In the U.S., 95% of pet owners consider their four-legged friends to be a part of their family. For many people with a dog, it can feel more like a “fur baby” than just an animal in the house. And, just like babies, pets need constant care and attention. But life goes on, and we can’t always stop when that care is required. People must work, go to school, run errands, and take care of life’s other daily responsibilities.
Having the right people around to help you take care of your dog can be a big help for loving pet owners. If you’re looking for a qualified individual to care for your pooch when you’re away, keep reading to learn more about what you need and what you should consider.
Determining your dog’s needs
The type of help you’ll need in taking care of your dog will depend mainly on their needs. For example, anywhere from 20-40% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety. If your dog is destructive or restless when you’re away, you might want to consider a pet sitter to come and spend time with them daily.
If your dog is older and needs medical care, hiring someone who went to a veterinary school or with a veterinary background might be your best solution.
Or, if your dog just needs some exercise and fresh air a few times a day, you can consider hiring a dog walker. Dog walkers and pet sitters are different. Walkers are there specifically to — you guessed it — walk your pup as many times a day as you’ve requested. The duties of a pet sitter are typically the following:
- Interacting/playing with the dog
- Administering medication
- Staying overnight (if necessary)
When you determine your dog’s needs and your own needs surrounding your schedule, you’ll have a better idea of the type of service you’ll need to hire to make your dog comfortable.
Where to find qualified care for your dog
There are plenty of ways to find quality care for your dog, including utilizing the help of people you trust. Again, consider your dog’s needs regarding the person/people you choose. For example, you might not want your 13-year-old neighbor to come pet-sit if your dog has a medical condition and needs medication administered. Instead, you may opt for someone with experience with pets or someone you trust, including family and friends. If you’re looking for someone to care for your dog on a more long-term basis, one of the best things you can do is to look online. There are multiple websites dedicated to finding people for pet care:
While each of these sites is different, they all allow you to talk about what you’re looking for, make it known if your pet has any special needs, and even let select specific qualifications for those coming into your home to take care of your dog.
Going online makes it easy to find qualified care for your dog very quickly. One of the most significant benefits is that some of these sites even have a rating system so you can see how others who have used an individual’s services would rank them.
Setting the right tone
Once you do decide on someone to care for your dog, setting clear expectations and communicating regularly will help to set the right tone for your relationship. Be sure to communicate all of your dog’s needs upfront, so there is no confusion about what the caregiver needs to do daily.
If your dog needs to take medication, explain how it should be administered and when. If your dog needs to be walked multiple times a day, make that known. Additionally, if your dog has any food allergies or sensitivities, it’s essential to talk to their caregiver about their dietary restrictions — for example, if your dog has special food they eat or are sensitive to grain in their foods. While you’re likely going to be providing all the food, caregivers need to know not to give your dog anything extra.
Finally, remember, you have every right to check in as often as you’d like when someone is caring for your dog in your home. You might feel more comfortable installing a nanny cam or using a “pet app” to check in without the caregiver knowing, but depending on the state you live in, it might be illegal to record sound without someone knowing. A better option might be to talk to your caregiver about the fact that you’ll regularly check in. Also, make it known that you do have a camera in the house, and it’s always recording.
Leaving your dog in the care of someone else, even if it’s only for a few hours a day, can be stressful for a loving pet owner. By knowing where to look for qualified care and developing a trusting relationship with your dog’s caregiver, you can make the situation easier on yourself and your furry friend.
Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience with nose boops and chin scritches. You can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.