Summer holidays. It’s time for a family vacation. But, what about the pet? While there are several pet friendly resorts and home stay options available, it might not be an option for you. What does one do if they are forced to leave their dog behind? There are several boarding options. But those are often booked out even before you plan your vacation. Then there is an interesting homestay option called Waggle, where regular dog lovers play host to your dog and you can find a home that is right for you. But what if you’d rather leave your dog with a relative or a neighbour? Then here are few tips to help you prepare.
Plan in advance. Make several trips to your dog sitter’s house, so that your dog gets familiar and comfortable in the new environment. If you can afford to do sleep-overs, that’s even better. The more secure your dog feels in the new environment, the smoother this vacation is going to be for you. Visits and sleep-overs also help the dog and the hosts to develop a routine. The hosts need to know when to walk your dog and how. Your guidance is crucial. The dog needs to find his pee and poop spots around that neighbourhood.
There needs to be some agreement on where the dog will sleep. While the dog may sleep in your bedroom at night, the arrangement may be different in the host’s home. Meal
schedules and meal contents need to be detailed out too. All these details get ironed out with sleep-overs. If a sleep-over is not possible, try to make a detailed list of your dogs routine — from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed and everything in between; walk schedules, meal schedules, supplements, toys, recreation, bowls, beds…just run through the entire day and write down every tiny detail you can think of. Discuss the list in detail with your pet-sitter.
Change in meals can disturb a dog’s digestion. So discuss if it’s possible for your dog to get fed the same food that he is used to. If that’s not possible, find out what they can feed him and get him used to his new meal a few days before you leave. Dry dog food is the easiest option. Send sufficient dog chow to the pet-sitter. Dog food is not cheap!
There are companies like Canine Cuisine that deliver freshly prepared meals every day. That’s a convenient option too if your pet-sitters don’t mind feeding your dog non-veg food. If you opt for the home delivery option, don’t forget to let the meal providers know the address and your travel dates.
Leave behind as many familiar things as possible at the pet-sitter’s place. Food and water bowls are a must. A few toys, a bed or blanket will provide comfort. Leash, harness, collars should also be packed and sent to his temporary home. The idea is to keep change minimal.
Last, but not the least, leave behind emergency numbers — your numbers, alternate numbers if you are unreachable, and your vet’s number. If your dog has any health issues, educate your pet-sitter on symptoms to look out for and inform your vet about your travel dates. There are several online support groups for dog lovers. Bombat Dawgz is one such community I moderate. It’s a good idea to enroll your pet sitter in such a group, so that in case of any emergency, your dog’s host has someone to consult. And do call in at least once during your vacation to check in on your dog and his host. Happy holidays!