Pet on the Move? 7 Questions to Ask a Pet Sitter and Dog Walker

03/10/2015 04:02 pm ET | Updated May 10, 2015

Just moved into your new home? Starting a new job? Ready to take on the exciting new chapter? Well, before you step out the door, think about your four-legged housemate. They may not be feeling so settled and could feel deserted if you leave them in the new, unfamiliar surroundings. Not to mention what they might do to your new home while you are away! Now is the time to hire a pet sitter for Fido. But before you just Google "pet sitter" it's important to understand the difference between a professional pet sitter and dog walker; and a "hobby" pet sitter and dog walker. After all, you don't want to bark up the wrong tree. You want your furry-eared family member to be in the best of care while you are away!

Like many online directories there has been a recent influx of pet-care directories to hit the web, as well as news stories stating that pet sitting is an easy way to earn extra cash. As a result, more and more people are deciding to cash in on the exploding pet care industry. Hold that leash tight, they may not be qualified. If you find a pet sitter in an online directory or well known website, it does not mean they are a well-qualified pet sitting business. Anyone can post a profile.

So, how do you know who to trust with your wagging, purring loved one? I called upon the experts in qualifying professional pet sitters, Pet Sitters International. They recommend that pet owners schedule an initial consultation with a potential pet sitter prior to booking services. This allows the pet sitter to meet with you in your home; interact with your pets; and discuss services and business policies. Here are seven questions to ensure the individual is a professional pet sitter:

1. Does the pet sitter have the proper business license for your city or state?
2. Is the pet sitter insured and bonded?
3. Can the pet sitter provide proof of they don't have a criminal history?
4. Does the pet sitter provide client references?
5. Will the pet sitter use a pet sitting services agreement or contract?
6. Has the pet sitter completed pet-care training, such as pet first aid?
7. Is the pet sitter a member of a professional and educational association?

Closely observe the pet sitter during the in-home interview. Does the pet sitter exhibit a positive attitude and seem comfortable and competent in caring for your four-legged family member? A positive attitude goes hand in hand with experience when it comes to in-home pet care. Other considerations to keep in mind during the conversation are:

• Are they asking how to prepare the food?
• Are they asking about the regular routine?
• Are they taking notes?
• Do they ask if your pet has any allergies?
• Are they asking for your contact emergency numbers?
• Do they seem to genuinely love animals?
• Would you trust your kids with them? Your house keys?

Lastly, watch your pet, are they warming up to the candidate? If all tails are wagging and all questions are answered to your satisfaction than you will have a trusted, professional pet sitter and you'll have the peace of mind knowing that your furry family members will be well cared for in your new home!