A Pet Sitter’s Guide For When Friends Are Watching Your Dog

Being a pet sitter, my furry clients are a second family to me, but as much as I love them there are times I can’t be there for them. In an ideal world, I would be able to care for all of my animals at all times, but the reality is I can’t be in four places at once. If your pet sitter is booked up, it’s a last minute trip, or it’s unaffordable at the time, here are some tips on having a friend watch your dog.

  • Keep the Dog Comfortable: Since the person watching your dog is not a professional, I recommend keeping the dog in its own environment. Bringing the dog to a new place can be stressful and have negative effects even if he has been there in the past. It’s different when it’s for longer periods of time. Plus, you don’t want your naughty pup chewing up their furniture. If possible, ask if your friend can spend the week at your place watching your dog.

Related: Tails From A Pet Sitter: Puppy, It’s Cold Outside

  • Do a Walk-Through: Chances are your friend has been to your home before – but not in this context. It’s easy to say you’ll just leave a note and the key under the mat, but that leaves room for mistakes. Have your friend over to the house and show them the ropes.
  • Leave Detailed Lists: You can’t overdo it with the lists. When you have a friend watch your dog as opposed to a professional, you forsake the disaster-brain. I am neurotic about making sure doors are locked, alarms are set, and that the dog is cared for in exactly the way the owner expects. When you have a friend stay over, they aren’t trained this way – so give them all the details on something tangible (a piece of paper, a Word document) so they can refer to it frequently.

Related: Pet Travel And Housesitting

  • Emergency Plan: When you have a friend watch your dog it is absolutely essential that you have a plan in case something goes wrong. Make sure you leave a list of emergency contacts and veterinary information – not just your vet, but the information for the area’s emergency vet as well. I’ll be willing to be your friend doesn’t know pet CPR or other procedures when there’s a problem. They also do not have pet sitter insurance, so leave a maximum amount you’re willing to spend if something goes wrong. It’s hard to put a number on your best furry friend, but extremely vital. Even I ask for the number from all of my clients, just in case.

I always recommend a pet sitter when able, but there are cases in which it isn’t feasible. It’s a good idea to leave something for your friend, whether it’s free range of the fridge, $20, or a 12-pack. Even if it’s something small it shows your appreciation. If your pet sitter isn’t available, or you can’t afford one, be sure to prepare your friend the best you can for watching your pooch while you’re away.

Rachel LeavyRachel Leavy lives in Rochester, New York with her dog, Maria, and her gecko, Nigel. She has loved animals all her life, and has owned her own dog training and walking company for five years. When she’s not playing with puppies, she can usually be found writing short stories, riding horses or out at a play.


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