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    Thursday, June 5, 2008

    Your Dog and the Cleaning Service

    I had to fire the cleaning service today. Lady and I arrived home shortly after the girls arrived to clean the house. As soon as one of the girls saw Lady, she started having a meltdown. “Get it away! Get it away!” she shrieked. All I could think was, “what would she be doing if I wasn’t here? Would she throw something at Lady? Would she kick her?” I’ve seen people do some unbelievable things out of fear and this girl was terrified.

    Quick on the heels of those thoughts was the worry about what Lady might do to defend herself. If the girl kicked her and Lady bit back, Lady would be completely justified. But Lady would be the one punished. I won’t even let myself think about what that punishment would be.

    So I had to fire the cleaning service today. They knew we had a dog. They had promised to take good care around her. By dispatching someone who was terrified to the point of hysteria around dogs, they betrayed my trust.

    That set me to thinking about the things pet owners should consider when hiring a cleaning service. In addition to the obvious requirements that you want someone trustworthy who won’t rob you blind or burn the house down, here are a few thoughts.

    Hire an individual rather than a service so that the same person will come to the house every time. If you do hire a service, get a guarantee that the same person will do the cleaning, or that they will call in advance if they have to make a substitution.

    Interview the person with your dog present. Watch her interaction to determine if she genuinely likes dogs. If not, don’t hire her.

    Discuss rules about treats and toys. If it is OK for her to give the dog a treat, then show her where they are kept. If not, make sure she knows not to bring any with her.

    Be home during the first cleaning so you can observe any problems and find solutions.

    Do not shut the dog in a room or let the cleaning person do so. This will just convince the dog that bad things happen when the cleaning lady comes. The exception here is crate trained dogs. However, be aware that your dog may react differently to being crated if you are not home and strangers walk in. On the other hand, I usually boot Lady outside or into another room while I mop the kitchen floor. Nothing wrong with that. Otherwise, I’d be mopping up paw prints all day.

    Make sure she can recall the dog. On the off chance that the dog does get outside the house, make sure she knows the best way to entice the dog back into the house. Show her where the leash is kept in case she has to run the dog down. And if you have one of those wonder dogs that knows how to open doors, make sure she keeps them locked!

    Obviously all of this pertains to people with dogs that are not at all aggressive toward people, or overly territorial about the house. If you have a dog that is, I would never consider bringing someone in to clean unless you are home and the dog is confined.
    I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic. Post a comment.