An 8 Step Approach To Help Your Shy Dog Bond With Their Dog Walker or Dog Sitter

Is your dog shy around new people? Do you worry about how you can help your shy dog bond with a dog walker or pet sitter before leaving him or her in their care if you work away from home for extended hours or travel?

Help Your Shy Dog

To help ease in the care of dog sitter or dog walker, some dogs need additional time to build a bond.  By spending extra time to help build a bond, this will bring you peace of mind and comfort to your pup before your dog walking or dog sitting visits start.

Check out our 8 step approach to help your shy dog bond with their dog walker or dog sitter.

  1. Identify the traits in a person that would make your dog feel most at ease and comfortable.  For example, does your dog do better with an alpha personality or with someone who exudes soft calm energy? Also, ask yourself if your dog would prefer a male or female sitter?
  2. Then find a dog walker or pet sitter who has the energy and personality that would best mesh with your dog. If you need help on how to find a pet sitter, you may like these articles on How To Find A Pet Sitter and What To Look For When Hiring A Pet Sitter.
  3. Set a complimentary consultation to meet with the dog walker or dog sitter in person to make sure they are the right fit for you and your dog and review all the details they will need to give your dog the best care in your absence.  The sitter should have you complete a detailed profile for caring for your dog and your home either before you meet or at the consultation.
  4. If everything goes well at the consultation, set a minimum of three to four thirty minute practice visits for your dog sitter or dog walker to come over before the actual dog sitting or dog walking visits start so they can start to build a bond. 
  5. At the first one or two visits, have your dog sitter or dog walker hang out with you and your dog in your home so your dog knows they can trust the sitter in your presence.  At these visits, have the dog walker or dog sitter offer treats to your dog and/or prepare their meal.
  6. At the second or third visit, join your dog walker or dog sitter on a walk.  When you first leave the house, you will want to hold your dogs leash.  During the walk, you can give the leash to your dog walker or dog sitter while continuing to walk with them.
  7. If everything is going smoothly, at the next practice visit, have your dog walker or dog sitter come over when you are not home.  If your dog isn’t ready to walk with the sitter yet, don’t push a walk but allow the sitter to spend more time with your dog.
  8. During the practice visits or at the last one before the actual dog walks or dog sitting visits start, ask your dog walker or dog sitter to leave a personal article of clothing by your dogs favorite toys or bed with their scent on it as a reminder of them.

By following the above steps, your dog should start bonding and building trust with your dog walker or dog sitter so when the actual visits start they won’t be so shy or afraid.  If the bond does not appear to be happening after the first two visits then ask to meet another sitter.

Do you have a shy dog?  Do you think our 8 step approach would be useful to help your shy dog bond with a dog walker or dog sitter?  Do you have any other suggestions to add?







  • Alana says:

    I have never owned a dog, but I actually learned a lot from this post. I remember, with friends who have dogs, how some definitely have a preference for males (or females). I am a shy person myself and it is interesting that most of my friends/acquaintances are outgoing. I can see a type of personality match like that between a dog and a human. Anyone who would take that much time to work with a dog before sitting them to form a bond would be a gem of a pet sitter. Someone I would want to use.

  • Jennifer Shafton says:

    Hi Alana. Like people, each dog has a unique personality. Sometimes their personality is affected by ways people have treated or often the case, mistreated them. Over the past several years we’ve learned from experience that some personality types bond better than others with some dogs and there are times it is better to cultivate a bond for the benefit of the pet before the visits start. We want to do whatever we can to ensure the happiness of our clients and their pets.

  • Sophie Bowns says:

    I have never been a dog owner. (Even though I am fond with them)
    I think dogs need a bit of a routine and they need time to adjust and get used to new people.

  • Slimdoggy says:

    Great tips. Our Maggie was quite fearful and we employed several of these steps in getting her used to our dog walker. Luckily our dog walker is also our pet sitter, so Maggie got used to her pretty quickly.

  • Jennifer Shafton says:

    You are 100% correct that dogs are great with routines. Some bond to new people instantly and others take more time.

  • Jennifer Shafton says:

    How great you used several of the steps we discussed in the article when introducing Maggie to her dog walker. How nice your dog walker is also your pet sitter when you are away. At Rufus and Delilah, we like it to be the same sitter when possible for each client for all their needs.

  • Janet Klein says:

    Very good tips! I am working with a very routine lab who has not been with anyone else but “mom”. She recently went back to work and needed help with walking and feeding due to her long hours. 1st meeting went fine…2nd meeting was fine I took him for a walk and he had no problem with me…but once I started going to the house while mom was gone he started to display signs of aggression. ..not bad just some growling and raised hair down his back. This is week 2 and he is not quite comfortable yet..but I am slowly spending more time with him and letting him get use to me being in the house.

  • Jennifer Shafton says:

    I am so glad you found our tips useful in how to help a shy dog bond with the dog walker or pet sitter. It’s great that your client is setting so many practice visits with you to help her dog get comfortable with you being in the house with him when she isn’t there. I hope after a few more visits, you will both bonded and he won’t show any more signs of aggression.

  • Luqman mohamed says:

    Hello i have a new shy dog who is afraid of me,its now six days bt little progress,the dog wont eat in my presence and havent heard it barking,any help on how to handle the dog?

  • Jennifer Shafton says:

    How great you adopted a dog. Since you don’t know your dogs past and your dog is so shy, it sounds like you may need to be patient and not try to force your pup to warm up to you faster than your dog is ready. It’s heartbreaking that someone caused your dog to be so shy and un-trusting. Lots of patience and love will hopefully break the cycle. Also, a qualified behaviorist dog trainer should be able to help you.

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