When you’re a new pet parent, it feels like you could never leave your furry bundle of joy for an hour, let alone a few days. But the time will come when your dog or cat can’t tag along on your family vacation. This begs the question: What should you do with him or her while you’re away?
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to make sure they’re safe, comfortable and cared for while you skip town.
If your pet is comfortable being alone for extended periods of time, such as overnight, you could hire a pet sitter to come over instead of boarding them. A pet sitter can feed your pet and hang out for a few hours every day so s/he doesn’t get lonely. The sitter may even be willing to take in the mail and water your plants. Surely you’d pay extra, though.
Some pet sitters may only be available for meal and walk times, but others (the true animal-lovers) might consider staying the whole time for little to no extra cost. That extra socialization can go a long way to keep your pet happy while you’re away.
If someone in your immediate social network isn’t available to pet sit, use Rover, an app that connects pet owners with reputable sitters and dog walkers in the area. With more than 65,000 sitters and walkers offering their services, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a professional you can trust. Rover oversees its staff using testimonials, requesting photos and performing background checks. You can even meet the sitter before your session to make sure they click with your pet. These sitters also have access to 24/7 vets in case your pup has problems.
Rover’s services include dog boarding, house sitting, doggy day care, dog walking and drop-in visits.
Boarding a dog is still a common option for a vacationing pet parent. The American Boarding Kennels Association says that more than 30 million pet parents choose to board their animals every year. Your vet may offer or refer you to specific boarding options, which can be helpful if your dog is older or has medication s/he takes regularly.
There are also special businesses designed for boarding that offer add-on services like day care and pool time. Some provide “board and train” services, which include extended training sessions on top of regular boarding. Many of these require advance notice or a meet-and greet-session — so call ahead.
Doggy day care facilities frequently offer the option of boarding at night and letting your dog chill in day care during regular hours. A young and active pup might enjoy several hours of playtime before going to a kennel at night.
The cost of day care may or may not be included with your boarding charges, but it may be worth it if your pup is used to getting long walks or hours of fetch with you outside. Some pet parents go all out with luxury accommodations away from home. At a facility such as the Dog Spa & Hotel in New York, dogs spend their boarding time playing with other canines, resting in private areas or going on solo walks. You can even drop off your dog’s favorite toys to keep them occupied during the day.
Some dog spas also offer boarding services, so your dog can get groomed, bathed and freshened up in time for your arrival. These services are especially useful for owners trying to maintain a breed-standard look for their pups.
The American Kennel Club recommends that you not make a big deal out of the separation, especially with dogs. Bring their favorite toys, treats and reminders of home, but don’t make a scene when leaving them. You want them to feel comfortable with you gone, so guilty looks or prolonged goodbyes can cause them (and you) more anxiety.
Bring copies of your dog’s vaccine records to a kennel or day care so the facility has proof your best friend won’t pass along any diseases to other canines. You can also bring their own food in case your dog is on a specific diet or has a sensitive stomach.
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