What should I do when a client omits vital information regarding their dog and then become unresponsive when asking them about it? [closed]

asked 2017-01-08 10:48:33 -0600

I am currently boarding an English Bulldog/Pitbull mix puppy. First of all, I'm not so sure this dog is a puppy under 1 year. Secondly, the owner didn't even know that his dog had Pitbull in him and it certainly didn't say it on the dog's rover profile. I asked all the right questions at the Meet & Greet and the owners even said that they found me to be very experienced. Well, in my experience, I have yet to deal with a situation such as the one I am currently in.

I know that not all dogs are the same and I know that it's not always the dog's fault because being somewhere new can be quite stressful. I also understand that people don't always know every detail of their dog's personality, especially when it's a puppy or a dog you only recently adopted. However, that doesn't excuse the owners from their lack of honestly. Quite frankly, These owners don't even seem to care.

During the Meet & Greet, I asked if the dog barked often (they said he never barks.) I asked if he was a powerful chewer considering he's a powerful dog (they said he doesn't chew on stuff he shouldn't.) I also asked them to purchase a new harness for him since he wasn't wearing one. I told them I wasn't comfortable walking a dog without a harness, which they gladly agreed to, along with his crate. These questions, amongst many other questions, were asked. My paperwork (Pet info disclosure, owner contact form) was also handed to them for them to look over.

Now, I'm not one to discriminate against any breed of dog, but if you have a dog that can more than likely pull me down the street if he really wanted to, one would think you would make sure to be 100% honest about what you know about your dog's personality at home and away from home. This dog has been a complete handful since day one. The dog arrived on Thursday and it is now Sunday. I am at my wits end. I have tried my best to please this dog but, literally, nothing works. He is unruly, he bites, he barks incessantly, and he's already ruined a few things in my home (which, of course, rover's insurance doesn't cover.) When his owner dropped him off, he acted as though he couldn't get away from his dog quicker (which wasn't how he acted during the M&G; during our initial meeting he acted like any other concerned, loving pet parent.) The owner also took off his collar when he put the newly purchased harness on his dog and left the collar at home, preventing me from taking this dog on walks (I can't even take him to the dog park due to lack of collar and the fact ... (more)

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Closed for the following reason too subjective and argumentative by Kathryn L.
close date 2017-01-09 15:57:52.826160

6 Answers

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answered 2017-01-08 11:56:26 -0600

Wow with a novella it's hard to read between the lines and determine what your issues are?

So the dog isn't the dog you thought you were getting, this does happen often? He's very active and barks, and it a big chewer, nips, and slobbers when he drinks. Most of this is very typical young dog behavior, you aren't prepared or have all the skills you need. The owner didn't provide a collar but did provide a harness, you should be able to walk him? You should have extra collars and supplies to care for your clients? You mention wanting to take him to a dog park, Rover recommends you never do this, and any accident will not be covered by the insurance.

I looked at your profile and you appear to be a relatively new sitter with only a few reviews and a few clients. I'm sorry I'm being negative vs supportive, but you should really need to be better prepared and more educated on dog behavior. Probably young dogs are not ones you consider caring for in the future.

I do wish you success and I am sorry you have had a difficult time with this client, hopefully your future booking will be more satisfactory to you.

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I appreciate your response, however, I do not think you fully understand the depth of my situation. Though, yes, my Rover profile was started in 2014, I have been caring for dogs for 16+ years outside of this website.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 03:33:42 -0600 ) edit

The issue is not my "lack of being prepared" nor is it that I am not "more educated on dog behavior." The client was told during the Meet & Greet that the dog must arrive with a collar and proper I.D. tags as well as a harness; they were also asked to bring a crate.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 03:36:24 -0600 ) edit

They were also given paperwork to be filled out and returned at drop-off. The information on my paperwork is also asked at the Meet & Greet in advance. One of the first questions I always ask involves how the dog behaves around small animals.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 03:38:41 -0600 ) edit

I also always make sure to ask if the dog has ever barked or has tendencies to bark. As I stated, originally, I understand fully that certain behaviors may arise due to anxiety or newness or what-have-you, but this is beyond what I had expected.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 03:42:16 -0600 ) edit

The owners told me at the Meet & Greet that their dog was playful aggressive. I asked them if he ever bit anyone or another animal and they said no. I then proceeded to walk the dog to make sure that would be a good fit as well. He definitely pulled, but I was plenty capable of handling him.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 03:44:05 -0600 ) edit

He was also perfectly fine with all of the sights around him. I walked him away from his parents, and he was still perfectly fine. Everything about the dog, outside of playful aggressive (and the dog's actual breed) seemed like it would work out.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 03:46:22 -0600 ) edit

Unfortunately, I was not able to hold the meeting inside of my home since the meeting was on December 23rd and I had a guest dog and my brother's dog (both puppies) staying with me over the Christmas holiday, therefore the meeting was held in the park across from my home.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 03:47:57 -0600 ) edit

Many questions were asked and they answered everything to my liking. Everything seemed to fit. My parents, who I had to move back in with since I have returned to school, were also agreeable with the stay. The dog we received on Thursday was not the dog that I had met; he was far more unruly.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 03:50:08 -0600 ) edit

Also, the client was in a complete rush to leave (even though it was the first time he was seeing the inside of my home where his dog would be staying.)

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 03:52:18 -0600 ) edit

The paperwork that was filled out was left half blank and all the boxes that basically state that their dog has bitten other people and animals (which should have been left unchecked considering their answers during the Meet & Greet) were all checked off.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 03:54:12 -0600 ) edit

The dog arrived with ratty, broken toys and was without his collar and I.D. tags. I'm sorry, but it is not the duty of the sitter to have a collar to fit every size of dog on the planet. It's fine to have back-ups of harnesses and things, but it is the owner's responsibility to bring their own.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 03:56:01 -0600 ) edit

Also, the only time a client's dog ever goes to a dog park is if the client allows it or requests it and I keep serious supervision on each guest dog I take. If I feel a guest dog is becoming too rowdy with the other dogs, I remove him from the area and take him on a leashed walk around the park.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 03:58:15 -0600 ) edit

Also, certain guest dogs are never taken depending upon their personality or size (toy dogs and other smaller breeds would not be a good fit at this park, it is meant for medium to extra large dogs.)

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:00:18 -0600 ) edit

As for claiming I am "unprepared" for his behavioral issues, I assure you this is not the case. I have Nylabones at the ready (he can't play with the other toys because he will destroy them all I cannot afford that large expense to replace them all.)

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:02:20 -0600 ) edit

This dog, however, shows no interest in the Nylabones and he gets bored after about 10 minutes of tug of war. He prefers to chew on everything that he shouldn't. He also barks too frequently for the likings of my neighbors, and my sleeping habits, which is part of the reason why I am up at 5:05am.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:06:29 -0600 ) edit

He doesn't know any commands, and training him has been a serious struggle due to the fact that this particular breed is naturally a difficult to train breed. Especially if you don't start early enough.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:07:45 -0600 ) edit

This particular breed needs to start training in the beginning months of their lives. If left untrained for too long, it will become far more difficult to start training. And without proper motivation, it will be difficult for any owner to train this breed. This dog knows he can overpower everyone.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:10:16 -0600 ) edit

Also, this booking is until the 12th. Which is why I originally asked what my next steps should be because my mother is becoming quite upset due to this dog constantly jumping on her to hump her or attempt to nip at her. We have dealt with pitbulls and pitbull mixes before, but never one like this.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:13:46 -0600 ) edit

I already know that none of this is the dog's fault. It is very kind of you to think that you are just helping someone who you think doesn't know what they are doing, but you would do well to remember that you do not know me, nor my background with animals and it is quite rude to make assumptions.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:17:26 -0600 ) edit

Lastly, to quote you, Mr. G.: "Some dogs are just a certain way, and no change in environment will ever change them." Perhaps this is exactly what I am currently dealing with.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 05:01:43 -0600 ) edit
answered 2017-01-08 12:17:45 -0600

That was an exhausting read.
Sounds like a puppy or young, exuberant dog under three. Sounds like he's having the time of his life. New things to chew, smell. New people (so exciting).

It also sounds like having, essentially a young, strong, energetic puppy stay in a home with elderly people was probably not the best mix.

The stay is almost over. Do your best to make it a positive experience for everyone. Never scold a dog for being a dog but praise him for when he does something that you like. It will give him an idea of expectations.

Gear issues? Lesson learned. Always have backup. Things happen. If it were a different dog with a proper harness and it got caught on something and ripped, you would need a backup anyway. Kennels have backups and this is our business, so we need to be just as prepared.

As for the owners, be gracious. Always leave the situation on your best foot and simply don't take a rebook (if they would re-request you).

In the end, it sounds like a poor fit. Hopefully it gets better.

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Sorry for the novel, but I had a lot on my mind. My parents are quite capable of handling an energetic, strong puppy. This dog is Hercules strong. He didn't act this jump and crazy when I met him on our Meet & Greet.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 05:13:56 -0600 ) edit

Thank you for your advice, but I have been doing everything I can already to make this a positive stay for everyone.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 05:16:43 -0600 ) edit

Also, I find it absolutely insulting that you felt the need to tell me to never scold a dog. This is my career, dear. I am currently back in school taking medical classes in preparation to begin four year college again for pre-veterinary sciences.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 05:17:58 -0600 ) edit

Not to mention I have been caring for animals for 16+ years of my life. It should also have been obvious, considering the demeanor I relayed in my original message, that I have been continuing to act as a gracious host and obviously have no intention of rebooking with this client.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 05:20:01 -0600 ) edit

I see nothing wrong with verbally scolding a dog with, "No!" or, "Bad dog!" Even time-out for a few minutes is necessary. The dog you're watching sounds badly bred, or lacking discipline. And it isn't cute, I know. You've been too gracious, actually!

Sara R.'s profile image Sara R.  ( 2017-01-09 08:55:20 -0600 ) edit

Thanks, Sara. I actually happen to find him quite adorable, though. I don't know why, but I've always found some of the "ugly dogs" to be far more adorable. haha. Also, yes, this dog is severely lacking discipline. Training him has been an extremely slow and headache worthy process.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 10:58:55 -0600 ) edit

The most I have been able to accomplish with him is that he has gotten better with "sit" and I've discovered that he listens to "don't jump" with a no-no style finger pointed out at him, but only occasionally. It doesn't work every time. It does work every time going up and down the stairs, though.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 11:00:07 -0600 ) edit

There is nothing wrong in telling a dog NO. Dogs are a whole different species, if they are going to live with us in our homes they need to know the rules. Shelters are filled with dogs that are 6 months to 2 years because of bad behavior not overpopulation.

Joanne T.'s profile image Joanne T.  ( 2017-01-09 13:54:41 -0600 ) edit

If a dog is not 100% supervised (especially one you don't really know) it should be crated or have it's leash attached to yourself. A toddler would not be allowed unsupervised free range of the house and the same safety measures apply to dogs. Dogs need to learn calm and not be constantly amped up.

Joanne T.'s profile image Joanne T.  ( 2017-01-09 14:12:12 -0600 ) edit

No one said not to tell him 'no'. It was stated not to reprimand him for typical dogginess (drooling, for example). This is a forum and advice was asked. Don't ask if you aren't willing to hear suggestions.

Moureene T.'s profile image Moureene T.  ( 2017-01-09 14:40:59 -0600 ) edit
answered 2017-01-08 12:09:29 -0600

What a horrible stay! Impressive that you and your family almost made it through the entire stay. If I had been in your situation, I would have contacted Rover days ago to transfer the stay to someone else (injury to senior and furry family members is Not acceptable& complete deal breakers). At this point, since there's only 1 day left, I'd suggest trying to stick it out, using a crate or gate fencing as needed (especially to prepare food/water and set it down and having puppy wait as well as safety and well-being of your family). I'd contact Rover though and ask if there's a sitter/walker near you, who would be prepared for the challenge of walking this puppy during this final stretch. Some walkers may have extra harnesses that they could use and be more prepared for the experience of walking an aggressive dog who has attacked people & animals. Of course, it sounds like in the future, you'll review your forms with all of your needed screening information much sooner before booking a stay to ensure the right fit. It may mean you don't take puppies, don't take aggressive dogs, or ask specific questions during the m&g re. specific reactions /behaviors to pets such as cats&bunnies or other humans, and discuss who else lives in the home (and even include them in the m&g).

When you talk with the owner, I'd suggest recommending a house sitter who has training experience with helping dogs with this type of history, may be the best match for this puppy in the future, so he can stay in his own home. You can present him with photos of damage done to further support that explanation, but understand that the owner may not offer anything.

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I actually have this dog until the 12th. One of the owners will be arriving back home on Monday, which is why I asked them if they could pick him up two days earlier than initially planned, just to reduce the stress that had been placed on my mother. They have yet to give a reply on this matter.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:20:36 -0600 ) edit

Also, with this dog, I have had to use all three of my pet gates and the crate provided by his owner religiously. This dog, if left unattended will go the bathroom all throughout the house and also chew on a lot of household items (most recent was my phone) so I have had to keep him in a crate...

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:22:49 -0600 ) edit

...at night and occasionally during the day if I have to run an errand or take a shower. I have yet to build an arsenal of my own harnesses, which is why I insist that owners bring their own (honestly I'd insist regardless). This dog would chew through every last one of them if I owned them.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:24:58 -0600 ) edit

As for checking my paperwork, I tried to do it while the client was still in my home, but he was in such a hurry to leave, I couldn't keep him. Next time, I'll have to insist upon it, because what this client told me at the Meet & Greet and what was on their paperwork didn't match up...

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:27:10 -0600 ) edit

and they are the same questions.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:27:30 -0600 ) edit

Also, I am not looking for monetary reimbursement for the damage done by this dog. I don't even care about that. What I care about are the pieces of vital information that were kept from me. Clients need to be as honest and candid as possible for them to find the best sitter and vice versa.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:30:45 -0600 ) edit

Oh yea, and he knocks the gate to my kitchen down every time he hears the water running or his food being prepared. That's how strong this dog is.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 04:42:32 -0600 ) edit

And believe me, I will definitely be recommending a behaviorist/trainer, a lead for their leash, a different harness, and that they do a complete update of their dog's Rover profile.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 05:07:11 -0600 ) edit

And I'm going to recommend that next time they need a sitter, they send their dog to a home w/o other pets and maybe stairs (he likes to run and jump on you while you're on them.) They don't seem like the type to be ok with someone staying in their home, but I'll throw that suggestion out as well.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 05:08:33 -0600 ) edit
answered 2017-01-08 13:10:58 -0600

Hi Leslie - Consider it an experience and lesson learned for future sits. Use it as a guide as to what would be a good fit and what Not to take for a sit. I gradually bought no pull and regular harnesses of various sizes. It did take time to build up my "tool box" of harnesses, leashes and toys. I harness ALL my pups when out for a walk even if the customer doesn't use or bring one. I do tell them during the meet & greet ALL my pups are harnessed on walks and I do NOT use flex leashes! I also give them a sheet with detailed information regarding crates, harnesses, etc. they need to bring. The day before they come I follow up with a reminder of what to bring. You can deduct the supplies as a business expense. Just start with one or two of the size of dogs you usually sit. I would also suggest to lower the size and weight of dogs you sit. But, even small young puppy stage - over 1 year - dogs can be quite hyper. I have also had pups I was told they were "yappie" or bark a lot and vise versa. I have found that what the pups do at home are Not what they do in my home. I suggest watching training videos and/or reading up on a lot of training tips. There are plenty of info and tips on pinterest. Even as a pet sitter and not a trainer, you still need to know how to handle situations and issues that arise. If you still do want to sit large dogs, make sure they bring a harness (and crate). During the meet & greet take them on a walk with the owner. Some of my customers do bring large/extra large crates for for their more active pups. Normally I prefer not to crate but they are Great during feeding times. They can see each other and not worry about potential food aggression. I also use gates to divide rooms and the pups can still see each other. I wouldn't recommend taking that pup again because it isn't a good fit for you. I wish you the best.

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I tell my clients the same thing! No flex leashes and they have to wear a harness and all of this is told at the Meet & Greet. I also tell the owners that their dog must have a collar with proper I.D. tags and any veterinary tags they may have. I also do a follow up reminder the day before each stay

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 05:28:07 -0600 ) edit

Believe me, I am way ahead of you. The first thing I did was change the weight limit for the dogs in can sit in my home. I am also no longer taking puppies under 1 year. I enjoy having a nice home for my clients to come into and their pets to stay in, so I needed to put an age limit down.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 05:29:56 -0600 ) edit

I've dealt with many a hyper pup, that's not the issue. The issue is that this dog is excessively hyper 24/7. And he just won't stop barking (my house is a row-home so I have neighbors whose walls connect to mine.) Plus, he refuses to play with his own toys nor the ones I've provided.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 05:32:56 -0600 ) edit

This dog prefers to chew on shoes, pillows, utensils (don't worry, he's never gotten one from me, he just goes after them), tablecloths, clothes, etc. Everything but the toys and Nylabones.

Leslie S.'s profile image Leslie S.  ( 2017-01-09 05:34:29 -0600 ) edit
answered 2017-01-09 14:37:19 -0600

I realize the client brought you the dog for boarding not training ( which is their responsibility ) but there are a few simple things you can do to set some rules. Some dogs have just never been told no. A dog should be told no for excessive barking. They should be corrected when they very first start up before they get so worked up they no longer hear you. I also agree with your NO flexi leashes. Dog parks are not a good place to take your own dogs let alone a clients dog that you don't really know. For one, you don't know what kind of diseases or parasites you are exposing them to. Also most of the other owners are standing around staring at a cell phone and not paying attention to their "friendly" dog. There may possible be a good play group going but as soon as some dogs leave and others enter the whole dynamic changes. The dogs are constantly hyped up and that is when they make wrong decisions and bad things happen.

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answered 2017-01-09 15:57:23 -0600

Hello everyone! The Rover team is working with Leslie, and in the meantime, I'm going to close this thread. Thanks for your participation in the Q&A Community!

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