Looking for a dog sitter during the holidays? Here are some tips, and a #Rover.com deal too!

If you need a pet sitter for the upcoming holidays, Rover.com has a special Groupon deal for either $25 for $60 worth of home dog boarding, or $45 for $120 worth of home dog boarding (prices range from $10 to $75 per night) between December 5-9, 2013. Never used a sitter before and need some tips? Not sure where to start? Keep reading!

Do you travel for the holidays? Are you able to take your dogs along? Although we love to travel with our canine companions, oftentimes travel can be stressful (for you and the dogs!) or not practical (for example, if you’re taking a flight). So you may find yourself in the market for a pet sitter. It’s much easier to find a good and safe place for your dog to stay over the holiday season, thanks to the internet.

As with most things, you need to carefully consider who cares for your dog, and where they stay when you’re out of town. A kennel environment is often quite stressful, and can cause some dogs to shut down. The sights, sounds, and smells are very unusual to your dog, and many dogs (particularly sensitive, fearful types) simply cannot handle this kind of environment. A kennel is simply not an option for those of us with fearful dogs, so a pet sitter in a home environment for your dog is a great advantage to their overall well being while you are away!

Finding a great pet sitter

rovercomStart off with a local search on Rover.com, where you can locate many great potential leads. The pet sitters are located in cities across the USA, and you can search for sitters to care for your dogs in their home or your home. A quick search in my local area turned up a long list of options.

For peace of mind, for both you and the sitter, discuss your dog’s behavior, needs, and confirm your vacation dates so there are no surprises when you drop your dog off on day one. Ask if you can do a meet and greet in their home so you can see exactly where your dog will stay, and introduce your dogs to dogs your sitter may have (if they will be living together while you are away). This will help you both identify any potential issues, or whether your dogs will need their own room or area in the sitters home. You also get to see how the potential sitter interacts with your dog, helping you make a good match for your dog.

Make sure you brainstorm and discuss any known issues your dog has in the home or on walks. Is he afraid of men with sunglasses? Does she dislike children? Does your dog have separation anxiety in the home? Can your dog handle a crate? Whatever it may be, any behavioral traits are great things to discuss with your sitter, to make their job easier and a provide smooth transition for your dog into their home away from home. Also, if your dog has any special requirements regarding their health (medications), behavior (such as fear, door dashing, separation anxiety, barking), diet (such as raw), concerns (such as chewing or eating inappropriate items!) this is a perfect time to provide information and ask questions.

You may want to consider additional questions, such as the following:

  1. Where will your dog spend most of his or her time during the day? At night?
  2. How often is your sitter in the home supervising the dogs? Where do they go when your sitter leaves the home?
  3. Who else (humans and animals) will be regularly interacting with your dog?
  4. How often will my dog be walked and/or exercised? What kind of exercise, where, and by whom? (If you have concerns about dog parks, this is a great time to discuss them!)
  5. When your sitter leaves the home, will all of the dogs have full access to the house? Will your dogs and their dogs be separated, or can they be separated?
  6. If your sitter has dogs, will your dogs have their own area to take a “break” in, if needed?
  7. If your dog has special needs, does your sitter have experience in whatever this might be (fear? medical issue?) If not, chat with them about it and oftentimes an experienced sitter will understand and be able to meet the needs of your pet.
  8. If your sitter has an emergency, what plans are in place for the dogs in his or her care?
  9. Does the sitter send updates about your dog’s stay? How often?

It’s also a good idea to talk about how the sitter trains their dogs. Do they use punishment? Will they punish your dog? It a good idea to find a sitter that shares your views and values for training and positive reinforcement, even if they don’t plan to do any training or reinforcing while you’re away. You will probably learn a lot by watching how the sitter interacts with their dogs, and yours.

These are a few ideas, but make sure you brainstorm with your dog and your home in mind. It’s better to ask too much rather than too little! But remember, regarding environment: most dogs are pretty resilient and settle in quite quickly to a new setting, especially a home setting (as opposed to a kennel!) as long as there is kindness and love. And the next time you go away, the transition is even quicker and easier.

Packing for your dog

Obviously you will need to pack the essentials, such as food, any medications, leash and collar, bedding, or special toys.

You will probably also want to pack:

  1. Emergency contact information (your cell, your hotel, and a trusted local contact)
  2. Veterinary hospital contact information (make sure they have all of your dog’s records if you use more than one vet)
  3. Information about your regular routine, and reminders regarding any special medications, dietary restrictions, behavior or training routines, or other concerns (such as: chewer – no soft toys!)
  4. Extra leash and collar in case of loss/damage
  5. If it might get cold, and your dog needs it, a coat or sweater (or booties if there’s snow/ice/salt).
  6. Collar tag with your sitter’s name and number (if something happens, your sitter can resolve/pick-up the quickest)

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And keep a list of what you send along with your dog that needs to be returned, so you don’t have to try and remember what you sent with your dog when you get back.

Save some money this season!

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Rover.com is a free service that lets you connect with dog sitters in your area, helping you find a comfortable home for your dog to stay while you travel. Your dogs get a cage-free loving home to crash in that’s affordable and safe.

Rover.com’s special Groupon deal is for either $25 for $60 worth of home dog boarding, or $45 for $120 worth of home dog boarding (prices range from $10 to $75 per night) between December 5-9, 2013. It is good for pet sitters anywhere in the USA. Check out Rover.com to browse local dog sitters in your area, and Groupon for more information about the deal. Rover.com also offers a Peace of Mind protection service to cover emergency veterinary care up to $2000. For more information on the service, see their FAQ or How it Works sections. A great feature on Rover.com is that you can search for sitters with dogs, or without dogs (or all of them combined). Especially helpful if you have a dog who needs some space. Not only that, but you can search for dog sitters who care for your dog(s) in your own home.

Head over to the Rover.com Groupon Deal for more information on the offer and Rover.com service.

Follow Rover.com on Facebook and Twitter for more info, and future deals.

Note: I have written this post for Rover.com. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about this pet sitting service, but DOGthusiast.com only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers.

What tips do you have? Any other items you would pack for your dog? Let us know in the comments!

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Jen deHaan

Jen deHaan is an animal advocate, volunteer, and dog person living in Bay Area, California. She likes to support local and national efforts for animal welfare and advocacy. Jen enjoys learning about dog training and behavior, and has taken several courses and seminars since 2010. It all started with a great dog called Mikey (aka "dude"), loved and lost but remembered forever.

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4 Responses

  1. Samantha Wilson says:

    I like these tips! I checked out the Groupon and think I’ll get it since we need to go away this Christmas and there a bunch of sitters in my area. My dog has a bad skin condition from food allergies he has we’re trying to work out the post has given me alot to think about. I hope that a sitter will be OK with his problem

    • Jen deHaan says:

      Thank you for your comment! Best of luck interviewing the sitters, I reckon that you will be able to find someone experienced enough to help your dog while you are away with the allergy issue. Have a safe trip!

  2. peggyfrezon says:

    Hi Jen! I’m popping over to let you know that you won the My Dog Ate It dog treats on my blog. Just send an email with your mailing information to peggyfrezon (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks for visiting, and congratulations!

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