Dog Sitting Tips For Parents: How To Ensure The Best Care Possible

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Dog in bagLooking to use a dog sitting service like Rover? It’s a convenient alternative to putting your dog in the kennel and gives Fido the luxury of hanging out in a loving home while you’re away. I don’t have pets myself, but having dog sat hundreds of hours for dozens of dogs over the years, I’ve learned a few things that are useful for owners to know before dropping your pet off with a caregiver.

Hopefully, these tips for dog parents will help ensure that their sitters are well-prepared to give furry friends the best care possible (while giving you ultimate peace of mind too).

Provide Detailed Instructions

Does your dog have tendencies that may seem strange to a sitter? Are there specific details you would share about your pup’s eating habits? Does your dog take medicine three times a day? Sharing any of those “good to knows” with the dog sitter ensures your dog will be comfortable and well taken care of in your absence. Even if your dog is laid-back, being in a new home without its owner can be a bit scary. In moments of anxiety, having an insider’s perspective can help put everyone at ease. Writing these important details down or including in your dog’s bio via the app is a good idea so the sitter has a reference it (especially since one can forget each dog’s unique needs).

Pack A Bag

Pack a bag with any items that your dog loves or needs to set the dog sitter up for success. Of course, we recommend a personalized dog tote bag with your dog’s photo on it to keep your dog’s goodies straight from your other canine guests’.

As far as what to put in your pup’s bag. Some dogs can be shy when eating or drinking out of a new container. So having a food or water bowl they’re familiar with allows them to feel right at home. Blankets, toys and other comforting objects that remind them of you can help them settle in or keep the dog entertained throughout their stay.

If the dog requires food during its stay, pack plenty of extra kibble just in case. Don’t expect your sitter to provide the dog food for your pet. It’s not only bad etiquette to assume but not good for canine bellies to switch diets quickly. If your dog takes medication of any kind, be sure to include it along with the instructions for how to administer it to avoid any potentially dangerous mixups. If a dog is staying overnight, be sure to pack everything they will need for the stay, including medicines, a bed and maybe even a crate.

ID Your Dog

Nothing is scarier for both a dog sitter and their parent than the fear of them getting off their leash and running away. While this isn’t common (thankfully), having a dog tag on your pet is critical to helping them find their way back to home more quickly. Microchips are good, but not nearly as useful in a pinch since they don’t have the dog’s name and contact information clearly displayed.

Give Plenty Of Notice

Last minute bookings and life happens. But when it does, it’s essential to give as much of a heads up to any schedule changes as possible. Flight delays, schedule changes, and traffic are all inevitable, but for the sitter, it’s useful to know when they can expect you to drop off and pick up so they can plan their walks and meals accordingly. It is also important to recognize that the sitter is a person with a life too. So on the flip side, if they need to rearrange their schedule be understanding as well. Bottom line: communicate. Plus, sharing when you’re in route to pick up or drop off means the sitter will be prepared and can meet you promptly (even curbside).

Leave Your Vet’s Contact Info And Get Pet Insurance

Jot down your go-to vet’s phone number, address and email just in case, so your pet sitter knows where to go and who to contact right away in the event of illness or an unexpected vet emergency. And if an emergency should arise and your dog needs to go to the vet while you’re gone, having pet insurance to cover some (or all) of the costs is peace of mind for both you and your sitter.

Make Your Dog Sitter Feel Good

Your caretaker has a huge responsibility and you are putting your best friend’s faith in their hands (literally). So a simple “thank you” and tokens of gratitude are always appreciated. It’s also helpful to give feedback to let the sitter know what the dog enjoys most about its stay. For example, “Lucky is always so excited to see you!” or “Lucy is always so well-rested after she comes home from your place” seem silly, but they go a long way! This is especially important if you wish to use this sitter again — a compliment paired with a well-behaved and loving pup is a win-win for everyone.

If you haven’t already tried one out, check out our full review of the various dog sitting services and how you can save money and time on doggy daycare (while having a happy, healthy pup to return home to). And if you’re interested in being on the other side and taking care of pups, I’ve got some tips for dog sitters too! (A great idea for lonely dogs to have play dates).

What is your best pet sitting tip?

About The Author:

Sadie graduated from the Moody School of Communications at the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors in Advertising and minor in Business. Her love of pets started from an early age with her childhood cocker spaniel, Peanut, and cats Lucy and Tabby. She is currently dog mom to Lexie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

As a professional dog sitter for more than a decade, Sadie has cared for dozens of canines of various breeds, sizes and temperaments. The responsibility of caring for others' pets has helped her understand the importance of giving animals a loving home. She has experience potty and house training as well as teaching dogs tricks such as sit and shake. Sadie is passionate about canine well-being so she feeds her pup all-natural meals and no table scraps. Carrots and sweet potatoes are her picks for healthy treat alternatives.

Sadie and her husband live in Washington DC and enjoy walking Lexie to nearby dog parks or patios and taking her canine companion on trips. Having an adventurous, long-haired Blenheim means frequent baths and home grooming to maintain a clean coat. A small dog also requires more frequent dental care and Sadie is proactive with Lexie's oral hygiene.

She has been covering dog-related topics since 2012 and is proud to share her latest personal experience, resources and information with fellow pet parents.

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Derek McDoogle
I totally agree with you when you said that nothing is scarier for both a dog sitter and their parent than the fear of them getting off their leash and running away. My sister has a small dog and she told me that she will have a business trip and does not know where to leave her dog. I will recommend her to look for a local pet pick up service so that she can have peace of mind that her dog will be safe.
Rose Connolly
Let the pet sitter do their job and don’t micro manage them..!
Randy Chorvack
I agree that you should give as much as a heads up as possible so you don’t take the pet sitter by surprise. I’m going to Spain on vacation but I don’t want my dog home alone. She get’s really nervous and I don’t want her to be alone for an entire week. I’m going to hire someone to watch her so that she’ll be happy while I’m away.
Mark Murphy
I really appreciate your reminder to remember to communicate when you are trying to find someone to watch your dog. My wife and I have been considering getting a dog for our young daughter, but our family also likes to take a lot of long trips. I will be sure to tell my wife that if we do get a dog, we will need to have constant communication with the dog sitters that we use!
Great tips! I’d also like to add potential dog sitters to have coffee and/or a meet and greet at a neutral location. This is the best way to see if it’s a good match (and gives your dog a chance to meet them as well in advance of staying for an advanced period of time. If the sitter is open to it, you might suggest a follow up meet and greet at your home or their home to go over some instructions so they can get familiar with your dog beforehand.
I simply love this web site. Thanks for all of the information on diseases and pets. This information will help me in training other family members on these issues
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Thanks Johni for the kind words!
Bobby Saint
I totally agree that you need to provide the pet sitter with your vet’s contact information in case of an emergency. You never know what could happen while you’re away, and it’s always good to be prepared in the event that your pet gets sick. Providing the contact information and address to your pet sitter would somehow give you some peace of mind that your pet will be safe. I would definitely take this into account if I were to hire a temporary pet sitter. Thanks.
YES! As an experienced dog sitter myself, I can attest to ALL of these tips!