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the Dog Blog

How to Prepare Your Dog for When You’re Away on Holiday Vacation

A dog with his owner before his parents leave for vacation.

It’s great to take a vacation during the holidays, but sometimes that means you’ll be away from an important member of your family for a time. Whether your furry friend doesn’t travel well or you’re going to a place that’s just not meant for pets, it’s important to make sure that a temporary separation isn’t too stressful for you and your dog. Here’s what you can do when your four-legged family members can’t join you on vacation.

Figure Out Where Your Dog Will Stay and Who Will Watch Him

When you leave for vacation, your dog must stay somewhere. There are a few options that you can choose from, depending on your furry friend and what’s available to you.

Have Your Dog Stay at Home

One option is to keep your dog at home if you have someone to check in on him. This option is great for dogs who don’t like too much change, as they get to stay in a place that’s familiar to them. In terms of who can stop to feed your dog, let him out, and spend some time with him, a familiar face like a family member or a friend works well, especially if they can stay at your house. Having someone your dog knows take care of him while you’re away is good because your dog will feel more comfortable when a person they know walks through the door.

Professional pet sitters are another option to make sure your furry friend is all set during your absence. These professionals can help make sure your dog’s routine stays the same and that he receives all the care he needs. If you go this route, it’s important to have you and your dog meet with the sitter before your vacation. This will give you a sense of the fit between your dog and the sitter before you head out of town.

Have Your Dog Stay with Someone

If your house won’t work, your furry friend may be able to stay at the home of a friend, family member, or trusted neighbor. This will save this person from having to stop by your place while you’re away, while keeping your dog in an environment that more closely resembles the one he knows. Plus, knowing that someone is with your fur baby for some more extended time each day will help with your piece of mind. Of course, you’ll want to make sure your furry friend has a chance to visit this house before you leave to make sure he feels comfortable there.

Board Your Dog

Another option is to board your dog at a reputable pet boarding facility. Some veterinarians also offer boarding services as well. Regardless, you’ll want to visit the facility to see how it’s run, what the living conditions are like, and what a typical day is like at the facility. Make sure you ask staff members about what type of exercise your dog will get, which vaccinations they require for boarding, and facility protocols for medical emergencies and any other issues. Many boarding kennels even offer video cameras so you can literally keep an eye on your best friend even when you’re away.

If your dog is social and doesn’t mind being around other furry friends, a well-run facility could make sense if stay-at-home options aren’t available. However, if your dog gets nervous or reacts badly in new environments, boarding may not be the right option for your family.

What to Do to Make Sure Your Dog is Ready Before You Leave

Once you have a plan in place for your pooch, it’s time to prepare for your departure. There are a few important steps you’ll want to take to make sure that he’ll be ready for when you’re gone.

Get His Things in Order

Just because you’re gone doesn’t mean that your dog’s routines need to change. Part of making the separation process easier for your furry friend is making sure that he has all the things he needs. This includes providing his sitter or boarding facility enough of his favorite food for the duration of the vacation. For example, if your dog is older, you’ll want to make sure he has plenty of his preferred senior dog food available. It’s also important to provide your dog’s temporary caretaker with any necessary medications.

While food and medication are crucial, it’s also very important to consider leaving your furry friend some special items to comfort him during your vacation, especially if he’s not staying at your house. Some good dog treats are one way to help him relax and reward him for good behavior while you’re away. If your dog has a favorite stuffed animal, toy, or blanket, make sure you take those with him so that he has something that looks and smells familiar with him. If your dog sleeps in a dog bed, take that as well. Even snuggling with one of your shirts can offer some comfort while your away.

Inform the Sitter

In addition to leaving food, meds, and other items behind, you should also leave any necessary instructions for your dog’s sitter or boarding facility. This includes any instructions for how much your dog should be fed and when. Any medications should come with instructions for how and when to administer them. While it’s good to talk these details over with the person charged with checking in on your dog, it’s also smart to have written instructions to leave behind as well.

Like people, every dog has his own quirks, so it’s good to communicate those as well. Does your precious pooch have any specific routines or places where he likes to hang out in the house? What specific commands do you use when going outside, getting a treat, or it’s time to eat? Let your sitter know ahead of time so that they know what to expect with your dog. Sometimes even a simple tip about where your furry friend likes to be scratched can help your sitter relax him if he is feeling stressed.

Spend Some Quality Pre-Vacation Time Together

You won’t be able to see your dog while you’re away, so dedicate some extra time to hang out with your furry best friend before you travel. Taking your dog for a nice, long walk, playing fetch, and other forms of exercise can help your dog exert some energy so that he’s not as jumpy when you head out for vacation.

It’s also a good idea to try to get any packing, planning, and other vacation prep done ahead of time. A flurry of activity the night before you leave can signal that something is afoot to your furry friend. By prepping early, you can spend the evening snuggling up on the couch so that your dog is more relaxed going into the big day.

Stay Cool and Calm When You Say Goodbye

No matter where your dog is staying while you’re gone, it’s important to stay calm when you leave. If you get really worked up or anxious when you say goodbye, your dog likely will as well. When you leave your house or drop him off somewhere, try to make the situation feel as normal as possible so that your furry friend feels as comfortable as possible when you head out for vacation.

Make Vacation a Relaxing Time for You and Your Dog

No one wants to be worried about their dog while they’re away on vacation. By planning ahead and taking the necessary steps, you can help ensure that your furry friend is in good hands while you’re away.

Want to learn more about what you can do to make sure your favorite furry family member is happy and healthy? Join the Best Friends Club today to receive special training tips, informative articles, and members-only discounts on Bil-Jac products.

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