Hiring someone to come to your home and pet sit can be a great experience for your dog if you do your homework before you leave for vacation.

Since your dog is nervous and shy, have your pet sitter drop in for a few minutes as many times as possible between now and the time that you leave. It doesn’t have to be a long visit; the idea is to have the sitter get to know him (and vice-versa) and earn his trust.

Once your dog is comfortable with her presence while you’re home, arrange for her to stop by when you’re out. Sometimes dogs react differently when a (relative) stranger comes into their territory while the family isn’t home.

As their relationship progresses, teach your sitter the obedience commands that your dog knows (leave a written list when you leave), and have her incorporate practice sessions into the visits. The “come” and “stay” commands are potential lifesavers in the event your dog races through an open door or breaks free of his leash and runs into the street, and the odds of your dog obeying your sitter are much higher if they’ve been training before you leave.

Eventually, your dog will become comfortable (or even better – delighted) with the new person in his life, and although your departure will have some emotional impact on him (which will probably be minimal compared to the emotional impact leaving will have on you and your family!), at least he’ll be able to relax and enjoy the company of his new friend.

“MUST KNOWS” BEFORE HIRING A PET SITTER

1. Be Sure The Sitter Is Insured (and get written proof): The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International train and certify pet sitters, and they’re a great resource for finding qualified and insured sitters.

2. Set Up An Interview: This is someone you’re going to be entrusting your pet and your residence to. Be sure you both hit it off!

3. Get References: And make sure you contact them!

4. Set Expectations BEFORE You Leave: And put it in writing. Things like: Is the sitter responsible for your cat, too? How much walking/training/playtime will there be? Will they be bringing in the mail or packages you might receive? Make sure lights are on (or off) when they leave? Knowing ahead of time what you want, and communicating it to the sitter will ensure that everyone’s expectations are met.