*** Guest Post ***
When you have a dog, travel can be stressful for you, your family, and your pets. Worrying about your dog being cared for, fed, walked, and kept happy can put a dampener on your relaxation while you’re away, and the stress can keep you from even planning a holiday in the first place. Rather than putting your dog in a kennel or boarding facility, which can be pricey and traumatic for your pet, hiring a dog sitter to look after your dog while you’re away can reduce stress for your pet, and save time and money. If you’re considering hiring a dog or house sitter, there are several things you can do to prepare your home, and ease the transition for you, the sitter, and your dog.
Resources and Tools
Communication is key when someone new will be looking after your home and dog, so write down what your dog’s average day looks like, with rough times and descriptions of activities that your dog enjoys. Take a stack of post it notes and leave markers around your house to point out favourite blankets, doors that open easily, and where food, toys, and medications are kept. Set up a basket of pet-safe cleaning supplies to make sure the sitter is equipped to handle any messes that might crop up. Also, be certain to leave the name and phone number of at least one neighbour or friend who lives nearby, and your dog’s veterinary surgery or a vet hospital nearby, just in case emergency medical for your pet is required.
Include Your Family
If the dog you’re leaving behind is a family pet, it can be hard on kids to say goodbye, even if it’s just for a few days. To help your kids adjust before you leave, ask them to write down some funny things your dog does, or draw pictures of your dog’s favourite toys to leave with the sitter to help them feel like they’re still helping to care for the dog while you’re away. You can also ask your sitter to send you pictures every so often to keep in touch and check up on your pet’s wellbeing. Each night when you’re away, you can all talk about what you think your dog might have done during the day and how much fun they’re having on their own special ‘doggy holiday’.
Preparing Your Dog
Each pet reacts differently to anxiety and separation, and if you’re not sure how your dog will take the stress, try going away for the day a few weeks before your holiday to get an idea of how destructive or nervous they might be. Not only will this help you inform your sitter of how they might react, but it will also help your dog adjust to being alone. If the separation anxiety seems severe, you can always talk to your dog’s veterinarian to see if there are certain things you can do to help soothe your pet enough to leave them.
If you take reasonable steps to prepare your home, family, and dog, you’ll be able to have a relaxing holiday and rest assured that every eventuality is prepared for. You can also ensure your home is kept clean and safe, and help your dog cope with anxiety by having someone in your house, keeping your pet’s daily routine up while you’re gone. But most importantly, you can enjoy time away with your family without having to worry about how your kids, or dog will react to the separation.