The Ultimate Guide to Being an Awesome Dog Sitter
So you’ve been entrusted to watch a dog for the evening, weekend, or longer. Congratulations!
Dog sitting is one of the few jobs that can be as enjoyable as it can be lucrative. And even if the dog’s owner isn’t exactly paying you, you can still enjoy the company and camaraderie that comes with watching over a dog for an extended period.
Many people grow up with dogs, so there’s little to worry about regarding what and what not to do. However, for the uninitiated or simply the proactive, you may want to put a little more work into caring for your friend’s best friend for the time being.
Luckily, dogs are some of the most loving and trusting breeds out there as a whole. While you’ll have your fair share of nervous or anxious dogs (more on this later), if you approach in the right manner, there’s no reason why your time as a babysitter for a dog can’t be enjoyable and fun for everyone involved.
Here’s the ultimate guide to being an awesome dog sitter.
Before the pet’s owners walk out of the door or drop off the animal at your place, there are a few things you’ll need to know before you get started.
Dogs, much like any other living creature, have a few necessities that need to be cared for at all times. This includes food, water, access to a place to use the restroom, and different things to entertain them throughout the day.
You’ll need to sort out a solution for these simple problems before you’re left with the animal—not after. In many cases, there are simple solutions. A bowl of water should alleviate any water problems, and dog food from yourself or the dog’s owners will deal with water.
A place to use the restroom is going to be a little bit different. While most adult dogs have learned the art of potty training, not every dog knows this. And if you’re unfamiliar with the animal you’ll be taking care of, neglecting to ask the homeowners is just asking for a mess that’ll have to be cleaned up.
Finally, there’s the issue of entertainment. Hopefully, your dog’s owners will be sure to bring over their pet’s favorite toys and treats to make sure that their time with you is as comfortable as possible.
If the pet’s owners forgot, or there was no way to access the dog’s favorite toys, then you’ll need to improvise. Purchasing a few small stuffed animals, for instance, will be cost-effective for the joy they can bring your furry companion for the time being.
We know—these things don’t exactly sound like the tenants of the ultimate dog sitter. However, how can you be the best if you don’t have the basics down? Take some time to make sure the foundation is set for your dog so you can start building the fun stuff as you go.
Adjusting to their Personality
Remember how we mentioned that certain dogs might be more anxious than you may have been expecting? Well, that’s one of the most important things to keep in mind if you want to up your game as a dog’s caretaker.
You may have grown up with dogs that enjoyed running around, chewing up toys, and going for long walks outside. And while there’s nothing wrong with a dog that fits the canine stereotype, if you’re going to be a good caretaker, you’ll need to expand your horizons.
If there’s time, have a brief discussion with the pet’s owners about the personality of the dog you’ll be caring for. Often, this information is given out freely by nervous and caring pet owners, but in either case, be sure to get the information that you need to care for the dog.
Do they enjoy walks? What kind of toys to they like? How are they with other dogs or kids? Questions like these are going to help you sort out how you need to approach the animal.
Remember that the best caretakers adapt to who or what they are caring for—not the other way around. While you might want to run around with the dog, if they’re more interested in sitting on your lap and watching a movie with you, oblige them as best you can.
Look into the Breed
While this might seem silly or a little bit like overkill, it never hurts to get online and look into breed-specific things you may need to know to best care for your interim pet. For younger dogs and puppies, this may also be a good time to do a little bit of work with some light training—provided the pet’s owners are alright with it.
For instance—did you know that the English Cocker Spaniel is one the easiest dogs to train out there? If you’re watching one of these dogs, you may be able to pass the time (and appease the homeowners) by locking down new commands and tricks.
Breed specific info is also where you can go above and beyond to appeal to the dog at his or her most basic level. You can also take this time to learn more about this specific breed of dog, and if you’ve never interacted with one before, turn things into a learning experience for the both of you.
Dog-Proofing the Space
It’s usually not the first thing people think of with pets, but if you’re watching an animal that’s not in its natural habitat or home, you’ll want to ensure that there’s little that can be damaged when it comes to your stuff or the dog itself.
Sensitive bookshelves, unstable tables, and glassware at tail-level are all at risk if you’re trying to play with the dog indoors. While dogs are generally very smart animals, they also may not understand the space very well or just be unaware of the problem areas of the home that they need to avoid.
To effectively dog-proof a space, make sure you do the following:
- Block off access to restricted areas
- Stabilize all furniture as best you can
- Remove glassware and fragile objects
- Clear enough open space to play
- Avoid sensitive flooring and rugs
Doing these things (on top of being a proactive and fun pet sitter) will make sure that your evening of fun doesn’t turn into a trip to the vet’s office. Which brings us to our final point:
As pet sitters, we always want to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. That’s why you need to make sure everything is in order if something bad were to happen.
Before the pet comes owner, make sure you know the phone number and office of the veterinarian's office that the pet most frequents. If you’re watching over a close friend or neighbors pet, you may be able to access these facilities quickly. In some cases, however, this office might be too far away. In this case, know the contact information for the closest office.
Vaccination reports, emergency contact information, and other such things are also helpful to have if you can get them. Also be sure to ask the pet’s owners if there is a special medication that needs to be administered at certain times. If you’re trying to care for a pet while its owners are on vacation, you’d be surprised what pertinent information can slip through the cracks.
Finally, if you want to be prepared for smaller cuts and bruises that won’t require vet visits, consider investing in a pet first aid kit. This is one of those home products that you hope you never have to use, but if you tend to watch over other dogs often, it’s an absolute must-have for the home.
Of course, it would be impossible to go over all of the different ways you can be the ultimate dog sitter in just one article. Each dog is unique in its special way—and you’re going to have to adapt to the best as best you man to make sure that they’re treated with the dignity and the respect that they deserve.
We hope that you were able to pick up a few tips and tricks you didn’t know or otherwise hadn’t considered when it comes to watching another person’s dog. If we could leave you with some final words of encouragement, it would be to be confident! You’ve already done the hard part of getting others to trust you with their loved ones.
Now trust your instincts and experience to make sure the dog under your care has the time of their life.