Last Wednesday we were at a new Home Dog Training session in Marietta. Our student was a very cuddly, lovable, and petite Pug named Marion. Marion was only eight months old, so she was still very much a puppy. Because of her age and the time of year, we were coming up on her very first summer. With this said, my client indicated that the family was going on a two-week summer vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii this summer.
Because of all the restrictions that the state of Hawaii places on “visiting dogs”, there was no way that they could take her with them. They had asked several of their friends with dogs what they did when they had to go out of town and leave their dog at home. Everyone seemed to have a different answer. They asked what I thought would be the best thing for Marion while they were away in Hawaii and Marion was “home alone”.
I first assured them that everything was going to be fine. We have guided many clients through the “what do I do with my dog” question. On top of that, we have multiple dogs that we often leave at home when we travel.
I pointed out that with the extra security issues and frequent delays in flying, taking your dog with you on the plane is never a good idea. Having your dog remain at home when you travel is often the best solution for both you and your dog. With this said, there are many different options that you can pick when leaving them home.
These options can provide very divergent “experiences”, so it is important to pick the best solution for your dog. Robin and I have had experiences with almost every type of “pet sitting option”, and I wanted to share that with our clients. That information, along with understanding Marion’s temperament, will allow them to make the best decision. I went on to elaborate:
- HAVING A FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL NEIGHBOR. This is always one of my “I hope this can work” solutions. It is always excellent if you have a “I love your dog” neighbor or a “dog friendly” family member that lives close-by. Your dog already knows and likes the person. He has also probably seen the person in and around the house on a regular basis. If this option is viable, I suggest that the person should come by at least three times a day to let your dog potty and feed him. At a minimum, they should have your dog out in the evening for a high energy play session. Going on a long and safe walk is also a great idea. Also, if you live in a gated community or have Neighborhood Watch, tell them that this person will be stopping by your house.
- HOME VISITS FROM A PET SITTER. This is pretty much the same thing as the HAVING A FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL NEIGHBOR option. The big difference between this and the first option is that you are paying a Pet Sitter to stop by three times a day to feed and care for your dog. Many of the Pet Sitters who will come to your home to check up on your dog are also dog walkers. I would suggest that you first hire this person for their “dog walking” services before you go on your trip. See if they are reliable and that your dog likes them. If those boxes are checked, you are ready to have them watch your dog while you are gone.
- PET SITTER STAYS IN YOUR HOME WITH YOUR DOG. Dogs are always most comfortable while they are in their normal surroundings. They have all their toys and goodies to keep them entertained. They also are in their “safe zone”. Some Pet Sitters offer the service of “moving into your home” with your dog while you are gone. They often don’t remain in your home the entire day. They normally spend several hours during the morning, several hours during the afternoon, and stay over at night. This will guarantee that your dog gets the same care and attention that they would normally receive if you were actually there. We strongly suggest that the pet sitter visits a minimum of two times before your vacation. These visits will allow your dog to become familiar with this “new person”. It also allows them to see that you have given them your “seal of approval”. Be sure and obtain references for this person. Inform your security company that they will be at your home.
- BOARDING AT YOUR VETERINARY HOSPITAL. Many Vets will board their canine clients as part of their list of services. One of the benefits of this option is that, if your dog becomes ill, he is already at the vet hospital with all the professionals who know his medical history and are ready to help him. When your dog isn’t in his crate, he is often taken for walks. Sometimes, if he “is a good boy”, he may be with a vet tech or with the receptionist in the front. Some “downsides” to this option are that many vet hospitals do not have play facilities and some are not staffed 24/7. Although these possibilities should not rule out leaving your dog at the vet, they should be taken into consideration. With that said, if your dog loves going to the vet hospital and everyone loves him, this could be a good option.
- DOGGIE DAY CARE. Twenty years ago, we called these places “dog kennels”. Today, we call them “doggie day care facilities”. I am not trying to disparage the term, it is just what they are now called. Doggie day cares will often provide you with multiple options for your dog’s stay with them. They normally offer anything from a simple crate to a room with a doggie bed and a TV. Many have play areas (inside and/or outside) where your dog can run, play, and interact with the other dogs. Before you are even allowed to bring your dog to the facility for his stay, they will “assess him” to make sure that he is placed in the right play group. If your dog is not “dog friendly”, he will have a private play time. Many doggie day care facilities have swimming pools, baths, and grooming studios. You can add these options to your dog’s stay. On top of that, many facilities provide Wi-Fi video allowing you to watch your dog while you are on vacation.
- DOGGIE DAY CARE IN A PRIVATE HOME. Some pet sitters offer a service where they will bring your dog to their home. They normally have one or two dogs of their own, so your dog becomes “one of the group”. Your dog moves in and takes part in the activities of the pet sitter’s human and canine family. I would suggest that you have some “day visits” with your dog at the pet sitter’s home before you go on vacation to make sure that he is compatible in the environment, and you are comfortable in your dog’s safety and wellbeing.
Picking the right dog sitting option when you are away is important to maintain your dog’s sense of safety and continuity of your leadership.
Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over eighteen years. We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and excellent families and are ready to help you.