Traveling with a dog is a lot of fun because you get to explore new places with them and make new memories. But sometimes your pet may not be able to tagalong on certain excursions or activities such as hikes in national parks. In those cases, you need to find someone to watch your pet which can be very difficult to do when in the middle of traveling in a new area.
Luckily, you can use Rover to find a qualified person to care for your dog. But you need to make sure to do an adequate amount of due diligence before handing over your pet and in this article I will explain everything you need to know about using Rover when traveling.
What is Rover?
Rover is an app that allows you to find qualified people to care for your dog or cat. They offer different services including:
- Dog boarding
- House sitting
- Drop in visits
- Doggy daycare
- Dog walking
If you are staying at a hotel, most likely you will be looking into dog boarding where your dog spends the night at the sitter’s house.
You may be able to work out an arrangement where the sitter comes by your hotel room to walk your dog or interact with the dog but that would involve leaving your dog by itself and giving access to your hotel room to someone potentially not on your hotel reservation both of which could be problematic.
Plus, you would be paying for the hotel pet fee in addition to the Rover fee, which could quickly add up. So this article is going to focus mostly on dog boarding which I think is the most applicable service for travelers.
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Tips when traveling
A lot of the tips that apply when you’re traveling also apply when using the Rover app generally. The big difference is that when traveling you will be heading to an area that you may not be familiar with, so you need to be a little bit more prepared and do a little bit more research.
Look for prior reviews and repeat clients
When searching for a sitter, Rover will display how many reviews someone has and also how many repeat clients they have. Ideally, you can find a dog sitter with a lot of reviews and a lot of repeat clients as well.
You might check the reviews for past clients who used the sitter when they were traveling to give you added assurance that the sitter knows how to work with people on the road (versus just locals). But if they have a lot of reviews, chances are they will know how to cater to your needs.
Evaluate the location
Because you are venturing somewhere unfamiliar, you want to take extra precaution to ensure that you are leaving your dog in good hands.
The way I think about it is that you should review the area where the dog sitter lives in the same way that you would evaluate an area you are thinking about moving to.
You can look for data on crime in the area. A helpful way to do this is to compare the crime rate in the area you currently live in versus the area that the sitter lives in. You could do that with a website like this.
You can always check to see if there are threads on Reddit that discuss the community. Many cities have subreddits dedicated to general discussion about the city or town and you could always drop a post in there and inquire to see what people think (just be prepared for some people to be biased).
CityData forums also often have pretty in-depth discussions about crime and safety in cities and different regions.
The end goal is just to have a good idea of whether or not the area/ neighborhood where the person lives is generally a good place to live.
Obviously, this will not guarantee that the person watching your pet will be a good fit or that they will do a good job but you will be increasing your odds of things going well by choosing an area where crime and drug use is less common.
Schedule a video call
Before you agree to allow someone to take care of your pet in another location you should schedule a video call with them. (If the sitter is unwilling to do a video call I would look for someone else.)
In this call you are trying to verify that the individual will be a good fit and you can do that by asking very specific questions and by providing them with relevant details about your pet.
Rover gives the potential sitter the ability to indicate a lot of these things but sometimes what is indicated in the app is not exactly what you encounter so I would still rely on interviewing the candidate to verify a lot of the details and not just rely on what you see in the app
What is the living situation?
Find out if this person lives in a house, apartment, condo, etc.
What is their schedule like?
You want to figure out when this person will be home and what their lifestyle is like. For example, do they work from home and if not do they come back for breaks? What are the working hours?
How often will your dog be exercised?
Find out how many times per day your dog will be walked or exercised. Ask how long will each session be and what exactly would it entail in terms of location and activities.
Ask questions like if they have a pool, a nearby dog park, etc.
Where will your dog be situated?
I would recommend bringing a kennel and verifying with the sitter that there will be space for your kennel. On the app, sitters can indicate if pets are allowed on furniture and on beds so another thing to clarify is if the dog be sleeping on furniture or in a kennel.
How often will they be taking pictures and video?
A good dog watcher will constantly take photos and even videos to give you peace of mind. Try to work out a schedule such as in the morning and evening when you can expect to receive a burst of photos or cute videos of your dog having fun and even making new friends.
Do they have any other pets or children?
You definitely want to know if they have other pets at the house. And not just that but you want to know if the pets are going to be interacting with each other or sharing a space. It could obviously be really bad if the pets are left sharing a space and they are not getting along.
Whether or not children will be present should be another important question asked.
Do they have a yard?
Rover will indicate if they have a yard and if it is fenced but it is good to verify this.
How will they handle an emergency?
Verify that the person knows where the nearest vet clinic is and ask them how they will handle an emergency. If you think you’ll be off the grid then make sure they have a back up phone number for someone close to you to let them know what is going on with the pet.
How do they handle discipline?
I like to know how people handle discipline with pets to ensure that they have a procedure in place for when your pet is not listening or being too much to handle.
Ideally, they will understand how to use re-direction instead of forceful methods of discipline. This is one major reason why I don’t book sitters who are not pet owners.
If your dog is not well mannered you may even consider not using Rover because you could be asking for trouble.
Information you want to give out
We have a document printed out that has our dog’s daily routine on it and it is extremely helpful for anyone watching our dog.
This has everything including:
- Wake up and sleep times
- Meal times and quantity of food
- Walk times
- Treat times
You may not be able to expect the sitter to follow the regime exactly but at least it will be helpful to give them an idea of what your dog is used to do so they can try to follow it loosely.
You also want to let the person watching your dog know if the dog has any quirks. This will prevent them from being surprised in certain circumstances.
Let them know about things like if your dog:
- Goes crazy when it smells food
- Pulls on the leash
- Is sensitive to loud noises
- Has a problem with jumping
- Hates cats
- Is afraid of water
And obviously if your pet has medical needs you need to make it a priority to ensure that the individual is responsible enough to administer any medications.
Inspect the home
After you have committed to an individual you will eventually meet up with him. You can arrange for that person to come pick up your pet but I would recommend against that.
It is much better for you to physically inspect the home before allowing them to watch your pup. This will also help ease your pet into getting comfortable with the new setting.
When you are talking to them in your video call you can ask them if they are okay with you checking out the home before you drop off your pet. If for some reason you are not able to view the home then at least get them to give you a tour via a video call.
Conservatively estimate pick up and drop off times
Whenever you are traveling things tend to not always go as planned. For example, you may be heading out on a hike and the hike ends up taking you much longer to complete. Or you may not realize that there is a major highway shut down and you could be forced to detour on a much longer route.
It’s just much easier for things to come up when you are not familiar with the place you’re in.
For that reason, you need to make sure that you communicate this to the dog sitter on Rover. Be pretty conservative on estimating when you can drop the dog off and pick the dog up because you do not want to get put in a bind where the dog sitter is forced to leave the house without you being able to pick up your dog.
Bring the essentials
Since you will be traveling you may not be able to bring everything along that you would like. Whenever we used Rover when traveling we made sure to bring the following items:
- Blanket with our scent
- Water and food bowl
- Medication (if applicable)
- Two favorite toys
- Favorite treats including something our pup will spend hours munching on
We also have an Apple AirTag on our dog’s leash just in case he ever gets away.
Flying with a pet?
If you are looking to fly with your pet be sure to check out our guides for different airlines:
- Southwest Airlines Pet Policy Guide
- American Airlines Pet Policy Guide
- United Airlines Pet Policy
- Spirit Airlines Pet Policy Guide
- Alaska Airlines Pet Policy Guide
- Allegiant Airlines Pet Policy Guide
I’ve used Rover for our corgi when traveling and I was pretty pleased with the experience. I think that it is a great service but it is the type of thing where you definitely need to do a fair amount of due diligence to ensure that the process goes smoothly.
If you go with someone highly reviewed with many repeat clients and verify things like the location, and all of the necessary details mentioned above, I think you stand very good odds of having a great experience for your dog.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.