As the season is fast approaching for quick getaways and long-term breaks, you may find friends and family knocking at your door asking if you’d like to be a temporary parent to a four-legged friend…
While you get excited at the prospect of having a new furry companion for a couple of days, you must remember they need a lot of care and attention — probably even more so than you first realised. Every dog sitting opportunity comes with a great number of responsibilities, and that’s why we’ve devised a list of our best dog sitting tips to make sure your new companion stays happy, healthy and secure.
Our top dog sitting tips
1. Do your research
If you’re looking for your first dog sit or your fifteenth, research is always key in making sure it will be a great experience for both you and your new pooch pal. Once you’ve found your dream dog sit, follow our top dog sitting tips so you know it’ll be the right fit for you:
- Always be realistic
Think about the breed of dog you want to look after and whether you can adapt your lifestyle to their needs. For example, if you’re not big on long and regular walks, a young Collie may not be your best option. Or perhaps the old Jack Russell you're keen to meet doesn’t seem quite as keen for that hike across the hills. Think logically — always put the needs of the dog first.
- Know your limitations
As well as being realistic, you must always know your limitations. Put yourself in a position where a dog may need to be carried, for example. If you’ve got a mildly sore back, the thought of lifting a 70kg Newfoundland may not be pleasant, and you could, unfortunately, be worse off than before.
- ‘Your place or mine?’
When dog sitting, you could either be asked to keep the dog in your own home or stay in the pup’s palace. If they are coming to stay in your home, make sure everything is dog-proof — this can change depending on your chosen companion’s behaviour. If she’s a chewer, hide your shoes and small objects that could be accidentally swallowed. If they’re a young dog, be aware that toilet training might not be perfected — perhaps protect your favourite rug or plant from accidental puddles.
If you’re staying in the dog's happy place, you may have some extra responsibilities. But always know, if you’re in their home you both have a lot less to stress about. As a house and pet sitting platform, TrustedHousesitters, has thousands of dog sitting opportunities across 130+ countries, meaning you could help keep a dog happy in their puppy palace while their owners head on holiday. But bear in mind, if you choose to stay in their home, you’ll also have the house to watch over too.
2. Meet your new companion prior to the dog sit
Not only do we suggest meeting your four-legged friend prior to the dog sit, but their owner too. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions about the dog and the home they live in to make sure it’s a comfortable stay. The dog will probably enjoy giving you a quick sniff while you chat to the owner – if dogs see that their owner is comfortable around a new human, they are most likely to feel settled too.
As with any human or animal, first impressions always count. The owner will be watching to see how you interact with their furry family member and also with themselves! It’s important that sitter and owner get along too which further adds to the trust of their new-found relationship.
3. Be prepared
Preparation is always key. Make sure to ask the dog owner for any tips and tricks on how to keep their dog happy and their home safe and secure. TrustedHousesitters’ owner members will fill out a ‘Welcome Guide’ for their sitters prior to the dog sit, meaning they can review and ask questions. The ‘Welcome Guide’ includes an array of information, from Wi-Fi codes and oven instructions to Rover’s food supplements and veterinary contact details.
When it comes to medical care or just general doggy advice, the 24 hour Vet Advice Line included in a TrustedHousesitters membership will come in handy. Veterinary professionals will answer any questions, no matter how big or small, and give you valuable advice on your doggy’s doings. Whether it’s how much food Dolly will need to eat or a more urgent emergency, they’ll always be there to help.
4. Stick to their routine
Regular and reliable routine is so important to all domestic doggies. Being creatures of habit, dogs have a particular viewpoint on the world which can be dramatically changed in accordance with the environment they’re in. If they stay in their home, they want to know that they’ll be waking up, eating, and sleeping all in their usual and stable time slots. By being a pet sitter, you offer to keep the dog in their own environment and stick to a routine which alternatively, kennels, could not offer.
In addition to the tip around meeting the pooch prior, this would be a great chance for the dog sitter to ask questions around the dogs routine. Make sure you pencil in these time slots and be prepared to set your alarm a tad earlier or go to bed a little later to make sure your new companion feels settled with you in their home.
5. Expect unusual behaviour
If this is your first time staying with Rufus, no matter how much his tail wags, the whole experience will be slightly daunting. As dogs are pack animals, they can get rather baffled when one of the members of their pack leaves. But of course, you’re there to keep it as comfortable as possible by stepping into their owner’s shoes. This will become more apparent if you choose to dog sit in your own home — it’ll take time for them to find the perfect snoozing spot and adjust to new smells, but stick to the all-important routine to keep it fairly familiar.
Be aware of separation anxiety too. Some dogs are extremely close to their owners and find it stressful when they’re not around. A dog’s owner should be able to manage this issue before they’re due to leave, so make sure to check on how you can identify and help treat the separation anxiety in dogs so you can manage expectations too.
Are you ready to go dog sitting?
We hope these dog sitting tips set you up for an enjoyable time with your new furry friend — of course, plenty of cuddles and playtime come within the deal of dog sitting too.
If you want to know more and have any questions about dog sitting, or perhaps are interested in joining TrustedHousesitters, simply get in touch. Our Membership Services team are available 24/7 and have plenty of top dog sitting tips from their own experiences to help you get started.