Don’t worry, I’m not trying to tell you this is the way you dog sit (although, obviously one of the dogs in this picture thinks it is)!
Seriously, perhaps you’re thinking of a career change (you know, working with lovely animals instead of annoying humans), entering the workforce after a break, or simply having a little side career to help make ends meet. Being an animal person (and if you’re reading this blog, then you’re an animal person!) means working with animals is a logical step and dog sitting (and dog walking, as they go hand-in-hand) is a job that is definitely appealing.
But it’s not as easy as simply posting an ad online or posting ads around your neighbourhood. There’s a few things you need to keep in mind before you embark on your new career. And I’ve got 5 top tips to help you on your way to becoming the next best dog sitter in the world!
5- It’s a Dirty Job, But Someone’s Got to Do It (Poop Scooping, that is)
While you’re already thinking being a dog sitter is all doggy love, licks, snuggles and playing fetch, there’s much more to it and some of it aint pretty. Namely, scooping the poop. The thing is, even if you simply want to sit dogs for people while they’re away (no kennels, they get to stay in the comfort of their own home), you’re still going to have to walk the dogs. In the middle of the night. In the rain. The snow. The cold. You get my drift. And walks come with poop.
Even when you’re not walking the dog, there’s still most likely going to be poop. Sometimes even the best trained, best behaved dogs get upset they’ve been abandoned by their humans. And they show this by pooping and peeing on the floors of the home you’re looking after the dog in. I know, it’s happened to me. Even with puppy training pads down, the dogs may simply decide to go somewhere else (again, this is from experience). You’ll have to be willing to clean it up, clean the floor and be sweet and kind to the dog.
4- Upstanding Citizen Brigade (That’s YOU)
Being a dog sitter means being the type of person people you don’t know are happy to have you in their house while their away. It may sound shallow but not only do first impressions count, but so does your appearance and manner.
Whether you’re responding to an inquiry via email, text or phone, you need to be polite, use correct grammar and punctuation, use correct spelling, and have a pleasant, good voice. Having a good voice is your tone, your speech, the words you choose and how you say them. Being all ghetto may impress your friends, but it isn’t going to impress someone into handing over the keys to their home.
And of course, this bring us to your appearance. I’m not suggesting you need to don a Chanel suit, but you do need to think about what you wear. Being well dressed is important. Going in scruffy, with your breakfast still clinging to your face and clothes, wearing a death metal T-shirt, or your favourite Goth outfit complete with make up probably won’t help you in getting the job. It doesn’t matter if you trained under Mother Teresa, it’s all about looks.
A big part of coming across as honest and trustworthy; an upstanding citizen is first impressions, so make it count. Be neatly and on the conservative side of dress and you’re most of the way there. Have some great references (trusted friends, colleagues and other people you’ve done this for in the past) ready to give to your prospective clients, and always remember politeness and manners when you’re face to face with your client.
3- Walk of Shame (Oh, the THINGS Doggies Do!)
We’ve covered the poop scooping, but there’s more to walks than that. Sometimes, with some dogs, much more. Dogs do gross things. They eat weird things from the street. They lick up puddles of goodness only knows what (and sometimes they eat their own poop and even other dog’s poop!), and if you stop and chat to the cutie who’s smiling at you, the dog will probably either pee on them, attack their dog or decide to attack. Basically when you go out with a dog, you’re there for the dog, no matter what.
But it’s more than that. You need to keep a sharp eye out on what the dog is doing. Yes, you need to stop him eating and licking weird things, you need to make sure he doesn’t pee on some unsuspecting stranger. You need to make sure he doesn’t attack other dogs, or get attacked by other dogs. You need to always be aware.
2- Getting to Know You! (Well, Getting to Know the Dog)
All dogs are not created equally. Some love to play with all and anyone be they dog or human. Others do not like to be around creatures of their own ilk. You need to understand this and work accordingly.
Some dogs love other dogs, others need to be kept away from other dogs, and some are a real handful and like to try and get loose from their leash when walking, so make sure you know all this before you start sitting. Ask all the relevant when you speak to the owner. But it’s important to make sure you spend time with the dog and owner, and then with the dog while the owner is in the other room. All dogs (like people) have different personalities and need to be handled in different ways. A neurotic dog will need lots of attention and a calm, soothing demeanor from you. A shy dog may need coaxing. If you get to know each dog beforehand, your job will be much easier and it will help you get further work with the pooch.
1- Must Love Dogs… No, Seriously, Must Love Dogs
Become a dog sitter and not like dogs? Or are a little scare of dogs? Probably not a good idea. Dogs and owners can both pick up on when someone is not comfortable around dogs.
If this be you, then it’s time to rethink the whole career with dogs thing. Dogs need someone who is comfy around them and who understands them. It’s not difficult, but rather who you are. If you love dogs but don’t have much experience around them or have one of your own, then I’d suggest making it your business to get to know dogs. Whether you do some dog walking, or hang out at the dog park and talk to owners and play with their dogs, or simply spend time with a friend who has a dog, being around dogs will give you confidence and experience that you need.
So there you go, if you think you can follow these tips and absolutely love and respect our doggy friends then go forth and become a world class dog sitter!
Thanks to dogbarkz for the pic!