Leaving our dogs with a pet sitter can be a frightening process. We often wonder how our dogs are going to react to this stranger, and if the pet sitter is following our house rules. If you have to take your dog to the sitter’s house, you may even be worried about the other dogs she is watching. To ensure your dog has the best time they can with a sitter, there are few things you can do.
Keep reading below to learn 15 tips to ensure your dog has a good time with the pet sitter!
1. Pick a Good Sitter
The most important part of having a good pet sitting experience is to pick a good sitter. To do this, you should make sure that you trust the person your paying to watch your animal. When possible, it’s always best to get someone you know to stay with your dog. For Bella, Emily and I would hire our friend to actually stay at our house while we were on vacation. This only worked out because our friend lived with her parents and was happy to get a way for a while.
For many people, though, having a relative or family friend take care of their pet just isn’t a realistic option. Make sure that you review each sitter carefully. If you have an off feeling or there is just something about them you can’t trust, it’s best to move onto other options.
If you have decided to pick a pet sitter you don’t personally know, then use platforms like Rover to see who is available in your area. These sites will give you feedback from other pet owners who have used the sitter’s service.
If you find the pet sitter’s business on Facebook, check out their feedback, and feel free to reach out to other pet parents about the experience they had when using the sitter. If you’re thinking about using a teen or someone who is just starting out, ask for non-family related references that can give you honest feedback on their character.
2. Interview Your Sitter
Meet-up with your potential pet sitter and have a job interview. Inquire about what the sitter would do in an emergency situation and how much experience they have with pet care.
Interviews give you a chance to judge someone’s character and how quickly they responded to hypothetical situations. An interview is also a great chance to get a view of your sitter’s mannerisms and check their comfort levels with dogs. Don’t be afraid to interview more than one sitter to find the best fit for your pet.
3. Be Completely Honest About Your Dog
To make sure your sitter is adequately prepared to deal with your pet, be completely honest. Don’t withhold information just because you think the pet sitter would say no to your dog. Many times pet parents will make the dog’s training sound a lot better than it is to get a pet sitter to agree to watch them.
By miscommunicating your dog’s training, your sitter may show up completely unprepared to fully take care of your pet. For example, many dogs will have some bathroom training issues. A pet sitter who is made aware of these issues can often work on better training your dog to go to the bathroom outside.
Leaving out bad behaviors such as food guarding can also be a considerable risk to both you and your sitter. If your sitter where to move the food bowl and get bitten, this could lead to legal trouble.
4. Set-up a Meet & Greet
Setting up a meet and greet is a crucial part of the dog sitting process. By allowing your dog and pet sitter to meet before they are left alone, you are setting up a more positive image. Your sitter can observe your dog get a better grasp on their personality.
Likewise, your dog can be introduced to your sitter while you’re still around. By simply being present during the first introduction, you can reassure your dog that the pet sitter is their friend. Meet and greets can be especially crucial if the sitter is going to be looking after your pet in their home.
Often times, dogs can become protective over their territory if a stranger suddenly enters the house.
5. Establish House Rules
If your pet sitter is going to be staying in your home, then you will need to let them know your house rules.
- Do you allow the dog on your furniture, or do you only allow them on the couch?
- Can your dog spend time in the kitchen or your bedroom?
- Do you only allow your dog in one section of the house?
By showing your dog sitter where your dog is allowed in a house, they can keep your pet’s boundaries in check. You should also inform your pet sitter if your dog has bad habits like digging in potted plants or trying to use a particular corner for potty breaks.
6. Tour Their Home
Of course, if you’re dropping your pet off at a sitter’s home or place of business, you should ask for a tour. You can check the facility during this tour for proper safety measures like doggy gates. You should also check to see where your dog will be staying in the home. Many sitters will have a dog room with toys and resting spots. Other pet sitters may opt to have your dog free roam their house.
7. Prepare a Schedule
Make sure to write down a schedule for your pet sitter. A schedule can be especially important if you’re gone for multiple days. On this list, write down what time your pet regularly gets fed and how much. How many feedings per day does your dog need, the classic two feedings, or smaller feedings? Is your dog allowed to have treats, or are they on a special diet to help them lose weight? Some dogs even have special water needs or need to be given a certain amount of outdoor activity every day.
Most importantly, when does your dog usually go outside. Do you walk your dog on a leash, have a backyard fence, or is there an electric fence that needs to be turned on? Do you reduce the amount of time your dog is allowed outside at night? What about special grooming needs, will your dog need to be bathed while your gone and should their coat be brushed daily? Giving a strict schedule to your sitter will help keep your dog’s life on schedule and stress-free.
8. Write Down Emergency Contacts
No matter how long you are leaving your pet with a sitter, make sure to make a list of emergency contacts. Not only will you want to include your number, but you will also want to have your vets number and address.
You should also learn about the closest emergency vet and pick one out to add to this sheet. Along with the contacts, let your sitter know what you want to be done in the case of an emergency. While you don’t want your dog being run to the vet because they are having a lazy day, if they cut their paw while on a walk, your pet sitter may need to seek a vet.
9. Extra Expenses
In case of your dog breaking their water bowl or needing an additional bath, you should talk about extra expenses with your pet sitter. If this is the sitter’s primary business, they may be able to pick-up supplies and bill you on pick-up. If you have a pet sitter who is just starting out, you may want to leave them with a small emergency fund just in case your dog needs something extra. You can also inform your vet that you can be contacted to cover any emergency visits that may occur.
10. Pack a Doggy Bag
In the case, your dog’s going to the sitter’s house to stay, pack a doggy bag. In the doggy bag, you can put in pre-portioned meals in a zip-lock bag for feeding time. You should also pack a few of your dog’s favorite toys, a blanket they like to sleep on, and some treats.
For an extended stay, also consider adding in their shampoo and any medication they may need to take. An extra leash is also an excellent addition if your sitter doesn’t regularly watch dogs. You should also place another copy of your pet’s emergency contacts in a separate compartment to ensure the information doesn’t get lost.
Make sure to add a luggage tag with your pet’s name to avoid any confusion.
11. Use Home Security
If you’re still a bit paranoid about leaving a stranger in your home with your pet, then consider using security cameras. Many cameras today can be connected to your wi-fi and placed in your living room to check in on your pet at any time. Some pet versions will even allow you to communicate or video chat with your pet while away. Home security will also let you know that your pet is being fed and taken out according to your schedule.
It is your choice whether to let your sitter know you have cameras set-up or not. In most cases, just letting the sitter know your home is armed with security cameras won’t bother them. If a sitter seems especially hesitant about you being able to check-in on your home, then that may be a bad sign.
12. Ask For Photos/ Videos
It’s extremely common for pet parents to want regular updates on their dogs. Many sitters can text or call you to let you know how your pets are doing each day. You can also request that the pet sitter sends you short videos of your pets or multiple photos each day. This can let you keep a tab on how your pet is doing. Additionally, you may even be able to request a daily video call with your dog.
13. Go Over Any Special Needs
If your dog has any special care needs, make sure your sitter is made aware. Many times, a pet can have medications that need to be taken daily. Whether this is a pill that helps with anxiety or just a basic hip and joint supplement, your pet sitter should be able to provide the medication. If you have a senior dog, they may have a restricted diet or special exercise needs. Make sure your sitter knows that your pet can’t be around human food or can only go for walks in twenty-minute intervals.
If you’re going to be out of town for a while, then your dog may need to be taken to the vet or groomers. Be sure to communicate to your sitter that your dog has appointments and write down the number, address, and times your pet will need to be taken. You may even have a weekly ritual where you go to the dog park; many pet sitters can accommodate these requests with prior notice.
14. Consider Calming Solutions
Some dogs are just prone to being more nervous when away from you. If you have a dog with bad separation anxiety, then consider using calming solutions to help them settle down. You can use calming jackets, sprays, or even treats to help ease your pet’s nerves. Many of these sprays and treats can be repeated throughout the day if your pet starts to get restless again.
You should also consider leaving a blanket that smells like you for your dog to cuddle with. Many sitters are used to dealing with nervous pets and will do their best to comfort them while you’re away.
15. Does Your Dog Like Other Dogs?
If your sitter has a dog watching business, then chances are your dog will meet some new friends there. Let your sitter know how your dog does with other dogs. If you have a dog that is scared or aggressive towards others, then your sitter can likely isolate them.
Many sitters will make an effort to check on your dog’s comfort level. They will be able to notice the signs of agitation when two pets are first introduced. It’s especially important to let your pet sitter know if your dog can be possessive over toys or treats.
Leaving your dog with the pet sitter for the first time can be nerve-racking and scary. As long as you follow these tips outlined, you should feel more confident in your decision on a pet sitter as well as leaving your dog with them.
Like I said before, we always have friends or family watch Bella when we leave for vacation. Having friends and family is ideal. First, friends and family are cheap to hire. And secondly, your dog knows them. However, if this is not the case hiring a professional sitter is the next best thing.