You’ve laid all the groundwork, and now the sitting begins. But sitting is a misnomer. Watching a dog means walking, playing, feeding and staying one step ahead of the pet.
Walk the walk
Giving the dog enough exercise helps her stay relaxed for the rest of the day. First, find out how she does on a leash from her owner and if there are any triggers to avoid while out and about. Make sure she has the right equipment for a walk: a sturdy leash and a collar that she won’t slip out of.
Shall we play a game?
If the weather’s not great outside, indoor games can help tire a dog out, too. Here are a few tried-and-true ideas.
- Hide & Seek: Hiding yummy treats or fun toys around the house for the pups to sniff out is mentally stimulating. You can also make yourself part of the game: Have a partner keep the pups occupied while you hide in a different area of the house. Use a squeaky or call out for the pups to find you. Once they do, have the dogs sit for a treat.
- Indoor Fetch: Do you have a long hallway? A game of fetch indoors is the perfect way to burn off some energy. (Just be mindful of any neighbors below you.)
- Puzzle Toys: Food-dispensing puzzle toys are a great way to keep a pup super focused, which helps exhaust them of some of that mental energy that otherwise remains pent up on low-activity days. KONGs with peanut butter frozen inside or Kyjen puzzle toys filled with tasty treats are great examples.
- Dinner Games: If you have the space and the pup isn’t on a special diet, you can take their kibble and hide it in piles around a room so they have to hunt for their dinner.
- Indoor Obstacle Course: Roll up some blankets and towels to create hurdles and use boxes as items to lead your pups both around and over the items. After leading them through the course a few times, have them sit/stay at the other end and then call them to come through the course. Praise them with treats and affection when they make it through!
- DIY Dog Toys: Place an empty plastic water bottle in a sock and fasten the ends. Put dog treats in a muffin tin and cover with tennis balls. Knot scraps of old denim (from cut-offs or old jeans) for some tug of war.
Hitting the hay
Some pet parents allow dogs to sleep in the people bed at night. One big study doesn’t recommend the practice, but opinions vary. Some owners may choose home boarding or an in-home sitter so the dog can sleep in a bed with humans. Whatever your policy, be sure to let the pet owner know in advance, so everyone’s on the same page…or mattress. When staying in your home, the dog should bring a regular bed for naps. And even if a dog sleeps with his family at home, he may prefer his own familiar bed while staying with you. If you keep an extra bed or two around your home for guests, make sure it’s washable.
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 5: Sitting isn’t just sitting