At one time or another, dog owners will have to be away and arrange for someone to take care of their four-footed friend or friends. It's not always possible to take Fido with you, although you'll find toy dogs underneath airplane seats or dogs of all sizes in hotels and motels. There are excellent options for care and it's up to you to find the best accommodation.
1. Friends or Family - Dropping off your dog with friends or family is usually the most economical option and many times for the most comfortable for owners. The dog will have lots of company and attention. However if your dog is thrust into a new family environment it may be stressful both for the dog and caregiver. A dry run with introductions to children, other dogs, the house and the yard may alleviate those stressors. If there are other dogs in the house, separate eating and sleeping areas will help with the visit unless the dogs are old buddies.
2. The Pet Nanny or Home Care - There are lots of pet sitting services out there. You can arrange for one or several daily visits for walks, feeding, and other services. This is a great option if you have several dogs or just need care for an overnight trip. Friends, family, or a neighbor may be available to perform this service too. Make sure you check out pet sitters. Angie's List is a good resource, your vet, or ask the caregiver for references. They should introduce themselves in advance to your dog(s) and have access to equipment, food, and medications while you're gone. Another option is a house sitter who stays in your home while you're away.
3. Boarding Kennel - While this can be a more expensive option, a good bed and biscuit kennel can be a great choice. Check out the kennel in advance and ask around about one with a good reputation in your area. A reputable boarding kennel will happily give you a tour of their facilities. The buildings should smell clean and be clean. The exercise/play areas should be a gravel or concrete surface. This area should be clean as well. Things should be organized and staff friendly. A kennel should ask for your dog's vaccination records. You can arrange for grooming services right before you pick up your dog too. An annual bordatella vaccine (Kennel Cough) should be given to your dog if you board him. Some dogs are escape artists, so ensure that outdoor runs as well as the kennel property is secure. If your dog falls in this category, make sure the kennel is aware of your Houdini. Be aware that if your dog is aggressive that a kennel may not board him. The safety of other dogs and the folks taking care them is a priority.
Many people are heartbroken to drop off their furry companion at a kennel and feel that it's too stressful for the dog. In reality, they're probably more upset than the dog. Our dogs have always enjoyed their B & B vacations. There are lots of new smells and things to mark--that's the fun of being a boy dog, plus they've always received excellent care. We were gone over Christmas one year and when we picked up Clancy, we were also given a handful of photos of Clancy with Santa. He was spoiled rotten while we were away.
I've used all of these options over the years and found them all to be just fine. Circumstances and finances usually dictate the option. Reputable and dependable caregivers are paramount to making sure your dog is well cared for while you're away. After all, dogs are members of the family.
Here are a couple of tips for saying good bye to Fido:
1. Don't drag it out. Keep it short and sweet, without a lot of drama.
2. Get in your car and drive away. Enjoy your vacation and Fido will enjoy his.