Dog Sitters: How Many Dogs Should You Have at One Time?

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The dog sitting and walking business is currently booming particularly in metropolitan areas where owners spend long days at work or travel frequently. The process of hiring one of these professionals should be one that is well thought out and if possible, hired by word of mouth as there is a lot of valuable and reliable information a pet owner can get from referrals.

Although dog sitters made a decent living, committing to only one or two dogs is likely not going to pay the bills and this is why most have numerous clients at one time. It is common for sitters to also have to take care of several pooches all at once so that they can manage theirs and their client’s expectations as well as earn more money.

So how many dogs at one time are too much for the sitter? And as the pet owner, how many other dogs should you allow that sitter to supervise at the same time as yours? Here are some basic guidelines for both pet owners and sitters to follow so that the job remains through and manageable.

Laws of Dog Sitting

Though some regions such as the UK do have strict laws about how many dogs can be sat for or walked at one time, most US regions do not. The unwritten rule in the dog sitting community is that anyone, owner or sitter, can walk or sit for as many dogs as they can safely handle at one time.

Having said that, there will be differing definitions of ‘properly handling’ and the number of dogs in one’s care. It is a dog sitter’s responsibility to ensure that they are giving proper care and attention to each of their client’s pooches and just as with kids, at a certain point if that number is too great, something will be missed and the quality of care will naturally decrease.

Lots of things should be taken into consideration when deciding on how many dogs one should sit for at one time.

The Breed Matters

Just like people, dogs have their own quirks and personalities and not all of the different breeds will mesh well or get along. Some dogs are naturally more aggressive such as American Pit Bull Terriers and when put in the same areas as other breeds, it could be like mixing oil with water. Chances are if you are house sitting for several dogs at one time, the owners have already acclimated the different breeds to one another, but this may not always be case.

Sizing up the Situation

Regardless of how well the dogs in one given area get along, there are other factors that also need to be considered when accepting a dog sitting job. The first is the size and weight of all the dogs that you are expected to sit for.

Larger dogs that are weightier will be more difficult to handle and care for than if you are supervising a room full of poodles, whose average weight is about 5 to 9 pounds. The bigger canines will usually be more challenging unless they are aptly trained and this is especially the case when taking them out for walks.

running dogs

Each dog should have its own lease and take into consideration your own weight against that of the multiple dogs you are sitting for and walking. Even the best trained dogs can become startled or excitable and if they should decide to jet, if your weight isn’t enough to balance the weight of them trying for a fast getaway, you could easily lose control of one or all of them.

It is also important to acknowledge the size of the home in comparison to the number of dogs you will be sitting. Larger dogs should not be contained regularly in small spaces, while smaller, pint size dogs which don’t require as much roaming room or exercise may be perfectly content in an apartment.

Rambunctious dogs have the ability to hurt, even unknowingly, other smaller dogs as well as owners and dog sitters because of their sheer size and weight. If there are a mix of large and small dogs within one habitat they will need to be monitored closely and all should have enough space within the home to roam freely for at least part of the day.

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9 Responses to “Dog Sitters: How Many Dogs Should You Have at One Time?”

  1. Rachele says:

    You know, it’s ignorance like this which was one of my motivators for starting Pawsitive Attention Pet Services and now, my pending non-profit, Pit Bulls Against Misinformation.

    “Some dogs are naturally more aggressive such as American Pit Bull Terriers and when put in the same areas as other breeds, it could be like mixing oil with water. Chances are if you are house sitting for several dogs at one time, the owners have already acclimated the different breeds to one another, but this may not always be case.”

    Someone educated and knowledgeable about dog breeds and dog behavior realizes that although nearly ALL of the dogs in the TERRIER group (NOT APBT-specific) tend to be DOG REACTIVE (not simply “aggressive”), it’s erroneous and dangerous to assume that only or mostly those dogs will have those issues.

    In the case of dog reactivity, it’s important to look at the individual dog and his/her reactions to other dogs and to be skilled in assessing the situation – regardless of the breed in question. Those sitters who go through life with blinders on, thinking that only one breed can exhibit any particular negative trait offer little more than companionship for their client’s treasured pets as opposed to any true professional pet handling qualifications that ensure the safety and security of pets in their care.

  2. Karen Dunn says:

    You are sadly misinformed regarding pit bulls. They are most assuredly not naturally aggressive. Aggressive behavior is learned, taught … not innate. You are spreading bad information that feeds the bias pit bulls are now experiencing, and it is ignorance like this that ends up with dogs dying. I sincerely request that you do some research, and then hopefully, print a retraction.

  3. Cheryl says:

    Whoever wrote APBTs are more aggressive clearly doesn’t know the breed. Pity. All the pitties I’ve known **who have responsible owners and have been properly trained** are truly wonderful dogs. A century ago, pitties were revered as nanny dogs and considered to be great family dogs. Only within the last few decades have they developed the negative reputation that they suffer from now, as people have bought and trained them to be vicious guard/attack dogs. ANY dog can be vicious and nasty. Just up the road from where I grew up, a family had a yellow lab that was an incredibly territorial and nasty and I was nearly attacked one day walking to the bus stop–on the other side of the road.

  4. sarah says:

    bit unfair to say terriers are naturally more agressive. mine isn’t and has never been. It’s the OTHER dogs that leg it half way across a park to attack him while he stands there looking at me, waiting for me to remove the other dog from his neck. i’ve had a sheltie that was more agressive towards other dogs and people.

  5. Thaylah says:

    My apbt mix would crazy disagree about being naturally aggressive. He wouldn’t argue about it or anything as he’s just a big lovey blob of awesome but his humama(me) is pretty pissed that people are still ignorant enough to think apbt are naturally aggressive.. My mothers shih tzu is more aggressive than any apbt I know. Of course if they’ve been fought the will be aggressive but any dog would be

  6. Katrina says:

    I find your pit bull comment offensive. You obviously have never interacted with a pit bull. I would expect that someone writing an article for the edification of others would at least be somewhat informed on the subject. Instead we have an article with “duh” advice and incorrect information. Also, since you seem to be mostly uninformed on various breeds, poodles are usually at least 60lbs. There is absolutely no excuse for lack of research and actual facts.

  7. It is truely, about knowing your breeds,and the individule temperment of the dog(s) your caring for. Also your own capability in handling more than one dog at a time. I`ve had to say no to people who wanted me to walk multiple dogs, as I don`t feel comfortable handling more than two small dogs at a time. Safety, yours and the pets, is always paramount. While I will sit for APB`s, I will not walk them or take them off the owners property. Liability is another paramount.

  8. Carole Davy says:

    We have been a established dog sitting service (PetStay) for over 8 years with carers across Yorkshire, England and our rules are– we don’t mix different dogs from different households. We now have franchised areas and they keep to the same rules.

  9. Jay says:

    I am an independent dog walker and dog sitter, I have the same rule mentioned by Carol Davy of not mixing different dogs from different households.
    As for aggression all breeds have the potential to be aggressive and dangerous….a dog can be trained to be aggressive and it can become aggressive through negative experiences. People sometimes misunderstand signs of aggression such as barking and growling as an indication that it is an aggressive dog when in fact it is scared and acting defensively.
    Please stop blaming dogs…aggressive and dangerous dogs is a human problem.
    Train a dog to be aggressive and it will be aggressive!
    Treat a dog badly and it will be a bad dog!
    Never assume because a dog is well trained and has a good temperament that there is no potential for something going wrong!!

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