What you need to know about pet sitting and dog walking, (c) 2009-2016 Frania Shelley-Grielen
We are getting ready to travel without our pets. Travel is no longer fun these days with the lines, security concerns, delays and the new "less is more" philosophy in airline service. And leaving the rest of the family at home is no fun either.
Although, truth be told the cats prefer to stay at home. Daisy (our dog) would probably endure the flight stuck in a travel bag under the seat just to be with us but weighs in several pounds over the limit. And no, flying in the baggage compartment is not an option for welfare and safety issues.
Over the years we have come to rely on pet sitters for caring for our pets when we are away. Initially we boarded Daisy but found that being in her own environment was a better situation for us and her. We have just moved from East Harlem to a new neighborhood. Hello Upper West Side: full of pets and pet sitters.
Our search for the right sitters yields sitters who have never walked a dog but would like to, sitters who only want to walk the dog during the week in the middle of the day, sitters who want to bring the dog to their home because "it’s easier that way", sitters who don’t do cats just dogs, etc. But New York is full of possibilities and full of pet sitters. We find the right one (fingers and toes crossed).
As our new sitter gets to know our pet family we are struck again by the time it takes to create a relationship. No matter how much of an animal person one is there is still time to be taken in building a bond with a new animal. Non-human animals take their time to get know any new animal; human or non-human. To mitigate this I arrange for our new pet sitter to walk Daisy three times over the period of several days. Daisy appears scared and is clearly reluctant on the first walk, not as scared on the second and somewhat resigned by the third. On each walk, the sitter reports that Daisy just wants to take care of business and return. No prolonged sniffing on these walks. And because this is a stressful situation I have asked only for a "relief" walk. Leisurely walks can come in time.
Daisy will adapt, in her own time, to this new situation and hopefully we will return home to happy, healthy animals.
When working with a new pet sitter, please remember to give your pets enough time to get to know the new person who will be in your home before you leave. As many walks or visits as possible before you leave are necessary to begin acclimating your animals to a novel presence in your home. Try and schedule these for initially when you are around and then when you are not at home for maximum benefit. And please, please contract for individual dog walks and avoid "pack" walks. Individual dog walks insure that your dog benefits from the full attention of the walker and prevents unexpected or unwelcome complications from a dog that is not familiar to your pet.
While you may value a longer walk for your dog, recognize that with a new person walking your dog shorter walks are less stressful in the beginning of the relationship. Your cats are used to you and the people you know in your home, allow some time before asking the sitter to spend extra time with them.
Try and maintain as much of the usual structure your animals expect, a written list of how you do things helps tremendously and make sure and leave adequate supplies of whatever your pet needs. Above all else, do not expect an instant bond, your companion animal has a relationship with you built on time, history and trust, allow time for a new relationship to develop.
(c) 2009-2016 Frania Shelley-Grielen all rights reserved
copyright 2011 Frania Shelley-Grielen
"please remember to give your pets enough time to get to know the new person who will be in your home before you leave. As many walks or visits as possible before you leave are necessary to begin acclimating your animals to a novel presence in your home. "
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
-Want more? Find expanded and revised information in our new book Cats and Dogs (with tons more great material on bettering your relationships with your pets).
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
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