Dogs look at our dwellings from a completely different angle, literally. So as you prep for pet sitting, ask yourself, “If I were a dog, what trouble would I get into?” If you’re not sure whether an item is safe, move the item.
Out of sight
Move all food, medicine and anything that a dog could eat (or destroy) off on the counter and into high cabinets. We recommend putting child-proof locks on all cabinet doors in reach. Put your shoes away, behind closed doors—especially if you like them. Don’t leave laundry out around the home. Some dogs eat socks, which may have to be removed with surgery.
Consider getting a garbage can that locks shut. Move the trash bin into a closed cabinet. If you throw away anything that could be harmful to pups, tie the bag up immediately. (See the list below). If anything you’re eating falls to the floor, pick it up before the dog gets to it. The five-second rule doesn’t apply to dogs.
Here are some human foods that can be detrimental or even fatal to dogs.
- Chocolate is toxic and can be fatal.
- Walnuts and macadamia nuts can damage the nervous system and muscles.
- Cooked bones can splinter in the stomach and cause internal lacerations.
- Dairy products can upset a dog’s stomach.
- Caffeine can result in vomiting, hypothermia and death.
- Avocados contain persin, which can lead to diarrhea and vomiting.
- Alcohol can put a dog into a coma and be fatal.
- Grapes and raisins can lead to liver failure and death.
- Artificial sweetener Xylitol (in gum and candy) causes liver failure and can be fatal.
- Onions and garlic damage red-blood cells.
- Azaleas and lilies upset stomachs and can result in tremors, coma and death.
- Mushrooms (especially wild varieties) cause shock and can lead to death.
Decorating for dogs
In a new home, a dog might not be accustomed to the traffic patterns and obstacles. She could accidentally trip or knock something off a coffee table. So look at things from nose and tail level. Secure loose rugs or dangling power cords. Remove anything that could break or be harmful if knocked to the floor. If anything is irreplaceable, move it to a room where the dogs don’t go. Besides, a dog doesn’t really appreciate family heirlooms and priceless antiques.
Great gates & pens
Sitters on Rover constantly tell us how valuable baby gates and pens are. Adding a few to your home can make it a safer place. They can help contain dogs who have behavioral issues or aren’t completely house-broken. They can separate dogs who might fight during meal time. Doorway baby gates can block off rooms. Larger outdoor pens can be used on patios. Collapsible pens can quickly create a safe zone within a room.
Some plants and trees can be toxic to animals. The Humane Society has created this list. Keep gardening tools, insecticides and automotive supplies locked away from pets. Keep doors that lead to unsecured areas and patio entrances securely closed. Lock doggie doors when pups aren’t supervised. If you have a fence, repair any holes or gaps. Make sure it’s tall enough that a dog can’t jump over it. Make sure it’s close enough to the ground that a dog can’t dig its way under it. If a new dog is nervous, keep him on leash even in a secure yard until he builds confidence in the new environment. A nervous dog can escape in just moments. Never leave a dog unattended around pools, jacuzzis or ponds.
If pups have free roam of your entire home, put the toilet lid down and keep the bathroom door closed. Toilet water contains bacteria and harsh chemicals harmful to pups. Garages and laundry rooms are two more areas of the home typically stocked with items dangerous to canines. So keep those spaces closed off.
Purses and bags
Think twice about where you set your purse or open bags. Purses are typically easy for pups to stick their noses in, so think twice about where you set it down. You might have sugar-free gum or medicine—which could be lethal to a dog—in a purse or a backpack, so be sure to keep everything zipped up and out of reach.
More in: A Field Guide to Pet Sitting
So you’re interested in pet sitting? Or maybe you want to be an even better sitter. Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled the collective knowledge of our Rover sitters and staffers to create this helpful guide. From great introductions to bad behavior, this guide is packed with answers to some common questions—and few you probably wouldn’t have even thought to ask.
Chapter 2: Getting your home ready for dogs