Ever heard of babysitting? Dog sitting is just like that except for, you’ve guessed it, you’re watching a dog. Over the summer, I had the absolute joy of dog sitting my boss’s dog and learned quite a few things from the experience. I have only dog sat a handful of times and would love to hear your tips if you have more experience in this arena. P.S. Yes, all of the photos in this post are of my dog, Jace Cooper. No, I don’t feel bad about it.
Meet the Dog Beforehand
This is the number one thing I recommend to everything before committing to dog sit for anyone. The dog needs to learn that you are a friendly face (and smell) to them and that they don’t need to enter ‘attack mode’ when you are in their space without their owners. I particularly recommend this for those who have their own fur babies at home. Believe it or not, your animal’s scent is all over your clothes because your clothes live in close proximity to said animal. If the pup you are going to dog sit isn’t familiar with your fur baby’s scent at all (via your clothes), it can freak them out because they think there’s another dog not far behind.
(More on the blog: Benefits of Owning a Dog)
Understand the Dog’s Needs
Pay attention to what the owner says about the dog’s personality. Does he like to play? Does she need to be let loose in the backyard for an hour a few times a day? Along those lines, remember that the dog is a living creature – sounds silly, I know. When you’re dog sitting, it can be easy to get into the mindset that you only need to let them out a few times a day and then you can get on with your business. The dog needs to eat, drink water and go to the bathroom. If possible, I like to sit or stand near the dog’s bowls so that their attention is directed in that general area. Just like how you may forget to eat if your running on excitement and adrenaline, the same goes for dogs. The last thing you want to deal with is a dehydrated dog.
Check for Signs of Distress
Along with understanding and satisfying the dog’s basic needs, it is important to recognize when something is wrong. Familiarize yourself with signs of dehydration, sun burn, poison ivy and choking for dogs and what you should do in the event that something has gone wrong. Ask the owner for a vet’s phone number in case of emergency. Also, during the initial meeting with the owner before they give you the green light to dog sit, ask about the dog’s behavior when there’s a thunderstorm, the mailman comes to the other or other normal-for-humans situations. Knowing those things about the pup before you are left to dog sit, will help you better understand when the dog is in distress.
(More on the blog: How to Combat Anxiety)
Leave Your Fur Baby at Home
As tempting as it may be to socialize your animal with the dog you were left to watch, I highly discourage it. Even if you are responsible for the doggo for an extended period of time, you are not the dog’s owner and do not have the same level of trust built. If you would like to introduce the two pets to each other, that should be done when the owner is home and present. The last thing anyone wants is for either fur baby to end up hurt.
At the end of the day, the only priority is that the dog left under your supervision is happy and healthy. Follow these guidelines and have open communication with the owner and your dog sitting experience will be a positive one.
Have you ever been asked to dog sit? Do you have any doggsitting tips?