How Do Dog Owners Go on Vacation? - Finding a Sitter for Your Dog
Summer is the perfect time to take a vacation and enjoy time away from home. But if you’re a dog owner, you may be wondering how dog owners can go on vacation without taking their pets along.
While you can certainly find pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, and activities in many vacation destinations, you may prefer to avoid the trouble and leave your dog at home. In this case, you’ll need to find a sitter or a kennel for your dog to help keep them safe while you’re away.
There are many options here, from a family member or friend to a professional sitter to a dog kennel or boarding house. The option you choose will have to be what’s best for you and your dog. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you search for a kennel or pet sitter for your pup.
Pet Sitter vs. Boarding Kennel
The first thing to decide is whether you want your dog to stay at home with a pet sitter or go away to a kennel or boarding facility. There are pros and cons to each that you’ll want to think over.
Pros of a Pet Sitter
- Your dog can stay at home with their own toys, food, sleeping areas, etc.
- There’s a low chance of an emergency like a fight or illness with your dog only at home.
- You can protect and keep tidy both your home and your dog while you’re away.
Cons of a Pet Sitter
- Pet sitters will come into your home, so you’ll probably have to prepare and clean it.
- Pet sitters may have to leave your dog for work.
- If your dog is protective of your home, they may not love having a pet sitter there.
Pros of a Boarding Kennel
- A boarding kennel comes with strong pens to keep your dog safe and prevent escape.
- Most kennels provide socialization opportunities for dogs to get together and play.
- Boarding kennels provide trained and qualified staff to watch over your dog.
- Kennels usually run a tight ship when it comes to exercise and feeding schedules.
- Professional veterinary care will be available for your dog should any incident occur.
- Kennel staff is trained to provide special care for dogs with illnesses and medications.
Cons of a Boarding Kennel
- Your dog will be entering a new environment which may make them uncomfortable.
- Multiple animals stay at kennels at a time, which could lead to anxiety.
- Animals may end up in more fights in a kennel where they interact with strange dogs.
- There is always a chance that medication, toys, or food could be missed/mixed up.
The Right Choice for Your Dog
You know your dog best. If your pup is prone to anxiety around other animals and would suffer from a change in routine, a boarding kennel is not a great idea. If your dog gets anxious around strangers in your home or makes trouble when home alone, you probably don’t want a sitter.
Based on these pros and cons, you can make the right choice for your dog to give them the best possible experience while you’re out on vacation.
Choosing the Right Pet Sitter
If you decide that a pet sitter is the right choice for your dog, there are a few options available. One of the easiest choices is to find a family member or friend willing to either stay with your pet or visit throughout the week.
If you don’t know anyone who can pet sit, you can expand your search to local universities (especially those with pre-vet programs), local professional sitters, or recommendations from your family and friends. Some sites like Rover.com provide information to help you find a good professional sitter.
Before choosing a specific sitter, you will want to ask them a few questions to ensure they’re the right one. Some questions to consider include:
- What’s your experience with dogs and dog sitting?
- Have you spent time with a dog similar to mine (breed, size, temperament, etc.)?
- Do you prefer to watch your dog at your house or at mine? (You’ll want to decide what you prefer for your pet before choosing a sitter.)
- What is your plan if my dog gets sick or hurt?
- Will you have a car and drive my dog to new places? (You may appreciate your dog getting out or prefer to keep them at home—that’s up to you.)
- How often will you walk my dog each day and how long will the walks be?
- How long will you leave my dog alone each day?
- Will you have other clients’ dogs with you when you care for or walk mine?
- Do you have insurance?
- Do you plan to let my dog off the leash?
- Do you have reliable transportation in case of bad weather or emergencies?
- Can I see testimonials from past clients?
Once you find a sitter who answers these questions satisfactorily and seems to get along well with your dog, you’re ready to go!
Extra Cautions for Hiring Pet Sitters
If you’re still concerned about hiring a pet sitter, there are a few things you can do to prepare. For one thing, you can purchase a pet camera. These are super nice as they allow you to see your pet while you’re gone, especially if the pet sitter has an outside job.
Some pet cameras come with food dispensers, two-way talk functionality, and other bonuses that make them easy to use and fun for your pet! In addition, some can connect to your home security system. Check out these top dog cameras to learn more.
In addition to a camera, you’ll want to leave your pet sitter with detailed instructions for your dog! Put together a folder with information including:
- Your dog’s name, age, and breed.
- Your dog’s medical history.
- Your vet’s information.
- Specific behavioral or medical information on your dog.
- Tricks and behaviors your dog is trained to know, along with the verbal cue or signal they obey.
- Their eating schedule and location.
- Their pooping schedule and location.
- Their usual walking schedule and locations.
- Rules around treats (how many they get, when, and why).
- Where your dog’s supplies, toys, and food are stored.
- Whether you want your dog to socialize with other animals.
If you let your sitter stay in your home, include further information such as where they’ll sleep, what they can eat in your fridge/freezer, what appliances or supplies they can use, what the TV and WiFi information is, where to park, what local amenities or activities they may enjoy, and how to handle getting locked out or other emergencies.
Providing this information can make for the smoothest possible experience for your pet sitter and your dog. And if you choose to get a camera, you can keep an eye on your pup and your sitter to ensure everything is going smoothly while you’re away.
Choosing the Right Boarding Kennel
If you decide to go the kennel route, make sure you choose the right one. While most boarding kennels are run by good-faith people who really love dogs, there are definitely some out there run by people who are just in it for the money and don’t care about animals.
Asking your vet or other family and friends for a kennel recommendation first allows you to skip some of the research time. However, you should always do your due diligence to make sure a kennel works for your dog!
Before choosing a kennel, make a visit. Go through the kennel with staff members, if possible, so you can ask questions. Make sure there are clean, secure exercise and sleeping areas with non-slip flooring that are free of harmful chemicals. Keep an eye on the temperature regulation in the buildings, available drinking water areas, ventilation, and shelter options that the kennel provides.
Talk to the caretaker and find out how many dogs they’ll be caring for at a time. Ask about the staff and if there are qualified vets on hand for emergencies. Don’t forget to ask about emergency evacuation plans!
Finally, discuss how much interaction your dog will have with other dogs and whether that will work for your pet. Ensure that any interaction time is well supervised—you never know what other dog types and temperaments you’ll find in a boarding kennel.
Once you’ve determined the quality of a boarding kennel, inquire about costs, late fees, and other penalties they may charge. Also, ensure you know if it will cost extra for special treatment like bathing and grooming!
When you’ve finally chosen the right kennel, you may want to take your dog for a practice run by dropping them off at doggie day care or letting them stay one night while you’re still in town. This will help you check in advance if your dog is uncomfortable in a particular kennel.
When the day finally arrives, take your dog, their food, medications, medical history, bedding, and favorite toys. Also provide contact information for yourself and an emergency contact. Drop them off, say a quick goodbye, and head on your vacation!
The Right Vacation Spot for Your Dog
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into choosing the right boarding kennel or dog sitter for your pet. But, ultimately, the decision is yours! Choose a plan that makes you and your dog feel comfortable and then make sure that both of you enjoy your time.
If you’re planning for a trip and need a hand or want to help your dog sitter with poop scooping duties, our team is here for you! Check out our services and reach out if you’re interested in having us come scoop your yard for you. We would be happy to help!