Taking care of a dog is a bit like babysitting. You will be caring for an animal that will be depending on you for food, water, exercise and interaction. But before you agree to do this, you must ask some important questions so that the whole dog sitting experience works out well for you, the dog and your friend.
1. How Often and when Should I Feed the Dog?
The answer may seem simple to you, but it is more complex than you imagine. A dog will have his own routine that he follows each day and you would do well to try and keep to the usual feeding routine so that the dog does not become distressed by too many changes all at once. It will be bad enough that his owner is gone, but if you also change his feeding routine, this can cause further disruption to the dog’s life.
2. Does the Dog Stay Outside During the Daytime?
It is important to know where the dog is kept during the daytime. If you will be dog sitting and juggling work and family commitments at the same time, you will have to manage your time well. Dogs who stay outside during the daytime will not take too much care and attention while you are at work. Simply feed and water the dog and place him outside until you return home.
3. When Does the Dog Go for Walks and for How Long?
If possible, try to keep to the dog’s routine, but if a 45 minute morning walk does not fit in with your own schedule, then you will need to make adjustments to your routine. Try to reach a compromise that will still allow the dog to go out for a few minutes each morning, such as a 10 minute walk before work and a lengthier walk to make up for it when you get home.
4. Is it Safe to Let the Dog Run Free when Going for a Walk?
Each dog is different. Do not assume that what works for your own dog or some other dog you know will work for your friend’s dog too. That means not all dogs can be let loose when going for a walk. Some dogs will seek out other dogs and become aggressive. Others may approach children and try to jump all over them. Yet still others decide to run away if given the chance to. Even if your friend insists that Fido is perfectly well behaved when let loose, do not go by that alone. You will be responsible for the dog while he is in your care. So it is best to keep the dog on a lead rather than allow him to run freely. If the dog disrupts other dogs, children, or runs away, you will ultimately be responsible for the dog’s actions.
Dog sitting for friends can be rewarding and fun, as you get to interact with the dog and spend time caring for him. You may even be able to build up a bond with the dog, that you did not have before. But before agreeing to care for your friend’s dog, be sure to ask how you should care for him.