Planning a holiday when you’re looking for someone to keep an eye on your dog can be a challenge. Sure, there are plenty of pet sitters out there, but are they the perfect match for your canine buddy? And, will they meet your high expectations?

Pet sitting is popular because it’s less stressful for animals. You get to go away and your pets stay comfortable in a familiar setting without any disruption to their environment. It’s perfect. But it can still feel incredibly daunting to put your trust in a complete stranger.

Here are a few key things you can start looking for when choosing your next pet sitter:

Genuine love for animals and a connection to your pet

Set up a meet and greet interview with potential pet sitters and watch how your dog responds to them. Are they uncomfortable around this new person or have they already decided they’ll be best buddies while you’re gone? Ask questions about previous pet care experience. You can usually tell if someone truly loves animals by their replies and the stories they share. Also, check to see if they’re taking notes and asking questions about your dog’s routine, etc.

Experience and a strong resume

You want someone who’s qualified to look after your dog – this will give you better peace of mind. Ask for a resume and contact previous employers, run a background check, and do a social media sweep. Make sure they have experience with your type of dog (high maintenance breed or a dog that needs additional care, for example).

Open communication and reliability

Things don’t always go according to plan. What will your pet sitter do if your dog gets sick or runs outside the gate? Your pet sitter needs to know how to handle these situations. Keep communication open about anything that concerns you. Set out a clear agreement from the start regarding rules and schedules. If you want your pet sitter to send you photos or videos every day of your dog, add that in!

Finally, you want to look for someone who’s calm, sensitive, and flexible. And remember – always trust your gut, especially if you get a bad feeling after meeting someone.