Top 20 “Dog Sitting” Tips That Every Dog Sitter Should Know

top 20 dog sitting tips

Maybe you want to earn that extra money in your spare time, or perhaps you just want to play with your friend’s new puppy while he is out of town.

Whether for fun or money, whatever the reason is, dog sitting is fun and brings a lot of joy. Besides, who doesn’t love the thrill of playing, wrestling, and chasing a new dog?

Here are the top 20 dog-sitting tips that will help you to become the best dog sitter ever.

1. Make Your First Impression Count

The first impression can make or break your chances. Before you meet a new dog, you might want to learn a few tips that can make that first impression last long.

2. Understand That Each Dog is Different

The first thing that you need to remember is that each dog is different, and the best way to learn about a new dog is to ask the owner. There are a few essential things that you may want to ask on your first day, such as the dog’s habit, feeding schedule, exercise time, etc.

3. Be Prepared For The Dog’s Unexpected Habit.

Some dogs might dash out the door when they hear the mailman coming, and some dogs might turn into crazy energizer-chasers whenever they see squirrels.

Well, you get the idea. It’s better to be prepared first before everything turns into a disaster.

4. Feed The Dog On Time

Your job as a dog sitter is to follow the dog’s regular schedule, which includes feeding, exercise, and resting time.

Make sure you know how much food the dog eats at each meal and how often they are fed. You also want to know where the owner stores the food.

Please be aware that some foods are fatal to dogs. The last thing that you want is having them accidentally eating these foods on your watch: chocolate, milk, cheese, onions, garlic, avocados, grapes, milk, onions, yeasted, bread, and any-caffeine related drink.

5. Ask About The Dog’s Medical Record

Even if you only dog-sit the dog for a couple of hours, it’s still a good idea to know their medical history. A few things that you should know are the dog’s specific allergies, any digestive problems, past health problems, breed-specific conditions, and ongoing medication needs.

If you have to give the dog medication, make sure to ask thoroughly and follow the instructions that the owner provides to the letter.

If the owner is going to be away for a long time, you may want to know where to buy the medication and have contact information about the vet.

6. Take Them On Exercises

Enough exercise makes any dogs too tired to misbehave, which makes your job a lot easier. Ask the owner what kind of exercise the dog usually gets, when they get it, and for how long.

If you are unsure of what you need to do, the safest way is to take the dog for a walk. When you the dog on a walk, be careful with how they react toward strangers, children, or other pets. Some dogs might become aggressive when they meet unfamiliar people or animals.

Most dogs are more comfortable walking on a familiar route. So you might want to ask the owner for the path they often take. 

A dog park can be a good destination. You can play a game of fetch there, or they can run freely and play with other dogs. Just be sure to keep watching all the time to make sure they don’t get into a brawl with other dogs.

7. Reward and Punishment

You want to know too, what kind of reward and punishment that the owner gives since you don’t want to mess up the dog’s behavior by giving them too many treats as a reward or punishing them with wrong punishment.

8. Know The Owner’s House

When you dog-sit the owner’s dog, you need to know the owner’s house as well. You may want to ask which area or which furniture that the dog is not allowed.

9. Watch Out for The Dog’s Bad Behaviors

It’s normal for the dog to become anxious and misbehave when their owner is gone. They can do all sorts of things from chewing to destroying stuff in the house.

For the first few hours, you may want to be extra careful. By giving them extra supervision, you can decrease the likelihood that the dog will do something terrible.

If you any signs of separation anxiety, you can take them for a walk. Walks are a great way to calm them.

10. Learn How to Use Leash

Knowing how to use a dog leash properly is a must for dog sitters. When you take them for a walk, you need to be able to control them with a leash.

A few movies showed dog sitters walked multiple dogs at once, and you might think it is cool and want to try it. But it’s actually a bad idea if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Trying to walk dogs from multiple households at once without their owners can give you a headache even for the experienced dog sitter. So the lesson here is never to do it.

Another thing to note is you might want to use a leash that you are familiar with than using the dog’s own leash.

11. Be Aware of The Dog’s Bathroom Schedule

A dog is a creature of habit; they almost always follow the same schedule in everything they do from eating to peeing and pooping.

So you need to know what time and where they usually do their business. Some dogs are used to do their business in a large area,  and others are more comfortable in a small, private place.

If you take the dog on a walk, you may want to prepare a ready supply of poop bags in case an accident happens along the way.

12. Know Your Limit

You may not ever need to lift a dog when you dog-sit, but what if something happens? Can you lift a large dog that weighs over 40 to 50 pounds?

If not, then you may want to limit yourself to sort of dogs you are capable of handling.

13. Make Sure You Have Everything You Need

Make sure to ask the dog’s owner for all the supplies and where you can find them. The items you may want to ask include food, treats, medication, toys, bowl, leash, collar, poop bags, and a crate.

If you have your own leash and collar, I would recommend to use yours instead.

14. Clean The Feeding Area

You should clean the surrounding floor area and the food bowl after feeding the dog. This way, you can keep the dog healthy and the owner happy and like they say: a happy customer is a repeat customer.

15. Follow Basic Safety Rules

There are a few basic safety rules that you should follow when dealing with a new dog:

  • Don’t approach the dog while they are eating.
  • Don’t pick up the dog.
  • Don’t pet the dog on the head; most dogs don’t like it.
  • Don’t walk the dog after dark.
  • Don’t play games that you don’t understand.

16. Get an Insurance

After doing pet-sitting business for a while, you may want to consider getting insurance. Insurance shows your clients that you are responsible and trustworthy.

17. Secure The Dog When You Leave

Some dogs want to escape so much when they are left alone separated from their owners. No matter where you dog-sit the dog, in the client’s house or your house, you want to secure the dog if you have to leave.  Make sure to keep the dog in their crate, lock the gates, leash the dog to a desk or heavy stationary object.

18. Have an Emergency Plan

Professional dog sitters always have an emergency plan. Maybe the dog gets a cut on a walk, or the dog stumbles on something and gets limping afterward. Before going to the owner’s house, you should always check out where is the closest animal clinic.

19. Always Be Calm

A dog sitter job has only one crucial requirement: the ability to remain calm in all situations. Some dogs tend to act when their owners are gone and left with strangers. Remember to stay level-headed when the dog pushes you to your limits.

20. Watch The Dog’s Body Language.

Because dogs can’t communicate in words, they use their bodies and behaviors to communicate with you. As a dog sitter, you need to be able to understand the signals they are giving. Though over time you will develop this ability, when you are new in this business, you may want to read or take a course on a dog’s body language.

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Andrew Garf

Hi, my name is Andrew Garf and I am 1 part part-time dog trainer, 2 part burger enthusiast, 3 part dog lover, too many parts?