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How to Prepare Your Dog and Home for an In-home Sitter


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Updated: 9/24/2021

You've booked your flight, packed your bags, and chosen a pet sitter — now what? Preparing for a pet sitter isn't as simple as withdrawing some money from the ATM and locating the spare key. You'll need to take some steps to ensure your fur-baby and sitter are comfortable and have everything they need in case something happens. 

The good news is, preparing for a dog sitter gets easier if you use the same sitter over and over. Eventually, your go-to nanny will learn their way around your house and become acquainted with the routines and personalities of your pets. 

So what should you do before the sitter arrives? Read on to find out! 

Socialize, socialize, socialize 

Socialize Buddy with as many humans as possible before the big day — especially if this is your first time leaving them with someone. Having a well-socialized (or even moderately socialized dog) will lessen the stress on your pupper and the sitter, too. 

Make a bio for each of your fur-babies 

Before the sitter gets there, create a list of your dog's preferences, quirks, and needs. Don’t forget to mention that Daisy needs help up the stairs and that Max refuses to use the doggy door. Do they have a "hairy" Houdini on their hands? Mention that too! Documenting any good, bad, or indifferent qualities will help make your sitter's job easier. Plus, it's good to have a heads up about which dog has a taste for fine footwear.

Write out your pup's schedule

Does your pup need to go potty as soon as their paws hit the floor? Does your woofer really start woofing if they don't have a walk by noon? Your sitter will want to know that! Create an hourly schedule with feeding and medication times, typical potty break times, and when your pup typically goes to sleep. Maintaining their regular schedule will help your dog feel more comfortable and let them know what to expect. 

Document your pup's feeding and medication instructions

Write out precise feeding and medication instructions and verbally explain them to the sitter before you leave. Having a reference sheet on hand will reduce confusion and prevent overfeeding or overmedicating. If you have pets on different kibble formulas, you may want to write their names on their respective bags. 

Post a list of the house rules

Jot down any rules you expect your pets to follow. Like toddlers, dogs can get testy and might try to get away with things that they know not to do when Mom's around. No pups allowed on the bed? No treats after 8 PM? Your sitter needs to know these things. 

Make the necessities easy to find

Have your pup's kibble, leashes, treats, medication, special toys, and other essential items in a specific and easy-to-find location. For small dogs, the counter might be the right place, but you'll need to get more creative with big dogs or climbers. These items should be well out of your pet's reach, especially medications. 

Create a calendar

Labeling a calendar for your sitter can help them stay organized and keep track of Rufus's needs on certain days. This is especially helpful for pets who only take medication on particular days or have a lot of appointments. If your sitter is helping with household chores, you may want to list trash pick-up day so they know when to take it to the curb. 

Have a meet-and-greet before the big day

Imagine if you had to live with a total stranger for two days. That would be kinda weird, right? Fifi probably feels the same way! Have your pup meet the sitter beforehand so they can get to know each other and make sure their personalities jive. This meet-and-greet will minimize anxiety for your pup and help the sitter earn your dog's trust. 

If you don't want it broken, put it away

Sometimes in a frenzy of packing, small tasks like putting your expensive heels away can slip your mind. Prevent disappointment, destruction, and possible injuries by storing valuables, breakables, and choking hazards in an area your pet can't access. 

Help the sitter feel at home

If the sitter is sleeping in the home, be sure to set out clean pillows and blankets for them. Stock the bathrooms with plenty of toilet paper and towels and any other household items they may need. 

List emergency contacts

Write out a list of phone numbers and addresses for important contacts in the event there's an emergency. Make sure to include your primary vet, the emergency clinic, your landlord (if you're a renter), and nearby family or friends. Don't forget to include alternative forms of contact for yourself too. It may be helpful to make a few copies of the list for the sitter to take with them on errands or when taking Archie to appointments.

Prep the yard, too

Some owners spend hours or days preparing the inside of their home but completely space when it comes to prepping the yard for a sitter. Make sure any gaps in the fence are mended or blocked off so Buster can't plan a daring escape. Put up any sharp garden tools, fill in holes your pup has dug, and tidy up to minimize fall hazards. 

Invest in a security system

Though not required, security systems can give pet parents an added sense of security while they're away. There are a million different types of security systems on the market, with setups available for every budget. You can even find security cameras made specifically for dogs with two-way speakers and user-controlled treat dispensers. 

Show the sitter around

Before you head out, give the sitter a tour of your home and teach them how to operate any appliances they might need to use. Show the nanny how to use the air conditioning control panel, and where you keep the cleaning supplies, trash cans, and remotes — things of that nature. It may also help to draw a map of your house and label where you keep certain items the sitter may need. 

Keep goodbyes short and sweet

Don't make a scene or have long, drawn-out goodbyes with your pup, since emotional goodbyes often intensify separation anxiety. Give the same farewell as you would when leaving to go to the supermarket. 

Pick a sitter you're confident in

Choosing a sitter you can trust is paramount. This person will be practically living in your home and caring for your fur-baby, so it's essential they're responsible and nurturing. Carefully screen prospective pet sitters and check references too.

Wag! knows finding a trustworthy sitter is hard, which is why we've set out to help pet parents find the best sitters on the market. Check out the Wag! app to schedule a thoroughly-vetted professional pet sitter for the lowest prices around.

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