Dogsitting 101: More Than Just Watching Pets

Mar 19, 2024 | Dog Daycare

Dogsitting is an act of service and love that goes well beyond mere pet-minding; it’s the art of mastering trust, devotion, and the ability to become a temporary pack member in a dog’s world. For pet owners, entrusting their furry companions to a dogsitter is a decision laced with both necessity and sentiment. It’s about ensuring their pet’s well-being and happiness in their absence. And for those who take up the rewarding role of a dogsitter, the experience can be just as enriching, provided they understand the significance of this responsibility.

This comprehensive guide is designed to empower dogsitters with the knowledge and approaches to give the best care possible to their temporary furry charges, keeping both owners and dogs content. From before the first bark to after you say your temporary goodbye, it covers the entire dogsitting experience, detailing best practices, troubleshooting advice, and insights on building lasting bonds with the dogs, the owners and pet sitters.

dog, pet, canine

Preparing for Dogsitting

Before the literal dog days of dogsitting begin, it’s essential to lay the groundwork. This section will help you set the stage for a successful stay with your four-legged guest.

Understanding the Dog’s Routine and Preferences

Every dog has its quirks, routines, and likes. Some love a spot on the couch, others prefer strict crate time. To prepare, ask the owner:

  • What’s the feeding schedule?

  • Any favorite toys or games?

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  • Are there dietary restrictions or preferences?

  • How much exercise do they typically get?

By aligning their schedule as much as possible with the owner’s, the dog’s transition will be smoother, and their comfort levels higher.

Safety Precautions and Emergency Contacts

It’s crucial to know what to do in case of emergencies and to prepare accordingly. Secure the following details beforehand:

  • Contact information for the owner, as well as their preferred veterinarian

  • Any known medical history that you should be aware of

  • Location of the nearest emergency vet or animal hospital

Additionally, ensure a safe and dog-friendly environment:

  • Check for any hazards within reach

  • Set up a secure space, like a crate or a restricted area, if necessary

  • Confirm escape-proof conditions

By being fully prepared, you’ll be ready to handle any situation that arises with composure and care.

weimaraner, puppy, dog

During Your Dogsitting

This is a lifewhere you put your preparations into practice. It’s all about being the best temporary pet parent you can be.

Feeding Schedules and Dietary Restrictions

The way to a dog’s heart is often through its stomach. Stick to familiar foods and feeding times. Remember to:

  • Always use the same food as the owner, if possible, to avoid tummy troubles

  • Don’t overfeed or be tempted to feed them anything the owner hasn’t approved

Maintaining the dog’s regular diet is a little act that can have a big calming effect during the unknowns of a temporary stay.

white and brown short coated dog on brown bear plush toy

Exercise and Playtime Routines

Play is important for not only fun but for the health and mental stimulation of the dog. To keep to a routine:

  • Devote the same amount of time to play and exercise

  • Engage in favorite activities to boost their spirits

Don’t underestimate the importance of these consistent interactions—it’s how you’ll truly make a friend.

Monitoring Health and Behavior

Dogs can’t communicate like we do, so you must observe keenly. Look for:

  • Changes in appetite, bowel movements, or unusual thirst

  • Unusual behavior, such as listlessness or an unusually high level of energy

Keep the owner informed of even minor changes. Early detection of health issues can make a significant difference.

dog, cute, animal

Handling Challenges In The Dog Sitting World

Even the best-planned stay can encounter hurdles. This section navigates common challenges and offers strategies to overcome them.

Dealing with Separation Anxiety

Separation from the owners can be tough. To help a dog cope:

  • Implement a slow, smooth departure strategy if anxiety is an issue

  • Distract with play and puzzle toys and activities that keep their mind engaged

Remember, your cool and composed energy can be contagious to an anxious dog. Stay positive and soothing.

Addressing Medical Emergencies

It’s pet-care 101 that accidents can occur. If you suspect a medical emergency, act quickly:

  • Contact the owner or emergency contact first

  • Stay calm and composed to better attend to the situation

Having the right numbers on speed dial and understanding the basics of pet first-aid are invaluable.

Managing Behavioral Issues

Sometimes, dogs can act out in new environments. If behavioral issues arise:

  • Try to be patient and consistent with the dog

  • Understand the root cause and work from there (anxiety, stress, territorial)

It’s often a call for help or a response to a stressor. Addressing the source is the first step toward resolution.

dog, pet, canine

Building Trust and Bonding With The Fur Baby

This section covers the more intangible, yet profoundly significant, aspects of dogsitting—building rapport and trust with clients.

Creating a Positive Environment

What your body language and actions convey will set the tone. Remember to:

  • Use calm, affirmative energy to reassure the dog

  • Offer praise and positive reinforcement generously

Your space is their space, and ensuring a positive association with it can ease their stay.

Consistency in Care and Affection

Consistency is key to dogs’ comfort. Make sure to:

  • Stick to their known schedules as closely as possible

  • Be generous with affection, if the dog accepts it

Showing the puppy the same love and care as the owner will help maintain the dog’s mental and emotional health.

Communication with Pet Owners

Regular updates are not just to keep owners in the loop; they also build trust. Communicate about:

  • Their pet’s activities, mood, and meals with the owner

  • Any adjustment issues and how you’re addressing them

Reassure them that their pet is in good hands and being looked after with the same love and support they’d give.

dog, pet, canine

Types of Dog Sitting Services

When it comes to dog sitting, understanding the variety of options available can help you tailor your services to meet the unique needs of each pet and their owner. Here are some common types of dog and pet sitting and services:

In-Home Dog Sitting

In-home dog sitting involves the sitter staying at the pet owner’s house or home while they are away. This option is particularly comforting for dogs as it allows them to stay in their familiar environment, follow their usual routine, and receive one-on-one attention.

Drop-In Visits

For pet owners who need someone to walk or check on their dogs during the day, drop-in visits offer a flexible solution. These short visits can be used for feeding, quick walks, playtime, or simply to provide companionship and a bathroom break.

Dog Boarding

Dog boarding differs from in-home sitting as it involves the dog staying at the sitter’s home. This option might suit dogs that are sociable and adjust well to new environments. It’s essential for the dog sit-er’s home to be pet-proofed and equipped to handle the specific needs of their canine guests.

Doggy Day Care

Ideal for pet owners and family who work long hours, doggy day care services provide dogs with a place to stay during the day where they can play, socialize, and receive care. This is an excellent option for dogs that require more attention and interaction throughout the day.

Specialized Dog Sitter

Some dogs may have special needs due to age, health conditions, or behavior issues. Specialized dog sitting caters to these needs with only dog sitters who have experience in managing specific conditions or training in pet first aid and CPR.

Snouts and Stouts not only offers an indoor dog park and bar, but we also provide dog sitting services like dog boarding, doggy daycare and more. Contact us today!

By offering a range of dog sitting and walking services, you can accommodate the diverse needs of dogs and their owners, making their time apart as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

dog, animal, containment

Dog Safety and Required Vaccines

Ensuring the safety and health of a dog in your care is paramount. An essential aspect of dog safety involves being up-to-date with their vaccinations. Before you begin dogsitting, make sure to discuss and have documentation for the dog sitters recent vaccinations. Please be advised vaccine requirements may differ by state or facility, be sure to reach out to the dog sitting/sitter. Here are some key vaccines that are often required:

Core Vaccines

  • Rabies: Required by law in most places, this vaccine protects against the rabies virus.

  • Distemper: Protects against the distemper virus, which is serious and contagious.

  • Canine Hepatitis: Protects against the adenovirus cough and hepatitis.

  • Parvovirus: Essential for protecting puppies and adult dogs from this lethal illness.

Non-Core Vaccines (Based on Lifestyle and Risk)

  • Bordetella: Often required for dogs that are frequently in contact with other dogs, such as in daycare or boarding settings.

  • Leptospirosis: Recommended for dogs exposed to wildlife or standing water where the bacteria might be present.

  • Canine Influenza: For dogs that socialize often or are boarded, this vaccine protects against dog flu.

In addition to vaccinations, ensure the dog is on a preventive treatment for fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Always have a list of emergency vet services and any specific instructions related to the dog’s health or medication regimen. By maintaining these preventative measures, you can help ensure a safe and healthy experience for both the dog and yourself during their stay.

dogs, pets, canine


The act of dogsitting is more than just an exchange of time and service—it’s an emotional commitment to a pet’s well-being and happiness. By following the strategies and best practices outlined in this guide, you can elevate your dogsitting from a favor to a fulfilling experience that creates a stronger bond between you and the dog.

Lastly, remember that trust is a two-way street. When a dog trusts you with their care, it is a privilege. Cherish it, respect it, and everything else will fall into place.


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