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How to Have Your Dog Taken Care of During a Vacation

It can be hard to leave your dog at home while you're on vacation, but if you can find a trustworthy person to care for your pet leaving home for vacation will not be as difficult. It’s easy to make the arrangements and prepare yourself and your dog for your time away, so you don’t have to worry about your pup while you’re relaxing away from home. Find a trustworthy person to care for your pet, provide clear instructions, and give your dog a lot of extra hugs in the days leading up to your trip, and you're sure to feel better about leaving your pup behind.

Finding a Pet Sitter

1. Have a close friend or family member watch your dog. If your pet has access to the outdoors or is house trained, asking one or more friends and family members to stop by in the morning, afternoon, and evening to feed your dog and take it for a walk may be adequate. For younger dogs and those who are not housebroken, you may need someone to be on hand more often. Discuss your dog’s needs with your friend or family member, and make sure they can reliably devote the necessary time and attention to your dog.

  • Offer your friend or family members money to care for your dog, or offer to return the favor if they are pet owners too.
  • Make caring for your pet as easy and convenient as you can by leaving clear instructions, preparing meals in advance, and making sure your sitter can access your home easily. You may also want to allow your sitter to stay in your home while you're away.

2. Take your dog to stay with a friend or your family. If your friends or family members are unable to stay in your home or visit throughout the day, you can also let them take your dog to their house. This can be a convenient alternative to having friends stay in your home. Make sure you’re doing all you can to make caring for your pup convenient for your friend or family members, especially if they are caring for your pet free of charge. Allowing your sitter to care for your pup in their own home may be more convenient for friends who have their own pets, kids, or who live several miles away from your home.

3. Board your dog while you’re away. There are also professionals who keep dogs. Doggie hotels and other pet boarders will care for your dog while you’re away for a fee. These professionals are able to take good care of your dog, and reputable dog boarders offer insurance and care agreements that obligate them to provide effective care for your pet.

  • Read online reviews of the boarding facility before choosing to board your dog there.
  • Ask friends or family members who have pets for recommendations of dog boarders in the area.
  • Research common boarding rates to make sure you get a fair price. Prices will fluctuate based on the size of your dog and any special care needs, but you can typically board a dog for between $25 and $50 per pet a night. If you want to offer your pup a little added luxury of a doggie hotel, you may be looking at a price between $75 and $100 a night.

4. Look online for pet sitters. It’s easy to find a trustworthy, affordable care giver for your pup using web resources. You'll want to look for a sitter who has experience with dogs, is available at the times your dog will need care, and who lives close enough to ensure your pet is checked on regularly.

  • Originally created to help parents find sitters for their children, care.com now offers information on pre-screened pet sitters at a variety of rates.
  • The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters at petsitters.org is also a great resource to find a caregiver for your pet while you’re on vacation. These sitters will come into your home while you’re away to care for your dog.

Preparing Your Pet Sitter

1. Compile a list of instructions. This should include how often the dog needs to be let out, whether or not there are areas of the house that are off limits for your pup, and how much and when to feed your dog. If your dog is on medications, make sure you leave instructions for dosage and administration. It is important to be as specific as possible in preparing the person taking care of your dog, especially if that person has little or no experience with dogs or other animals.

2. Make your dog’s meals in advance. Especially if your dog has a unique diet or you make food at home, preparing these in advance will make it easier for your sitter to care for the dog. You can place the food for each meal in a ziplock bag or other food storage container. Label each container to make it easy for your pet sitter to find just the right meal.

  • If you’ve included medication in the dog’s food, make a note of this so your sitter knows they should monitor your dog to ensure they take the medicine.

3. Explain house training, crating, or other routines. If your dog has access to a doggy door and is house broken, your sitter will not need to spend as much time in your home. If your pup stays in a crate during the day, make sure your sitter knows how often they need to be let out. This ensures your sitter maintains your dog’s daily routine, which will reduce the risk that your dog will misbehave or be stressed while you’re away. It also helps to prevent accidents in the home.

4. Take time to answer any questions. You might think your instructions are thorough, but give them to your sitter in advance. Before you leave, ask if they’ve thought of any questions you can answer for them. You should also give your sitter a phone number or email address where they can reach you with additional questions later.

Preparing Your Dog

1. Spend extra time with your dog. In addition to making sure your sitter is ready to care for your dog, you’ll need to do your best to get your pup ready for your vacation. Before you leave, spend extra time with your dog. Go for longer walks, sleep in late, and spend extra time playing fetch or tug of war. Whatever you like to do with your dog, spend some extra time with it so you’ll both feel better about your being away for vacation.

2. Introduce your dog to their sitter. This is essential. You can never know for sure how a dog will react to a person in their home when you’re away. However, the better acquainted your dog is with their sitter, the less likely they are to react poorly. If at all possible, have your sitter visit your home when you’re not there after the initial introduction to your dog to ensure the pup will respond positively to them when you’re away.

3. Stay away for brief periods. This allows your dog to get used to you being gone. It will decrease your dog’s stress or anxiety when you’re away for the vacation. Start by going out for dinner directly after work. Then, stay overnight with a friend. If your sitter can feed or care for the dog while you take this extra time away that’s even better. Your dog will learn that, even if you’re gone for what feels like a long time, you always come back. This is important to prevent separation anxiety.

4. Take a vacation with your pet. If you can’t bring yourself to leave your pup at home, consider choosing a pet-friendly hotel and bringing your pup along. You can also plan pet-friendly vacations like hiking or camping. If you’re traveling by plane, you can even arrange to take your pet along. Contact your airline or check the website for their pet travel guidelines.