I Think Dog-Sharing Apps Are Dangerous


I must live under a rock, because I had no idea that dog sharing was a thing. It is! It’s a worldwide thing, and people actually use apps that facilitate the process. PEOPLE ACTUALLY SHARE THEIR PET WITH STRANGERS. It’s weird, I don’t like it, and I don’t understand why people do it.

Let me come clean. I’m a dog sitter through DogVacay.com. Some consider DogVacay and competitor Rover.com to be “dog-sharing” companies. I disagree, and not only because I made a majority of my 2015 income through the site (which I know for a fact because it’s tax season; I’m ignoring that 1099 sitting on my desk as I type this).

Walking a few clients with my dog, Riggins, leading the way (all pictures by Wendy Newell)
Walking a few clients with my dog, Riggins, leading the way. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

I think DogVacay and Rover are more like the Airbnb of dog sitting. Unlike those in dog-sharing relationships, people who use these two sites pay for a service being provided. I know many of the dog sitters on these sites, and I consider them sitters and not “dog borrowers.” If you called me a dog borrower, I’d probably laugh so hard I’d be in danger of choking on my own spit.

I feel like my experience as a professional dog sitter makes me an even tougher critic of dog-sharing situations — although don’t get me wrong, even if I had zero experience with my current career I would tell you people who share their dog with strangers have lost their marbles.

I’m a good dog sitter. Nah, a great dog sitter. I know what it takes to do a good job watching someone else’s baby. Would someone you don’t know, whom you find online or through an app, put your dog’s life before her own by throwing her body into oncoming traffic? Would that person slide down a slippery rock formation into a pool of gross stagnant water to push your baby back up to safety? Would that person react levelheaded when she came home and saw family pictures shredded? I’ve done all these things and more.

Sharing my bed with one of my close sleeping clients the well named Shadow.
Sharing my bed with one of my close-sleeping clients, the well-named Shadow. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Also, I recently lost a dog. It was horrible, and I spent five days with minimal sleep walking my neighborhood, rallying help from friends, printing and posting signs, and doing absolutely everything humanly possible to get the lost dog home safe. Would someone sharing your dog do that?

If you answered no or “I’m not sure” to any of these questions, YOU SHOULDN’T BE USING A DOG-SHARING PROGRAM.

My busted finger from saving a dog while on a hike.
My busted finger from saving a dog while on a hike. You can also see part of a scar from a dog bite. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
This is the bruise you get when a dog grabs on and starts humping -- hard.
This is the bruise you get when a dog grabs on and starts humping — hard. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

As confused as I am by the dog owners who do this, I’m absolutely baffled by the “borrowers.” Who are these people? Most of the services suggest that these are dog people who for one reason or another can’t have a dog. Perhaps they can’t afford one, their living situation or work life doesn’t allow for it, or they simply can’t commit to the 15 or so years required.

I love almost every single one of my clients, but I will admit that if I wasn’t getting paid I wouldn’t be doing it. Sure, I have friends whose dogs I will watch, but these are dogs I have known for most of their little doggie lives. Even now I ask these friends to pay through my DogVacay site so their dogs are covered under the insurance the company provides.

I didn't really want those shoes.
I didn’t really want those shoes. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
I guess I didn't want these shoes either.
I guess I didn’t want these shoes either. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Which takes me to another point. SOME DOG-SHARING COMPANIES DON’T OFFER INSURANCE. If your dog sitter, dog daycare provider, and/or random person who wants to share your dog doesn’t have insurance, you need to run, not walk, away with your dog in tow.

Part Time Pooch, a dog-sharing company in Canada, tackles questions about safety on its website by saying, “When you select the dog-lover to care for your furry friend, both parties agree to terms they are comfortable with. Discuss this openly when you connect.” It does recommend users get their own insurance, but does not require them to do so.

I had JUST cleaned the carpet.
I had JUST cleaned the carpet. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

To their credit, Borrow My Doggie out of the UK and Bark ‘N’ Borrow in Los Angeles both offer insurance for their members, as do Wag.com, Rover.com, and DogVacay.com, if you want to throw them into the mix.

My favorite thing about Borrow My Doggie is that owners AND borrowers pay a monthly fee. That’s right. You read that correctly. People in the UK are paying money to watch someone else’s dog. The lunacy of the whole thing is awesome. It’s like an SNL skit that got scrapped because it was too unbelievable.

It's a dirty job. Riggins and me mid dog hike.
It’s a dirty job. Riggins and me, mid-hike. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Watching someone else’s dog is not easy. It’s stressful, exhausting, and sometimes even painful. Dog parents don’t often tell you everything you need to know to keep their pup safe, and it is only my experience and a dash of common sense that keep these troublemakers alive and well for their parents to pick up after their vacation or workday.

Someone you find on a dog sharing site, however, typically isn’t going to be professional dog sitter. My dog is my life and my love. I will not put his safety in the hands of a stranger I found online, through social media, or via a mobile app. I hope you use the same caution when looking for a place to leave your furry babies.

What do you think of dog sharing? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

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