Additional Section for the Welcome Guide

Hi fellow housesitters,

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a section in the Welcome Guide where the homeowner could list the commands that a dog knows?

I think this would be very helpful, especially if you are looking after dogs in foreign countries!



I actually have a user guide (which is separate from our care guide) for my dog. He knows close to 60 words/phrases.

I then filter the list down to the most used terms (around maybe 10?) for sitters et al to use and then additionally have a second tab of general handling best practices.

I also have a third tab that shares what training goals we have in stack ranked order.

I encourage all my training clients to create a vocabulary list (first tab) because it

  1. Keeps them honest about what their dog actually understands and what they’re just making up. If it’s not on the list, you’re probably just confusing your dog.
  2. Keeps comms consistent for the dog
  3. Keeps comms consistent for the humans.

I asked for such a list on a sit where the dog was clever. Unfortunately, the host didn’t provide one, so I didn’t use any, because I didn’t want to get any wrong and confuse the dog.

My dog has learned a bunch of commands, too. Like when he wants treats and I tell him “no more,” he understands, LOL.

How on earth did you teach him that!!?? :rofl:

I showed him my empty hands and repeated “no more” each time. It didn’t take long before he recognized the command without the gesture.

Among other things, I also taught him not to go nuts every time he heard knocking or doorbell-ringing on TV (actually my iPad). I’d say, “It’s the TV,” and he learned to distinguish vs. real knocking or doorbell-ringing.

When I want to teach him something, I’m patient, repeat till he gets it and don’t assume he’s can’t learn it. Like he used to be a Velcro dog when we adopted him. If I even got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, he’d follow me. I felt bad that he had to get up, so I taught him “Maggie going to the bathroom.” So he started staying in his doughnut.

Now, I’m teaching him “It’s DoorDash,” because I want him to stop startling or annoying delivery drivers and us with barking. But you have to do that kind of repetition before a dog is triggered, because once they are, it’s hard for them to process.

Training dogs is logical — they don’t do things for no reason. Of course, some dogs are smarter than others. Mine is some kind of terrier mutt and terriers are known for being smarter than some other breeds.


Based on my experience as a sitter and a forum follower (I’m also a pet parent) a large percentage of pet parents have ditched the Welcome Guide for their own versions. I actually use two documents: One just for house and neighborhood, and the other for pet care.

Mine learned “go away” and “finished” in a similar fashion :joy:

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Yea. This except we do three:

  1. House and hood
  2. Dog care guide
  3. Dog user guide
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Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all home owners completed the Welcome Guide? The commands a dog knows is one of the questions I ask on arriving for a handover and as sometimes they come with hand signals, which can vary from person to person, it’s good to see them

That’s true, it is good to see them. Still, sometimes, especially when it is a quick handover, I find it stressful for the dog to meet a new person, say bye bye to its favorite human(s) in the world, thinking that they might never ever come back… and show off what it can do.

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Actually, it’s the opposite.

With a few caveats (e.g. maybe not asking for all the things as soon as their people leave), doing things together with a dog is what helps to build engagement, a relationship, and establish normalcy.

This includes playing games you know a dog loves, asking it to do things it does well and is confident at, taking them to places they enjoy while you’re there, basically sharing experiences that then create positive associations between you and said experience to anchor you as a ”good thing”.

Additionally, most dogs actually like to have a purpose and a job so even something as small as being asked to sit and then getting rewarded for it can be a very reinforcing activity.

Putting a dog through its paces with behaviours it already knows how to do well (and enjoys doing) helps a lot of dogs to trust you faster because they’re working through known behaviours.

This obviously has variation/nuances from dog to dog but generally speaking, holds true across the board. X


The sit where I requested the list of commands, the host actually showed me some commands that the dog knew, but they’d written down little in their welcome guide, so it was too much to remember, along with everything else.

With commands, it’s better to document, because if someone uses the wrong commands by memory, it can undermine a dog’s training and just confuses the poor animal.

Some dogs know only a few routine commands, so that might not be necessary, but for instance my dog and my sit dog know a bunch of commands / phrases that are unique. It takes a lot longer to train a dog than to write down the command. But yes, some hosts do a poor job of the welcome guide in general. Guides can be done in video as well as include writing. To me, it doesn’t matter whether they use the THS template.

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