Dog Sitting For The First Time – Beginners Tips

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Interested in dog sitting for the first time, but you are not sure how to prepare? This article will help you prepare and have both a fun and safe dog sitting experience.

Dog sitting for the first time can be stressful if you are not well-prepared.

You may love the idea of spending time with dogs, but are you really up to this task? If you just want to earn extra money, dog walking or dog sitting is probably on your list.

Dog sitting is something that is much needed, as dog owners across the world need great dog sitters.

Did you know that just in the States, pet owners spend around $5.41 billion on pet services, including pet sitting and grooming?

Although earning money while petting dogs may sound like a dream job, you should think about responsibility and know that dog sitting isn’t something that should be taken lightly.

If you are scared of dogs but are attracted to dog-sitting money, do not do it.

Dogs love to be with confident people, and leaders and know how to recognize their body language and meet their needs. Otherwise, you are putting yourself and a dog or dogs in danger.

  • What information is important to know about a dog ahead of time?
  • How to dog sit?
  • How to dog sit when you have a dog?

In this article, we will cover answers to these questions, including if you should dog sit.

Dog Sitting For The First Time – Introduction

Dog sitting, especially dog sitting for the first time is not something that you should take for granted. It’s a big responsibility.

To make dog sitting for the first time less stressful and more enjoyable we have gathered all the steps that you need. Check them out before you say – yes, to the dog owner.

Read on and check these pointers for first time dog sitters, and don’t forget that no matter what happens stay calm – after all, dogs (adults and puppies) can feel when you’re stressed.

Should You Dog Sit?

If you never had a dog of your own, but love dogs, the chances are that you will love the idea of dog sitting.

You will probably start screaming ‘YES’ as soon as the first friend asks you to watch for her or his dog.

If you jump ahead and say ‘yes’ without really thinking it through, you may find yourself in a bit of trouble.

Do you know what type of responsibility dog owners have toward their dogs? Such as regular walks, feeding time, and playtime.

If you truly understand what caring for a dog means, continue reading, as we made the ultimate dog sitting tips for beginners. Let’s begin.

First – Talk With The Dog Owner

Before you start your dog sitting for the first time you should collect certain information.

Since every dog is unique and has specific needs, you should learn as much as possible.

The right kind of knowledge will help you to dog sit properly. Plus, every dog owner has a unique way of dealing with their dog.

The best way to learn about the dog is to talk with the dog owner about:

  • Dog’s schedule
  • Your responsibility

Why is this step important? This is the best way to learn how to dog sit a specific dog. Plus it will enable you to provide the right routine – the same the Fido has with the owner.

Dogs thrive on routine and anything that isn’t aligned with that can push them into an anxious mode and can lead to destructive behavior.

All in all, when you are taking care of a dog it’s crucial to provide him with the same schedule and structure that he has with his owner.

Also, do you have a dog or dogs of your own? If yes, you know that you can’t neglect them, but again you can’t be in two places at the same time.

After all, what to do if your dog and the other dog go out at the same time? Again: you can’t be at two places at once.

Find the golden middle. Consequently, you will probably have to sit the dog in your home.

Also, if you don’t have a dog of your own, are you fine with the dog sitting in your home?
Are you fine with a ‘dog smell’ and a dog’s hair here and there?

Read on to explore the point that you should be aware of.

1. How Dog-Proof Is Your House For Dog Sitting?

If you don’t have a dog of your own, it’s easy to forget that dogs need to be safe inside the home as well.

There are some dog requirements that you have to think about if you want to provide a safe dog environment.

Why? Well, if you are taking care of an 8 years old Basenji, you don’t have to think about the same things as you would for a 14-week-old Papillon.

Think about possible accidents, such as jumping from the couch or wagging tail so hard that everything from the table may end on the floor.

Think also about the bottle of chemicals and food that dogs shouldn’t eat – how easy it is for the dog to reach it? If you are not sure, it’s probably too easy.

2. How Comfortable Are You With Cleaning While Dog Sitting?

Accidents happen. Your home may be sparkling clean 24/7, but there is always a chance that a dog may mess it up a bit.

Dog hair is commonly present in the homes of every dog owner, especially if a dog is of a long-haired breed.

Plus, dogs are territorial beings. In practice, this means that they might mark home by urinating. This isn’t a rule but is something to think about.

In most cases, dogs mark by urinating small amounts on vertical surfaces, while raising a leg. However, this is not ‘a must’ but might happen.

Some dogs never mark in their own homes, but they will ‘mark’ in other homes.

Why dogs ‘mark‘? Dogs love, as mentioned earlier, to have their piece of territory and they would likely mark when visiting a home if another dog previously marked in that home.

It’s their way of saying, – I’m the dog boss now in this house.

So, make sure that you keep an eye on the dog, especially if he keeps roaming around in your home.

Once the dog is back to his owner, double-check your home urine marks.

Good to know: Male dogs are more prone to marking than females. They will mark the place if they are not neutered and in the presence of rival males or females.

3. Are You Comfortable With A Dog Smell While Dog Sitting?

When welcoming a dog to your home without pets, you are welcoming a new smell into your home, as well.

Dogs are clean, especially when they are regularly groomed, but they will have forever the ‘dog smell’.

Their body works differently than ours, therefore their glands are specific, and their scent together with fur leaves a unique scent mark behind. Some breeds smell less and some more.

Know that once the dog is back to his loving owner and you clean the place your home will be reset to its neutral and dog-free smell.

However, if you have major issues with dog smell, you should think twice if dog sitting is for you.

On the other hand, if you are well aware of the dog smell, and would love to minimize it do the following:

  • Have a dog blanket for Fido
  • Cover the couch end sofa with special blankets where he can chill
  • Open window from time to time
  • Have frequent walks

Learn The Dog’s Schedule While Dog Sitting

Once you sign up for this massive responsibility of dog sitting you need to understand that from that moment on you are on the dog’s schedule.

Remember, you are taking care of someone’s family member. That being said, you need to take that responsibility seriously and dedicate your time and energy to make sure the dog is as happy and healthy as can be.

Make sure that you check with the dog owner the following:

  • What dog likes and what he dislikes
  • What is a dog’s behavior in general
  • Can he be left alone
  • Have his feeding habits written
  • Does he have a favorite toy or a blanket? If yes he should have it with him while you are dog-sitting him
  • If he has been properly vaccinated, especially if you have other pets around
  • Is he friendly toward other animals
  • How often do you need to groom the dog, and which brushes you should use
  • What commands he understands

All in all, these answers will help you to prepare better and assist you in managing the dog in the following days.

Be Prepared For Great Dog Sitting First Time Experience

Ask the pet owner as many questions as possible and ask him to write some things down for you, including the emergency list.

After all, the more information you have, the better you will feel.

1. Dog Sitting Emergency List

This list should be emergency and health-oriented.

You can even it in this order:

  • Pet owner’s name and contact information
  • Vet’s name and contact information
  • The contact of the pet’s owners’ hotel in case they aren’t available
  • Allergies and symptoms
  • Medication and how to apply it
  • The nearest emergency veterinary hospital
  • Any type of current or past health concerns or issues

2. Have Notes On Dog’s Behavior

Ask the pet owner to provide any note on behavioral or body language cues or tips that could be useful, along with directions of what you should do if they occur.

For example:

Dogs may cough after their meal. Don’t freak out. He isn’t choking! Just let him cough and you will notice his tail wiggling in no time.

It can’t hurt if you check about any emotional triggers. This will help you address the stressful situation properly.

3. Stick To Boundaries While Dog Sitting

You might be tempted to give your temporary doggo a few snacks, but unless you are told so, don’t do it.

Continue with dog house rules if some are already implemented, such as:

  • Staying of the furniture
  • Keeping some house areas forbidden
  • No eating on the couch

In general, you should stick to the owner’s rules as familiarity is something that dogs enjoy.

If your home is blessed with a lot of different plants, make sure that some plants are not poisonous to dogs.

How To Meet A New Dog For The First Time

With dogs, one thing is crucial and that’s that they communicate using their body language.

They can’t communicate with words, so you will have to rely on their body language signs combined with their vocal sounds to understand how they are feeling.

Learn more about proper dog and human communication here.

Not only, but dogs understand our feelings through our body language.

They can understand so much from your posture, the way you move, your facial expression, and the tone of your voice.

Therefore, when you are meeting a dog for the very first time, remember these three things:

  • no talking
  • no touching
  • no eye contact

Furthermore, don’t bend over him. Dogs see standing over them as a dominant posture. So, you should let him come to you and say – hi.

Your body language should say all the time that you are not a threat to him and that there is no need for him to feel threatened.

Turn on your side while you are approaching the dog and squat before you get to him. Allow him to close the gap to come and sniff you.

This is especially important when you are meeting a rescue dog.

Rescue dogs can be particularly nervous and may need time to get to know you. Make sure that they get enough space.

Time To Go Out

Physically and a mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog, so know that you will spend a significant amount of time outdoors.

Learn the dog’s bathroom schedule and stick to it. Moreover, go to the dog park and socialize with other dogs and pet owners.

Dog sitting is not only about taking the dog out to do his business, but it’s also about raising a healthy and happy dog. Next to regular walks, plan playtime and keep the dog happy.

If you give the dog plenty of time to run around and play, he will most likely be much calmer when he’s home and he will generally be more satisfied.

Dog Sitting For The First Time – The Takeaway

There is much more when it comes to dog sitting than just feeding and keeping the dog entertained.

The best thing that you can do before you start your first dog-sitting job is to do your research. Taking care of a dog is a learning experience that is both fun and rewarding.

Truth be told, it may be sometimes frustrating as well, but it will get better.

Of course, if you are not sure about something during your sit or if something concerns you, contact the veterinarian. In the meantime, have fun!

Now, let’s see what other dog sitters want to know when it comes to first time dog sitting.

Frequently Asked Questions On Dog Sitting For The First Time

1. Do You Pay Dog Sitter Before Or After?

This is something that both dog owners and dog sitters want to know. There are no strict rules and it all comes down to an individual agreement.

When people are familiar with the sitter they will usually choose to pay upfront.

Some may work through an agency or a dog walking or sitting service so paying in advance is also mandatory.

The general recommendation for dog owners is that they pay after sitting, as it may be a better option. This is mostly done to avoid last-minute cancellations.

2. I’m Dog Sitting And The Dog Won’t Eat?

Did you feed the dog at a specific time? Did you add some new foods? Did you try offering a teat that was also refused?

If so, you might contact the owner or the veterinarian if such action is advised.

Do not force a dog to eat and monitor him closely to see if he drinks water.

Fido just may be sad because the owner is away, but if he continues refusing food or water (which happens only when a major underlying health issue is occurring).

3. What Are Dog Sitting Rates?

The average rate of dog sitting in the States will vary from year to year and may depend on various factors.

So far, the average price is around $20 to $40 a day, with no food included.

If your dog requires special care, you may expect the sitting rates to be higher, which will vary from dog to dog.

4. What Do You Do With A Dog While Dog Sitting?

Dogs enjoy different activities. Make sure that you keep dog entertained and he will be super happy.

Puzzle toys are always a great solution to keep dogs entertained for hours, or Kong stuffed with treats if treats are allowed.

Always focus on interactive games, and do your best to provide a dog with enough physical and mental stimulation.

If he has a favorite toy or a blanket, ask the owner to hand it over while dog-sitting.

5. How Can I Get My Dog To Calm Down When Dog Sitting?

If you have a dog who will be around while dog sitting, you should put extra attention to how dogs interact.

Make sure that you keep both dogs occupied, treat them equally and make the introduction in a safe and calm environment.