House sitters do not need to know how to train dogs, but it helps if you know how to earn the dog’s trust and respect.

After 54 months of house sitting, we’ve cared for 32 different dogs. We’ve learned that knowing how to foster trust with stranger dogs is more important than knowing how to train dogs. 

Dogs need to feel safe.  It’s a fact that a dog’s most basic need beyond food and water is to feel secure within a pack.

What is the Dog’s Take on it?

For dogs, the house sitting experience often goes something like this:

Hey, a new human!   Hmmm… don’t know you, a stranger. Why are you touching me?  Hands to yourself! Why do you stare, do you want to fight? This guy’s freaking me out … what, you’re moving in?

The dog would be much happier, and our sit experiences would be better if the first meeting was like this:

Hey, a new human!  Hmmm…a stranger. She’s very cool. What, your staying?  Excellent.

Like people, dogs make assumptions based upon first impressions.

Build Trust, Not Barriers

Building trust with a dog is easier than one may realize.  Good manners, a calm and confident attitude and respect for the fact that a dog is not a human.

That last bit is not meant to be sarcastic or rude, but a dog never responds to human psychology the way you hope it will. 

We greet humans by shaking hands, talking and making eye contact, but when you greet a dog this way, you make the dog nervous, anxious or excited.

We build barriers because the dog’s first interaction with us is negative.

To build trust, greet a dog as another dog would greet them. How does one greet a dog? Do not make eye contact, do not talk to them and do not touch them. 

While a human might find this rude, a dog will think you’re fantastic.  Their first interaction with you is completely positive. You’re establishing trust.

The 2-Hour Relationship Builder

Dog Leadership for House Sitters won’t teach you how to “train” a dog, but it will teach you how to make friends with strange dogs.  You learn how to assume the role of a leader while creating bonds of trust and mutual respect. 

Just as you spend time getting to know the homeowner, you’ve got to invest a bit into the relationship with Fido.  After all, you live together.  Shouldn’t you have a good relationship?

In just two hours, a dog sitter can establish a pretty good foundation of trust and respect with the dog.

It’s a team-building exercise designed to bring the dog and the human together.  It communicates to the dog what we expect and demonstrates to the dog that they can trust our leadership.

What we are really doing

We nurture calm, set rules, and use leadership cues that all dogs understand. 

The beauty of dog leadership skills is that they’re universal and every dog on Earth knows what you’re doing.

When you provide a dog leadership, you’re nurturing their nature to follow, and they’ll love you for it. The result is better behavior and sits that are more fun. To learn more about dog leadership, visit us at