Our guide to dog-sitting

Many dog owners baulk at the idea of having their pet cooped up in kennels while they’re on holiday. The solution to getting time away and leaving a happy pet at home might be dog-sitting.

Finding holiday care for pets can be challenging for owners. Heading off to somewhere far flung that prohibits your dog tagging along can come with a sense of guilt that offsets any benefits of the holiday.

For some, just the idea of leaving their dog in a boarding facility or kennels can conjure images of a depressed pet in a small cage, pining for his owners to return. No matter how far from the truth that might be, it can still be enough to ruin any holiday.

What is dog-sitting?

If the above sounds familiar, then dog-sitting could be the answer. Dog-sitting means that someone comes to your home and stays there with your pet while you’re away. It can be a friend, family member or registered dog-sitter. Not only does it mean your canine chum gets to stay in the environment they’re used to, your house is safer too.

There are plenty of sites, such as the highly regarded TrustedHousesitters, dedicated to matching pet owners with pet-sitters, with all members carefully vetted so that you don’t have to worry about the person who is living in your home while you’re away.

Benefits for dogs

For many dogs, being taken away from their home and put into kennels can be a very traumatic experience. Not only are they in a new environment without the people they’re accustomed to, but they are also cooped-up for long periods of time.

For an animal used to having free roam of their home, this can be very difficult and add to the feeling of abandonment. While we don’t doubt that your pet will still miss you, getting an in-home dog-sitter means they’re in their usual environment, surrounded by all the things that they’re used to, making your absence easier to take.

Routine can also be very important to a dog. Having a sitter look after them in your home means they can stick to their regular schedule and go for walks to their usual spots. Dog-sitting can also be very beneficial if your pet requires regular trips to the vet or grooming parlour.

There are also pet-sitters who will take care of your dog in their own home. Some dogs may find the change of environment difficult but this still allows them more freedom and a more similar experience to being at home than a kennel would offer. Dog-sitters also tend to cheaper than most kennels.

Benefits for owners

Not only are you reassured that your pet isn’t cooped up in a kennel, you can also be sure that they’re receiving dedicated attention. This makes dog-sitting a better option for the animal’s welfare than having a friend, relative or neighbour check in on them once a day.

There’s also an added benefit in the secure knowledge that not only is your dog being well cared for, your home is also being watched. If you’re away for two weeks, this can make a lot of difference as opportunistic burglars can be very crafty at spotting when a house is unoccupied.

Notes for owners

Dog-sitting might sound like an easy gig to some, like house-sitting with a furry friend for company. In reality, it’s actually closer to baby-sitting than house-sitting. To someone who doesn’t own a dog, that furry friend sitting at their feet ­– while they relax on your sofa, watching your TV ­– might seem like another possession, but he or she is so much more than that. That dog is a member of the family, a beloved pet, and you could break every glass, plate and bowl in the house and it wouldn’t have anything near the impact of something happening to their dog.

If you’re giving a dog-sitting assignment to a friend or family member who doesn’t usually take care of dogs, be certain that they’re up to the task and are fully briefed on what to do if anything goes wrong. Make sure they have written instructions on feeding times and quantities, medication, walks, treats, grooming and contact information for the vet.

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