Old dog, new tricks: How to prepare your home and family for a dog sitter

*** Guest Post ***
When you have a dog, travel can be stressful for you, your family, and your pets. Worrying about your dog being cared for, fed, walked, and kept happy can put a dampener on your relaxation while you’re away, and the stress can keep you from even planning a holiday in the first place. Rather than putting your dog in a kennel or boarding facility, which can be pricey and traumatic for your pet, hiring a dog sitter to look after your dog while you’re away can reduce stress for your pet, and save time and money. If you’re considering hiring a dog or house sitter, there are several things you can do to prepare your home, and ease the transition for you, the sitter, and your dog.

Resources and Tools

Communication is key when someone new will be looking after your home and dog, so write down what your dog’s average day looks like, with rough times and descriptions of activities that your dog enjoys. Take a stack of post it notes and leave markers around your house to point out favourite blankets, doors that open easily, and where food, toys, and medications are kept. Set up a basket of pet-safe cleaning supplies to make sure the sitter is equipped to handle any messes that might crop up. Also, be certain to leave the name and phone number of at least one neighbour or friend who lives nearby, and your dog’s veterinary surgery or a vet hospital nearby, just in case emergency medical for your pet is required. 

Include Your Family

If the dog you’re leaving behind is a family pet, it can be hard on kids to say goodbye, even if it’s just for a few days. To help your kids adjust before you leave, ask them to write down some funny things your dog does, or draw pictures of your dog’s favourite toys to leave with the sitter to help them feel like they’re still helping to care for the dog while you’re away. You can also ask your sitter to send you pictures every so often to keep in touch and check up on your pet’s wellbeing. Each night when you’re away, you can all talk about what you think your dog might have done during the day and how much fun they’re having on their own special ‘doggy holiday’.

Preparing Your Dog

Each pet reacts differently to anxiety and separation, and if you’re not sure how your dog will take the stress, try going away for the day a few weeks before your holiday to get an idea of how destructive or nervous they might be. Not only will this help you inform your sitter of how they might react, but it will also help your dog adjust to being alone. If the separation anxiety seems severe, you can always talk to your dog’s veterinarian to see if there are certain things you can do to help soothe your pet enough to leave them.


If you take reasonable steps to prepare your home, family, and dog, you’ll be able to have a relaxing holiday and rest assured that every eventuality is prepared for. You can also ensure your home is kept clean and safe, and help your dog cope with anxiety by having someone in your house, keeping your pet’s daily routine up while you’re gone. But most importantly, you can enjoy time away with your family without having to worry about how your kids, or dog will react to the separation. 

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52 Comments

  1. August 9, 2017 / 1:03 am

    These are great tips and ideas for any potential dog owner going on a trip.
    I have a pet cheetah so I have to a person with big cat/zoo experience to watch him when I’m gone

    • Laura Dove
      August 9, 2017 / 3:56 pm

      Oh wow that’s crazy!! What an unusual pet, I bet you struggle for a pet sitter! xx

  2. August 9, 2017 / 5:17 am

    These are amazing tips, I’m going to share this on a dog group I’m part of on Facebook. People in Dubai travel a lot and so their dogs are often a great cause of stress so these will be super helpful!

    • Laura Dove
      August 9, 2017 / 3:54 pm

      Ahh thanks Kim! It can be so stressful for dogs being left with strangers. x

  3. August 9, 2017 / 8:18 am

    First off, I love this post. I love all animals so I always love reading about them. These tips are awesome. I remember one time when my family and I went away when had two different dog sitters at the time who would come in and check on our pets. The first time we went away, our dog Ozzie at the time decided that he didn’t like the guy who we initially had to come into the home to care for him. He went an entire week without food or water. I think we came home and he didn’t soil the carpet or anything. He was so determined not to let this guy into our house. I feel really bad for our dog because that couldn’t have been easy to go that long without food or water or using the outside. But after that happened, we had someone else come into the home and he loved that person.

    • Laura Dove
      August 9, 2017 / 3:53 pm

      Oh wow I think we forget that dogs don’t warm to everyone, in just the same way that we don’t! It’s so important that they feel comfortable being left with the right people. xx

  4. August 9, 2017 / 9:06 am

    Great tips for a dog owner, the first time I have read about how to welcome your home and pet sitter. Makes me feel valued, valued enough to include this information.

    • Laura Dove
      August 9, 2017 / 3:49 pm

      Thank you. xx

  5. August 9, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    We don’t have any pets but these are great tips for those that do.

    • Laura Dove
      August 9, 2017 / 3:48 pm

      Thanks Jenny! xx

  6. August 9, 2017 / 2:54 pm

    These are such great tips. We have a Dalmatian and she was anxious when we first left here. Would recommend getting the person sitting to visit beforehand so the dog can get used to them x

    • Laura Dove
      August 9, 2017 / 3:47 pm

      Our dog is very wary of new people so it’s important to introduce them beforehand. xx

  7. August 9, 2017 / 4:06 pm

    Nicely written!! what surprises me is the saying in “including family” i.e. I didn’t know if kids feels good by writing funny things about the dog.

    • Laura Dove
      August 9, 2017 / 10:12 pm

      Thank you Prateek! xx

  8. August 9, 2017 / 4:20 pm

    Some super helpful tips for dog owners Laura 🙂 I have cats, which thankfully my mum cat sits whenever I go away. But I think a lot of these tips apply to cats and dogs 🙂 x

    • Laura Dove
      August 9, 2017 / 10:11 pm

      Thanks Becca, making sure that our pets are well taken care of it so important so we can enjoy our holiday! xx

  9. August 9, 2017 / 7:42 pm

    Great tips, especially about preparing the family. My daughter always finds leaving the pets very difficult, especially when we go away on holiday.

    • Laura Dove
      August 9, 2017 / 10:00 pm

      Thank you, yes my children struggle with leaving Oscar too! x

  10. August 9, 2017 / 11:53 pm

    This is such great advice! Usually we go on pet friendly holidays or it’s just my mother and I going to Disney and my stepdad stays at home with them, but this is ideal for when the time comes that all of us want to go on holidays.

  11. August 9, 2017 / 11:53 pm

    This is such great advice! Usually we go on pet friendly holidays or it’s just my mother and I going to Disney and my stepdad stays at home with them, but this is ideal for when the time comes that all of us want to go on holidays.

    • Laura Dove
      August 10, 2017 / 7:50 pm

      Yes we try to have our family look after our pet but sometimes it isn’t always possible! xx

  12. August 10, 2017 / 5:36 am

    Very useful tips for people who keep pets. I don’t have pets but my friends have them. I would surely share this lovely and informative posts with them.

    • Laura Dove
      August 10, 2017 / 7:49 pm

      Thank you! I hope it’s helpful to them! xx

  13. August 10, 2017 / 8:06 am

    I totally agree with these tips and tricks…it would be great to implement ..I’m not pet owner bt surely I’ll do this when I have one…

    • Laura Dove
      August 10, 2017 / 7:47 pm

      Thank you for reading! xx

  14. Lynne Harper
    August 10, 2017 / 11:22 am

    We don’t have a dog just cats but what a great post. I know friends who get dog sitters in instead of using kennels which can be so stressful for furbabies x

    • Laura Dove
      August 10, 2017 / 7:39 pm

      Yes, I refuse to put our dog in kennels – he couldn’t cope! xx

  15. August 10, 2017 / 1:21 pm

    I like the idea of preparing your dog a few days before you go away to see how he/she would react. A great way of testing the waters. I wish I had a pup of my own! x

    • Laura Dove
      August 10, 2017 / 7:34 pm

      Ahh maybe when you get your house you can get one! They make great companions! xx

  16. August 11, 2017 / 12:38 am

    We have two dogs and four cats at our house and I’m sure it’s hardest on me when we have to be gone. For the dogs, thankfully their daycare offers a boarding option, so it’s a place they’re already familiar with. The kitties have one of the neighbor kids come in and check on them. Me? I miss them all like crazy and count the days until we’re back. x

    • Laura Dove
      August 11, 2017 / 4:15 pm

      Ahh yes we miss our dog so much when we are away. The kids hate being apart from him! xxx

  17. August 11, 2017 / 1:50 pm

    These are great ideas and suggestions. Good tips, but we have never left our dogs with a dog sitter to travel. Always family or close friends. Preparing your pet is so important.

    • Laura Dove
      August 11, 2017 / 3:54 pm

      Yes we try to leave him with our parents but it isn’t always possible. xx

  18. August 11, 2017 / 2:22 pm

    I love this but no chance am I getting a dog ha ha my son wants one!

    • Laura Dove
      August 11, 2017 / 3:54 pm

      Haha they are very tying but so lovely! xx

  19. Борка Шаула
    August 11, 2017 / 4:29 pm

    I remember the struggle when my Rex was still with us. My grannie often went to hospital so the house would be empty and she couldn’t take care of him. We live pretty far from her so lucky her neighbors took great care of him since they have 3 dogs so they all familiar with what to do. These tips are indeed great when you don’t have such a good neighbors because you don’t really get to know your dog sitter or house keeper.

    • Laura Dove
      August 11, 2017 / 7:57 pm

      Thank you, it’s very hard when you have a pet as you can’t put your lives on hold, we all still need a holiday! xx

  20. August 12, 2017 / 12:16 pm

    These are really great tips. My two keep asking for a dog, but I always say no as I didn’t know who would be able to look after it when we were away. I never thought about a dog sitter!!

    Louise x

    • Laura Dove
      August 12, 2017 / 8:23 pm

      Ahh no excuses now, hehe! We would be lost without our dog! xx

  21. Elizabeth O
    August 12, 2017 / 12:26 pm

    I’m a dog lover. And I treat my dog as my best friend. He’s with me everytime I got tired from work, every time I go to park, and walked with me every morning. These tips are indeed great when you don’t have such good neighbors just to care of your pet. I treat my dog as one of my family members.

    • Laura Dove
      August 12, 2017 / 8:23 pm

      Ahh me too, there’s no better friend than a dog that’s for sure! xx

  22. suchi
    August 12, 2017 / 6:46 pm

    I love dogs… but i don’t have a current pet…but i am sharing this article with a friend who has 3 pet dogs… This would be useful for her

    • Laura Dove
      August 12, 2017 / 8:18 pm

      Ahh that’s great – thank you! x

  23. August 12, 2017 / 11:50 pm

    I have a dog and really struggle to go away and find someone to look after her. A dog sitter may well be our best option xxxx

  24. August 13, 2017 / 9:22 am

    This a very good tips to read for all dog owner . We don’t have dog in our house because we are to busy with our job .

    But your article is sharing a wonderful advice and tips .

    • Laura Dove
      August 13, 2017 / 9:50 am

      Thank you for reading! xx

    • Laura Dove
      August 14, 2017 / 9:37 am

      That’s great, it really is important. Xx

  25. August 17, 2017 / 7:52 pm

    Aww this is such a lovely post, I would like to adopt an older dog one day, great tips. Xx

    • Laura Dove
      August 17, 2017 / 9:32 pm

      Thank you! xx

  26. August 21, 2017 / 9:14 pm

    We are so lucky that we have a close friend who dogsits Ollie. He even takes time off work or works from home in order to keep him company!

    • Laura Dove
      August 21, 2017 / 9:59 pm

      Oh that is so lovely of him! xx

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