Top Tips for Finding a Dog Sitter
Many of us dog owners love nothing more than a dog-friendly holiday. Sometimes however, it just isn’t practical or possible to take them with us, so what do we do in those situations? What is the best option of care and for finding a trustworthy, quality dog sitter?
This information is probably most useful to those who, like us, own reactive dogs or dogs that require careful planning and organisation to leave. Mr Whippy finds it difficult to settle away from home and we have tried many different settings to discover this. This is what we wish we knew back then.
Your unique dog:
Firstly, think about your dog’s personality. A dog which is anxious or needs space, peace and home comforts will probably struggle in a crowded, noisy environment so kennels may not be appropriate. A dog that does not easily mix with other dogs, or react well to children, may not suit going to somebody else’s home with their family. A relaxed dog with fewer anxieties when away from home may be fine with a kennel environment- make the care and setting suit your own dogs needs.
Do your research:
Whatever type of care you have decided to use, Google the relevant local companies and ask around. Reviews of pet businesses are really helpful to get a flavour of the ethos of the service and to help you judge if it is right for your family. Local Facebook groups are great for this too, and you can often get very honest personal recommendations. Make sure that you follow up your research with a face to face meet. Leave enough time to take your dog with you and to see if you all get along and if this care suits your needs.
Before you meet, consider what you want from a dog sitter? Whatever ‘type’ of care you opt for (kennel, another home setting, or house sitter) you are probably seeking somebody who is reliable, trustworthy, patient, experienced, kind, and caring.
Ensure that the carer has the appropriate insurance and DBS checks. For in home care, this can also reassure you that your home is in good hands whilst you are away. Also check the carers experience with dogs. Quality dog carers often have lots of experience with dogs with many issues so will have the skills to be able to support and reassure your pet in your absence.
Check how much exercise your dog will get in their holiday setting. This is important for them to feel calm and stimulated in your absence, but equally not be over exercised if they are not physically used to it. Their usual level is ideal to keep things as normal as possible for them.
If considering leaving your dog to stay in another home, check that the premises are safe and secure, for example if they are prone to escaping check that the garden has secure fencing. If you have a food thief (like us) warn the carer of this, or of any other naughty habits, so that they can be aware and alert and keep your dog safe in your absence.
If your dogs will be staying with another family it is important to allow them to build a relationship with the humans (and potential dogs and children) before they are living with them. Invest time in this. For sitters coming to your home, also build in regular walks and meets between the carer and your dog(s) so that they can get used to each other before your holiday. In between holidays, if you plan to use the same carer, try to maintain the momentum of the relationship so that a sitter coming to stay is not an unusual once a year experience.
A thorough handover:
Before you go away, write down your dog’s quirks and routines. If the person that is caring for them knows the usual timings, routines, habits (like being a reluctant walker!) then they have a much better chance of being able to offer a settled and positive experience for your dog. This can feel like a bit of a mission (and look like a novel) but is so worth it. The carer may find their own versions of these routines but it gives them a positive start to their role of temporary owner and can help them understand your dog.
Establish the level of contact that you want when you are away with the carer before you leave. We love receiving regular photos and updates and feel much happier if we know all is well back at base, whilst other owners may want to switch off and not have as much contact- it’s a very personal thing. Whatever your preference, make it clear so that you can go away and not worry.
The joy of finding a dog sitter:
Through trial and error, we have now discovered two really amazing dog sitters to stay with our dogs in our home. They offer patience, kindness and plenty of TLC in our absence. Each time we go away, we leave a list of their routine and quirks (they have many!) and can then disappear (and relax), knowing that our dogs are happy too. Our dogs are our family so why wouldn’t we take the time to make it as lovely for them as we can?
I do hope that this has been useful reading and would love to hear your experiences of finding a dog sitter in the comments below.
Read more of our daily dog friendly living posts here.