When you can’t take your pet along with you, a dog sitter can care for your dog temporarily. Naturally, it’s important to share all the necessary information about your dog with your sitter – but what information is that? You might notice that taking care of your pet has become so habitual; all you can come up with is the vet’s phone number! The following checklist can help you remember the important information that will assure that your pet gets the best care in any contingency.
It’s tempting just to say, “… feed her a couple of handfuls twice a day.” Instead, help out your dog sitter by sharing information that will make the transition easier for both human and dog, such as:
- Typical feeding schedule
- What your dog eats, and how much
- Foods your dog is allergic to or intolerant of
- Where in the house the dog is accustomed to eating
- Which feeding dishes to use
Naturally, you’ll tell the dog sitter any immediate major health issues that need attending to. But also list your dog’s age, previous health problems and all current medical conditions, such as hearing difficulties, allergies, heart problems, etc. Make sure the dog sitter understands what they mean in terms of special care requirements. For instance, a diabetic dog might need to be let out more frequently than a non-diabetic dog. Note for the dog sitter what symptoms and problems to watch out for and what to do for each.
Even if the dog sitter is only watching your pet for a short period of time, it’s a good idea to give him or her detailed information about the medicines and supplements prescribed to your dog – plans do change, after all. Note the names and locations of all prescribed medications as well as dosages, drug interactions, and the times to administer them. Also important is how to give the medicine: Does your dog only take her pill with a particular food? Will there be injections?
In the event that something goes wrong or the dog sitter merely has a question, list neatly and legibly all the following names, phone numbers, locations, and email addresses:
- Your name, cell phone number, email address, and land line number if applicable
- The name and phone number of the dog’s regular veterinarian
- The name and phone number of the nearest emergency veterinary hospital, if applicable
Walking dogs may be a dog sitter’s specialty, but a good dog sitter knows that each dog is different and each day is different. Let the dog sitter know how often you walk your dog, how long each walk is, and how far. Will bodies of water be a swimming temptation? Is the dog likely to pull on the harness or lead? Share general information like how much exercise your dog needs and how he reacts to other dogs, to animals, and to kids. Also share concrete details such as:
- Which harness to use, and how
- Is any weather protection necessary?
- The preferred walking route
Sometimes dog sitters need help with a judgement call. Encourage your dog sitter to contact you as often as you want to be contacted.
Lastly, don’t just tell the dog sitter all of the above; it’s too easy both for you and the dog sitter to forget an onslaught of details given all at once. Type or write a list that the sitter can consult any time. Taking this simple precaution can make all the difference in easing your dog comfortably and safely into this new experience and help you trust that your dog is in good hands.