog?
Are there doggy toys lying around? (This can be a good thing, as dogs can play with a variety of different toys)
There are many Rover sitters that don’t feel comfortable letting 3-10 strangers into their home every week (would you?).
This can be especially dangerous for the sitter if they are a single parent, live alone, are elderly, or cannot defend themselves in the event of a home invasion.
This doesn’t make them a bad sitter by default.
However, finding someone that is able to accommodate you viewing the area your dogs will stay in can make you feel safer about the situation. If you feel uncomfortable with not viewing the home your dog will stay in, I’d recommend finding a sitter that is able to accommodate.
The biggest red flag would be if they do let you in the home, but refuse to let you see the backyard. Chances are, they haven’t kept it safe for your dog.
This one is kind of a no-brainer, but some people forget to look for it.
Luckily, many Rover sitters that have a fenced yard will advertise that fact on their Rover page. You can find this under the “About Alexis & Joseph's Home” section.
During your visit, it's a good idea to see the fence in person and ensure that your dog can't get through it (especially if you have a little escape artist).
In every single meet & greet we’ve had, the owners have told us that their dog has no trouble at all sleeping at night.
In most dogs, however, their training seems to go out the window on that first night away from home.
It’s a new place, and dogs have no ability to tell how long this new arrangement is going to last. Chances are, they thought it would just be for the day. Now that night’s fallen, they are having to come to the difficult realization that they are going to have to sleep in this new environment.
Ensuring that the sleeping arrangement is comfortable and similar to your own home will help that process tremendously.
If they normally sleep on a couch, a couch would be great.
If they sleep in a kennel at home, you should bring your kennel so they can feel secure.
If they sleep on the floor in a room by themselves normally, chances are they will get comfortable in any home.
Whatever their arrangement looks like, it should be comfortable and similar to what your dog experiences at home.
If they require kenneling, and you do not usually kennel your dog, that’s a recipe for howling.
If they are used to the security of a kennel, and they won’t let you bring it, the open dark room might freak your little one out.
It’s pretty apparent why having your sitter walk your dog is important. An exercised dog is a happy dog.
It depends. Every dog has different needs, and every sitter has different accommodations.
If they have a large yard, they likely don’t need as many walks as normal.
Walks are important because they provide a lot of stimulus. Walks provide exercise, a new environment, socialization, and mental stimulus.
A new yard to run around in can provide all of these things. New smells and sounds, new sights to see and areas to explore, and other dogs to interact with will definitely edify your dog and keep them happy.
If the dog is going to stay for more than a month or two, however, the newness of all of those things will wear off. They would need to take their normal amount of walks for extended stays.
All dogs go through stress. Most of the time, they’ll display signs of stress while it’s still manageable for them.
It’s good to know that your sitter will be able to identify these signs and give them comfort, security, or whatever they need at that time.
Obviously, fights aren’t a good thing for your dog. There is a big difference between allowing two dogs to play and wrestle, and a fight.
It’s impossible for any sitter to completely prevent a fight between two dogs that they didn’t train themselves.
Sitters should be able to identify what situations may lead to a fight (mealtime is a big one if one of the dogs likes to steal other’s food). They should also be able to identify when playing and wrestling goes too far, and could lead to a fight.
It’s also important for sitters to have a plan for what they are going to do if a fight breaks out.
A good sitter should try to take steps beforehand to ensure that dogs are comfortable with each other.
If a dog is uncomfortable with other dogs, but is able to set clear boundaries with other dogs without violence, they should ensure that the offending dog picks up on these social queues and respects the boundaries that the scared dog is trying to set.
If the dogs are unable to mediate themselves, a good sitter will have a plan to separate the dogs. They'll then ensure that each dog will still be able to get adequate attention, affection, food, water, and exercise.
Emergencies happen. Whether it’s in your home or a sitter’s, the need for CPR can arise suddenly and without warning.
It’s important that the sitter is prepared for these scenarios.
We’ve had dogs that were fed anywhere from 1-5 times a day.
It becomes a little difficult when feeding schedules aren’t aligned, and a twice a day dog has to sit there in jealousy and watch another dog each lunch.
Ensuring the sitter has provisions to separate dogs and feed them at a time that works best for the dog is a great sign.
They should ask you when you’d like your dog fed.
They should be able to find a way to accommodate that so that your dog doesn’t have their schedule thrown off.
Just like the above example, it becomes difficult to keep fast-eating dogs from eating the food of a dog that’s accustomed to grazing all day.
There are a variety of different ways to handle this scenario. Just make sure that it works for you and your dog.
They should be able to find a way to accommodate that so that your dog doesn’t have to readjust to scarfing food quickly.
This is also listed on their Rover profile. However, we’d still recommend asking it during the Meet & Greet to ensure that their answer is consistent with their profile.
Often, Rover sitters will build a profile and rarely go back to it. It could be that they thought they could take dogs of any size when they first started, and found out it was more than they could handle.
Their answer should be consistent with their profile.
It should also match the size of the dog that you have.
Rover sitters will leave your dog home alone every once in a while.
Even good sitters need things like groceries, visits to their family/friends, and a night out every once in a while.
Here at Happy Home Dogs, we rarely ever have 0 dogs in our home. So, if we never left the house when we had a dog, we’d never get anything done. That’s the reality of a lot of Rover sitters.
The important thing is that they don’t leave your dog home alone any longer than you should in your own home.
For adult dogs, you shouldn’t leave them alone for any more than 4 hours. Ideally, they wouldn’t leave for more than 2 hours at a time without a potty break.
You should also ensure that the area that they are in when they are left home alone is safe, and the dogs are unlikely to escape.
An emergency plan is critical. Few Rover sitters have had to deal with emergencies in the past, so it’s important that they have thought ahead.
Having a specific place to take the dog in an emergency situation is important.
They should have a specific location in mind when they let you know what your emergency plan is.
That way they don’t lose precious minutes Googling where they should go and comparison shopping while your dog is in trouble.
They don’t need to know the name of a specific doctor.
However, they SHOULD be able to know the name of the place, how to get there without Google Maps, and why they recommend it (closeby, great reviews, etc.).
This is crucial. If they say no, that’s a big red flag for obvious reasons.
Some Rover sitters may say no due to monetary reasons. Most people that are doing Rover because they need the income, and may not be able to afford emergency vet visits.
Some Rover sitters may not understand that emergency vet visits are typically covered by Rover’s insurance (after the first $250), and that could be a red flag that they haven’t prepared for those scenarios.
This should be displayed on their Rover profile.
However, if the number they have when you visit doesn’t match up with what the website says, I’d definitely talk about it.
It should be low enough that they can reasonably handle it in their homes.
It should also be consistent with their Rover profile.
Even if the sitter has a big backyard, that doesn’t mean that they will have access to it 24/7.
The sitter may not leave the door open all the time (especially on hot or cold days).
They also may not be willing to let dogs out unless they are in the backyard with them.
That’s entirely up to you and your dog’s needs.
Just asking will tell you everything you need to know, and then it’s up to you what works for you.
Special needs dogs have, well, needs that are special.
Not all sitters are equipped to handle those needs.
That depends on what needs your dog has.
It’s difficult to cover every possible scenario in this article. However, you likely know tons about your dog and their needs. You’ll be able to figure out what you specifically need as long as you don’t forget to ask.
Some sitters also provide additional services that you may not have been aware of.
For example, Happy Home Dogs also does dog grooming. So, if our clients want, we are willing to give them a full bath, blowout, and groom while we are boarding them.
This saves you a trip to the groomers, and helps ensure that your dog has a good bond with their groomers.
Some groomers may sell homemade dog treats that you could purchase to be given to your dog during their stay (or to take home too).
Most will likely say none, but it never hurts to try!
Both physical and mental stimulation can make or break a dog’s experience.
Typically, just being in a new environment and surrounded by new friends can be quite stimulating.
It’s important to ensure that a decent amount of the time, the dog will be able to play with the members of the family.
Some families have rooms dedicated to dogs, and other rooms where they can have some peace and quiet (like Happy Home Dogs). However, this can become a bad thing if the members of the family don’t spend a decent amount of time with the dogs.
Ensure that the family has thought of things for the dogs to do during the day.
These things should include things like playing with the sitters, playing with the other dogs, having a chance to cuddle while the sitter watches TV, playing outside, walks, visits to dog parks (we don’t personally recommend that one due to other dogs being unpredictable), etc.
Rover will show you how much “experience” a sitter has, but a lot of people misunderstand what that really means.
The number they put there is up to the sitter’s definition of experience, NOT how long they have been using Rover.
For example, we started Rover with 8 years of experience because I had been training dogs through 4H while I was younger, I helped to breed dogs growing up, and I had already started raising my first breeding dog with my husband.
This experience definitely helped me better understand dogs, but it wasn’t exactly the same as being a dog sitter for 8 years.
That’s entirely up to you.
It’s important to ask though to get a clearer picture and make a more informed decision.
Not all dogs hump things while they are away from the house. However, we’ve run into more than a few.
We’ve had to keep dogs separated that liked each other a little too much. However, it’s difficult to ensure that it never happens without a night guard (few sitters are willing to stay awake 24/7).
If your dog is unspayed or unneutered, it’s important that the sitter doesn’t also accept an unspayed or unneutered dog of the opposite sex at the same time.