Dog Bites

What happens if a sitter is hurt or bitten by the homeowners dog?

@Lizindesun , now THAT is a good question. It hasn’t happened to me (knock wood), but it might have. The first thing to do, after taking care of yourself, would be to contact membership services. I wonder if anyone can speak from experience.

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Precisely why I asked. :grin:. Looking forward to hearing from an admin on this topic.

I have now added that question to my list of homeowner interview questions: Are there any situations that cause your pet to act fearful or aggressive? If so, what are they?

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Thanks for the tip I actually have a sit coming up and for the first time it’s with quite a big dog. Not known to be (bad) aggressive but extremely pushy as it’s extremely fixated with food. While I was there to talk with the owner it was very pushy(and I mean it would try and if you had anything that looked like food take swipes and try and grab it out of your hand).
Looked and look after a smaller older dog more often but she is really sweet and well behaved and other small dogs but this will only be my second bigger dog
Any tips would be welcome to ask beforehand

Hi @Lizindesun

TrustedHousesitters has a strict policy on this subject as laid out in our t&c’s

Owners must:

  • not have any inherently dangerous pets (such as venomous snakes or constrictors, primates, wolves or wolf hybrids, non-domesticated cats, alligators), or any animal with a history of attacks on pets or people;

and

  • ensure that no pets to be left under the care of a Sitter have ever caused a person or animal any physical harm (no matter how minor the injury);

In the unlikely event of a sitter being bitten, once the sitter has made themselves safe and attended to any injury, they should:

contact the Membership Services Team and report the incident.

When and if we are notified that there has been a dog bite, we will need to investigate by asking for details of the situation, photos of the dog bite and records if the sitter needed to seek medical care

We will ask that the sitter speak with the owner regarding the dog bite and arrange for alternative care for the dog, the owner will then be suspended after we speak to them.

Regardless of the reason behind the dog attacking, we can’t allow the owner to continue on the site, however, if we did find out it was aggravated by the sitter we would investigate and suspend the sitter as well.

If it is an issue of the dog biting a third party, we would go outside of our normal complaint procedure and allow evidence from a third party, for example a neighbour in order to investigate.

Insurance: information here

If necessary Paul Head Of Membership Services, can advise on further insurance clarification

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@Lizindesun This is a really important question and one I include in my written questions to owners. In 2019 in England I undertook a sit where there were 2 Jack Russells and 2 cats. I had spoken with the HO prior to confirmation of the sit plus asked for either a Welcome Guide or to have my question sheets completed. She said there was no need for those as she had comprehensive notes written and I could read them when I arrived. I was a little concerned as I like to be prepared with knowledge of home and pets before starting a sit. Anyway, when I did read the far from comprehensive notes, lo and behold one of the Jack Russells had bitten 2 dogs plus one of the dog’s owners who had tried to stop the attack on his dog!! No wonder the HO was not willing to provide prior information! When I raised this with the HO, she took very little responsibility for her dog’s behaviour and hadn’t liked having the incident reported to the relevant authority or paying for the other dogs’ vet bills. To ensure the dogs and I never met any other dogs whilst I was looking after them, I walked them along the village lanes and in their fields adjoining the property. These were not new THS HO and all their reviews were glowing. I certainly would not have sat for them had I known the truth. I have noticed since that they no longer have that Jack Russell so perhaps it may have died.

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HI @temba thank you for posting your experience and for any members reading your post, if evidence of any pet aggression comes to a sitter’s attention please inform Membership Services who will follow up with the owners.

This is something too serious to ignore.

Prevention is far better than cure or a trip to the emergency room

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@Maggie I have never been bitten by a dog but just to say that its not always big dogs that might bite…some of the most docile dogs I have looked after have been big dogs; small anxious dogs are just as likely to bite so its hard to say. I always research the breed but even then you only get a general idea of what you might be dealing with. So much of it comes down to how well a dog has been trained and socialised. There are a few general rules though and some are very obvious like not taking food out of a dogs mouth or putting your hands on or near the bowl after you have put the food down. Wrestling dogs and play fighting can go the wrong way, belly rubbing a sleeping dog, trying to physically seperate dogs fighting, staring at dogs can set them off etc etc. Its always good to get as much information about the dog of course and I have had owners say things like ’ don’t show him the hose he goes crazy’ , ‘he will destroy the vacum/broom’ ’ he hates the sound of alfoil’ …any number of things can set a dog off but I find that if you move quietly and calmly, give them lots of affection and take them on adventures, most dogs respond really well.

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Thanks Carpediem yes the dogs I have looked after up te now have been ok except I was really unlucky with the biggest one I looked after as it was in the winter and he was really energetic. I was on the grass in the park which was frosty when he decided to try and bound off all joyful & playful. Unfortunately he was still attached to the leash so he pulled me over and I actually hurt my rotator cuff so I had about a half a year after that trying to heal my shoulder etc.
The dog I will be looking after is even bigger and as I said really fixated on food so I ‘m just hoping he doesn’t get moody if he doesn’t get what he wants

@Maggie hmm ouch! I hope you have recovered from that…can i ask after that sort of experience and with an injury from it why you are still taking on big dogs? I have been down a similar road…my last big strong but lovely dog was a rotweiler who had not been trained to lead…it was a challenge and at the end of it my knees (I am 68) were feeling the hammering…after that i decided to only take on medium to small dogs or rabbits!! stay safe

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well I’m 62 so probably know what you mean when referring to the knees. Well this is actually a friend of a friends dog and she really wanted me as a sitter so I said I’d try it out so it’s all down to this sit. The dog is one of the beefier chunky labradors. (probably slightly too overweight as well from the food fixation). This is a trial sit so If he turns out to be too much they have a big garden and it will be walking in the garden. But the owners and my friends say it is a really sweet dag but will have to wait and see how he is without the owners around out on a walk. My other than the pullyover dog dog sits up to now have all been the easy to carry in a bag in the metro or max knee high dogs.

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@Maggie yes Labradors are lovely dogs and if it walks well on the lead u will enjoy the company…they r a very strong dog though and I won’t take them on now. If you have a good size garden that’s an advantage and if it gets to hard maybe your friend can organise a dog walker for you either paid or through walk my doggie or similar.!All the best

yes my thoughts exactly. As this is a test for me if the dog is too strong as it is one of the chunkier labs not the slimline silly energetic ones :slight_smile: I will just have to let it out in the enclosed garden. But hopefully it will be as everyone is saying and be a nice dog that behaves well (outside of being pushy for treats)

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This is interesting! I was bitten by a large-ish dog during a TrustedHousesitters sit a couple of years ago.

The first time I house sat for the owner while the dog showed some not-so-great behaviours, it was still a good house sit and I’m fairly experienced with dogs so it seemed manageable with some solid boundaries and patience.

During the second sit, there was a storm and the dog was sleeping right below me while I was on the sofa. I know he can be reactive so I said “dog’s name, I’m going to get up now” before moving, and as I put my foot on the floor he bit my leg. It did break the skin but wasn’t enough to seek medical attention.

I informed the owners who didn’t seem too concerned about it and hinted at it happening a couple of times with them before, to the point that they did have to seek medical attention. I stayed anyway and his behaviour only got worse during this 2 week sit, though I avoided any further bites by being extremely cautious.

While I am very experienced with many types of dogs, I clearly wasn’t equipped for this sit, and the owners themselves were inexperienced dog owners and clearly didn’t realise the extent of the issue - they simply blamed the behaviours on him being young. I have been invited again several times but turned it down because it’s just not a good fit, and the next sitters loved the sit but also realised the dog needed a strong hand.

Ultimately, I left a great yet honest review mentioning the bite. The owners are lovely people who felt like friends so I didn’t report it to TrustedHousesitters, but it would make sense for them to have some sort of word filter to alert them when certain words are mentioned anywhere on the website (“aggressive”, “bite”, etc.), so they can individually review each case.

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@Elleco would you report something like this to THS in future? I think any time a dog bites we should do that. Imagine if a family with children were in that situation and kids faces being closer to dog level…not something I would want to know might have been avoided…just saying! Yes word filters are a good idea but there is nothing like a phone call to give all the detail and THS does have a policy that where a dog is known to bite the HO is taken off the books. Maybe I am being abit hard nosed about that but I dont think we should let safety issues slide one bit.

Yes, absolutely! Honestly the way the owners dismissed my concern despite the fact that they were usually very caring and considerate made me feel like the incident didn’t matter, and THS support hasn’t always been “on it” so I felt like it would have been silly to report it.

I also take a hard stance on pets being aggressive. There are some amazing trainers out there who can help all kinds of issues, and owners have a responsibility to make sure their pets aren’t a danger to others especially if they’re going to have house sitters.

I am much better at taking red flags seriously now but if it does happen again I will report it.

Hi @Elleco and welcome to our community forum, thank you for joining and for contributing to the conversation.

I’m sorry you had this experience it’s not a situation that we want any member to find themselves in and while we appreciate the relationships we develop with other members are a very special part of our community dynamic and can place our relationship on another level, I know it’s happened to me numerous times, it shouldn’t prevent us from being objective

and if a dog’s behavior risks putting a sitter in any danger of injury, or compromises their safety in any way this should be reported to TrustedHousesitters.

The next occasion could be far worse which is unfair on the dog who, on this occasion, obviously had issues which needed to be addressed by the owner.

Explaining why you will inform TrustedHousesitters to the owner, when you have built up a relationship is not easy but very necessary, however I do understand the reluctance and leaving the review as you did was the sensible and responsible thing to do but directing this to Membership Services for follow up would have been the right step to take.

Welcome again enjoy connecting with other members and we look forward to sharing in some of your more positive THS experiences.

Angela & The Team

@Elleco yes thats spot on and i hope other people read your thread…stay safe and happy travels with happy dogs

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Thanks for your reply Angela! I’m glad you understand that the dynamics can get a bit difficult to work around, but I agree that being objective is important for the community.

It seems like both owners and sitters have a hard time leaving bad reviews even when they’re justified, so why not address this by making it easier to report bad experiences?

You could for example have an optional step during the review process, where you can ask members “anything we should be aware of?” with some boxes to check for the most common things, some space to write a few details, along with a reminder that the community depends on honest reports.

If it’s a serious issue (for example a dog bite), you can take the necessary steps to deal with it immediately, and if it’s a one-off milder issue (for example someone else being present at the house during a sit), you can add it to a file only accessible by THS and reevaluate the severity of the problem if the member receives more complaints later.

Picking up the phone and reporting a new friend is hard. Ticking pre-filled boxes takes the feelings out of it and makes it a lot more neutral.

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