Have a dog? Planning a summer vacation and need someone else to watch him or her while you’re gone? In her latest guest column, Le Chic Pet Trainer, Melissa Grant, gives you helpful tips for a pet that someone else won’t mind watching while you’re away playing.
This is Carly. She is a regular at my house. You see, I do pet sitting for a small amount of dogs who meet my strict criteria. Now Carly is no angel. She pulls on the leash, barks and tries to attack other dogs while we are taking walks, but really, with a mix of Chihuahua, Jack Russell Terrier and Dachshund, she isn’t bad. What she does do is meet my list of needs for boarding and is welcome in my house anytime.
I’ve been watching other people’s dogs for about 5 years and have come up with a list of requirements that help ensure a smooth transition for my family and the incoming dog. I’ve broken my own rules a couple of times and vow to never break them again…until the next time I do. I know other pet sitters and I think these are some realistic rules to live by when raising a dog that will someday need to stay with someone else.
Crate Trained – My own personal dog has run of my house. I trust her to not torture the cat, chew the furniture or pee on the carpet. In time I may trust your dog, too. I trust Carly now for short periods of time. However, most dogs new to my house must be able to settle in a crate. By settle I mean, calm down, not bark or whine and are happy to be in their own space. They must sleep in the crate and be in the crate when I leave for more than an hour. I highly recommend that all dogs be crate trained. If you sleep with your dog, that’s fine, but break that habit every so often, not every pet sitter will sleep with fluffy. I will not take a dog twice that can’t be alone in a crate.
Pet Friendly – I have a dog and a cat. My doggie guests must be able to coexist with them. You may not have any pets in your home, but I would expose your canine pal to other creatures early and often. If it’s an event to meet up with another dog so intense that your pooch can’t be contained, I can’t have them here. Socializing Fido to all sorts of the world’s creatures should be priority number one from day one. Pet sitters are a strange bunch. We have all sorts of strange critters in our homes. Try hard to anticipate what your dog will meet over time and get to that creature early!
Potty Trained with no Odd Potty Habits – I’ve had a couple of dogs come to me and the owner swore they were potty trained – and they weren’t. One literally pooped 7 times a day….in every room of the house! One was “potty pad trained.” It was a male and potty pads don’t really work. He peed on all my walls. One would only potty in their own back yard. It took me three days of going outside every fifteen minutes before I broke that habit. Please try to make sure you have a reasonable potty schedule and that your dog goes in an appropriate spot. A pet sitter that has to spend an inordinate amount of time supervising or taking your dog out to potty probably won’t want him back a second time.
Can be Left Alone – I once pet sat a pooch I had trained from a small pup, part of the training was warning against allowing the dog to shadow her owners around the house. Practicing little absences is important to the future stability of your pup. As adorable as it to have a little puppy following you from room to room, it can be detrimental to the future mental health of your adult dog. Make sure your dog can be alone.
Can Travel in a Car – Is Fido’s only car experience to the groomer or the vet? Consequentially, does Fido bark every time he even sees the car? Please work on those car skills. Make sure car trips are fun and exciting, not scary and painful.
If you follow these simple rules, you’ll have a dog that pet sitters will line up to pet sit. Paris here you come – and your pooch will have a fun doggie vacation, too. Bon Yoyage!