Becoming a dog sitter can be a fun and rewarding experience. Whether you’re doing it as a side gig or considering it as a full-time career, taking care of someone’s furry family member is a big responsibility. Here are some tips on how to be the best dog sitter you can be.

Get to Know the Dog Ahead of Time

Before you agree to dog sit, make sure you meet the dog at least once. This gives you a chance to see how the dog interacts with you and get a sense of their personality. Some key things to look out for:

Energy Level

Is the dog high-energy or more mellow? This will impact the type and duration of exercise they need.

Sociability

Does the dog warm up to new people right away or take some time? Understanding this can help you make a good first impression.

Any Problem Behaviors

See if the dog has any problem behaviors like jumping, nipping, or barking that you should be aware of.

Ask About the Dog’s Routine

When you meet with the owner, ask questions about the dog’s typical routine. This includes:

Feeding Schedule

When and how much does the dog eat? Stick to their normal meal times.

Potty Schedule

How often do they need to go out and where do they usually potty? Keeping a similar schedule will help avoid accidents.

Exercise Needs

How much exercise is the dog used to each day and what are their favorite activities? Plan to meet their normal activity level.

Bedtime Routine

What time does the dog normally go to bed and what is their bedtime routine? Replicating it can help avoid late-night antics.

Dog Proof Your Home

Before the dog comes over, do a sweep of your home and yard to ensure there are no hazards. Watch out for:

Toxic Foods and Plants

Secure or remove anything poisonous for dogs like chocolate, grapes, onions, and lilies.

Small Objects

Put away any items a dog could swallow like toys, socks, or remote controls.

Escape Routes

Check for any openings in your fence, unsecured gates, or doors without locks where a dog could get loose.

Clutter

Put away anything valuable a dog could knock over or damage like vases and electronics.

Gather Supplies

Make sure you have everything you need ahead of the dog’s visit:

Food and Treats

Have the dog’s regular food plus high-value treats for training and rewards.

Bowls, Bedding, and Toys

So the dog feels comfortable, ask the owner to bring the dog’s regular bowls, bed, and favorite toys.

Leash, Collar, or Harness

Have proper walking gear that fits the dog to take them on bathroom breaks or exercise.

Pet First Aid Kit

Have basic medical supplies on hand in case of an emergency.

Brush Up on Pet First Aid

Knowing some basic first aid and being able to recognize medical issues is crucial. Some key things to brush up on include:

CPR and Choking Protocols

Know how to perform CPR and help a choking dog so you can act fast in an emergency.

Common Poisons

Learn the signs of poisoning and know who to call if the dog ingests anything toxic.

Bloat

Recognize the symptoms of this life-threatening condition and when to seek veterinary care.

Seizures

Understand what to do if the dog has a seizure and learn how to time and document episodes.

Make Your Home Dog Friendly

To give the dog the best possible experience, adapt your home to meet their needs:

Containment

Have gates, corrals, or closed doors to keep the dog in designated pet-friendly areas.

Monitoring

Consider setting up a pet cam so you can check in while away.

Stimulation

Have interactive food puzzles and chew toys to keep them mentally and physically engaged.

Comfort

Ensure they have access to fresh water, cozy bedding, and a quiet place to relax.

Stay In Touch with the Owner

Maintaining regular communication with the owner is key. Be sure to:

Exchange Emergency Contacts

Have each other’s phone numbers and veterinary information in case of an emergency.

Provide Updates

Send photos, videos, and text updates so the owner knows how the dog is doing.

Ask About Changes

Touch base daily about any tweaks needed to care based on the dog’s behavior.

Report Concerns

Inform the owner right away about any health or behavioral concerns that arise.

Prep Your Schedule

To properly care for your furry house guest, you’ll need to set aside adequate time. Be ready to:

Exercise Them Regularly

Plan several brisk daily walks, play sessions, or access to a yard to meet the dog’s activity needs.

Be Home Frequently

Limit long outings away from home and arrange for potty breaks if needed. Puppies may need to go out every few hours.

Give Plenty of Attention

Make time to actively interact, play, train, and snuggle to keep the dog happy.

Stick to Their Routine

Keep meal times, walks, play sessions, and bedtimes consistent with normal.

Watch for Red Flags

While dog sitting, stay alert for any signs of trouble with the dog’s health or behavior:

Loss of Appetite

Contact the owner if the dog refuses food for more than a meal.

Lethargy

Excessive tiredness or lack of interest in play could signal illness.

Aggression

If the dog growls, bares teeth, or attempts to bite, inform the owners right away.

Anxiety

Excessive whining, pacing, or destruction could indicate separation anxiety.

Elimination Changes

Diarrhea, constipation, straining or house soiling warrant a call to the owner.

Enjoy the Dog Sitting Experience!

Following these tips will help set you and your canine client up for an enjoyable, stress-free stay. Get to know the dog ahead of time, stick to their routine, dog-proof your home, and keep a watchful eye. With some thoughtful preparation and diligent care, you’ll become a dog sitter both pups and owners adore!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much should I charge for dog sitting?

A: Dog sitting rates typically range from $15 – $40 per day depending on your location, the dog’s needs, and how long they will stay. Additional services like walks or training cost extra.

Q: What if the dog gets loose or injured under my care?

A: Contact the owner right away if there is ever an emergency like the dog escaping or getting injured. Discuss liability and insurance options when you make the arrangement.

Q: Should I dog-sit in my home or the owner’s home?

A: Both options can work well. In your home, you control the environment but being in their familiar home reduces stress for the dog. Discuss what will work best with the owner.

Q: How can I make extra money as a dog sitter?

A: You can offer additional services like dog walking, training, boarding, pick up/drop offs, grooming assistance, or pet taxi services.

Q: What qualifications do I need to be a dog sitter?

A: While no special certification is required, hands-on experience caring for dogs, pet first aid/CPR training, and liability insurance can help attract clients. Highlight your dog handling expertise.