If you and your dog are on the path to a healthier routine, you may worry that hiring a pet sitter could derail your progress--but there’s no reason that needs to happen. Rover connects you to lots of potential sitters in your area, so you can find the perfect person to help keep your pup safe, happy, healthy and active during your absence. Plus, there are added benefits: a pet sitter with a specific skill set may be able to introduce your dog to fresh challenges and stimuli, like a new hiking trail or trick. And exercise is also a surefire way for your dog to become comfortable and bond with their temporary caregiver, leading to a better experience overall.

Find your (dog’s) match 

Each pet sitter is unique, as is every dog. When reviewing profiles, pay attention to the words that each pet sitter uses to describe their experience, hobbies and style, and consider who might be the best fit for your pooch. Is your dog a tireless ball chaser? The intramural softball player might be the one for you. Would your dog run all day if she could? Maybe the long distance runner will steal both your hearts. Ask questions about what activities each sitter might do with your dog. To really make sure the potential sitter is a good fit, schedule part of your meet and greet at a park and bring a toy, so you can see how the sitter and your dog interact in an active environment. Be open about the level of activity you expect while you’re away—the right sitter will be enthusiastic and may suggest some fun activities you hadn’t even thought of.

Set goals 

Equip your pet sitter with everything they’ll need to keep your dog moving, whether it’s your dog’s collar and leash, or a favorite ball, toy, or hiking backpack. When writing out your instructions, include clear guidance on how much exercise your dog should get every day—as well as how, and how often, you want to receive updates. With an activity monitor like FitBark, you can check in on your dog’s activity levels in real time, and even add your pet sitter to your dog’s profile so they can add notes and photos along the way.

Encourage an active mind, too 

Dogs are already outside of their normal routine when a pet sitter comes to play—so why not use it as an opportunity to learn a new trick, or play a new game? These kinds of challenges will help keep your dog’s mind and body active. Visiting the dog park is also a great way for pups to engage physically, mentally and socially, all at the same time. Let your pet sitter know your dog’s favorite ways to play, and the kinds of stimuli you’d like them to receive to keep them fully engaged with the world while you’re gone.

Keep the good habits going 

When it comes down to it, your pet sitter can’t make a lasting impact on your dog’s health—only you can do that! They can, however, help encourage and reinforce healthy habits while you’re away. It can be all too easy to slip back into a low-activity routine after a vacation, so do your best to keep the momentum going when you return. Making daily exercise a vital part of each day, and tracking your dog’s progress along the way, will help keep you both healthier and happier in the long run.