Here are things to put in mind before leaving your dog at home for your trip.
1. Board your dog with your local veterinarian
Many veterinarians offer boarding services for cats and dogs. This is a great option if your dog needs regular medical attention or careful monitoring. Otherwise, there is no reason that your healthy dog should be kenneled with animals that are sick, injured, or in distress. Alternatively, board your dog at a kennel. Kennels were once the only option available to folks who wanted to travel without their pets. Are you picturing a row of tiny cages, all full of miserable, barking dogs? While this scenario hasn’t entirely disappeared, the modern dog kennel has been totally re-branded. Now you can bring your dog to a clean, spacious kennel in just about every good-sized town. You can also board your dog at a rustic retreat, doggy spa, or upscale resort if you live close to a metropolitan area. Kennel offerings are available for every type of dog at every price point. Standard kennels will still make use of individual cages or rooms for your dog, but well-socialized dogs will normally be allowed out for playtime, and most kennels provide plenty of exercise for the pups who stay with them.
2. Make a personalized instruction sheet for your dog
Try to think of every possible scenario for your individual dog’s needs so your caregiver knows what to expect and what to do in certain situations. Some things to include in the instruction sheet are:
- Amounts of food and what time of day to feed the dog(s)
- When to wash food and water bowls
- Which bowls need fresh water (daily)
- Types of treats and how many to give per day
- How many times to let them outside to go potty and should they be on leash or can they be off leash
- Should they go on walks and if so, should they use a harness
- Vet information and phone number, including emergency vet services
- Family or other back up caregivers names and phone numbers in case of an emergency where the hired caregiver can’t complete care for your dog
- Your cell phone numbers and the name and numbers for where you will be staying on vacation
- Where in the house your dog is allowed to go
- Include any medications the dog needs to take
- Include any allergies the caregiver needs to know about
3. Leave your dog home with a dog sitter
If there is someone that you trust to stay in your home, this is a great choice for your dogs (and cats too). Your dog’s routine will change very little, and they will likely receive top notch care. Having someone in your home while you’re away will also minimize security risks. Friends and family members make great house and pet sitters, but you can also hire a professional. Another great option is bringing your dog to a pet sitter, for care in their home. This allows your dog to experience the comfort of routine in a home environment, and this option is also less expensive than paying someone to stay in your home. Once your dog establishes a relationship with your trusted sitter, they may actually look forward to their own “vacation” away from home. Leaving your dog with a friend, family member, or professional pet-sitter is a great choice for well-behaved, well-socialized dogs. If your dog has behavioral issues or doesn’t get along with dogs, cats, people, etc., this might not be the best option.
4. Ensure there is enough food for your pet to eat (& treats too)
Ensure you have enough food and treats available for the length of your absence so the caregiver doesn’t have to run to the store to get more. Of course they could do this, but why make it harder on them than you have to? This will make it a much more smooth caregiving experience for your caregiver which is important so they will be willing to care for your dog again in the future.
5. Decide if your dog should go on walks in your absence
First, decide if you want your in-home caregiver to take your dog on walks. Know your dog and know what will work for your dog. We have had four dogs throughout the years and they have all been very different in their temperaments. Some of them could handle walks given by another person, some of them couldn’t.