Puppy owners love the one-on-one care that sitters and dog walkers on Rover can provide. And you probably don’t mind getting paid to snuggle big-eyed, adorably clumsy puppies trying to figure out how legs work.
But with all that cuteness comes one main thing to acknowledge: Puppies will be puppies. Puppies chew stuff, pee on things, pull on the leash, and bark. Your goal as a pet sitter or dog walker should be to keep the puppy as safe and happy as possible, and that involves working with all of the facets that come with canine little bundles of joy.
Must…chew…everything. Just like human babies, puppies lose their teeth to grow in an adult set. This means that they need to chew—and, if not given appropriate things and trained to use them, they’ll find their own outlet. Prevention is the best method here. Some tips to put into practice:
- Puppies can be kept in large exercise pens with only puppy-approved toys, so they don’t take out their teething on your furniture.
- Be especially careful on walks, as most puppies will put anything and everything in their mouth. There are all kinds of fun things, from acorns to chewing gum, that can be found on a sidewalk.
- Ask the puppy parent what the puppy is allowed to chew on and enjoy. Rope toys, Kongs, and age appropriate bully sticks are great options, and can help save your household furniture.
- If the puppy can have treats, you can give him a reward every time he chooses to chew on something you approve of chewing on. (Or get puzzle toys that automatically reward the dog for choosing to play with them, like Kongs.)
- Dangerous chewables. Puppies love to chew on electrical cords and other things that may be dangerous for them. Be sure to remove these items from the puppy area and keep puppies under supervision.
One of the less-adorable realities of puppies: They pee—whenever, wherever. Follow the owner’s instructions as far as potty training goes, but also make sure to:
- Puppies need a bathroom schedule. Take him outside as often as every hour during the day (depending on age). The general rule of thumb is that a puppy’s age in months is how many hours you can wait in between bathroom breaks (e.g., a 4 month old puppy should go out every 4 hours).
- Puppies should go out every time they eat and drink.
- Stock up on enzyme spray like Nature’s Miracle. It’s invaluable for cleaning up any accidents.
- Purchase potty pads. Many puppies are trained to use potty pads to make cleanup a breeze when they do need to go inside.
Practice Good Leash Manners
Many young puppies will pull on the leash, chew on the leash, or bounce around like a yo-yo. Every owner will work on training for this in a slightly different way, so you’ll want to follow whatever they do. Beyond that:
- Be prepared for puppies to try to pull, and if they get startled, possibly back out of their collar.
- Be extra vigilant when walking a dog who isn’t used to being on a leash yet.
- Be careful when introducing puppies to older dogs (and always supervise interactions) so puppies don’t have a bad experience with an older dog. Puppies go through crucial learning and fear periods, and the things they experience really affect them. Protect your Rover puppy and help them avoid a bad experience.
Get Ahead of Whining and Barking
Puppies do most of their communicating with barking or whining. Similar to human babies, it can indicate they’re hungry, thirsty, teething, need to use the bathroom, or simply feeling anxious or lonely. Here’s what you can do to keep your puppy client (and your ears) happy:
- Make sure puppies are fed on schedule and always have fresh water.
- Take them outside often.
- Give them lots of chew toys.
- Play, play, play! Exercise will help keep the puppy calm, occupied, and happy.
Taking care of puppies isn’t for everyone: It requires a lot of patience, time, and energy. But if you accept puppy clients, make sure you talk to their owner beforehand about how they’re training their pup to become a happy, well-adjusted dog. Sticking to their routine is number one, and putting our tips into practice will help you enjoy some well-deserved snuggle time after your puppy client tuckers out. Beyond that, we have one more request: Share your adorable puppy photos on Instagram!