Often you’ll find a nervous dog sitting behind the door at your first pet sit.

Remember the pup who spent the whole meet-and-greet with his head in your lap or showing-off with a toy? Well…he might be inhabited by an alter-ego during your first visit in. This article talks about the temperament of the dogs you might encounter until they get to know you a little better.

Some dogs and cats, especially ones who’ve had pet sitters before, are naturally gregarious and can’t wait to see the leash or food come out no matter who’s in control. Others, for a variety of reasons but usually because they just want you to like them, will pee all over your feet while they wag their tail furiously and try to lick your face at the same time. And sometimes, you’ll find a fearful, guarding, or just plain nervous dog hoping you’ll go away…but who might be willing to make a run at the door past you if you leave it ajar and he has the strength to knock you sideways. The urge for the grass is strong!

Finding a nervous dog at the first pet sit is especially true if the family has recently moved to the area so the animal is faced with the terrible three:

  • a new house,
  • a new neighborhood,
  • and a new pet sitter who expects to take him out into this new and possibly dangerous neighborhood where he could get lost.

Showing fear or timidity for any of these reasons is a normal reaction. You’d probably feel the same way in his paws. He doesn’t know you and most likely he was left without proper directions from his family on how to greet you!

But be careful! Even though your instinct to soothe the nerves will kick-in, you must recognize the potentially dangerous situation you are walking into alone.

Never underestimate a nervous dog!

Arriving at the First Pet Sit

Under normal conditions, dogs will often come to the door barking the first couple of visits until they feel comfortable with you. (After that if they bark at you they’re just anxious for you to get that door open and do their bidding!)

If the dog is barking and it sounds like a happy bark, you can open the door a crack and check out his face.

  • Is he woofing with a smile,
  • a little bit of anxiety,
  • or barking and snarling with hounds-of-hell eyes?

You’ll recognize the difference quite instantly.

If it’s the first, brace yourself to be jumped on or fussed over (and watch your toes for a piddle from him!) If it’s the second, go slowly and wait for him to come to you…ignore him even, but watch for fear bites if you do approach. And if it’s the third, call the client or the emergency contact. Do not place yourself in a vulnerable position. We have never had this happen – but we’ve heard of it happening to others.

Also – if you are unfamiliar with the dog except for the meet-and-greet visit, try speaking to him through the door if he is loose in the house until he settles. If you know he is in a crate, enter and speak soothingly to calm him, and don’t get too close to crowd him. High pitched cooing or baby talk often winds them up further since you don’t sound like a leader to them who can take control and look after things…you sound like prey.

In part two of Pet Sits with Nervous Dogs, we’ll look at tips for winning them over.

Until next time…have fun out there!

Related articles:

First Pet Sits with a Nervous Dog – Tips – Part Two

Thank you Katoton from Dreamstime Stock Photos for the perfect photo.