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Questions to ask Before Dog Sitting. Plus a Few Handy Tips

Updated on December 14, 2014

Nellie the Schnoodle

Nellie and her stuffed chew toy.
Nellie and her stuffed chew toy. | Source

Nellie Comes to Visit

My partner and I live in a house with no children and no pets. It's not that we don't like pets (children are a whole different kettle of fish!), but our lifestyles mean that we cannot commit 10+ years in one location to ensure that we can have a dog or cat in our home. However this doesn't stop us from looking after other peoples dogs (dog sitting) on a short term basis, with Nellie, the cross poodle/schnauzer (Known as a Schnoodle would you believe) being our favourite house guest.

Having looked after her on several occasions we have made a list of helpful dog sitting tips and questions which should be enlightening for any other potential short term dog carers.

What the Dog Sitter will need.

Noz2Noz Poop Patrol Pet Waste Scoop, 27-Inches Long
Noz2Noz Poop Patrol Pet Waste Scoop, 27-Inches Long

Dog poop has to be picked up. How do you feel about just using a plastic bag? Disgusting? Then you will need a pooper scooper to do the job. This version is funky and keeps the dog poop at a good distance from you!


Helping out in the Kitchen

Nellie looking for a Kitchen Snack
Nellie looking for a Kitchen Snack

Settling in the dog

If you are dog sitting in your house and it is unfamiliar to the dog visitor you are hosting, we have found the following useful to ensure that the time spent with a pining dog is kept to a minimum.

- Get the dogs owner to drop off their pet at your house. Then have them sit down with you and have a coffee. This way the dog will see that the surrounds are comfortable to their owner, that their owner is your friend (in their eyes). It also gives the owner the chance to identify any issues that they may see in your house that could cause the dog any problems.

- Make sure the owner brings things that are familiar to the dog. We have Nellies bedding, her food and water dishes, several toys and her leads. Familiar smells, textures and keeping a sense of routine ensures that the dog doesn't feel too uncomfortable in her new surroundings.

- Get the owner of the dog to either provide the same food the dog eats at home or a list of the usual food and snacks that the dog eats. Dogs are like people and can have very picky tastes or even food allergies. Nellies owner brought us a box of her usual food and a large bag of dried snacks that she enjoys.

Supplementary Dog Feeding Station

OurPets Signature Series Elevated Dog Feeder 4"
OurPets Signature Series Elevated Dog Feeder 4"

Not all owners will bring their dogs dishes, so having a spare one will save you having to use your own breakfast dishes to feed your visiting pooch. This dish is perfect as it is on a stand which is suitable for different sized dogs as well as being made of stainless steel, which makes it easy to clean.


Where will your boundaries be?

Nellie finds a pile of washing and our bed!
Nellie finds a pile of washing and our bed!


What are your boundaries when it comes to a pet? Discuss with the dogs owner exactly what they expect from the dog sitting experience. Do they want the dog to be treated as one of the family or are they just happy for their dog to live in the backyard and be walked once a day?

- Where in the house will you allow the dog? We let Nellie have the run of the house. Our furniture isn't new and we are not precious about any of the possessions we leave lying about within reach of Nellie. The only room we keep her out of is the bedroom when we are sleeping. Being light sleepers, the movement of a dog on our bed would ensure a sleepless night for both of us. However, during the day she sneaks in and makes herself very comfortable on our bed.

- We put a towel on our couch and Nellie has a spot in the middle of it. Know beforehand whether or not the dog you are minding is a house dog or a yard dog.

- Make sure any gates you have are secured and reach far enough to the ground. Nellie has pushed the boundaries of every gate we have and happily she is safe and secure in both our front and back yards.

- Toilet time. How will you cope when the dog needs to go to the toilet when you are either asleep or out? We have installed a door jam that keeps the door open just enough to let Nellie out and make sure humans can't get in. Longer term we are installing a dog door. You will have to have your own solution, unless you like cleaning up dog poop!

Keeping Your Bed Just For You

AKC Casablanca Round Solid Pet Bed
AKC Casablanca Round Solid Pet Bed

Not every owner will have a dog bed, so this bed makes the perfect addition to your house for the visiting pooch. Comfortable, machine washable and it will keep the visitor off your bed!


Exercising Nellie

Find out how much exercise the owner expects.
Find out how much exercise the owner expects.

What else you should know.

Every dog has a different foible and every dog has a different way it needs to be treated. Unlike humans, dogs are 100% reliant on their human carers, so before their owner leaves them in your care you should know the following.

- How much exercise does the dog need? Some dogs are happy with a gentle walk in the park for half an hour, others, like Nellie, need a lot more exercise if they aren't going to keep you awake at night chasing imaginary burglars as they try to burn off their excess energy. We give Nellie at least two runs a day and have her chasing us and balls to make sure she has fun, burns off excess energy and remains fit and healthy.

- Does the dog have any allergies? The last thing you want to be giving a dog is a peanut butter filled bone if they are allergic to nuts! Also check your backyard for any plants that dogs may be allergic to, or even worse will make them sick if they eat them.

- How friendly is the dog? Nellie is a lover, not a fighter, so we can let her loose off the lead as well as take her down the street and stop for a drink whilst she licks passers by. Not all dogs are this friendly, so find out from the owner what temperament the dog you are minding has.

- Are there any grooming tips that are needed for the dog? If Nellie gets dirty (which she does as she loves to plonk down in muddy puddles) then all I do is get the hose, chase her around and wash her clean. A quick towel and she is done. However not all dogs are this easy, find out what the one you are minding needs.

Dog Sitters Unite

Have you ever done any Dog Sitting?

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Washing the muddy dog! No vet required!
Washing the muddy dog! No vet required!

Mandatory Information

There are a few things that you must know if you are looking after someone elses dog. Even if you don't feel that way about pets, many people view them only just below their children and expect that should something go wrong, that the very best attempts will be made to rectify the situation.

- Always have a way that you can contact the owner. If a life or death decision needs to be made, you as the minder don't want to be in the position to have to make it.

- Have a surrogate contact. If you can't contact the owner, then make sure they have designated someone to make a decision on their behalf.

- Get all the details of the vet the dog uses. Even if it is only something small it will be a lot easier taking them to a vet that knows the animals history rather than trying to explain everything to a stranger.

And finally, make sure that you enjoy spending time with dogs. They can be needy, smelly and unpredictable, but if you love being around them, then you will love dog sitting as much as we do.

A New Toy

Nylabone Dura Chew Original Flavored Dental Dinosaur Chew Toy, Dinosaur Style Varies
Nylabone Dura Chew Original Flavored Dental Dinosaur Chew Toy, Dinosaur Style Varies

A new toy will make your canine border forget that they are not at home. What could be better than a combination toy and tooth cleaner. You will be giving back the pooch healthier than when she arrived!


Wow, this writing business is hard work!

Nellie writing her tips on Dog Sitting.
Nellie writing her tips on Dog Sitting.

Share Your Dog Sitting Tips.

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    • debarebear profile image

      Dani Forster 

      5 years ago from Melbourne

      Wow, Nellie really is a cutie! Thanks for sharing!


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