Are you a dog sitter, or looking for one? Read this first!
With the holidays in full swing, many dog owners have been booking pet sitters. Pawshake has literally thousands of passionate pet sitters around Australia, there to help when you need. Needless to say, being a sitter is the most fun occupation there is! But we also have to be aware that it’s not just a fun way of earning extra money: it’s a big responsibility! That’s why it’s important to consider the implications for a dog before taking them into your care. How do you make the dog’s time with you as pleasant as possible? Here are four important tips for dog owners and sitters:
A thorough meet & greet
Always arrange a meeting well BEFORE the booking begins and the owner leaves. It’s important for the dog and the sitter to familiarise themselves with one another. If the dog is staying in the dog sitter’s home, be sure to let the meeting take place on location. This way, the dog can get to know their new environment, the sitter and their family as well as resident pets, all while the owner is there for reassurance.
Go for a walk together
The best way to get to know a dog is by going for a walk with the dog and the owner. The pooch can get to know your neighbourhood and you learn something about them too, such as how does the dog react to strangers, other dogs and new noises. During the walk, the owner can tell you all about their four-legged friend's habits at home (dog owners, take note!). A good dog sitter asks lots of questions: What is the dog's routine'? How much exercise do they get? What games do they enjoy? What are they afraid of? How do they react to other dogs? A skillful dog sitter will leave you dizzy with so many questions! There is no such things as too much information about a prospective charge.
A warm and calm welcome
When the owner drops off the dog at the pet sitter’s place for the stay, it’s best to have a calm atmosphere. The dog owner should avoid saying a dramatic and emotional goodbye to the dog, and both humans should go about it as if it were no big deal to be left at someone else’s house (though for most dogs, it really is a big deal). Make sure the dog doesn’t get overstimulated on top of the stress of the separation - no screaming children or loud music! Let the dog do their thing, and let them choose how and when to approach you instead of the other way around. Dogs are always looking to have calm and relaxed relationships with others and want to avoid stress. That’s why it's important to get to know the body-language of dogs, such as yawning and turning their heads away when self-calming, and more overt stress signals such as panting and showing the whites of their eyes (sometimes known as 'whale eye'). Those signals are often subtle, but they are essential to understanding the mood of a dog. With self-calming signals, the dog is telling you: I want to avoid this stressful situation, I don’t want to do any harm!
The dog is dependent on the dog sitter
As a dog sitter, you are temporarily responsible for your new little (or big!) friend. They are entirely dependant on you! This means that you shouldn’t plan too many activities during their stay. Staying in an unfamiliar environment is already quite a strain on a dog, so don’t drag them along everywhere you go and don’t leave them home alone if it can be helped at all. Take into account that the dog may behave differently when their owner is gone (which is a why booking a trial pet-sit for one night before the main holiday is a good idea). The dog might exhibit separation anxiety, whine at night and become very stressed. Never punish or fuss excessively over a dog: just be there for them. Being a calm and friendly presence for the dog makes it much more likely that they will feel right at home soon. It doesn’t work immediately? Be patient. The dog just needs a little time to adjust. Chances are, so would you!
For the dog owners: Only book a dog sitter if you feel completely comfortable with them. Having checked their profile, reviews and then met them in person, you can book in good faith. During the stay, the dog sitter can share photos of your your furry friend via the Pawshake app. This way you can see that they're having a good time with the pet sitter and you can relax on holiday!
We are of course curious about your dog sitting adventures. Don’t forget to share photos of your (Pawshake) dog on our Facebook-page or on Instagram!