Tails From A Pet Sitter: How To Ruin Your Dog Sitter’s Day

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It’s not uncommon for people to gush about how great my job must be – I’m a pet sitter, so it’s all puppies and sunshine. To the casual observer, it seems that the job of a dog sitter is to just roll around with the dogs and bask in the scent of puppy breath. I hate to be the crusher of happy dream job myths, but this is most certainly not the case. I have years of stories under my belt that back me up as to how it really isn’t as easy as it seems. Wrong keys, bad weather, bad or aggressive dogs – you name it, I’ve probably dealt with it. Here are some ways that you can make my day a nightmare and how to avoid getting on my “Grrrrrrr” List.

You Don’t Test the Key

Not everyone has spare keys to their house lying around, so most times my new clients have to get one made for me. Seems easy enough – until that key doesn’t work.  And of course, this happens when it’s my first time walking a new puppy.  Insert key, open door… not so much. The key didn’t work. As a dog sitter, you learn every trick to opening a door. How to wiggle the key just right, but this one just wasn’t going to work. Luckily for the puppy, it was just an exercise walk and there was no harm. It would’ve been a completely different story if it was a vacation job; I would have had to break into the house.

Related: Tails From A Pet Sitter: 10 Things I Learned On The Job

You Change the Security Code without Telling Me

Many of the houses I go to have an alarm system, and my head is stuffed with random codes. I have disaster brain (I imagine every possible scenario where something could go wrong), so I refuse to write them down. I’ve never had a problem remembering, but that’s only when I know what the code is. Changing the code or neglecting to inform me that it hasn’t been working 100 percent of the time will really mess up my day. I work with dogs and not people so I have no problem working disheveled in yoga pants and a ripped sweatshirt. I don’t need to impress anyone… well, not until the cops show up, wondering why a scruffy slacker is trying to calm a panicked dog in someone’s house while the alarm is going off.

You Hide the Lock Box too well

If you’re going to let your house sitter in by leaving a lockbox placed somewhere, make sure they can find it. Remember, if your neighbors are outside, they will see a strange person scavenging your yard, it’ll make people nervous. Don’t move it without telling us, and please don’t put it somewhere that it’s going to get snowed on/frozen shut.

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

You Don’t Leave Enough Food for the Dog

My day begins at 6 a.m. and ends at 11 p.m. during the holiday. My entire day is spent driving from house to house to care for pets. The last thing I have time for is stopping at a pet shop to grab more dog food or supplies. My favorite kind of client is the one that leaves everything in plain sight with detailed notes. What to feed/when/how much, etc. The more detailed the note, the better – let me know about garbage pickup days, if I should watch out for packages that are being delivered, and plant watering routines.

Your Neighbor lets the Dog out without My Knowledge

My job is to make your dog poop. If your neighbor comes throughout the day to let the dog out on times I’m not being scheduled to be there, that’s great – if you tell me. If you don’t tell me, then I’m going to be standing there for an hour trying to get Spot to go to the bathroom. I will come to the conclusion that something’s wrong with him if doesn’t do his business while I’m there.  And that leads to a trip to the vet or a phone call to you.

While my job seems easy, let me assure you that it isn’t. Holiday weeks are grueling and nonstop. Weather slows everything down. And I speak for all the dog sitters and walkers out there when I say that we don’t have time to waste on these little details. I have to make sure that all of my clients are cared for well, and one 20-minute setback sets off the whole day. So please, when you hire us, try to make our lives easier by being prepared. That way we can enjoy the puppy breath, walks in the park and giving your dog the quality attention he deserves!

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.