Whether you are hiring a pet sitter to look after your dog for one day or you are heading off on an extended vacation, ensuring your dog is prepared to spend time with the pet sitter is important. Dogs are intelligent, social, and devoted animals that can become distressed when faced with new situations or separation from their family. An anxious or poorly trained dog can be hard to handle, or even dangerous. If you want your dog to have the best possible experience with the sitter, the work should start at home!
Why preparation is important
One of the most prevalent issues found in domestic dogs is anxiety whenever their owners leave them alone, especially for longer periods of time. Recent increases in the practice of working from home also led to an increase in dog ownership. The result has been dogs that are used to having their humans around almost all the time. When separated from their owners, they can become nervous and upset.
This anxiety can vary in severity, of course, and while it is always distressing for dogs, it can also be dangerous. Aggression is one possible result of intense anxiety, and this can present real risks to both pet sitters and other animals that your dog might come into contact with when you are not around. Taking steps to prepare your dog to be around other people and animals without you can deal with anxiety to a certain extent.
Three ways to prepare your dog
To prepare your dog for time away from you, whether it be with a dog walker or a pet sitter, it is important to begin socializing your dog with other people and animals at a young age. These are the three most important steps you can take to prepare your dog to spend time with sitters and dog walkers:
1. Teach basic obedience commands
Basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come” are crucial for building a good relationship with your dog. When you can trust your dog to come when called, for example, they can be allowed time to explore off-leash. When you know your dog will stay when told, it will be easier to undertake certain hygiene and grooming processes. These basic commands also make it easier for a pet sitter to keep your dog safe and in control while you are away.
2. Spend time away
Your dog needs to be able to cope without you. While it would be nice to take our canine companions everywhere, this is not always possible. Desensitizing your dog to your absence is crucial to ensuring that they will cope when you leave them with a pet sitter. You can do this by spending short periods of time out of the house, or by leaving them with a trusted friend or family member for short periods of time. As your dog becomes used to this, you can increase the time that you are away. This should make them less anxious when you leave them alone or with a sitter.
3. Make Introductions Beforehand
One of the easiest ways to prepare a dog, particularly an anxious dog, to spend time with a pet sitter is to introduce the two to each other before the scheduled date. A twenty-minute meet and greet, perhaps in the form of a walk at the dog park, can help your dog to get to know the sitter (and give the sitter a chance to determine whether they feel capable of taking care of your dog). More than one introductory meeting would be even better, of course, but unless you have a very anxious or reactive dog, one meeting with an experienced sitter should be enough.
What to do when personalities clash
Like people, dogs have distinct personalities. Not every pet sitter will be right for your dog. This is why a practice run is so beneficial. If your pet sitter is unable to handle your dog despite your preparation, seeking a different service or service provider is the best option. Unless your sitter highlights serious behavioral issues, like aggression, it really could be a matter of compatibility!
If, however, your pet sitter brings up defined issues, such as aggression, then professional training may be needed. Likewise, if your pet has distinct medical needs that your pet sitter cannot meet, then you may need to seek a special service provider.