Before I buy plane tickets, book a hotel or even clear my schedule the first person I call when planning to take a vacation is my pet sitter. Without someone to look after my dogs I’m grounded.
Figuring out what to do with the family pet when you’re away can be one of the most anxiety inducing parts of a trip. If you are one of the lucky ones you have a good friend or family member that is happy to have them over for a visit. For the rest of us, it can be a challenging situation. Here are a few tips to help make the process as painless as possible.
1. Decide what kind of care you are after. This can vary with your personal comfort level, your budget and you pet’s individual needs or temperament. The options vary from the traditional kennel, pet “hotels” that are often also doggie daycare centers, care in a pet sitter’s home or care in your own home. It’s a good idea to have a couple of options researched and prepare in case one falls through.
2. Make sure you leave plenty of time to book, options tend to fill up fastest during holidays and peak vacation times. You will also want to leave time to tour any facilities and for you pet to meet and interact with the caregiver(s) before you commit to anything.
3. Find someone you can trust and establish a relationship with them. At times when I used a regular dog walker they were always my first choice for pet sitting as well. They knew my dogs and I had already vetted them. It can be a good idea to use a service you have experience with, be it a doggie day care of walker but if you don’t have one of those options to turn to you can try calling your vet (they usually keep a list) or ask around at your local dogpark.
4. Have a meet and greet. This is one of the most important things you can do. Have the caregiver meet you in your home or bring your pet to wherever they will be staying. This gives your pet an opportunity to see you interact with the person, so that they know this person has been invited in and allows them to form a connection before you leave them. It’s also a great opportunity to go over any pertinent information in person, and show them where they can find what they will need.
5. Write everything down. You might feel like it’s a bit over the top but a detailed outline of your pet's needs along with their usual routine can save a lot of headaches. Be sure to list your vet's info in case of any emergencies and any prescription or health related information.
Leave your own suggestions in the comments below.
(Image: via Kim Lucian)