Pet sharing is all the rage, but how do you make sure that your dog is safe when they're out and about with other people?
You no longer need your own dog to enjoy regular canine cuddles. Pet sharing is all the rage: if you lack the money, space or time to take care of your own dog, you can simply borrow one from a local owner through a dedicated pet sharing website.
As well as giving dog-longing folk the chance to hang out with a furry friend for the day, pet sharing means that owners seeking affordable pet care during busy times or holidays can easily find local animal lovers to look after their prized pets.
In the UK, BorrowMyDoggy is one of the most popular pet sharing websites around. The site was founded in 2012 by Rikke Rosenlund, who came up with the idea after taking care of a neighbours dog and wondering why there wasn’t a service to link busy dog owners with willing walkers.
“I remember thinking, ‘why are people spending so much money on dog walkers and kennels, when I’d love to take care of their dogs for free?’”, Rikke recalls. “After launching a basic version of BorrowMyDoggy, we had 85 people sign up in three days, and I realised that the idea had some potential.”
It’s a win-win, reckons Rikke: owners gain affordable pet care, borrowers fill the pooch-shaped holes in their life, and dogs get to hang out with new human friends rather than being sent to kennels or left at home. So if you’re thinking of taking advantage of pet sharing websites like BorrowMyDoggy, what should you be aware of?
The welcome woof
BorrowMyDoggy works by asking both owners and borrowers to sign up to their community. There’s a small fee for each type of membership – this is currently £4 per month for owners and £1 per month for borrowers.
After joining and being verified, users gain access to listings of owners and borrowers who live in their area. From here, it’s a simple case of contacting the people who sound like a good match and arranging an initial meeting.
Rikke calls this the ‘welcome woof’. It’s a chance for borrowers, owners and their dogs to get to know one another and see whether they want to give pet sharing a try.
Lisa Derrick is someone who’s experienced both sides of pet sharing. Having formerly borrowed dogs through BorrowMyDoggy, she’s now an owner, and has since used the site to meet day carers for her dachshund, William. In fact, Lisa and William never would never have met if it wasn’t for BorrowMyDoggy – her experience of borrowing convinced her to take on her loveable sausage dog full time.
“I joined as a borrower and, after a few weeks, met William and his owner,” she explains. “We got on great, and progressed from one evening a week to a day or two per week. Six months on and William's owner decided to re-home him, so he came to live with me.
“In time I signed up to BorrowMyDoggy as an owner as well as a borrower. William doesn't like being alone, so I signed up to get some help with his care, as well as to spread the joy of being with him!”
While Lisa was initially unsure whether she’d be able to find trustworthy carers for William, the welcome woof process soon put her mind at ease. “I had a few concerns,” she admits. “Would the borrowers I was going to meet be nice, responsible people? Were their adverts genuine? Would my dog be safe with them?
“Once I started using BorrowMyDoggy, I was reassured. I always arrange to meet new borrowers in a public place, and everybody I've met has been very genuine."
Pet sharing and insurance
Dogs are furry family members, and to ensure their continued wellbeing, it’s important to have a suitable pet insurance policy in place. With veterinary bills often running into the thousands, the right cover could help to pay towards potentially lifesaving care in the case of an accident or medical emergency.
If you decide to entrust a borrower with the care of your pet through BorrowMyDoggy, it’s reassuring to know that members are covered by accident and third party liability insurance for their dogs. This means that if an accident occurs while your dog is being taken care of, you will be covered up to a maximum of £1,500 to cover emergency vet fees, as well as up to £1,000,000 per incident if your dog causes damage or injury to another person, their property, or pets. Have a read of BorrowMyDoggy’s insurance page for the full details.
The benefits of borrowing
Since launching BorrowMyDoggy, Rikke has been amazed by the positive feedback shared by owners and borrowers using the website. “Our users have told us that their dogs have become better socialised, get more exercise and love spending time with their new friends,” she enthuses.
As a regular user of BorrowMyDoggy, Lisa wholeheartedly recommends pet sharing. “William has enjoyed the love and company of new people,” she says. “He particularly likes going to see his friends who have a Labrador called Lola – they love to play together! I really appreciate the care I've received for William through the site, and I'm making friends and enjoying being part of the community.”
For anyone considering using BorrowMyDoggy or a similar pet sharing website, Lisa offers some practical tips. “Make sure the site you're using has safety measures in place,” she advises. “Meet potential borrowers in a safe public place, and to get to know one another face to face before making arrangements for your pet to be looked after.
“Trust your instinct. Don't feel obliged to share your pet with a person just because you've met or they've gotten in touch. Make sure they're the right fit for you and your dog.”