Canine Care: When You're Not There - My Family Travels

Here are some pet care tips to make puppy feel at home whenever you’re traveling without your dog.

From your neighborhood kennel to luxury “bed and biscuits,” today you’ve got great choices when you need to find your dog a home away from home.

Parting is such sweet sorrow. And leaving your dog when you go off to work or away on vacation can be tough on both of you. You’ll rest easier (and so will your dog) knowing he’s in good hands. Fortunately, when it comes to doggie day care and boarding, today you’ve got many more choices than you ever did in the past.

Pet Sitting Options

Traditional kennels: Often affiliated with veterinary clinics, these are the most familiar option, both for day care while owners work and longer-term boarding when they’re out of town.

Luxury kennels: These amenity-laden versions (often built as spas and “bed and biscuits” rather than mere kennels) pamper pets with feather beds, personal TVs (and DVDs) and fine crystal.

Pet sitters: This option keeps your dog close to home and in familiar surroundings. By arranging care with a full-time sitter, you can leave your dog in the comforts of his own bed and give him peace of mind.

House calls: If you’d like to have someone check on your dog midday while you’re at work, some veterinary clinics have staffers who provide this kind of service.  

What to Look For

Of course, you need to screen all kennels or pet sitters you want to consider. References from friends and veterinaries are a good place to start. But just as important, says Tannis Johnson, DMV (who has worked at the Banfield Veterinary Hospital in Waldorf, Maryland), is that the potential kennel or sitter screen you.

“I tell my clients to be nervous if they don’t ask you questions, particulars about your dog’s behavior if this is the first time your pet has ever been boarded, if he has a particular eating pattern or medical condition or history of separation anxiety,” Dr. Johnson says. “And of course, if they don’t ask you for a vaccination certificate, please go elsewhere.”

Let Your Dog Decide

But in the end, give your dog the final say, Dr. Johnson says. She does that with her dogs — two Rottweilers and two Pugs (whom she refers to as her “snore machines”).

“When I go to pick up my dogs and they sort of acknowledge me, but they go back to whatever they were doing, that lets me know they’re just as happy and content where they are,” Johnson says. “My little guys get excited when we pull up to the kennel now. If I’d let them out of the car, they’d beat me to the door.”

Expect the Unexpected

Even the best-laid pet care plans can go astray. Just ask Jan Hedden of St. Paul, Minnesota. When she and her daughter, Kate, went to Mexico, friends offered to take Harriet, their 10-year-old Cocker Spaniel-Golden Retriever mix, to their home.

What could go wrong? Harriet was a good-natured gal.

Jan and Kate planned to get Harriet the next day. But their friends met them at the gate. It seems that Harriet had been barking wake-up calls every day at 4:30am. For her sleep-deprived pet sitters, even one more restless night was one too many.

When they got to the car in the airport parking lot, there in her kennel was Harriet, sporting a colorful neckerchief emblazoned with chili peppers to commemorate her owners’ trip. “There she was in her new duds, but with a hangdog look,” Jan says. “She knew she was being returned early for bad behavior.”

This article was reprinted with permission from The Iams Company “You and Your Dog” Magazine

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