How to prepare your dog for stays with a sitter

With summer quickly approaching, pet parents may be preparing for weekend getaways or evenings out, which may mean enlisting in the services of a pet sitter. Once you have found someone you can trust, there are a few things you can do to help make the transition easier for Fido. We have you covered with some useful tips on preparing your pets for their stay with a sitter or at a boarding facility. 

Meet and greets 

Meet and greets are particularly important when introducing your dog to a pet sitter. They allow you to assess how the sitter interacts with your dog and it gives your dog the opportunity to get comfortable with a new person while you are with them to provide an environment in which they feel safe.  

Try having the sitter visit you at your home first to allow your dog to get used to them while also seeing them coming and going from your home. When welcoming them into your home, be sure to use your body language and a positive tone of voice to indicate to your dog that the sitter is a friend and is welcome with you. 

During your meeting, don’t force your dog to interact with the sitter. If your dog is apprehensive, the sitter can gently toss treats toward your dog to reward them as they approach and interact. 

If your meeting is going well, go for a walk with your dog and the sitter. Start with you holding the leash as the sitter walks off to the side. If this goes well, gradually hand off the leash to the sitter while you start to create distance. 

Tell your sitter about your dog 

Be sure to let your sitter know all your dog’s habits. Let them know your dog’s feeding and sleeping schedule, how frequently they go for walks, and any noteworthy behaviours such as reactivity to other dogs, fear of thunderstorms, or anything else the sitter could encounter while you are away.  

Veterinary contacts 

Ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date and let your sitter know. The sitter should also have your vet’s name, location, and contact information. Consider leaving a credit card on file at your veterinary office while you are away, in the event of an emergency. 

Pack your dog’s favourites 

Whether leaving your dog at home with the sitter or dropping them off at the sitter’s home or boarding facility, be sure to leave your dog with a few of their favourite things. This can include toys or treats, as well as some of your clothes that still have your scent. 

Update your contact info 

It’s important to be reachable in case of an emergency. Ensure you have provided your sitter with up-to-date contact information about where you can be reached, as well as your emergency contact. Is there someone else who can make decisions about your pet in your absence? Also, be sure to let your sitter know how frequently you want to receive updates and be clear about your expectations. 

No long goodbyes 

Keep your goodbye short and sweet to avoid conveying sadness or anxiety to your pet, which can leave them feeling the same way. Be as upbeat and excited as you can to show your dog that being left with a sitter can be a fun and happy event. 

Remember that there is no such thing as too much information when it comes to equipping your sitter to care for your dog. Be sure to follow these tips and choose your pet sitter wisely. 

Ontario SPCA and Humane Society

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