The experience of leaving a pet behind, particularly one as emotionally attached to their owners as dogs, can be a daunting prospect. This can be true for everyone, whether you’re someone who frequently travels for business, or someone who wouldn’t dream of leaving their dog, lovingly named Princess, alone, unless it’s for an exceptional circumstance such as your daughter’s wedding.
Regardless of the reason, there are occasions when our beloved dogs must cope without our presence, our established routines, and potentially even without the comfort of our home. As pet owners, the process of leaving our pets behind can also bring about a considerable amount of anxiety and worry. So, let’s explore some ways to ensure that your dog’s needs are met in your absence, allowing you to undertake your travels free from unnecessary worry.
Dog Sitter Is Your Best Bet
When the subject turns to dog care during your absence, many experts suggest hiring a professional pet sitter who will reside in your home for the entire duration of your trip. This offers several important benefits.
Firstly, your dog will be able to stay in a familiar environment. This is of significant value as dogs are creatures of habit and changes in their surroundings can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. Remaining in their home allows them to stick to their everyday routine as closely as possible, from their usual sleeping spots to their favorite toys, ensuring they feel secure and comfortable.
Secondly, hiring a pet sitter can save you time and effort on travel. Instead of having to drop off and pick up your dog from a boarding facility, the sitter comes to you. This also means your dog is spared the potential anxiety or discomfort of a car ride, especially if they are prone to motion sickness.
Furthermore, when dogs are in close proximity with other dogs, such as in a kennel or daycare, they’re at a higher risk of contracting illnesses such as kennel cough or other contagious diseases. By hiring a pet sitter, your dog remains at home, effectively minimizing their exposure to these health risks.
Lastly, a major advantage of hiring a pet sitter is that your dog will not be confined to a dog cage for most of the day, as can be the case in some boarding facilities. They can continue to enjoy the freedom and space of your home, able to move around, play, and relax in their preferred spots, ensuring a more positive overall experience.
Therefore, hiring a pet sitter who stays in your home while you are away provides a number of benefits, offering a solution that prioritizes the wellbeing and comfort of your dog while eliminating potential sources of worry for you as an owner.
Part Time Dog Sitting Works, Too
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of a pet sitter staying in your home around the clock, there are alternative solutions. It’s essential to find someone who can visit your home frequently enough to provide your dog with the same level of attention and care that they are accustomed to receiving from you.
Look for a pet sitter or dog walker who can commit to multiple visits per day at appropriate intervals. For instance, they should be able to walk your dog in the morning before work, after work, and again in the early evening, closely mimicking your normal routine. These visits should not only cover walks, but also feeding, playtime, and companionship.
Moreover, it’s crucial to ensure the person you hire is reliable, trustworthy, and has a good rapport with your dog. After all, they will be responsible for your pet’s welfare and will also have access to your home. Seek out referrals from trusted sources, check reviews and conduct interviews, taking your time to find the right person who fits your specific needs and puts you at ease.
Remember, your ultimate aim is to maintain as much of your dog’s regular routine as possible while you’re away, ensuring they feel loved and cared for in your absence. This way, you can travel with peace of mind, knowing your dog is in good hands.
Dog Daycare: Practice Makes Perfect
Getting your chosen pet sitter to visit a few times before your trip is an excellent strategy for multiple reasons. This allows your dog and the sitter to familiarize themselves with each other, leading to a smoother transition when you’re away. It’s particularly important if your dog tends to be anxious around new people or if the sitter isn’t someone they’ve spent much time with before.
These pre-departure visits also give the sitter an opportunity to practice various tasks under your supervision, such as feeding your dog dog food, administering any necessary medication, or carrying out specific training routines. Observing the sitter during these tasks gives you an invaluable chance to assess their competency and engagement. Are they asking insightful questions about your dog’s diet, treat preferences, walking schedule, or general behavior? Their curiosity and attentiveness can be telling indicators of their commitment and understanding of their role.
Importantly, these visits also help in giving the sitter your endorsement in the eyes of your dog. Dogs are observant creatures and will pick up cues from you about how they should react to this new person. If they see you interacting positively with the sitter, they’re more likely to accept the sitter as a trustworthy figure.
In short, early introductions can be a helpful tool in ensuring the pet sitter is a good fit, making the transition easier for both your dog and the sitter, and providing you with the confidence that your dog will be well cared for in your absence.
Depressed Dog? Separation Anxiety 101
Warn the pet sitter that a particularly attached pup may not eat as much as usual without his loving owner in the house. The sitter should comfort the pining pup and tell the dog in a soothing tone you’ll be home in a few days. Unfortunately, there’s not much else that can be done. If you’ll be gone for more than a week or so and Fido is still refusing food after three days, the sitter should call the vet for advice. (Be sure to leave your vet’s number on the fridge!) The sitter should not call you unless you have the option of coming home to correct the situation.
What to Look for in a Dog Sitter
Look for a pet sitter who really loves animals in general—and your pooch in particular. One good way to find out is to mention that you’re looking for someone responsible to help take care of your pooch. Then wait to see whether you get a nibble before you mention that you’re willing to pay. That will weed out the folks who are in it just for the cash.
Don’t take age as the best indicator of a good dog sitter. A responsible 8-year-old with a mother who will back him up is preferable to an uninterested 20-year-old looking for an empty place to bring dates.
What to Pay a Dog Sitter
If you’re hiring a preteen or teenager, ask neighbors what the going rate for baby sitting is, then offer to pay a daily rate equal to about two hours of baby-sitting time. If you expect a lot of extras—such as a dog bath—you may need to pay by the hour.
Remember to mention all the duties you’ll expect the sitter to perform, including grooming, walking, treats to get the dog’s mind from dwelling on an absent owner, and nonpet duties such as taking in the mail and the paper or turning on the lights. Fully lay out the task list before you and the sitter agree on a price.
Don’t expect a sitter to do all that you do unless you’re willing to pay for all the time and effort. For example, if you and the dog take a two-mile run each day, you may have to settle for someone who will take her to the park every couple of days.
If you don’t have a lot of cash for a dog sitter, you could supplement an average wage with a lure you’re not even aware of. Offer a responsible young adult from your neighborhood, church, or local community college a reward in lieu of or in addition to cash. Think of free rein with your laptop, sound system, cable TV (with HD!), a quiet place to study for exams, or a freezer full of home-cooked meals she can eat after she feeds the animals.
Ground Rules for Younger Dog Sitters
When hiring a younger pet sitter, such as a teenager or young adult, it’s important to establish clear boundaries and expectations, all while maintaining a respectful and professional relationship. One approach is to inform them that your home insurance policy strictly prohibits certain behaviors. For example, you can explain that the policy doesn’t allow smoking in the house, doesn’t permit more than two visitors at a time, and absolutely forbids underage drinking on your premises. Whether this is entirely accurate or not is irrelevant; the purpose is to set ground rules without appearing overbearing.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to inform the pet sitter that a trusted neighbor will be keeping an eye out for their wellbeing. This serves as a delicate reminder that others are aware of their presence, subtly encouraging responsible behavior without directly questioning their integrity.
In the case of hiring a pet sitter who is under 18, always make sure their parents are fully aware of the arrangement. This ensures everyone involved is informed and comfortable with the situation, preventing any potential misunderstandings or problems. Moreover, it’s a show of respect towards the parents and reinforces that you have no intention of enabling any inappropriate behavior that might lead to the ‘delinquency of a minor.’
Remember, effective communication is key to establishing a successful relationship with a pet sitter. By setting clear expectations from the start, you can help ensure a smooth, worry-free experience for everyone involved.