House and dog sitting for three weeks

Sunday evening, I started house and dog sitting for my friend’s sister and her fiancé (Sarah and Simon). They live near Victory Park in Pasadena.

This will be my first time house/dog sitting.

For reference, the name of the dogs are Mork and Mindy. 🙂

What’s cool?

  • I can essentially do anything I want in the house. I could even throw a party or two.
  • They left me “several” beers, along with some food.
  • Two puppies! They’re trained to go outside for “business.”
  • Large LCD television, DirecTV, surround sound, Sonos multi-room music system, Nintendo Wii (yay, Netflix!), 27-inch iMac.

What isn’t cool about the dogs:

  • The “sit” command doesn’t work every time.
  • They jump up to greet people, and sometimes nip.
  • Mork can jump over the 3-foot indoor fence separating the living room and kitchen.
  • They bark at anything. Squirrels (or chipmunks), birds, sounds of other dogs.
  • Mork is slightly destructive.
  • My first attempt to take both dogs for a walk only went 50 yards.

The warning

Sarah conveyed her apprehension since they’ve recently started to get rowdy. Her mom and stepfather told me that they’re getting crazy. They can’t take both of them for a walk at the same time, and they bark a lot.

Barking is normal, I know, but I can’t imagine how ridiculous it could get.

The barking

Monday morning, around 6:30am, I heard some barking. I tried to ignore and went back to sleep. Later that morning, one of the neighbors introduced himself. The barking didn’t stop and he couldn’t go back to sleep.

I could leave them inside the kitchen/dining room area and close the sliding glass door, but I’m not certain they’ll convey the need to “go.”

I just bought a Bark Off unit from Bed, Bath and Beyond. We’ll see how it fares. (Yesterday, the neighbor told me about it. For $10, I’ll try it just for him.)

The “walk”

They were constantly tugging me, so I kept stopping every few feet to scold, hoping they might get it. (Nope.)

A dog from another house down the street started barking. Suddenly, Mork lunged at the Mindy’s neck, about to bite her. I did my best to yank him away. Nothing I said stopped Mork from going for Mindy, so I went back to the house.

I felt so defeated.

From what I could tell, Mindy was just minding her business. (Pulling me, but still.)

The owners were telling me that they play-wrestle. I don’t know much about dog behavior, but at that moment, Mork looked really angry.

Mork’s destruction

One of the beds currently has a hole two inches in diameter. No, it wasn’t there two days ago. Mork made it bigger and pulled out most of the filling, scattering it in a five-foot radius.

Final thoughts (for now)

If you’re thinking of dog sitting for someone, and you haven’t seen/read advice from Cesar Millan, don’t do it.

Last night, I read over a dozen articles on Cesar’s website. I actually need to train myself.

  • For that first “walk,” once I finally put on their leashes, I told them to go through the door first. Apparently, that makes them think they’re pack leader. No wonder they were pulling.
  • They need way more exercise to help reduce the barking.
  • On a related note, they need to earn their food through exercise.

Published by

Bryan Villarin

Bryan is a Community Guardian at Automattic. He's also a photographer, card magician, and cat whisperer. (Thanks to my friend and colleague Steve Blythe for the sweet photo!)

3 thoughts on “House and dog sitting for three weeks”

  1. Here’s what my trainer told us to do about the pulling while walking.

    First of all, the dog’s rear end should never be further ahead than your hip. When they move further than that, you make a correction.

    Don’t just tug back…do a constant pull/release pull/release…tug, tug, tug, tug, tug….not just holding it taut. If they don’t respond to that, whip the leash. The first time my trainer did it to my dog, he yelped, but now he usually moves back immediately when he feels the leash get taut. They should know they they are following you, not vice-versa. Also, you can try this exercise: start walking down a sidewalk….if they pull ahead, just do a 180 and start walking the other way. They will probably get it after a few times.

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  2. On top of that, the barking is probably due to them being incredibly energetic. The more energetic/high energy the dog is, the more you need to keep them active or they become more and more destructive which is what apparently Mork is doing. Spend an hour or two a day just playing with the dog outside and he should become less destructive. What kinds of dogs are they? Make sure you do research on them since different breeds have different lifestyles.

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