Nightmare pets

I wonder if anyone has ever done a sit whee the pet isn’t what they expected, the cat isn’t so friendly or the dog isn’t at all trained?
We’ve had a couple where we’ve thought the sit may not be so easy but have managed but what would you do if you got into a pet sit thought you really couldn’t cope with the pet?

Hi Gina!
For me to feel I “really couldn’t cope” with a pet, it would likely have to be an extreme situation with a large, aggressive dog or something like that - in which case I’d contact the HOs and ask for advice. Chances are a HO isn’t going to want to leave their pet in a situation like that either.
I’ve had a few sits where the dogs aren’t very well trained… but everyone has a different opinion of what makes a well-trained dog, so I try to go into sits expecting differences there. Once or twice I’ve looked after kitties who object to the entire concept of allowing sleep on their watch and that certainly wasn’t a ton of fun either. I think the best we can do as sitters is to slowly learn which questions to ask the HOs before we actually start the sit, so expectations are managed.
The closest I’ve gotten to the end of my rope is with a cat I was looking after. The HOs mentioned he was a little wild, but I was not prepared for this cat to randomly attack me a few times a day. As in, full-on pounce at my face/shoulders and try to cause as much damage as possible. I am a major cat person, but that was incredibly anxiety-inducing. However, I wouldn’t even know how to go about addressing that with the HOs, and the other animal was nice.

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We just finished dog sitting a giant 9 months old puppy last week. He slept all day and BARKED all night! We walked and exercised this puppy as much as we could during the day, thinking “a tired dog is a good dog” but NO, not this one! After 4 sleepless nights, I texted the dog owner about the situation and asked for advice. She immediately ordered a calming collar that Amazon delivered the same day. It worked wonders, in addition to playing rain sounds on my phone throughout the night and closing all the windows so the dog could not hear the coyotes owling outside. He actually wanted to go out and play with them!
In case someone needs or wonders what a calming collar is, I learned all about it: “The calming collar diffuses dog appeasing pheromones secreted by nursing mother dogs to calm their pups.”

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Haven’t dealt with a nightmare but just some pets who were a real headache. But honestly most of them were issues caused by the owner or just not given a fix by the owner.

We’ve had a deaf dog who barked the entire night.

We’ve had a dog who would start barking for a walk at 4 AM.

We’ve had a dog who the owner insisted sleep in our bed but was covered in ticks because the dog spent most of the day in the backyard digging holes. (We didn’t let the dog sleep with us because we don’t need Lyme disease)

We’ve had a cat pee/poo every single night in the hallway for 2 weeks straight despite having a perfectly clean litter box.

We’ve had cats where the owner insisted we leave them outside all day but were actually quite a nightmare to get back inside the house (and when the owner inquired on day 1 if the cats were inside by the 5pm curfew she set, and I was honest and said “not yet, one of them is up in a tree still” she proceeded to text us hysterical and rude texts until we did successfully coax the cat into the house. We had to make sure those cats were starting to get inside by 4 pm from them on.

We’ve had 2 huge puppy dogs with no backyard and only allowed a closed off space in a corner of a living room to hang out in since they were not well house trained and the owner was strict about them not making a mess in the house or getting on the furniture. Needed to be walked many times a day and every walk was like being pulled by two horses with all their stored up energy.

We’ve had a dog that the owner insisted stay in the kitchen with bookshelves stuffed with cook books everywhere. The dog turned 20% of those books into chew toys.

We’ve had chickens in a very hot climate where the owner houses the chickens in a shed that was basically just a GIANT chicken oven and the set up required ice refills in their mega cooling fan which needing refilling practically every 30 minutes during daylight.

We’ve had other chickens the owner insisted on scrubbing the coop twice a day, every day.

So as I said most of these were the owner’s fault. Only maybe two were just strictly due to the poor pet having a problem. But yes, many many headaches.

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I think you should change your name to stewartbeginningtodislikehousesittingverymuch
Good luck with your future ones and I agree, it’s not the pets, it’s the owners in many cases

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That us brilliant about the calming collar. Thankyou.
Also explains my nrighbours puppy who is quiet as anything all day & barking desperately to be through the night, while we were in the long summer days. I was convinced itbwas the early hour bisrdsong he wanted to be part of.

We had a problem cat in a sit too canadian. She was so sweet looking but alwsys on the ready to attack.
The owner had warned us that she “had issues”.
She spent the time mainly controlling the staircase, which made it a challenge to go to the loo. You just had to leap by her before she got you. Surprisingly she lived with another such easy going cuddle cat too.

I’ve only had one dog that was a complete nightmare and I ended up in tears over. I love pretty much all dogs indiscriminately but i couldn’t handle her. She was a sweet Dog but not trained at all. She would pee all over the floor in excitement. She loved to jump all over me and wouldn’t stop - and she was a powerful dog. Most dogs do this for a few minutes and then do other dog stuff, but this one would rotate between destroying everything - like she took my charger out of the wall and ate the clients credit card! The biggest issue was her nails were so long she would end up cutting my skin and making me bleed! I ended up telling the owners and the solution was basically keep her in a crate all day which I really hated but she had to be watched every minute or she would do something bad. Thankfully it was a short sit.

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Ha! With sits like that I’d be expecting you to change your screenname! :smiley: :joy:

Might also suggest a bit more in-depth discussions with homeowners before accepting a pet sit.

Yikes! I’ve been a little concerned that about half of my HO’s have under- or non-socialized dogs but now I feel I’ve been spared!

I am currently on a sit with an annoying cat. She is not mean at all, in fact she just wants attention all the time! She has a very loud meow that turns into a yowl when she is ignored and I try to ignore her when I would rather be sleeping! Last night I slept on the sofa since she considers the bedroom as her domain. The HO knows about it and says it’s a fairly new thing and she hasn’t figured out a way to stop it. I just give the cat lots of love during the day and ignore her all night…good thing it’s a short sit!

How about trying pheromone calming spray or diffuser? @Maryse posted about these a few days ago. She used a calming collar for an anxious dog:

She wrote:

3d - …good dog” but NO, not this one! After 4 sleepless nights, I texted the dog owner about the situation and asked for advice. She immediately ordered a calming collar that Amazon delivered the same day. It worked wonders, in addition to playing rain sounds on my phone throughout the night and closing all the window…

It’s a fabulous suggestion! Thanks @Maryse

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I always ask loads of Questions about the Pets, I ask routines, quirky things, pet hates (postman, anyone coming to the door etc) do they need music on and if yes, what music if being left alone or at night, are they an escape artist? Are they on lead, off lead, commands, obedience training, treats etc, I ask lots of questions, If a HO didn’t want to answer, I would be worried what was going on, I do say honestly, i’d prefer to know the negatives so that the Pets can have as comfortable “staycation” as they can, as they are already going to be anxious when they twig you are going somewhere, especially lockdown pets, they are trying to understand what on earth is happening, so we get as much detail as we can and ask the HO to keep as much of routine that they can as to keep the Pets as happy and settled as they can. Eg if they have a dog walker who is training them, keep that going if they can, we will still do it and keep it up, however it’s a comfort for the Dog/s, if they have a Gardener, Cleaners etc, keep it up so that the Dog doesn’t freak out, they are already worried about what is happening, if they see people they know and have built relationships with they are going to settle easier. Also I ask them not to wash the Pet’s Blankets/Toys they need the smell of their HO to help settle themselves and feel less anxious about the Changes. If we know we have a Dog/Cat who takes a while to warm up to people, we always wait for them to come to us, if we have a Dog who has another Dog that is local that they don’t get on or makes it anxious, we will cross the Road, turn a different way and if we can’t avoid it, we always stop and distract and praise the Dog for not reacting, the same goes with people, I always ask about the Neighbours and locals and more so again the negatives, it’s important for the Pets and your stay too.

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Thank you for the reminder about the calming collar…got one for the cat…sure hope it works!

Another device that works for dogs is a heart-beat comfort toy – a battery-operated stuffed animal that has a box sewn in that plays a heart beat. One of my HO used this for her puppy that slept in her crate. The toy was turned on and placed on the top of the crate so the dog couldn’t get a hold of it and destroy it. It worked well. The puppy just loved it!

Don’t collar cats if they aren’t used to it please, especially not if they go outside! They might strangle themselves. For cats there is spray with pheromones or plug-in devices. In Germany they go under the name Feliway or Cattitude. I don’t know about other countries but Feliway seems to be internationally available.

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Thanks for the advice. She has worn a collar her entire life and the HO said it was okay. I would never do something like that without the HO’s approval. I put it on her yesterday afternoon and she seemed calmer…

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@btee if she’s used to it and the owner is fine with it then it’s not a problem. Mine would go crazy I guess :rofl: , because they never had a collar.

We had one case where the HO told us to “ just get out the leash and the dogs will come right over “ . While this might be the HO experience, it was not ours. We had to chase those dogs around for up to 10 min. to get them in their harnesses.So I actually videotaped them once , just in case the HO gave us a bad review.
Although, that didn’t happen, I played with the idea of sharing the video with the HO so they would know their pets behaved differently with sitters, but I was worried that she might take it as a criticism- which it wasn’t.

You made me laugh… And you still want to sit ? Waouh…
You may have learnt a lot with all these ecperiences . How cautious you are now ? What don’t you foget to ask in order to avoid such nightmares ?