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Guilt-Free Advice for Leaving Your Dog at Home When You’re Out of Town

Not being able to take your dog on vacation can be really difficult. For many people, their pets are like children and they don’t want them left at home while they’re gone for long periods of time without the attention of their owners. It’s not an easy decision to make! Many hotels and other tourist accommodations allow for dogs these days, but rooms aren’t always equipped with enough space for both people AND pets. Then there’s the issue of availability. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough lodging options available that allow pets, or they may charge exorbitant deposits.

There’s also physical and mental tolls that traveling puts on your beloved family member. Not only does traveling with your pet put an undo mental strain on them because of unfamiliar surroundings, but also physical impacts. Long car rides, bathroom breaks, and adjustments to feeding schedules can create a stressful environment for both people and animals alike! If you’re thinking of flying with your dog, that brings up a whole other set of concerns. Delays, the noise, fluctuating temperatures, air pressure changes, and just getting through airports can all contribute to undo amounts of stress on your furry friend, and in a worst case scenario, injury or death.

Your dog is your faithful companion and they see us as members of the pack, but as much as you’d love to take them with you when you leave town, there are times when the best decision is to leave them in the comfortable and familiar surroundings of home with a pet sitter or private dog boarding professional. To ensure that you have a good trip, while simultaneously providing for your dog’s happiness, safety, and comfort when you’re away, your thoughts should turn to planning and the factors that might influence how well they’re taken care of.

Here are just a few tips, tricks, and options to consider from our pet care specialists to make the time you’re away from each other ideal for the both of you:

1. Update Your Dog’s Identification

As a pet owner, you know how important it is to have their ID on them at all times, but when you’re leaving town, this takes on even greater significance! Before departing, ensure that your dog has the most up-to-date versions of their ID with name, your full name, and current address and contact information. This should be neatly secured and displayed on their collar, along with any relevant vaccination tags, licenses, GPS tracking devices, etc. This goes a long way and minimizes the worry should your pet somehow get loose while being cared for and go missing.

If your dog is microchipped, it’s imperative that all current contact information is updated within the appropriate database/registry. Outdated phone numbers, email addresses and street addresses are useless to an animal shelter or person should they find your pet.

2. Keep Routines Ordinary and Uncomplicated

When leaving your dog with a pet sitter for an extended period of time, saying goodbye is important of course! This will be a little nerve-wracking for both of you, and is especially true for dogs with separation anxiety. It’s critical that you keep the ritual of saying goodbye as normal as possible; just like it were a quick trip to the grocery store. You will be emotional, but becoming overly sad, in distress, and crying for example can have an effect. As you know, canines are smart, and they have an innate ability to pick up on your moods and emotions. You don’t want to overly worry them when leaving, and this “tell” may make it tough for them to deal with the situation. When saying goodbye, treat the routine as ordinary and don’t complicate it. As you typically do, play with them a bit, show a little affection, then give a normal goodbye. This lets your pet know that all is well and that you will eventually return, as you always do, without adding to their stress level.

3. Arrange to Hire a Pet Sitter or Opt for Private Dog Boarding

It should come as no surprise that canine companions require more care than any other pets. Cats, for example, are much more independent, while dogs need bathroom breaks, exercise, and lots of love! A properly maintained routine is key to their happiness while owners are away. For these reasons, professional help in the form of pet care specialists may be a better option instead of burdening a family member or friend.

Commercial boarding facilities or kennels are an option, but your dog may not receive the attention they deserve. They are often stressed in an unfamiliar environment with other dogs, they’re routines are interrupted, and they may even become traumatized or ill. Is your pup well-suited to spend time in a strange, noisy, and possibly frightening environment? Most likely not! Therefore, private dog boarding in the home of a pet care specialist is the best option, or even a drop-in pet sitter in your home. Your pet’s safety and comfort are the biggest priority, and as an added bonus, they will be receiving a vacation too!

4. Leave a piece of you for them

You are your pet’s world and of course they’ll miss you when you’re gone. You’re two peas in a pod! To better keep your fur baby healthy and happy while you’re away, it’s important that you provide for the basics, and this involves leaving some familiar comfort items behind for them. In other words, leave a piece of you with them. Having items around that have your scent on them can help with feelings of loneliness. Think of a blanket you use or articles of clothing. It can really be anything your dog associates with you. Although this won’t entirely ease the pain of your absence, it goes a long way in helping to distract your friend and remind him of you.

5. Fix Their Favorite Treat, Toy, or Introduce New Playthings

While you’re gone, exercise and stimulation routines are inevitably disrupted. As a result, you have to anticipate, set up, and encourage their need for excitement and playtime. You want to keep them occupied in your absence as best as possible. Toys are a dog’s best friend next to man! Through a pet sitter, arrange for their favorite toys to be at their disposal when you’re gone. Introduce new toys. Think stuffed animals, balls, bones, and chew toys! To satisfy their appetite and reward them for good behavior, prepare their favorite treats for them in advance. The key is to occupy their minds so they’ll be better able to cope and maintain an active lifestyle.

Final Thoughts

Leaving your furry child behind for any length of time is difficult for all involved, and no matter how much you’d prefer to be with them at home, or take them with you, the reality of the situation means that’s not always possible. However, when it can’t be helped, it is best to follow the above-listed, guilt-free advice to ensure that your beloved canine companion can enjoy a healthy, happy, and comfortable time while you’re away. You will miss each other, but know that if they’re comfortable, you’ll be comfortable. The key is to set your dog up for success before you leave! All of our pet care professionals at ESP Pet Specialists want exactly that, and we hope that these tips can help!

Your pet deserves the best possible care from a true pet care professional. Evan Perlman is the owner and lead pet specialist at ESP Pets. After an early start with a local doggie daycare, Evan's love of working with pets culminated with his appointment as program manager providing pet services for United Airlines at Newark Liberty and O’Hare International Airports. The entrepreneurial bug then bit, and ESP Pet Specialists was born! View Profile

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