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home : columns : columns June 28, 2016

12/23/2013 1:13:00 PM
When your dog can't travel with you
Otis stays home in Sisters with a friend who is a pet-sitter. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
+ click to enlarge
Otis stays home in Sisters with a friend who is a pet-sitter. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee

By Jodi Schneider McNamee

This holiday season, you've been invited to your granddaughter's home two states away. You haven't seen her in three years, so you decide to take the family on the road for a visit. You'd love to take your four-legged family member too, except for one major problem: Fido gets motion sickness and vomits in the car on trips more than 10 minutes away.

Even though many people prefer to take their pets along, it's not always possible for numerous reasons. What options do you have in leaving your precious pooch behind?

The best way to ensure that your time away is fun and stress-free for both you and your dog is to have a good game plan in advance of departure. Though dogs have different personalities, maintaining a sense of normalcy and routine during your absence is beneficial for every type of dog.

When it comes to the care that your dog will receive when you are away, the best-case scenario is probably one in which the dog remains at home with a trusted friend or family member. Being able to stay in the home with familiar surroundings could be the best situation for your pooch. However, every dog is different and not everyone has close friends or family members nearby ready to help. There are other options.

If your dog is the type that needs to stay in his own home while you're away or if you worry about your dog travelling to a kennel or being in unfamiliar surroundings, then it's time that you have an established network of trusted, responsible pet-sitters that can make your absence much easier on your dog. To determine the best pet-sitter for your furry friend, you could interview various candidates. This way, you can introduce them to Fido, and see if they interact well.

Some pet-sitters will take care of your dog in their own home. Be sure that any sitter who cares for your pet in their house is ready to take on the responsibility of your pet's needs. Check references before hiring a sitter and it's a good idea to let your pet visit the home before your scheduled time away. Since dogs have incredible scent memories, it would be helpful to leave Fido's bed and familiar toys with the sitter. It will make him feel more at home.

Another option is a boarding kennel or doggie daycare. Boarding kennels offer a place where your dog can be looked after by professionals, without giving them access to your home. Dogs by nature are social animals. The more your dog interacts with other dogs the better their social skills become. Doggie daycare or boarding kennels usually offer the opportunity for your dog to be paired with one or several dogs for playtime and to learn socialization skills while getting rid of excess energy.

It is important to do some research before leaving your dog at a daycare or kennel. Try to visit before you leave your dog there. You can tour the facility to make sure it is clean and has enough room for your dog to exercise.

Whether your pooch is staying at your home, the sitter's house or a boarding kennel, making a list of detailed instructions is very important. Remember to make sure his vaccinations are up-to-date, and his identification tag is on his collar. Leave the sitter a list of numbers: the vet, a friend's number and yours.

Parting with your dog can be tough, but having a system to keep Fido happy and healthy in your absence will make your travels much easier. Plan ahead and look forward to a fun reunion when you return.

Oh, and be sure to bring home treats!

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