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How To Introduce Your Dog To A New Pet Sitter Or Boarding Facility

Dog walker sitting on bench and enjoying in park with dogs.

Consider the strong bond between you and your pet. You always relish each other’s company. But in times when you need to travel, be it for a business trip, holiday, or an emergency, you must leave your pet with someone else.

Of course, you may travel with your pet, like 78% of owners do, but certain circumstances may not allow it. The thought of leaving your furry friend behind can be stressful, and your pet may not be comfortable being with a stranger.

Thus, you have to find ways to ensure both you and your pet have a stress-free experience. This guide offers tips for travelling dog parents for a smooth introduction to a new sitter or boarding facility.

Know what your pet needs

Your pet’s personality is one of the most important considerations when choosing an appropriate sitting arrangement. If your furry friend easily adapts to new settings, leaving them with a new sitter will be easy. But if they’re typically nervous around strangers, you may need more time to familiarise them with the new environment.

Consider your pet’s exercise needs. For instance, a dog used to daily walks will need to maintain their routine. Don’t place them in a confined space when they’re used to a spacious environment, as it’ll be difficult for them to adapt to this new setting.

Other considerations include whether your pet is on a special diet and has behavioural issues, like aggressiveness or separation anxiety. List all their needs, and share this list with the new sitter. It helps them quickly understand your pet and offer the needed care. Scrutinise the sitter or boarding facility

Scrutinise the sitter or boarding facility

There are two main types of pet sitting: house sitting and pet boarding. House sitting can cost more but offers convenience. Pet boarding is cheaper but can stress out pets adjusting to a new environment.

So once you know your pet’s needs, assess various sitters and boarding facilities to determine who is the perfect match. It’s best not to rush this process, as you could end up with a sitter who may not be able to uphold your pet’s well-being. 

Your first port of call is the sitter’s credentials. They must be certified in pet care by renowned organisations. If it’s a boarding facility, ask for the licences. The documents ensure your pet will receive quality care.

Reputable pet sitters and boarders in the UK don’t need a license to work. They should however possess certain minimum certifications to ensure the best care for your pet. Look for the following certificates:

  • Canine First Aid Certificate: Ensure that the sitter or facility staff are trained in canine first aid. This ensures they can respond effectively to any medical emergencies.
  • Animal Behaviour and Handling Certifications: Look for certifications related to animal behaviour, training and handling. This ensures that the staff can handle your pet in a safe and caring manner.
  • Insurance Coverage: A reputable sitter or boarding facility should have liability insurance that covers any accidents or injuries that might occur while your pet is in their care.

Besides credentials, assess their reputation. You can tell how good they are through reviews by previous customers. A large number of positive feedback assures you that your pet is in safe hands. But if many customers lodge complaints against a certain facility, you’re better off avoiding them because you may also not like their services.

Check their availability. For instance, if you have a dog, you may need to have them accompanied for most of the day since dogs should not be left alone for more than six to eight hours during the day. Having a full-time pet sitter ensures your furry friend will be attended to when necessary and won’t get excessively bored while you’re away.

If you’re thinking about boarding, evaluate the cleanliness of the facility or the pet sitter’s house. Visit the sitter’s home or boarding facility and survey the environment. It should be well organised and pet-proofed. All surfaces should be sparkling clean. Leaving your pet with such a sitter ensures that your pet won’t contract illnesses. 

Meet the sitter in person

After shortlisting potential sitters and facilities, arrange an initial meeting. Remember to bring your pet with you. The meetup will give you an idea of how well the pet fits with the sitter.

Evaluate the pet sitter’s interaction with your pets, and discuss whether they can meet your expectations and attend to the special needs of your pet. They should approach your pets with kindness and compassion, and be able to handle any challenging situations calmly.

Be mindful as you walk into the facility. Check how the staff interact with your pet. They should be welcoming and caring. You and your pet should feel at home once you step in there.

The staff should also be attentive to your questions, providing accurate answers to all of them. They shouldn’t be dismissive and impatient with you. If they seem to be holding information from you, take it as a red flag.

Pack for your pet’s stay

If you’re opting for boarding, make sure that you pack essential items to ensure their comfort. Pack their favourite blanket and toys to the facility. Their familiarity with these items eases the transition, making them less nervous.

It also helps to share with the sitter your pet’s typical diet. Sudden changes in food may cause stomach upsets. Either bring enough supplies of the food they’re used to, or ask the sitter to source similar meals. If your pet has a health condition, include the medications they’re currently taking and instruct the sitter on their usage.

Introduce your pet gradually

Leaving your pet for several weeks or months isn’t advisable. But should you need to, consider a phased approach. The first visit should last just a few hours. Then increase the period of stay during the subsequent visits. If your pet copes well for two hours, five hours, then one full day, you can be sure they will be able to manage your absence for several days.

A gradual introduction makes your pet familiar with the new environment without being overwhelmed. It lessens separation anxiety and helps them slowly bond with the sitter. It helps to point out that separation anxiety also affects about 50% of pet owners. So this phased approach is also helpful to the pet parent.

Gradual introduction also allows the pet sitter to understand your pet’s behaviour and plan well for their stay. They can organise appropriate routines and purchase foods and toys to meet your pet’s needs.

How do you prepare your pet for a new sitter or boarding facility?

Introducing your pet to a new sitter or boarding facility takes adequate preparation. You don’t just wake up one day and hand them over. You risk subjecting your furry friend to undue stress and separation anxiety with this approach. The best way is to plan the transition over a considerable period, taking into account their diet, exercise routines, and other critical needs.

Now, we’d love to hear from you: How do you prepare your pet for a new sitter or boarding facility? Share your tips and experiences in the comments below!


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