Finding a trustworthy caretaker for your four-legged family member can be a stressful, uneasy process. Making sure your dog is in the right hands when you travel is critical to your dog’s safety, health, and happiness… as well as your peace of mind. Here are some tips to help you find the right person or facility to care for your dog when you travel:
LET YOUR DOG BE YOUR GUIDE
Your dog’s temperament, personality, and age will determine which, and how many options you have available as you begin thinking about traveling without your dog. If your dog enjoys or gets along fine with other dogs, a kennel or multiple-dog boarding facility can be a good choice. If he is uneasy around other animals, your choices are narrowed to either hiring a sitter who will visit him in your house or in theirs. Sometimes, puppies without all their vaccinations are not permitted at boarding facilities. Or, if your dog is a senior, he might do better in a quiet, calm in-house setting. Depending on your and your dog’s needs, you can also find an upscale pet “hotel” that has private rooms and a greater ability to cater individually to their guests.
Not all boarding facilities are created equal. Make sure the ones you are considering are both licensed and insured. Depending on what state you are in there are different regulations in place. Don’t be shy about asking to see official documentation if the facility isn’t displaying its certifications. If your dog is injured while staying at a boarding facility that is bonded, your costs will be covered. Also, if your dog causes any damage during his stay, your responsibility is mitigated. These certifications are typically a sign that the facility is reputable.
The best place to start is through a recommendation from a trusted friend, family member, your veterinarian, or even your dog’s groomer. Someone who has had a positive – or negative – experience will be able to provide inside information of how a facility is run. They can tell you firsthand how their dog was cared for. You can also start by looking at the International Boarding & Pet Services website. Then, schedule a tour of the facility you think would be best for your dog.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR
A reputable boarding facility will be temperature or climate-controlled. Ask to see the accommodations for each dog during their stays. The area should be cleaned often between dog residents with dog-safe chemicals and offer dogs enough space to (at the very least) stand, turn around, and lie on their sides stretched out when they are kenneled. There should be non-slip surfaces in most areas where your dog will stay. Is fresh drinking water provided? How often will your dog be exercised? If your dog likes interacting with other dogs, how do they supervise playtime? Also, make sure you find out how they handle administering food and any medications your dog might need.
Most boarding facilities will want to observe how your dog behaves around other dogs if you plan to let him mingle with the other residents during his stay. Be prepared to explain your dog’s fears, triggers, preferences, etc.
Some dog boarding accommodations are more upscale in nature and prefer to be called pet hotels. These facilities usually cater more specifically to your dog’s preferences. They typically offer luxury bedding, larger rooms and try to provide a more comfortable, deluxe environment. Specific offerings can include one-on-one playtime with a human, puzzle playtime for mental stimulation, pools and upgraded air filtration systems. Many now offer pet cams that allow you to watch your dog at all times that you are apart.
All boarding facilities should require immunizations. Most will ask to see proof of a Bordetella shot, along with rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. You will want to make sure your dog is up-to-date on his flea and tick prevention medication before boarding your pooch.
“Your dog’s temperament, personality, and age will determine which, and how many options you have available as you begin thinking about traveling without your dog.“
ONE ON ONE CARE
Another option that many dog-lovers opt for is finding an in-home or a private boarding option for their dog. Hiring a pet sitter can also be intimidating and nerve-wracking. The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters can help you find help! Check reviews and references. Each pet-sitter you consider should have a full background check. You should always meet them face to face for an interview and to see for yourself how they interact with your pet. It is important that the pet sitter suits your pet’s needs, and your needs!
If your dog will stay with them at their home, be sure to ask to see where the dog will stay. How is the yard kept? Be sure to witness how your dog will interact with other pets in the home. Does your dog sitter have children or other people at their home? Will those people behave in a way that will make your dog feel safe and relaxed? How often will the pet sitter interact with your dog?
If you plan to let your dog stay home while you travel, arrange how often your pet-sitter will check in on your dog. Establish a preferred daily routine. Ask that the pet sitter provide notes about your pet’s behavior each day. Be sure to leave detailed information about your dog, describing his fears, dislikes, habits, medical conditions, etc. Make certain your pet sitter has a backup plan in case they fall ill or become unable to care for your dog. It is important you trust the person entering, or staying in your home.
Of course, we always prefer to take our dogs with us when we travel. But when that can’t be, know that it will be easier to relax and enjoy your trip if you are confident that your dog is safe, content, and well taken care of. Make sure you give yourself enough time to find and book the right kind of care for your dog when you travel!