Our dog sitter does ghosts while we travel. Do we confront her?

Traveling has always been fraught with complications. Our By The Way Concierge section will present your travel dilemmas to experts to help you navigate the new normal. Want to see an answer to your question? Submit it here.

“We are on vacation for two weeks and have hired a sitter through Rover to stay with us and watch our two elderly dogs. We have used the sitter for years and she knows how to handle one of our rescues who can get a little aggressive with strangers. We’re a few days into our trip and our driveway camera showed that she left the dogs alone for over nine hours straight – way more than we’re comfortable with. Every time we check in via text the sitter says everything is fine. Should we say anything about the enormous intervals of time when dogs are alone? We’re worried she’ll get upset and leave in the middle of the concert, and we don’t have a replacement. – Anonymous

Pets are adaptable and experts say dogs maybe good alone for up to eight hours at a time. But it’s better don’t go into this cold turkey pattern if they are used to having people around more frequently. And while adult dogs can go without a potty break for up to eight hours (according to Rover’s website), dogs over 8 years of age generally have a tolerance of between two and six hours.

But the issue here isn’t how long your dogs can be left alone; she’s your absent pet sitter and if you need to confront her.

Let’s start with what I heard from Rover, where you found your babysitter. Dave Rosenbaum, the company’s senior public relations manager, called your situation a very rare occurrence. According to him, of the more than 80 million services provided through the Rover platform, 97% achieve five-star reviews.

Of course, that doesn’t mean something can’t go wrong. Rosenbaum said Rover’s official solution for your case is to discuss your concerns directly with your sitter to ensure your expectations are met. As for your fear of them leaving, “if for any reason a pet parent needs a new sitter, our team can help you identify other sitters in our community who can step in to help.” , Rosenbaum said by email, adding that the company has a Team 24/7 help.

Heather Wiese, a Dallas-based etiquette expertagrees that you should “absolutely” say something to your babysitter.

“This person is there to do you a favor, and they are paid,” she said.

They arrived to guard the house in the middle of 2 dogs and 16 cats. What could go wrong?

As for what to say, Wiese recommends moving forward delicately — and only when you’re in the right headspace.

“Course correction can be tricky, and it requires a light touch and a bit of dancing,” she said. “And if you’re annoyed and upset and you just want them to care, … no matter what you say, that’s what’s going to come out.”

Don’t come in hot; Start writing a message only once you feel calm and in control. Wiese says your goal is to feel like you’re on the same team. Opt for gentleness, honesty and clarity, and avoid appearing passive and aggressive. One example she suggests: “I neglected to mention this, but we really try to limit leaving dogs alone to a four to five hour window. Is this something your schedule could accommodate? »

“If she says, ‘Oh, no, I have an eight-hour work day, so I can’t come back,’ it might be time for you to call for backup,” Wiese said.

Thomas P. Farley, an etiquette expert also known as Mr. Mannersagrees to go with a gentle request.

“I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it at the time, but I would absolutely say something,” he said.

While you’re at it, “blame yourself,” Farley added, suggesting phrases like: “I know I’m obsessive, but I like to give the dogs a chance to stretch their legs and go to the toilet at least once. every four or five hours. I know that probably means you’ll have to go one more time today. Is this something you could do? It would mean so much to me.

Farley would only like to mention that you monitor their behavior as a last resort. “This evidence-based conversation really makes it seem like you’re now on trial, and I think that would make the conversation negative,” he said. Instead, “give the person the opportunity to reveal what the reality is.” … Any camera only tells part of the story.”

Meet the pets who fly on private jets

You would think that someone who does this kind of work is an animal lover, and you would hope that they would have the well-being of your dogs in mind with the way they react. But if they do, ask a neighbor, friend, or family member for a favor. If this really isn’t an option, you may not want to press too hard and accept that even if your dogs are left alone longer than you would like, they are not necessarily in the same situation. hazard.

Whether you start with a gentle approach or enter a severe Phase 2, Farley recommends having “a live, real-time conversation coming from a place of care” during a phone or video call.

“You’re less likely to come across as an Orwellian big brother who’s watching your every move and being angry,” he said. “There are so many nuances that get lost (throughout the text).”

Wiese advises you to also keep your past experiences in mind: “Especially if they’ve done a good job in the past and you’re dealing with a problem animal, because that adds a level of difficulty and complexity to the task.” that they must accomplish. I play for you.

Next time, or with your next babysitter, set clearer expectations to avoid this harm. Trusted house sitters Community Manager Angela Laws recommends that pet parents and potential guardians establish what is expected before an agreement is reached, “and only when everyone is clear and arrangements will have been mutually agreed that the session will be confirmed,” she said in an email.

This process begins by writing a comprehensive list that outlines their expectations and the animals’ needs, so that guardians have no doubt about their responsibilities.

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