So you’ve been asked to look after someone’s puppy. It sounds like the easiest job in the world; the hours will fly by while the pup sleeps peacefully on your lap in front of the television. This might be true if you’re dealing with the world’s best behaved puppy, but just in case, here are some tips to help you care for a puppy.
Meeting the Puppy
When you first meet the puppy, make sure you are in a neutral location – that is, somewhere they aren’t territorial and that they don’t feel threatened. Try not to rush the introduction as it may cause them to feel overwhelmed and defensive. Allow them to sniff your hand and then gently pat them on the body once they appear comfortable. Immediately patting a pet on the head can cause distress because it moves into their blind spot, leaving them vulnerable. You can also try sitting at their level rather than standing over them.
Setting Up the Space
If you are puppy sitting at the owner’s house, all the necessities should be in place. If you are sitting in your house, you will need to gather their supplies and take them with you. These should include:
- a bed
- puppy milk
- a bowl
- cleaning supplies
- a carry cage or barrier to contain the puppy if needed
First and foremost, make sure the puppy always has access to clean drinking water. Depending on their age, you will need to feed them puppy milk, solid food or both. Make sure you know in advance what food they require and how big a serving should be. Consider asking for these instructions in writing to ensure you don’t make any mistakes.
Puppies have a lot of energy, so be prepared to keep them entertained. You can use toys or simply your hands to play with them. You want to discourage biting though, so teething rings and treats are a good idea. Try not to get the puppy overexcited, as this can lead to misbehaviour.
Toilet breaks are essential, especially after eating and drinking. Ensure that the puppy can either go outside or on a puppy pad. Take them outside and wait around for a few minutes to give them a chance to sniff first.
Cover the smell with a stronger scent to ensure the puppy doesn’t return to the spot.
In the unfortunate event that the puppy has an accident, you’ll need to do a quick clean up. Wipe up the mess with a rag, paper towels or mop, depending on the surface. Then cover the smell with a stronger scent to ensure the puppy doesn’t return to the spot. For carpet, you can use vinegar, baking soda or a specialised carpet cleaner. For floorboards or tiles, eucalyptus or tea tree oil should do the trick. Depending on the age of the puppy and the reason for the incident, you may need to gently scold them or move them into a room alone for a few minutes.
At some point, you’ll want the puppy to settle in to sleep. The best way to get this to happen is to ensure they’ve used up their energy and their needs are met, as discussed previously. When you think they are getting sleepy, take them to their bed (which should have a designated space) and make them comfortable. A soft toy to snuggle and chew on is helpful and you may even put a clock in the bed to mimic the sound of a heartbeat. Bedtime should be calming, so give the puppy soothing pats and leave them to sleep once they start to drift off.
That’s the basics! It’s just rinse and repeat after this. Enjoy the time you spend with them, they grow up so quick.
P.S. Thanks to Odi for being an adorable model!