Tips & Advice

Things Every First Time Dog Sitter Should Know

Dogs are lovable. Is that because they can be very loyal or just those big eyes that stare at you in absolute trust? Whatever the reason for the universal love they get from humans, they deserve it. However, it is one thing to love dogs from afar or even love yours because it’s yours and a completely different kettle of fish to love another and take care of it. Thing is before you can successfully become a dog sitter, you have to have a genuine love for dogs and, even at that, it can still look like an uphill task if it is your first time doing it.

So, apart from a heartfelt love for dogs, what else do you need to know as a first-time dog sitter?


Don’t take it for granted that every dog sitting job you get would be in the parents’ home, just like most babysitting jobs. Sometimes, parents would want you to sit their dogs in your own house. So you have to know if that is fine with you or if you are averse to that. And if it is fine with you, do you have a roommate you need to give a heads up? Even if your roommate totally loves your dog, if you have one of your own, it doesn’t mean they would be fine with you having to bring a dog frequently to the house. And what if they say no? Be sure to clear these up with the dog owners before the word go.

Are You Particular about Cleanliness?

You have to be aware that dogs have the tendency to mark places they have never been to with their urine or if there is another dog there. Male dogs do this more and they prefer clean vertical surfaces. Their urine leaves an odor, just like every other type of urine but if you thoroughly clean those marked surfaces, the smell would disappear fast enough. Again, dogs come with their own distinct smell. The dog smell. That they are clean doesn’t mean the smell would not come with them. It is natural and has nothing to do with dirt. It comes from their furs and glands so if you have a problem with this fact, you may want to have a rethink. Note, though, that cleaning after them clears the smell. It won’t be there forever. And they will leave furs all over your house if you use your house as the location. Keep these in mind.

Ask About the Dog’s General Disposition

Some parents have overly-pampered their pets and this shows in their general attitude towards others, especially fellow pets. It is necessary to find out if the dog you are going to be sitting has mood swings or is a happy-go-lucky fellow. Is it normally friendly towards everyone? This would properly inform you if the dog starts behaving strangely towards anyone. Does it like company all the time or is it fine even when it is left alone? Does it bite, even when playing? Does it get overly excited easily or just when it eats particular types of food? These are some of the questions you should think about asking and getting straight answers to before the job starts.


Most dog foods are made to suit a general need for the canine family but sometimes, you may find that some dogs have some sort of allergies to some food ingredients. It is not an everyday occurrence but you still need to ask the dog owners what not to feed their dog. Again, most dogs eat human food and are fine with it but not all. You may need to strictly adhere to whatever dog food the owners leave with you and not buckle under the influence of those big, lovable and cute eyes that beg you to feed them pizza. Find out what and what not to feed the dog so that you don’t make a mistake. You also need to know its eating habit. Just like people, pets have varying degrees of speed at eating. Some rush while others take their time. So that you don’t think there’s something wrong with the dog because it is taking forever to finish its food, keep in mind whatever the owners tell you in this regard.

Keep the Vet’s Number Close

Every pet owner has a vet they frequent and the owners of the dog you are going to sit would not be any different. Familiarity is key here. There is nothing wrong with using another experienced vet but if the dog is already familiar with one, it would serve you better to go there in the event there is an emergency. That way, the dog can relax and not get anxious and fidgety and the owners would rest easy, knowing that their dog is in safe and familiar hands. Ask the owners for the number and don’t lose it.


Some dogs are oh-so-spoilt! They have everything of their own, right down to their own seats at the dining table; no matter what it is they are eating. And some have their own beds; not just a rug thrown on the floor but a full bed and won’t accept anything less. Other dogs may not be bothered where they sleep, as long they are close to their owners and have warmth around them. The pet owners should inform you of their dog’s preferences in different areas so that you are not caught off guard. Does it like cuddling while sleeping or does it like space? Would it prefer sleeping with you on your bed or on the floor? Would it expect you to feed it from your plate while you are eating? Remember that the main objective, apart from care, is to ensure that the dog doesn’t miss its owners unduly.

The Job Could Be Time Consuming

Don’t think it is a breeze-in, breeze-out type of gig; arrange your schedule around the dog sitting job. Be ready to spend a good amount of time with it. Depending on the dog, you may have to engage in lots of physically-exerting activities. Dogs love walking, running, playing. Sometimes, you may find that you have to spend not less than 2 hours playing “fetch!” with it, in one day. Are you ready for that?

Are the Vaccines Up to Date?

In the event it playfully bites you or others, you can be sure you are covered, health-wise. You cannot take this for granted. Ask the owners about it and, if you need to be doubly sure, have a proof of that shown to you.

The list is not exhaustive but you are sure to get off to a wonderful start if you adhere to most of it. With time, you will get used to the job and develop your own routine, creating comfort and fun for you and the dog. It does not have to be a bore. It should be fun. However, remember that you cannot even take the job if you don’t love dogs naturally. Otherwise, it could be a disaster even before you start.


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