Caitlin UltimoPet Parenting / Travel

Pet Care Services: What to Do With Your Dog When You’re Traveling

Although not ideal, there are times when you must leave your beloved Fido at home when you travel. Whether it’s a business trip, a non-dog-friendly destination or simply a solo vacation away, it’s helpful to know the various pet care services available for when you must leave your dog behind. When I’ve had to leave my trio at home, I have engaged various solutions, and I’d love to share my experiences with you.

To begin with, ask yourself where you believe your pup will find the most comfort while you’re traveling. When they’re left at home, are they wondering where you are, or do they not notice because they’re comfortable? If they are away from home, are they less likely to have separation anxiety because they are not in their everyday environment that usually includes you, or do they miss home? Knox, Bear and Harper are each so different that I must accommodate their care accordingly and individually.

Home, Sweet Home

If you decide to leave your dog home alone where they’re most comfortable, your best option is to find a trusted sitter. But where do you start? There are plenty of national websites and apps for pet care services—like Rover, Wag! and Care.com—that can connect you to the right house/pet sitter. These sites connect you with people who love pets, and most are displayed by location, skill sets, ratings and qualifications.

Each website has its own policies and ranges of coverage, so it’s important to do your homework and find the site or provider who is right for you. For example, Rover covers pet/human injuries as well as property damage. I highly recommended you do your liability research before you select a site.

If you don’t want to leave your dog home alone, these apps and websites also offer dog watching in the sitter’s home.

If you prefer to use a website that is more local to you, check out Nextdoor.com. It’s a social network dedicated to being super local, allowing you to get inside knowledge about what’s happening in your ‘hood. You can post a sitter request and receive recommendations from neighbors.

As in any case where you are entrusting your pup to someone, I highly recommend meeting the sitter in person to see if they’re a good fit for you and your pup. Asking for references never hurt either.

Before you leave, be sure to include a pet sitter checklist to make sure whoever is watching your dog has all the information they need, including preferred walking habits, feeding times and emergency contact info.

Doggy Daycare or Hotel?

If your dog has separation anxiety and is likely to destroy the house when you’re away, like Knaughty Knox does, then kenneling your dog may be the best option. By asking friends, family and your dog park crew, or poking around on the web, you can find a local doggy daycare and hotel. Be sure to take a look into their reviews and ratings, and talk with them to see what pet care services they offer

Most dog hotels and daycares require a temperament test on your pup before accepting them in order to provide the best care possible.

Fortunately, we have a very trusted dog hotel called The Urban Hound right down the street. Knox, Bear and Harper have been going to The Urban Hound since they were young and feel safe and secure there. The pups even attend daycare during the week, so on the occasion we need to leave them behind from our adventure, they already feel like they’re in their second home. When we drop the pack off for their stay we always bring their favorite toy and blanket, so they have a sense of home during their stay.

Friends and Family

Of course, friends and family are always a good place to look when searching for a pet sitter. Think about those closest to you who may have a flexible work schedule, a big backyard and maybe even another pup that needs a friend for a weekend or longer. If you’re not comfortable with a direct ask, a simple social media posting explaining your need may be a more comfortable option for you. Plus, friends and family will probably provide the service for a cute T-shirt from your vacation and a delish bottle of wine!

There are many options for safe, affordable, comfortable pet care services out there. Do your homework, trust your instincts and have a great trip knowing your pup will smother you with kisses and tail wags when you return.

Jenna Donleavy bio

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