As a pet sitter or dog walker, there’s plenty you can do to greatly reduce the chance of losing a dog during a visit or walk. The first thing to know: preventing dog escapes starts long before you (or your dog guest) walks through the door. Here are concrete steps you can take to keep your Rover dog safely in bounds.
During the Meet & Greet
Always have a Meet & Greet with a new potential client. See our Meet & Greet checklist, but be especially sure to ask:
- Does your dog have separation anxiety? The pet parent may not know, but it doesn’t hurt to always prepare for some separation anxiety. If you want to test it, you can ask to take the dog for a walk around the block without the pet parent to see how they do, or you can ask the pet parent to step outside for a minute.
- Have they ever escaped before? What worked to bring them home?
- How do they do on a leash? Do they have any triggers when they’re on walks?
- Do they wear a harness, collar, or both? (We recommend practicing putting them on the dog during the Meet & Greet too.)
- If you and the pet parent agree to book, ask the pet parent to leave you with the dog’s microchip and vet information.
During the Stay or Walk
Collars and Leashes
- How to stop a dog from escaping from their collar: Make sure you can’t fit more than two fingers under their collar. If it’s too loose, tighten it.
- Keep the dog’s collar and tags on at all time. If you have a safety tag, put that on at the beginning of the stay or walk and don’t take it off until the booking ends.
- Use a fixed-length leash instead of a flexi-lead: flexi-leads can snap.
- Use a properly-fitted harness instead of a collar to add extra security.
- Never leave a dog alone outside, even in a fenced yard or on a balcony. Especially at first, we recommend taking the dog outside on a leash at all times until you get an idea of how they react to being outside with you.
- If the yard isn’t fenced, leave the dog on a leash at all times when they’re outside—even if the owner tells you it’s okay.
- Take a walk around the fence outside to check for gaps or holes. Block them if you can.
- Make sure all gates are closed before taking the dog outside.
- How to keep your dog from jumping the fence: Don’t stack furniture or firewood next to the fence—dogs could use it as a springboard to jump over.
- If you’re watching dogs in your home, consider purchasing Coyote Rollers, spinning cylinders that keep a dog from getting over a fence.
- How to keep dogs from digging under fence: If you can, dig a trench around the fence line and fill it with concrete. If you’re unable to do so, you can use bricks or large rocks to block off the dirt directly below the fence. We know it sounds extreme, but if a dog gets determined to run off, having barriers in place will help you keep them safe at home.
- Place a second barrier around doorways to the outside: we recommend an an exercise pen around the inside of the front door so the dog can’t rush out when you’re going in and out.
- To be extra cautious, use a baby gate to block off the room or hall that leads to the front door.
- Use your body to block house or car doors so a dog can’t give you the slip.
- You may be constantly vigilant, but if you have guests or workers over they may not be! Put signs on the gates or doors explaining that there is a dog inside.
The best thing you can do? Play, play, play! A tired dog is a happy dog.
If Your Rover Dog Does Run Off
It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally dogs do run away. The good news: We’re here to help you get them back, and quickly! Just follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to a happy reunion.
- Call their pet parent and Rover right away. You can reach our Trust & Safety team at 888-727-1140. The sooner you let us and the dog owner know, the sooner we can help bring the dog home. And, if the dog has a history of running off, the pet parent may be able to help you figure out how to attract them back home.
- Get the word out there—and recruit help if you can. Recruit a friend to help you make flyers, make calls, write to local blogs, and post online. Once you have a few flyers, ask your friend to stay behind while you go and do the searching. Post flyers around the neighborhood. Of course, make sure to always ask if you can post or leave flyers behind. Most places would love to help in any way they can, especially animal shelters and vet clinics.
- Bring smelly treats on your search. Bacon will do in a pinch, or rotisserie chicken can help entice your Rover dog to approach you. Imagine yourself wandering the neighborhood with a fresh-from-the-oven chicken in your hands. Yep, we’ve been there. And it works.
- Don’t chase the dog. Some dogs think this means it’s a game and they’ll continue to run away. Slowly approach and try to offer food to coax them to you.
Like we said, most dog escapes are easily preventable. It’s much easier to take some extra time to ensure your Rover dog stays close to home than it is to bring them home. But if you ever experience a lost dog during a stay, we’re here for you!