Obama is Getting a Puppy for His Children.
Are You Expected to Care for Pets?

With the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America approaching this Tuesday there is much talk about what type of dog Barack Obama will get his daughters Malia and Sasha when they move into the White House.

Pet-sitting can be a pet-peeve (no pun intended) for some nannies and au pairs.

For example, Katie Belinda, a nanny working in Atlanta, Georgia told Be the Best Nanny Monthly Guide, “I don’t like pets. I just don’t accept nanny jobs at homes that own any large pets.”

Sandra McDaniels, a live-in nanny working in Westport, Connecticut explains, “I am allergic to cats and dogs so I cannot work for a family that owns a cat or dog. I don’t like other pets but as long as I am not responsible for caring for them then I can work in the household.”

MaryAnne Hudson, a household manager in Morristown, New Jersey explains, “I feel I ought to be compensated more if a family I work for has a dog. Whenever the parents have said I won’t be responsible for caring for the dog that was far from the truth. Dogs are harder to care for than the children. I don’t mind cats or smaller animals. But, I have no interest in walking dogs or cleaning litter boxes.”

Melissa Havasua, a nanny that works in San Diego, California says, “When the parents I worked for bought a puppy and expected me to train it I asked for extra money for the extra work. The parents laughed. I didn’t agree to be a pet-sitter. I was hired to be a childcare provider. So, I gave two-weeks notice.”

Using a simple pet-sitting contract can be helpful when parents ask nannies or au pairs to pet-sit.

For example, if the family will be traveling on vacation the nanny or au pair should create a separate pet-sitting work agreement that includes essential responsibilities for the job. If the au pair or nanny cannot perform the pet-sitting duties the parents can then use the work agreement when they hire another pet-sitter as well.

Information to Include in a Pet-Sitting Contract:

  1. Emergency phone number where the family can be reached in case of emergency.
  2. Veterinarian phone number.
  3. Pet-sitter back up person in case of emergency.
  4. List of family, friends, or neighbors that have a key to the house.
  5. Detailed history of each pet.
  6. Where family buys pet food and supplies.
  7. What food to serve each pet, at what time, and the amount of food.
  8. Detailed list of any medications required. When, how much, and what type of medicine should be given to each pet.
  9. Which treats the pets are allowed to have and at what times.
  10. Fees per walk and length of each walk (for example half hour walk).

Obama promises that he will buy a dog for his kids. Does the family you work for have a dog? Have you experienced any issues working with pets?


  1. I quit a job after the family brought home a puppy. It was really just the “last straw” in a job I was ready to leave anyway. I never told any future employers that is why I left. But, when a nanny has little-ones to care for the puppy is just too much work. The mother had a newborn on top of other kids and mixing a puppy into the house at that time was too stressful. Perhaps if the children were older and in school full time I would be able to care for a puppy too. But not when caring for a neborn, an infant, or preschooler. It’s just so wrong of full-time working parents to get a puppy. That is saying the nanny is resposible for raising and training the dog. Outrageous to expect a hard working childcare provider to take on that responsiblity too. An older dog that was well trained already is more managable but still a “deal breaker” for me. Dogs are just too much work for a child care provider.Had I thought of using a separate contract perhaps we could have worked something out. Too bad I didn’t think of it. I was just overwhelmed by too much with a puppy on top of everything else I was responsible for. I think parents have to discuss bringing a big pet like a dog or cat into the home with the nanny. They might need to hire a separate dog walker, or something of that nature. Nanny Jenn

  2. The work at home parent would scold me when the puppy was barking and the parents was on the phone speaking to people from work. I had to walk the puppy, but would get in trouble for leaving the child inside the house when I took dog to back yard to do his pee pee. Ridiculous. Not worth it if you aren’t going to be paid more to care for the pet. Anna C. in NJ

  3. I always had dogs growing up and I love them. It hasn’t ever been a problem for me working for a family with a dog. But I never had to train a puppy, that would be another story possibly. Having a dog is just another part of working and llving with a family. Of course the children and parents feed and care for the dog, not me.Nanny Sally, Florida

  4. I have been working as a live-in nanny for just over a year for a nice family with a crazy, big, strong, dirty dog. He causes so many problems. He has no manners, chews on the children’s toys, eats food off the kids’ plates on the table, and barks endlessly. He knocks visitors over when they come in the house. Just annoying.But my biggest problem is whenever the family travels they expect me to take care of the dog without extra pay. They do pay me my regular rate. But, I’d prefer they hire a dog sitter or walker so I can go away for a night too. This pet-sitting contract idea is a great idea. Thank you, it’s just what I need. But, do you think it is too late to suddenly start using the contract with the family I currently work for? It’s difficult to change arrangements in the middle of the year and when I have agreed to do it in the past. I wish nothing bad for the dog, he’s just so annoying.From, Hating the Dog,Arizona Nanny

  5. Nanny in Arizona:You should start using the pet-sitting contract. No reason why you cannot ammend your job. You are the only person that can negotiate your job for yourself. Nannies don’t have a human resources department. I had to put my foot-down once and ask for payment if I walk the dog. The worst they can say is NO. Then you haven’t lost anything. But if they agree then you will be happier.Go for it! Becky, Nanny in Boston Suburbs

  6. The children I care for and I are enjoying learning about Malia and Sasha’s pick for a dog. But on the topic of nannies and dogs I personally have never had an issue with a family owning a dog that I work for. Sure it’s a little annoying letting them in and out, but families have dogs. No big deal.Francine, Live-Out Nanny 12 years in DC

  7. I definitely think the dog should be something discussed before a nanny accepts the job. It’s not fair of families to get a dog (especially a puppy) after hiring the nanny if one of the parents isn’t a stay-at-home parent. If the parents is home to train the puppy then there isn’t much to worry about. But a puppy is too much work for most nannies. Pet-sitting and dog walking are huge business here in Saddle River NJ. They even have people you can hire just to pick up the dog poop in the yard! Better to hire these other employees if the family is going to bring a puppy into the home. I would want extra money per dog walk for sure! Just look up dog-walking or pet-sitting on the web in your area. They can make good money. Nanny Sally in Saddle River NJ

  8. I am a nanny in Northern Virginia and the pet-sitters make a lot of money. I think they should too. This is a great contract idea for nannies to use. Check online becaue dog walkers charge for everything. They add on more charges for administering medicine or overnight care. We are hired as child care not pet care. If the parents don’t want to pay you they can hire these pricey businesses or a high school kid. Not my problem.Virginia Nanny

  9. This is a real pet peeve of mine (pun intended). The dogs are old and unhealthy, smelly, noisy, and they drive the children and me crazy.I know we cannot be too picky these days with people losing jobs I am happy to be working for a nice family. But the dogs are a thorn in my side. I hate, hate, hate taking them to the vet. I don’t say “no” because clearly if they are hurt they must go, but nothing was ever mentioned to me about doggy daycare before I accepted this nanny job. I will do my best to never, ever work for a family with a dog again!!Nanny Kelly in Seattle

  10. I am a pet lover and a dog lover so it’s never been a problem for me to work in a home with pets. But I think the pet-sitting contract is a super idea. No parent should just expect because you live in the house you will take care of the pets. Whenever asking someone else to care for you belongings or loved ones you have to pay for the service provided. Maricia, Household Manager, Wisconsin

  11. I just don’t see the big deal. As long as the pet is trained before you start working for the family pets aren’t a big deal. If you aren’t allergic to animals then it only takes three seconds to feed a pet and give them water. Make sure the dog goes out in an enclosed back yard. As long as you don’t have to walk the dog or scoop doggy poop there’s really not much involved.

  12. This is a sore spot for me. The parents asked me to pick up the dog droppings from the backyard. I complained and the mother said just take plastic bags and then throw it in the garbage bin so the child can play outside. That is definitely not in my job description. I called the au pair agency to tell them why I won’t pick up the droppings and they listened to me. They said it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but then again, if it’s not a big deal then the mother could do it too. The parents never asked again. I do let the dog in and out the back door to do his business and I have no problem feeding him. Asking me to clean up after that was not ok with me.Au pair working in New York

  13. There seems to be too much of talk going on about Obama’s dog. I really do not know how much of it is reality and how much is hearsayDog Ramps

  14. As long as nannies and au pairs are paid extra when asked to care for pets then they have little reason to complain. The contract is a great idea that I never thought of and will be sure to use in the future.Nanny Erin, Northern NJ

  15. For me it depends on the dog. Some dogs are a joy to be around and others….not so much!I don’t mind making sure they have food and water- and letting them in and out- but I would not want to be responsible for picking up after them or walking them – unless I wanted to.One family had two large poodles and they were great! Another had two labs and they were awful!They smelled, were rowdy, barked at every little thing and you could not leave any food out for even a moment. And the dog hair! UGH!!!My last nanny family had their step son staying for the summer. He brought his dog along- a large choc. lab. The parents were very considerate and had a dog walker come every day(because the son was working a summer job and the dog needed to be let out at least one time.) Actually it was more of a pain to be home to let the dog walker in and out- than it would have been for me to do it. Also the dog was locked in the bedroom all day. I felt so bad for the dog- as he was a good dog and would have been good company- but he shedded an awful lot!and the baby was just beginning to crawl.I am open to working in a home with pets-but just like the family…I have to met them and do a trial few days first!

  16. I have only worked for one family with a pet.They had a bird. It was a BIG hassle to get the 10 year old to feed it and clean out the cage-because she was to tend to the bird each morning before she left for school. The bird was so messy-there would be seeds everywhere. But the worst part was all his non-stop chirping throught the day! It just drove me nuts!

  17. This pet-caring / pet-sitting stuff is my biggest pet peeve as a nanny. Dogs are so so so so much work. I have left jobs because I cannot stand that I am not paid extra for caring for troublesome dogs. Seriously parents, not everyone is a dog person or loves dogs. Yuck, the family acts like it’s no big deal but I hate being licked and jumped on. The dog hair drives me crazy. The barking, chewing on kid’s toys, and constantly chasing the pet around the house made my last nanny job miserable.I take care of the kids only. You expect me to care for your ailing grandparents too? Of course not, one caregiver for kids. Another caregiver for elders. Another for pets. If you own a pet take care of it don’t expect childcare to take care of a pet too. Nanny that Hates Pet-Sitting in Nevada

  18. I find that most older dogs do not bother w/ me. The younger ones are another story. As I see it the owners do not take the time to train their animals and therefore are very annoying to visitors. I think the parents should know enough to put the dog in another room while you are there. I don't see anything wrong w/asking to put the dog in another room so you can have an appropriate interview. I also don't think there is anything wrong with not taking a job with a young dog. The parents are not home to care for the dog, I am a nanny not dog person.

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