8 Sacrifices Your Dog Sitter Makes for Your Dog

I've been a dog sitter for two years, and I love my job -- but let me tell you, it's not easy.

Wendy Newell  |  Oct 20th 2014


Many dog owners are hesitant to board their dog in a kennel. This is especially true for dogs who need extra care, those dogs with separation anxiety and the dogs who need constant activity or just a human to lie on. Luckily, for these owners, there are more options than ever to find a reliable and personable dog sitter. Sites such as DogVacay.com and Rover.com are two that provide a forum for dogs to be matched to their perfect sitters. What that means for you is peace of mind. What that means for your dog is a more fun-filled vacation.

What does that mean for your sitter? I’ve been a dog sitter for almost two years, and I can tell you that a good sitter gives her heart and soul to caring for your pet.

Here are just a few things, pulled from my personal experience, that you may not know your sitter is sacrificing for your baby while you are out sightseeing or lounging by the pool:

1. Physical health

I’m covered in bruises and scratches. I’ve held onto a collar with a Hulk-like grip and had my arm twisted around just to keep a dog from escaping. I’ve fallen so many times while hiking with the dogs I can’t keep track. I’ve broken up dog fights with my own body (I don’t suggest you do this). I’ve been a chew toy for puppies and have paw-sized bruises on my torso, arms and legs from being stepped on.

I now have what I call “dog walking shoulder,” which flares up now and then and I’m “forced” to down ibuprofen with a good cabernet (I don’t suggest you do this either). I look like I’ve been through dog war and I didn’t win the fight.

2. Sound sleep

I’ve slept sideways, diagonally, and at the foot of my own bed so the dogs can be comfy. I’ve slept on the sofa and on the floor. I’ve not slept because a dog was sick or I’ve slept with a dog head in a cone on my chest. I’ve curled up in a dog bed next to an uneasy dog. I’ve slept with dogs pushing me off the bed, dogs sharing my pillow, dogs on my head, dogs on my legs, dogs on my stomach.

I once didn’t sleep for more than 24 hours while searching for a runaway dog (it was only after the happy ending that the owners informed he was a flight risk). A full good night’s sleep is a distant memory.

3. Mental and physical energy

A pooped dog is a happy dog. That means a lot of dog-related activity.

I take the dogs out on an adventure every day. That usually means we hit the SoCal hiking trails. Sure, you may think this sounds like a blast, and it is — but it is also exhausting. Try climbing or being pulled up a hill or down a path EVERY DAY for approximately two hours a day, seven days a week. No weekend breaks. I have horrible tan lines.

4. A clean environment

I am CONSTANTLY cleaning. CONSTANTLY. I guarantee I’ve cleaned my carpet, floor boards (how do the floor boards get so filthy), walls (dog height), and linens more than anyone else you know. My car is covered in muddy paw prints and smears from dog noses. Filth is everywhere.

5. Human first-aid materials

There is no such thing as human first aid materials at my house. If it is good enough for your dog it’s good enough for me. I’ve sprayed dog wound medicine on my nephew’s forehead. I own dog bandages and yes, I have used them on myself. If your dog is hurt or not feeling well I do everything I can to help. I’ve picked up dogs from ERs in the middle of the night. I’ve woken up every X number of hours to administer pills. I’ve taken doggie first aid and carry emergency supplies everywhere the dogs and I go. If you are on a hike and need some Benadryl, give a holla. I got your back.

6. A nice-smelling house

I’ve purchased enough scented candles to make Target’s checkers curious about what is happening in my house. Scented candles cover the smell of wet dog and pee (and wet pee when I clean my carpet).

7. Money

Poop bags, poop bag holders, non-retractable leashes, treats, more poop bags, food, tank tops (I’ve had a number ruined by dogs jumping or eating them), underwear (if you own a dog you know why), more poop bags, pee pads, dog beds, dog tags with my info on them, dog deterrent, dog car restraints, and so much more. I can almost guarantee you did not bring enough of most of these items. Did I mention poop bags?

8. Sanity

Who gets the fish protein food and who gets the one in the giant tub? Luna can’t have red meat protein, while Romeo can only eat his food and treats. Clover is a puller so swap out her walking halter for one of Riggins’ no-pull harnesses. Shadow has the short green/read leash while Hanna’s is pink and green (she has two). Lulu has to be held tight around men running or she may try to eat them. Lousy is protective of my human bed. I have labels and a whiteboard and it’s still hard for me to keep everything straight!

A dog sitter’s job is 24/7. There are no breaks. There are no weekends … and did I mention the bruises? Your dog sitter doesn’t just love dogs. She loves YOUR dog.

Next time you drop off your dog, let the sitter know you appreciate all he or she does to keep your dog happy and safe. If I’m your dog sitter, feel free to bring a bottle of wine as a tip!

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ENDBLURB FROM WENDY TKTKTK.