In an earlier blog post, we wrote about the fact that being a pet sitter is a job with a lot of responsibility that requires good preparation. That's why it's necessary to ask the right questions during the Meet & Greet. But what exactly should you be talking about? As many things as possible ... Ask away!
Your dog's behaviour. Tell the dog sitter about your dog's character traits - in detail and honestly! Is he a happy chap? Active? What toys does he like? How does he behave in the presence of children, other dogs or cats? Does he have good lead manners? Is he independent or a little shy? Does he like car rides? In what situations does he bark? Does he like cuddling, or not so much? Does he beg? Does he sometimes chew things up? You name it ... The dog sitter will want to know all about your dog!
What does a regular day look like for the dog? Tell the dog sitter exactly what your dog's daily routine is. How often do you go for a walk, where, and at what time? Tell him when your dog is usually fed and what food he gets, whether he gets any medicine or has any health issues. Tell him when he sleeps and when he is active, what his favourits spot is, where he sleeps at night, whether he can be left at home on his own and for how long. It is important to stick to the dog's routine as much as possible during the stay. So share this information with the dog sitter.
What does a regular day for the dog sitter look like? Ask the dog sitter what his plans are during the booking period. Does he have any activities planned during the day, and how does the dog fit into the picture? Will the dog have to be alone in the dog sitters home and how do you feel about that? Even if you have an easy dog, a stay at somebody else's home can be a little stressful for him. Make sure the dog will get enough attention during his stay. Ask whether you can see the entire house, so you will see all of the environment your dog will be staying in. Where will he be allowed to go and can he pick a spot for himself? Ask as many questions as you want: It will after all be a temporary home for your dog!
Discuss the rules. Give your sitter any tips on how to train your dog whilst it is in their care. Make sure they know to reward your dog with a treat or praise it if it works. Talk about the rules your dog knows from home. Perhaps the dog is allowed on the couch at your place, but not at the pet sitters. Dogs can cope just fine with different rules at different places, but they do need time to learn the new set of rules. Never punish him if he doesn't get it right away. He's not doing it to annoy you! Just tell or show him what is expected instead of telling him off!
Walkies: What to look out for. Is the dog used to being off the lead? Even dogs who listen very well to their owner can behave differently when they're out with somebody else. A responsible pet sitter puts the dogs safety first and will only let them off in a safe and fenced area. Tell the dog sitter about the dogs behaviour when outside, what he likes and what he is afraid of. As a dog sitter, are you planning on taking the dog to the forest by car? Secure the dog in the car, either by using a car crate (if the owner has one and leaves it behind) or a car harness. This is not just safer during the ride, it also prevents the dog from jumping out as soon as you open the door.
The dog sitters experience. Ask the sitter for his experience with dogs. How many years of experience does he have? Does he have experience with large dogs, small dogs, different breeds? Does he often take care of pets? What does he know about the body language of dogs? What would he do if your dog becomes stressed or afraid? Ask away - the more you know about the dog sitters know-how the better.
Expect the unexpected. Any dog can show unexpected behaviour when put into an unfamiliar situation. He can for example exhibit fear or stress, separation anxiety, he can whine, behave differently towards children and dogs or even try to run away. Be aware that this is a possibility and ask the dog sitter how he would handle the situation and tell him what you would expect. If you want to know more about how your dog will behave when you're away, schedule a test sleepover!
How do we stay in contact? Talk about practical matters such as the dropoff, handing over your vets contact info and the dogs passport. Make sure your dog is microchipped and registered to be prepared for emergency situations. Discuss how the owner would like to be kept in the loop. You can, for example, post a daily photo update via Pawshake.
Last, but not least: listen to your gut feeling. It's all about being satisfied with the pet sitter and being able to trust that your dog will have a good time with him. As a dog sitter, it's important to have a good relationship with the owner. Be curious and open with each other. Do you find it all quite exciting? Makes sense! After all, you're meeting someone for the first time. To make things a little easier, you can write down the things you want to ask. Or print this article and take it along to the Meet & Greet.
What do you like to talk about during a Meet & Greet? Share your experiences on our Facebook page!