How to Be a Good Dog Sitter

This article sets out some basic tips on how to be a good dog-sitter. It isn't as simple as turning up and throwing Fido a bone... You have to put in some decent effort to get clients, keep doggy happy and enjoy your experience.


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    Find your clients:
    • It is a good idea to hand out flyers or business cards to potential clients. Start with your family and friends and ask them to suggest you to others. Place an ad in the newspaper or stick flyers through letterboxes.
    • Be honest and tell the client your hours and any experience you have with caring for dogs. Tell them which breeds you are accustomed to and what you will do to care for them; for example, walking, grooming etc.
    • Try to keep your cards/flyers professional, clear and to the point. Don't go into a long-winded description of your experience with dogs on the flyers; people will stop reading. However, you can prepare a separate sheet listing your skills for when potential clients phone you or drop by to chat. This list of dot points will help you to keep track and put across a good pitch.
    • On your card/flyer, put your name, contact details and hours.
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    Choose the establishment where you will sit the dog. You may have a place in the town, but under no circumstances are you to leave the dog(s) overnight in an unattended store. Besides theft, serious accidents can occur whether it be medical or something such as a fire or gas leak. Make sure to take the dog(s) home with you in the evening to bed down in a fully equipped spare room.
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    Keep the sitting area safe and comfortable for the dog(s). The room should be heated (you don't want "dogsicles"), well-ventilated and attached to the house. Don't use a shed at the bottom of your garden. Windows that provide plenty of sunlight are a must; you don't want the dogs in a windowless cell.
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    The dog-sitting room should be light and airy and warm and dry. It should look nice and be comfortable for the dog, and appealing for the owner. If you live in a cool climate, it is a good idea to have thick curtains and a rug or carpet.
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    Assemble your equipment. If you are planning on babysitting more than one dog at a time, the best idea is to place the dogs in dog crates at night ( you don't want them to attack each other or accidentally get pregnant.
    • The crates should be large enough for the dog to stand up, sit, lie down and turn around in.
    • It is best to stock a crate for each size of dog from Chihuahua to Great Dane.
    • Each crate should contain some sort of bedding from a few clean towels to duvets to a squidgy dog bed. Make sure the bed fits the dog. It is not ideal to have a Chihuahua in a Great Dane's bed or vice versa.
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    Stock up with plenty of high quality dog food suitable for puppies, adults and elders of all sizes. Wet and dry food options are also a good idea in case a dog is used to a particular kind.
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    Have good leashes and related dog equipment. Stock plenty of good quality leashes, collars, food and water bowls. Don't forget to have a fully stocked canine first aid kit.
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    Have suitable grooming supplies. If you are planning to groom the dog, (and after a long trudge through knee-deep mud, it's probably a good idea), make sure you have a dog/baby bath with a non-slip mat, a movable shower nozzle, and lots of dog shampoo, conditioner, sponges, rubber and wirehair brushes and nail clippers and towels. Please learn how to cut a dog's fur and nails before attempting to do so yourself; you don't want to cut the quick and have a bleeding dog!
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    Exercise the dog(s). When looking after a dog, take the dogs out at least once a day, or even better twice, for a long walk to keep them sane, healthy and happy. It will tire out even the most energetic dog if you take them on a couple of walks through an exciting park with lots of dogs and smells! It will also help to keep them quiet and easier to handle before bed!
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    Go to your local vet, breeder, or trainer and learn about the different breeds and any tips on looking after them. Be sure to research and read up on it too. Learn how to treat minor wounds and learn when a dog needs to see a vet. Also learn up on handling aggressive dogs and aggressive dog situations.


  • Take a large bottle of water and a bowl on trips to the park -- even on cooler days -- along with a few essentials, such as a small first aid kit, toys and a spare leash/collar.
  • Keep up with the backyard duty and cleaning up after the dog(s). Most owners enjoy having a clean yard and home after a trip.
  • Don't read this and expect yourself to be an expert on the subject; this is merely a basic guide to get you started.
  • Read lots about dog care, first aid and training before attempting to babysit any dogs. It is irresponsible and unsafe not to do so and unfair on the innocent dog and unaware owner.
  • Tell clients to bring the dog's own food and shampoos. Too much change can be problematic, especially if the dog has allergies.


  • Please keep all dog food, cleaning tools, and first aid kits far out of reach in a locked cupboard for the safety of the dog and any children (visiting or living in the house).

Article Info

Categories: Working with Dogs