Watch that dog! A house sitting experience.

Lucky us – 3 week house sitting in the sun

In the first place we deemed ourselves very fortunate to get a house sitting opportunity in magickal Sintra, Portugal. Most importantly, we got to look after two loving elderly dogs and a beautiful cat. It wasn’t easy to get chosen – the owner had two previous bad sitter experiences and was extremely nervous about choosing the next sitters.

So how did we do it? House sitting needs lots of reassurance, a clear path of our experiences, constant communication and references/reviews/clear police check. Along with our open and friendly personalities, helped the owner choose us out of 20 applicants!

Be Honest

I can see the sea!

If you are thinking of house sitting, you have to take it seriously. Be prepared to answer many questions on your intentions. Be honest and open. Likewise don’t declare the only reason you want to stay at their place is to get away from your kids! Focus on their needs more than yours but don’t undermine your own.


Most importantly our two dogs needed lots of attention. Medication, special meals and lots of short walks. And, boy oh boy, keeping a tight rein if there were other male dogs in the neighbourhood. Bobby had been a “bit of a boy” back in the day and terrorised the area before the owner took him in. Other dogs – and people – still remembered him as a young stud. I made sure my fella was in charge of him whilst I walked the female at a gentle, calming pace, enjoying the scenery.

Like when a local young male dog escaped from his garden for a day on the street. He terrorised our dogs at the gate all morning – they went berserk! Having secured the terrace but after an hour of constant barking we had to take action and bring our dogs in for the day. In addition the peace and quiet of the neighbourhood was more important at this stage. We tried to track the owner. This is where getting to know the neighbours as if they were your own, comes into play and they can help out.

View from the terrace - house sitting
I can see the sea
Accept the culture

Why would you want to go to a place where you disapprove of the locals? And want everything to be “just like home”. Besides, one reason I love to travel and live as a local is to get to know people and how they live their lives. To say nothing of how friendly people are throughout the world. In Portugal people keep dogs as guard dogs. So going past gates and yards was a challenge. Our owner had drawn a delightful map of the area showing suitable walks, and troublesome yard dogs – a really useful piece of kit. Think about asking for this if you are house sitting.


We did pop down to Lisbon whilst we were there. Here are 10 things to do on your first trip to Lisbon. Enjoy!