Can I leave my anxious small dog with a dog sitter?
A question that haunts a lot of dog parents because you either haven't done it yet or you can't even begin to think about what it would actually take to do it. *gasp*
The checklist below is intended to help you get started and figure out exactly where are the pain points in your relationship with your fur baby:
What can you do (or stop doing) to get them to where they are their happiest?
When is it time to ask for help to reach that healthy relationship you want?
If you can't check all these off just yet, you have a little homework (don't worry you are not being graded on this, everyone's journey will be different).
Start your journey:
Not every moment with your dog has to be a structured learning moment. Observe their behavior during normal/non-training and high-stress times. Do they follow a pattern that indicates they are anxious? Does something specific always happen right before they show aggression or fear?
Once you start taking notice of their quirks during "on" and "off" times, begin keeping a daily notepad of their behavior. Include times, days, and environmental changes that could attribute to their behavioral tendencies. Compare your notes on occasion to see if you can discover any other patterns. **TIP: Take special note if you notice any destressing habits (good or bad) that they do after a stressful episode.
Talk to a professional
With the new knowledge that you acquired during your observation phase; you can now speak to a professional in animal behavior studies (veterinarian, dog trainer, animal behaviorist). Some fur babies need minor adjustments to alleviate their stressors while others may need more extensive help (and perhaps a bit of acceptance on your part). Now I know you are probably thinking, "isn't it their job to evaluate my dog? They are the professionals!" And you are not wrong, yes, they are trained and experienced in this field and likely have in-depth knowledge of what can be done. However, wouldn't you want to working as a team with your specialist? An informed dog-parent can only benefit your fur babies journey, you know what they need better than anyone else because you have LIVED it with them! So you can either wait for them to evaluate your fur baby or you can come prepared and know for yourself the level of help they need (and most importantly the level of help you expect!)
If all systems are a go and you feel comfortable about leaving your fur baby in the care of a qualified dog sitter, head over to our "TOP 10 Questions You Need to Ask a Pet Sitter & Why" blog to discover some of the key questions you need to ask for your next step!
Talk to you soon!