You may hate to leave your pooch behind, but when you can hire a dog sitter, it takes some of the sting away. The first step is to find a good sitter, but your job's not done until you leave detailed instructions on what your dog requires in your absence.
Jot down any behavioral or temperament issues your dog may have. If your dog goes ballistic when she sees another dog while out on her walk, remind the sitter to keep a firm grip on the dog to avoid potential problems. If your dog is an escape artist and tries to bolt out the front door when you walk in, or otherwise craves the flavor of the mailman's pants, indicate so in your instructions. The sitter must be on guard.
Note the activity your dog requires, and how much time you want the sitter to spend at your house. Include how many times each day your dog needs to be walked, or how many times you usually throw the tennis ball before your dog gets pooped out.
Make a notation of what, when and how much to feed your dog and ask the dog sitter to strictly follow these directions. Inform the sitter of the food's location. Most dogs don't do well with changes in their diet, so now is not the time to overindulge with treats or switch food because you're feeling guilty. Keeping your dog's feeding routine regular can help the dog feel normal in your absence.
Include the dog's water-drinking habits on your list. If your dog has access to both indoors and out, ask the sitter to keep a bowl of fresh water in both locations.
List all equipment -- such as leashes, plastic bags and collar -- the sitter needs to care for your dog and where to find it. If the leash is hanging on a hook by the back door, for instance, remind the sitter to look there and to return it to the same place so that it's easy to find for the next walk.
Add a notation for any medication or supplements your dog requires and any health issues that may need more attention, such as a bandage that needs to be changed daily or a bladder infection that requires more frequent potty breaks. Be very specific in the exact dosage and the time of day the medication or supplements must be given. Instruct the sitter to keep them out of reach of the dog.
Note your dog's normal sleeping pattern and places. For example, if your dog is usually crated for the night after her last potty break, indicate what time she should be placed in the crate. If the dog normally sleeps on your bed or couch, let the sitter know that is acceptable so she doesn't remove the dog from her normal sleeping spot.
Add your contact information, including cellphone or email address and ask the sitter to call you with any questions. List your regular vet's phone number and address. Include a contact for an emergency veterinary hospital. It wouldn't hurt to also add the phone number of a familiar neighbor the sitter might call if there's a problem.
- Kansas State University: Tips for Choosing a Pet Sitter
- Pets, Part of the Family: The Total Care Guide for All the Pets in Your Life; Mark Bricklin