It’s vacation time and you are excited, but at the same time there is a knot in your stomach. As much as you’re looking forward to traveling, you are also leaving your best friends behind. It is stressful for all of us people who have furry family members. We know that our dogs are accustomed to our being there for their every need and we never want to upset them or their routine.
Over the years I have helped people find the best options for taking care of their darlings while we are away. There are many different things to consider when looking for the perfect sitter. We are lucky today because there are so many more options for pet care. There are many choices from high-end puppy spas, to camp-like boarding kennels and pet sitters who will watch your pet while taking care of your plants and home. What’s right for you?
Is your pet used to you being home all the time? Does your pet have separation anxiety? Is your pet used to going everywhere with you? Is your pet elderly and require special care? Is your dog socialized and love being with other dogs? All of these questions are key elements to finding the best care for your family.
Dogs that go to doggy daycare can sometimes be boarded at the daycare facility. It is a great option, because your dog and you will know who they caretakers are and will be familiar with the other dogs. If they don’t offer expanded boarding they will often know who does and it is likely that their other clients also board there so you can get references.
If you are deciding to board your dog for the first time, I recommend that you bring your dogs to the boarder and let them get acquainted with the program. When you visit, if you have any uncomfortable feelings about the place, keep looking. I have had so many people tell me that they had a bad feeling when they went to visit a facility and when they got back from vacation their dog wasn’t right and ended up with kennel cough or had fleas. Your intuition is always right.
Dogs that are not used to being boarded are sometimes better off with a pet sitter coming to your home. Always get references and look for referrals from neighbors and friends. Make sure that you like the pet sitter as your dog will know if you are worried about your sitter’s abilities. These services can be expensive but are worth it if your pet is nervous outside of their own home. Sometimes if you are lucky you can get a family member or friend to stay with your dog. This is great if your dog is timid and has a hard time making new friends. If this is the case and you are hiring a pet sitter for the first time make sure that he or she spends time with your pet before you are set to go vacation.
There are many people that offer crate-free boarding. These are folks that bring pets into their homes and allow them free range in their homes. If your dog is socialized and likes being with other dogs, this could be perfect. Most of these boarding situations are small businesses and the boarded dogs are used to being with each other. See if they will let you do doggy day care if you decide on this option, then you will see how your dog responds. Again, if you walk into the crate-free boarders home and it is dirty and all the dogs rush you and your dog and the caretaker has to raise her/his voice to control the dogs; you may have to keep looking for another situation. Also make sure that there is a fence around the house to keep your dog safe. I always want to see that there is more than one barrier to get to the front door to protect a dog from running out, a gate outside the door helps fail an escape artists attempt to get out.
There are many great veterinarians who offer boarding. They love your animals and already know them. The dogs get walked regularly but are most of the time restricted to a crate. If your dog hates going to the veterinarian, boarding there is not an option.
I advise not to sneak around while you’re packing, let your dogs know that you are leaving and that you will be back. Check out my blog on sending mental postcards. By doing long distance communication we can help to ease their worries. We can all talk to the animals! Have a safe and wonderful vacation!