Live-in dogsitting and rescue animals

9 Jul, 2022

Live-in dogsitting and rescue animals

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For those dog lovers looking to get into live-in dogsitting, it can help to go into caring for rescue animals. This is based on having taken advice and listened to the perspectives of experienced live in dog sitters. Caring for dogs while housesitting can sometimes be a challenge. This is especially true as our dog sitters are not paid, they don’t get rover overnight dog sitting rates.

Read on to learn about looking after rescue dogs on a house sit, in a blog by seasoned dogsitter Tiera St. Clare.

What is live-in dogsitting

housesitters essential skills
Live-in dogsitting is a good solution for dog minding for rescue pets

More and more people choose rescue dogs these days. Rescue dogs have been often placed in a welcoming new home after being abused, neglected, or abandoned by their previous owner. They will have had a wide range of experiences, from severe abuse to simply abandonment. Not that abandonment is simple.

But what happens when the pet owner wants to go on holiday and they start searching for overnight pet sitting in my home, or in-home pet sitting near me.  They actually need live-in dogsitting and housesitting and petsitting platforms like HouseSitMatch can help. Then they can find dog sitters and vacation with peace of mind.

Rescue dogs have particular needs

Certain countries have organisations in place to rescue and re-home dogs. Many times there is not much information about the circumstances before someone receives their new dog. It takes care, love, intuition and infrastructure to integrate a dog into a home, especially one who may come with fear and anxieties.

When live-in dogsitting, training your dog is essential.

If you want a happy dog, teach rules and expectations. And above all don’t leave a dog alone for many hours. That is not fair on the pet. Find a dogsitter. Dogs are intelligent creatures and need company. Dogs generally want to please and are pack animals by nature.

When you show that you are the leader in a kind and firm way – clear voice, clear body language, and clear, consistent instructions – the dog will relax and do its best to please you.

As a pet sitter, you can walk into many different situations with dogs and how well their owners have trained them..….or not!

Flynn the rescue – Lead training

live-in dogsitting
Flynn, the border collie

A rescue dog I’ve cared for in London, Flynn is a Border Collie. He’s full of energy and had not been trained to a lead (leash) in any way. He was strong and pulled the entire time we went for walks. In fact he almost pulled my shoulder out.

I asked the owners to order a lead and took on the task of training him while live-in dogsitting.

It took a lot of patience, care and consistency. Stopping every time that he would pull, we’d turn around to change the pace. it was important to show him that I was in charge.

By the time I left, we had accomplished quite a lot, and my shoulder was grateful. He also appeared more relaxed.


Max the rescue terrier

live-in dogsitting
Max the rescue is a darling terrier who lives in Florida.

Another favourite rescue is Max the terrier, who lives in Florida.

Max is too scared to go outside on walks and has a backyard where he can do his business.

The main thing Max needed was to know was that I, his companion, was safe.

I began slowly and gently with him, by not demanding anything at all of him. I would sit on the floor and let him sniff me, coming and going as he chose.

After a couple of days, he came to me and finally became one of the dogs who most loves being massaged and played with.

We built an understanding.


Annie the nervous rescue

live-in dogsitting
Annie, posing for the cameras

A little dachshund in New York City, quite well adjusted but pees when scared, excited or startled.

Some dogs are very tactile

However, she thrives on gentleness and loves to be held.

When she has an ‘accident’, I simply clean it up. No shaming, no issue made. it would worry her too much.

Levi the biggest rescue challenge
Levi, the large mountain dog

So far, the biggest live-in dogsitting challenge was Levi. This was one of the toughest pet sitting jobs. If I was charging for my live-in dogsitting the pet sitting rates per hour would have been significant.

He was a large mountain dog, and yet Levi was so frightened all the time that he would barely leave his bed to go into the garden to do his business.

The advice I was given was that I should just mostly ignore him and let him be.

Early warning for live-in dogsitting

The first morning I came down the stairs, he stood and growled at me. And honestly, I was scared. He is a big guy, and I didn’t know if growling was all he would do!

I carefully gave him food, opened the door to the garden and, invited him out, then I stepped away to clear his path.

The first couple of days were like this. And then, when there were no more growls and absolutely no more aggressive behaviour was shown.

I took my laptop and went to sit in the room with him. I spoke gently to him like I might be around a young child. Just saying whatever was going through my mind. I offered my presence as a safe space to be around. I started to pet him a little when I saw that he wasn’t flinching, all this when I gave him his food. And then a little more.

By the end of four days, I was petting him all over, massaging him, loving him. He came to stand by me for petting instead of running to his bed for safety. The live-in dogsitting allowed him to get used to me and for me to learn how we could work together.

Cesar Milan, ‘the Dog Whisperer’

Cesar is an outstanding teacher and trainer of both dogs and humans. He has a TV series and also videos on YouTube. I highly recommend him for those interested in live-in dogsitting.

When live-in dogsitting, we rely on a sense of intuition and connection in learning to be with a new dog. As a pet sitter I look at body language for clues. There is a fine and important line between showing you are the boss and being a bully. It is easy to feel frustrated when a dog isn’t behaving. I saw that frustration building in me with Dibley … which led me to change my approach with her instead of getting more demanding and harsh.

Most dogs want to please

It helps to remember that the dog truly wants to please you, and it is your job while live-in dogsitting to find a way to communicate so they can behave as you are asking. I don’t charge pet sitting rates. I do this because I love animals and housesitting. I want the pet owners to feel comfortable that I am going to care for their pets, and go on vacation with peace of mind.


Thanks to our blogger Tiera St Claire for her wonderful contribution.


Further reading about dog sitters and live-in dogsitting with Housesitmatch

At Housesit we always try to share useful and informative blogs and practical advice with our members. Read on to find some helpful articles with useful tips for dog owners and dog sitters alike.

Adopting a dog – 5 lifestyle changes to make

Dog sit – What is it and where can you go?

Dogsitters’ tips – Dog’s body language and how to read it

The Affordable Alternative to Dog Kennels

What is House Sitting?

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Alex Walker

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