For the next 3 weeks Mr K and I will be hosting this bouncing 2 year old Labrador, and I wanted to share a few thoughts on how we have made our house comfortable, safe and convenient for dog sitting. It’s not as easy as opening up your hearts, but the good news is it’s great fun and very rewarding!
If you’re thinking about getting a dog, minding a dog or perhaps joining Borrow My Doggy, keep reading to see how we dog-proofed our home and minds.
1. Establish Boundaries
This is literally the most important thing when you have a dog. Physical and behavioural boundaries are essential to give the dog consistency, which encourages a them to settle in. Decide which rooms they will be allowed in and whether they’ll be allowed on furniture. If you’re dog sitting, then these are things you can confirm with the pooch’s parents. For example, our Labrador lodger sleeps in the kitchen, doesn’t get on sofas and rarely goes upstairs.
Behavioural boundaries are just as important – for example barking, begging at the table and pulling on a lead among other things can prove troublesome. Chat with the owner about these things first and be ready to brave doggy kisses, early-morning walkies wake-ups and excessive moulting. Forewarned is fore-armed, and if any of this is stuff you just cannot handle, then don’t make the commitment!
2.Routine is King
Dogs need structure to feel comfortable. Wherever possible, mirror his schedule in your home to his regular routine – walkies, bedtime and mealtimes should be as close to usual as possible. They can get pretty uncomfortable when their surroundings, companions and routine all change at once, so don’t be surprised if your visitor doesn’t settle in immediately. When you’ve got a schedule, stick with it – you’ll find it’s well received!
You’re a grown up, so you should be tidy anyway, but when you’re hosting a dog it’s super important for yourself, your dog, their owners and all of your belongings. A nervous/bored/unsettled dog can start to deal with their frustration by chewing or eating things they normally wouldn’t. Move small edible things and anything you don’t want covering with saliva. If you’re allowing the dog into bedrooms or on sofas I’d also recommend inexpensive throws and bedding to protect your “good stuff”.
Dogs read your body language like absolute pros. It might feel silly at first, but ask any dog owner and you’ll find they have conversations with their dogs. Treat them as a welcome member of your “pack” and they’ll settle in much faster – providing you show them they aren’t pack leader. Firm instructions like “no” and “sit” usually work for this, but don’t be mean. Dogs are generally very social animals, but when you first introduce your 4-legged-friend to your home, let them adjust and come to you in their own time. This will show them you’re not a threat.
You can’t invite a creature from another species into your home and expect they’ll just adapt perfectly to your humanness. You have to compromise – for example, your dog doesn’t know you’ve got your work clothes on, so he might still try to cuddle up with you. It’s not his fault you look so squishy. Be prepared to get covered in dog hair (buy a lint roller) and for your make up to be removed using saliva. Get used to closing the toilet seat and keeping food under a close guard. Accept that you’ll have to bag up parcels of poo, and that your back garden may need hosing down every few days. Get used to walks (rain or shine) and learn how to use TiVo because Rex won’t care whether you’re half way through a programme if he needs a tinkle!
Do you have any tips for preparing your home for a dog? Despite being a dog owner my whole life, I’m sure there is expertise I’m missing!