The holidays could mean an out of town trip, utter relaxation, probably fun, sun and the sea, and being with people you care about the most. That is until you realize that you can’t bring Rover with you. The hotel you’re staying at doesn’t allow pets. Then, there are restaurants he probably can’t get in. He gets sick traveling long distance. He gets anxious in new places. He’s antsy around strange dogs. The list goes on and finally, after much debate, you’ve decided to leave him with a sitter.

Does the thought of leaving him with someone else for a few days make you nervous? You’re not alone! In fact, according to a State of U.S. Pet Travel study, a surprising 74% of pet owners spend part of their vacation time worrying about their pets, while 24% are worried the entire time they’re away from their fur babies.

Fretting about your pet while you’re away won’t do you any good. It will just defeat the purpose of going on a vacation. So, don’t worry! Let’s discuss what you need to do to ensure your dog’s happiness, comfort, and safety while you’re away.

3 Types of Boarding Options

Ensuring that your dog is well-fed, comfortable and happy while you’re away is one of the many awesome reasons why you’re a great fur parent. This means planning and going through every detail of the boarding options available with a fine-tooth comb.

1. Boarding With Your Veterinarian or at a Kennel

Aside from having ample experience with boarding and caring for pets, veterinarians and carers at the kennel are able to give the attention your dog needs especially if you have special instructions such as senior dog care or medications for your pup’s health condition.

If your heart is set on leaving your pooch with your vet or at a kennel, take note of the following:

  • Check accommodations, fees and requirements. Some kennels and vets charge boarding fees that do not include food and special services such as grooming.
  • Your pet’s vaccination should be up to date.
  • Find out if boarding kennels offer services such as pick-ups and drop-offs.
  • Do your research and have several options. Ask friends for recommendations, read reviews and comments left on websites and social media pages.
  • Make sure that your pet is just as comfortable at the kennel as he is at home. For example, if he’s used to a soft bed and a facility doesn’t have that available, you might want to consider another kennel that has exactly what your pets need.

At first, you might be quite hesitant about a boarding kennel. You’re worried your dog will not have enough attention or he might get into a fight with another dog. But it’s not all that bad. A top-rate boarding kennel will have enough caregivers for every dog. They’ll be highly experienced in pet care, will love your dog, and will have the specific services you are searching for.

2. Staying Home With a Sitter

There’s nothing like the comforts of home. If this is the first time you’re leaving your dog behind, letting him stay home with a dog sitter is a good choice. The familiarity of your home can do wonders for your pet’s emotional well-being while you’re away. The challenge comes in choosing the right person for the job.

You have to make sure it’s someone you trust, and by that someone who genuinely cares for your dog who can dedicate a few hours of his or her time to feeding your dog and keeping your pet company. The best people to turn to, of course, would be family members. If you have parents or siblings who live nearby, asking them to keep an eye on your dog and house, would be the best option.

Your neighborhood BFF can also fill the role if family members are not available. You’d also want to consider a professional dog sitter. Head over to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters website and find out how you can find a reliable sitter near you.

3. Bringing Your Dog to the Sitter’s

First on the list of possible dog caregivers would be family members and friends. They know your dog and he’ll be safe and comfortable with them. Just make sure that they have a pet-friendly environment and that their kids or pets are perfectly fine fostering a dog for a certain time.

If no one you know is available and if you’re not comfortable with the idea of leaving your dog at the kennel or at the veterinarian, a professional dog sitter’s home is a good alternative as well. Take note though that not all sitters allow dogs to be brought to their homes. Most prefer going to your home, and taking care of your pet there. Scour pet care websites, ask your vet for recommendations, and check classifieds for certified sitters who willingly open their homes to pets they’re caring for.

Tips for Choosing the Right Dog Sitter

  1. Make sure that the pet trainers you’re looking into are trained, experienced and certified. Asking for a recommendation from someone who recently hired one is a good way to start your search.
  2. Search online. Most, if not all, pet sitters have their own websites, Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts. Read reviews, ask about their rates per day/week/month (depending on how long your vacation is), and find out what their services include.
  3. Inquire about their liability insurance coverage.
  4. Ask for references from the sitters.
  5. Most importantly, don’t forget to introduce your pooch to his potential carers. This allows you to observe which sitter is most likely to get along with your pet.

Though choosing a professional sitter is more costly than leaving them with your relatives, the price would be worth it considering that your furkid will be receiving high-quality care.

Final Thoughts on Leaving Your Dogs

Make a Checklist

You don’t want to leave anything out especially if you’re going to be boarding your dog or sending him off to your sitter’s house. Pack familiar items that will give him the comfort he needs while you’re away. It could be your old sweater, his favorite blanket or a pack of his favorite chew treats. One thing you shouldn’t forget is your dog’s bed. The scent will be that of home which can help keep anxiety and depression away.

Avoid Long Goodbyes

While you’ll greatly miss your furkid, don’t make a big deal out of goodbyes. Relax, be confident and bid goodbye with a quick cuddle as you normally would when you’re heading out for work or to the grocery. Appearing anxious and worried while saying goodbye would only make your pet anxious as well.

Share Information with the Sitter

If your dog has special needs or has “quirks” that the sitter needs to know, be sure to jot this down. For example, my dog has this peculiar habit of sleeping with half of his body out of his bed and his chew toy placed under his tail. It’s very weird (like we humans have our weird sleeping habits) and taking that chew toy away will elicit a warning growl from him!

Don’t forget to write down your furkid’s medication, grooming routine and anything that you think will help your sitter take good care of your dog.

Consider a Dog Camera

Dog cameras are kind of like our baby monitors. They’re interactive gadgets that let you have a two-way conversation with your pet, toss treats to him and see what he’s up to. There’s a great debate about security cameras and pet cameras. Although the former can secure your house while keeping an eye on your pets, it doesn’t help much in interaction and keeping your dogs happy even if you’re not home. Not sure how to buy the perfect dog camera for your needs? Check out Wired for a review of the four best pet cameras in the market today.

Do you have any tried and tested tips for leaving dogs with a sitter? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comment section below.