In recent years, the “dog sitter” option to have your dog looked after for holidays, weekends or business trips has gained more and more followers. An alternative to traditional kennels, dog sitters offer different services, ranging from accommodation to walks, including day care.
Here is some good advice so that your dog’s first stay with a dog sitter goes as well as possible.
- Find the ideal candidate
Every dog is different. Fortunately, there are also many types of dog sitters, whether in character, activity level, or location. One of the advantages of dog sitting platforms is that there are very different profiles (with filters to facilitate research).
They all have a common denominator: their love of animals and their availability. From there, it ranges from the student with a flexible schedule, to the retiree with all his free time, to the freelancer working from home and who can therefore provide companionship to a lonely dog. There are also working people, who have responsibilities incompatible with the well-being of a dog during the week, but who are delighted to play nannies on the weekends when they finally have free time, to take advantage of the presence of a dog they miss on a daily basis.
Some dog sitters are athletic, others more homebody. They may have received specific training (canine ethology, educator, trainer, veterinary assistant, etc.) or simply have lived all their lives with dogs and know them by heart. All this information is available in the profile of each dog sitter, with photos illustrating everything, so that each person can get an idea.
We also find the opinions of other people who have used the services of this dog sitter. This is very reassuring when it is the first time that one uses this kind of platform.
Finally, it is also possible to select the type of accommodation of the dog sitter. Apartment with or without a balcony, a house with or without a garden… This will save you the unpleasant surprise of having to leave your Saint Bernard in a 20 square meter apartment.
- Communicate well beforehand
Communication is one of the keys to successful dog sitting with a dog sitter. Often the platforms offer the possibility of speaking with the dog sitters by messaging, without obligation. Our advice is to contact several of them and talk a bit with them to see which one seems the most suitable. It is certainly a question of availability, but also of “feeling”. If the current goes well by mail, it is a good omen for the future.
In order for the dog sitter to be able to tell us if he will be able to take care of our dog, we must be sure to provide him with all possible details about the latter. His height, his weight, his race if he has one, his character, his little quirks… As well as the exact dates (concrete stay, regular walks…).
Also remember to ask the dog sitter if other animals or young children live with him. This is usually indicated in the profile. This can help if your dog doesn’t like the presence of other dogs or cats, or is particularly in need of quiet time.
Once you have agreed on all this, you can proceed more serenely with the reservation.
- With or without another dog, that is the question
This point, which we began to deal with in the previous paragraph, is particularly important. Dog sitters who themselves have a dog at home indicate this in their profile, and to offer their services on a dog sitting platform, their dog must be sociable.
Yours may not be. You will then have to refer you to a dog sitter without a dog.
If your dog has not yet had the opportunity to socialize with his peers but does not present any particular problems for this, a stay with a dog sitter with a dog is a good opportunity to get to know his peers.
It is also necessary to take into account the presence of a cat or any other animal. And if your dog has never met one before, we advise you to introduce him to one beforehand, to avoid unpleasant surprises. This brings us to the next point…
- Arrange a meeting beforehand
We always encourage people to arrange a meeting before the stay begins.
Once the reservation is confirmed on the platform, everyone receives the contact details of the other and it is therefore easier to organize to meet. If after the first meeting, the owner or the dog sitter wishes not to proceed with the reservation; it is possible to request a cancellation. If you are searching for the best Dog feeding products then you can see here portable dog water bottle at Family Pooch.
For an ideal meeting we advise to organize a long walk. If the dog sitter has a dog himself, he will also be there. The best thing is to make the presentations on neutral ground. During the walk, the dog sitter will be able to know the energy of the dog; his master will be able to exchange verbally on his needs and his habits. If the owner wishes, at the end of the walk and after making sure that the dogs get along well, it is possible to make a brief visit to the dog sitter’s home. In this way, this place will no longer be unknown territory for the dog. And the fact of having been able to see where his dog will be received will reassure the master.
- Start with a short stay
We have had cases of dogs that have never been with anyone other than their owner and are placed with a dog sitter for the first time for several weeks. Although the dog sitter will do everything in his power to ensure that the dog has a good stay, the experience will surely be quite negative, both for the dog and for the master. This change is too abrupt, and the separation is too long.
The dog could then suffer from separation anxiety when this had never been the case before. He might even think that his master has abandoned him.
It is to avoid all this that we recommend starting with daycare, or a short stay (maximum one weekend).
This allows you to have a first contact, an idea of how a longer stay could unfold. Proceeding in this way helps the psychological well-being of the dog, but also that of the master.
- Inform the dog sitter of all your dog’s habits
You think you know your dog, and yet… Some people don’t know that their dog suffers from separation anxiety, since when their dog is alone; they are not there to see how it reacts. They are then surprised to learn during a first stay with a dog sitter, that as soon as they have passed the door, their dog howls at death or begin to destroy objects. What these people interpreted as “nonsense” (he redecorates the living room in our absence) is in fact a manifestation of the separation anxiety from which their companion suffers.
In order for the stay to go as smoothly as possible, we advise you to provide the dog sitter with all the details about your dog’s habits. Their meal times, walks, sleep … If you have to pay particular attention to something when walking (bicycles, cats, large dogs…). Things allowed and forbidden at home: getting on the sofa, sleeping in the bedroom, receiving a treat… So the dog sitter can apply the same rules at home.
Don’t be afraid to forget to say something to the dog sitter, whether before, during or after the reservation, you can easily contact him on the platform’s messaging system.
- Prepare your dog’s suitcase
When you go on vacation, do you pack a suitcase with your belongings for the stay? The same goes for your dog when he goes to his dog sitter! Below we offer you a small list with the essential elements:
Your dog’s health record (check that it is up to date for vaccines, deworming and deworming)
His basket or cushion or blanket to sleep
His collar or harness and a leash (check that they are in good condition, the dog should not run away by pulling hard during a walk)
His bowl and food for the duration of the stay (we always recommend that the owner brings the dog’s usual food. Sudden changes in diet can cause digestive disorders.)
Medicines and prescriptions if treatment in progress
Optional but ideal: a message on the phone or a note on a sheet of paper summarizing his meal times, outings and taking medication
- Stay in touch during the stay
A photo or a short video of your guest’s walk or latest trick will have the super power to comfort his master. We advise to give news every day. You have to find the right rhythm for each master. Some will want regular details and photos. Others will be happy to know once a day that their dog is doing well and isn’t bored while they’re away.
For this, smartphones are very practical, we always have them at hand to take a photo or send a message. Dog sitting platforms offer a chat that makes it easy to keep in touch.
- Try several dog sitters, to make sure you find the most suitable
Don’t be afraid to be demanding. Your dog is a very important being for you and he deserves that you look for the best for him. The ideal dog sitter will be this person who will be able to reassure you completely and take care of your dog as well as you. In general, it’s a question of “feeling” and it is felt very quickly, a person who loves dogs and knows how to take care of them, it shows in the small details. You may think you have found the rare pearl on the first try.
But feel free to try others. It is always interesting to compare. Each dog sitter will have something different to offer your dog. And don’t be afraid to cheat. You are always in time to come back to a dog sitter that you particularly liked.
Small bonus: the (possible) good surprises when your dog goes to a dog sitter for the first time.
Certainly dogs are animals and it would be a mistake (which many people nevertheless commit) to fall into anthropomorphism and attribute to them behaviors specific to human beings. However, when you leave your dog for the first time with a dog sitter, you can have good surprises, in the same way as when you leave your young child at school, with grandparents or with a nanny. Bad little habits (pulling on the leash, compulsive barking, doing stupid things…) can disappear at the dog sitter, as if by magic. You will also feel a bit silly for wanting to warn the dog sitter (“be careful, my dog constantly pulls on the leash when walking”) when your companion will have behaved like an angel.
Dogs tend to behave differently away from their master. And it’s always very funny to have the return of a dog sitter, who tells us what our faithful companion is doing “behind our backs”.
In summary: if you have not yet had the experience of entrusting your dog to a dog sitter when you have to be away, we can only recommend it to you!