What Happens When A Pet Sitter Is Bit? Workmans Compensation. Dog Behavior

Vinny Olito, is a dog behavior consultant with Camp Ruff Ruff and he does dog boarding and training in Staten Island NY 

Jena Howard is the owner at Muddy Paws in Woburn Ma

Lori, works for Jena and was the person who was bit.


Often times we discuss incidents happening or even WHAT IF scenarios.

As someone who has been through two workman’s compensation claims over the past 13 years of business,

 I understand what it is like as a business owners going through it all. 

Today, we are going to examine an actual dog bite that happened just two weeks ago. 

Jena posted in my pet sitting group when it happened, and Vinny quickly jumped in to explore the different ways to look at the situation via dog behavior. 

It is one of the reasons why I love the private coaching group so much. So many have a variety of background and resources and this was an example of something I didn’t just want to leave as a discussion on the thread that got buried as time went by. 

I am honored to have Jena, Lori, and Vinny here today with us to discuss what happened. Lori, the pet sitter will take us through the facts of the dog bite, as she lived them. Jena will tell us what motions were put into action and what she learned as a business owner. Then Vinny will round us out with his thoughts as it relates with dog behavior to this situation. 

We are doing this to help you and your staff!

We do this to reflect and help the industry. Never before (to my knowledge) has an incident been documented and publicized for all to learn from. It is all our hopes that you hear what happened, store it in your long term memory, so if you ever find yourself in this position, you will know what to do. 

It is important to say that Jena has employees. She does not have Independent Contractors. If she did, this would be an entirely different discussion.

It should also be noted that Lori said that Jena was a “awesome boss” and that she really looks out fir her staff and backs them up. 🙂

What sort of questions should pet sitters ask to help avoid this happening in their business?

Some top questions to set human canine relationships up for success before meet and greets.

1. Does your dog have a bite history?
2. Has your dog ever shown any observable behaviors related to aggression?
3.How does your dog act around unfamiliar humans on leash and off?
4.How does your dog cope when an unfamiliar person walks into your home off leash? On leash?
5. How many humans does your dog fully trust (human network) ? Do you meet unfamiliar humans on walks…”get an idea of how many humans an individual dog trust” I would love to hear things like so many, loves everyone. Red flags for me would be immediate family and or a few friends…red flags, skittish, fearful, leary examples.

Looking for questions to raise red flags to avoid bites and set everyone up for success. These are some questions to ask during your initial phone consult that will get you some red flags and a better feel for a dogs temperament. Of course this is not solution or all possible questing but some good ones…

pet sitter bite

7 replies
  1. Jan Brwon
    Jan Brwon says:

    Excellent video! Thank you to Lori and Jena for being willing to come forward and talk to us. Being able to see Lori’s face from the dog bite will be an eye opener for many people. Lori I wish you a quick recovery!

  2. Christy Castro
    Christy Castro says:

    I love this topic! While we are just dog walkers/pet sitters and NOT behaviorist or even trainers, we run just as much if not MORE risk when interacting with pets.

    I have several videos and documents I go over numerous times in the first month of training employees. It includes body behavior quizes, calming signs, protocol for meeting strange dogs, etc.

    The county I live in provides classes for beginners on this subject that is taught by behaviorists. All my staff go to this.

    As well I have always asked for bite history, how the pets are when meeting strangers both outside and inside the home, as well as animals.

    This topic first struck me when I was told I was not a strong enough leader to someone’s dog and that is why it was behaving aggressively. It got me to thinking and to seek out ways to protect my staff.

    My biggest question at this time is: is it possible that a dog meets strangers well when with the owners, so they tell you they are fine. And then with you could have a totally different response if YOU are introducing them to a stranger?

    I ask because my employees do not always go on the M&G. This leaves me to introduce them to the dog. 🙂

    I appreciate all 4 of you for taking the time to impart what can be a very touchy topic!


  3. Sharon Moore
    Sharon Moore says:

    Thanks Bella, I have immediately forwarded this on to all of our carers & have emailed an experienced dog behaviourist contact to see if she will hold an information session on reading dog body language. Very important information, vital in fact. Thanks for sharing. Kind regards, Sharon Moore, Bendigo Australia

  4. Sue Rusnak
    Sue Rusnak says:

    Great topic! Being a dog trainer & pet sitter myself it does become second nature reading a Dog’s body language once you know what you are looking for and practice it. I know a number of pet sitters in my area and some will call, we’ll go for coffee and discuss a certain client that they have where the dog may have issues. There have been a few times that I have been honest and said from what they were telling me, without meeting the dog, it sounded like they were in way over their heads (no disrespect) or gave them something’s they should be looking for. Some I even questioned if I would walk that dog without first bringing them on as a training g client.

    I encourage all pet sitters and business owners to network with a trainer, behaviorist, etc in your area and there are some awesome dvds out there to add to your library showing the body language one should be looking for. Some of it is so subtle they will usually slow a video down for you to catch it.

    And I know the bite isn’t as bad but infections from a cat bite are nasty – brushing up on cat body language is another area to keep on top of. There are also videos of cat body language out there too.

    Keep safe all!


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