8 Tips for Babysitting Kids and Dogs

October 31, 2016

So you’ve been tasked with a double whammy – you are in charge of babysitting the kids and the family pets at the same time. While this seems easy enough to most, it can actually be a challenging job, especially if you are caring for multiple children or multiple pets.

No one wants to be sitting when anyone gets hurt – either a child hurts a pet or a pet injures a child, or someone is injured for any other reason. However, thousands of children each year are bitten by dogs, and most are dogs they are familiar with. This means that any sitter who is watching pets and kids together needs to be on the top of their game to ensure everyone has a fun and uneventful time.

Tips for Watching Kids and Dogs

If you’ve accepted a babysitting job that involves watching both kids and dogs, here are some refresher tips to help you get prepared:

1. Talk to the parents about kids and pets

The first thing you should do before you take over care is to talk with the parents about how their kids interact with the family pets. Do they get along well? Have there been issues between the two? Are there certain behaviours you should be on the lookout for? Every child-pet relationship has a different dynamic, and you need to understand as much as you can so you can manage it effectively.

2. Understand the dog may be on edge

Even if the dog is familiar with you and you’ve met on multiple occasions before, be aware that the dog may be on edge. With the alpha (the parents) out of the house and a less familiar person in the home, the dog may be more protective of the kids and the home.

3. Know the house rules

Every home has different rules about how the family pets and kids interact. Are the kids allowed to give the dog a treat? Is the dog protective over his food dish? Is the dog supposed to go into his crate at a certain time? Are pets allowed in the kids’ room or on the bed? These are all house rules you should ask about.

4. Keep your head on a swivel

Babysitting kids is exhausting enough, but when you add a dog to the equation, you take things to the next level and open the door for many other situations arising while babysitting. This is why it’s so important to keep your head on a swivel and be aware of everything that is going on around you. Losing sight of the kids or the dog, even for a few seconds, is enough time for them to get into something they shouldn’t and to be up to no good. Do your best to keep the kids and pets in your sightline at all times.

5. Never leave kids and pets alone in the same room together

Perhaps the most important rule of them all is to never leave pets and kids alone in the same room. Even if they have a great relationship and nothing has happened in the past, you never know what could happen when you’re not looking. Even the family dog can be unpredictable at times. Never put kids at risk by leaving them alone with a dog – even for a minute.

6. Pay attention to the dog’s body language

A dog’s body language can say a lot about how it is feeling and whether or not you should be on alert.

“Good dog body language is loose, relaxed, and wiggly. Look for curves in your dog’s body when he is around a child. Stiffening and freezing in a dog are not good. If you see your dog tighten his body, or if he moves from panting to holding his breath (he stops panting), you should intervene. These are early signs that your dog is not comfortable,” says Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Robin Bennett.

7. Watch for inappropriate child behaviors toward the dog

It is often difficult for kids to understand that sometimes the family dog just wants to be left alone, not to mention it probably doesn’t enjoy having its fur pulled or being teased.

“Intervene if your child climbs on or attempts to ride your dog. Intervene if your child pulls the ears, yanks the tail, lifts the jowls or otherwise pokes and prods the dog. Don’t marvel that your dog has the patience of Job if he is willing to tolerate these antics,” says Bennett.

Step in and be proactive and prevent children from bothering the dog. This will help to prevent a situation, and the dog will be less stressed.

8. Give both adequate attention

Make sure that adequate attention is given to both the children and family pets. Make time to play with the kids, and also pet and play with the family dog so everyone can have a fun and happy time with the babysitter.


Babysitting kids and pets together is a challenge. With more to pay attention to, you need to be on high alert and make sure you are aware of everything that is going on around you to ensure everyone has an enjoyable experience.

For more tips for nannies and babysitters be sure to check out the other articles in the Advice for Caregivers section of our blog.

Handpicked Related Articles

Let Us Guide You Through The Process of Finding a Nanny or Nanny Job

CanadianNanny.ca is Canada’s largest and most trusted online service for finding nannies and babysitters. We have been recognized by Today’s Parent, CanadaAM, the Globe & Mail, Reader’s Digest, Canadian Living Magazine, and many reputable parenting websites and publications across Canada.

Contact Us

Although we may be a self-serve nanny service, we are still very much devoted to helping families and caregivers succeed in their search for a match through our site. Our customer support team is always here and happy to offer any advice to our potential and existing customers.

Need a Nanny Job?

Need a Nanny?

Canadian Nanny Payroll and Tax Service powered by Heartpayroll