Puppy Sitting 101

Our home population has grown exponentially this week with the addition of one house guest - a tiny Dachshund named Tootsie. Now remember, my girls are getting up in years, so adding a year-old energy ball to the home dynamic has been interesting.

We've puppy-sat for other friends before, so the opportunity seemed wonderful. And she is a cutie. She loves cuddles, she'll play endlessly and if we needed one, she'd be a great watch dog.

However, she is definitely a puppy. We're having to readjust to housebreaking, chewing on things that aren't chew toys and bursts of pent-up energy. She doesn't quite understand that she can do her business outside while she's running in circles barking.

The girls, especially the cat, are adjusting very slowly to our guest. Cay has spent most of her time on a dining room chair, well out of reach of teeth and claws. Every now and then I'll hear a distinct hiss of anger, and then a little yelp to let me know she's taking care of herself.

If you're ever thinking of pet sitting for someone, friend or not, please take a few things into consideration:

Never feel obligated to keep an animal that doesn't get along with yours. Our four are fairly friendly now, but if there is any fighting, barking or bloodshed, reconsider the offer.

Make sure they come with everything they'll need for the visit. Tootsie came to our house with all the food and toys she'll need. There should be no reason for you to buy anything unless there's an emergency or something runs out.

Fit the new guest into your schedule, don't try to make a new one to suit them. Remember that this is your home, not this animal's. We have a routine in place that makes us comfortable, so Tootsie has had to adjust to us. Yes, we're taking more walks and we've been spending more time outside to get her schedule regulated, but it's still our routine. The whole idea is to provide a temporary home, not turn yours upside down.

Know when it's time to send her home. While we've thoroughly enjoyed having her in in our home, it's very soon going to be time for Tootsie to go. We're learning that we're not in puppy mode right now, and our schedules aren't flexible enough to have four animals in the house. If you get to the point where you're feeling overwhelmed or there are behavior problems that you just can't tackle right now, end the visit and let her reunite with her family. If you're all anxious and the house is getting out of control, it's OK to say that's enough. Your sanity is probably more important, right?

There are so many things about pet-sitting that are a blessing - we've gotten to spend time with a sweet little dog, our girls have had a chance to practice their manners and hostessing skills, and we've been able to help some friends from church. The next time, though, we'll have to make sure that the match with our girls is a little better. Now...I think we're all off for a nap!


  1. I'm sure it's been a trying time but that picture of the dogs all lined up sleeping on their pallets is PRICELESS!


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