What to Do with Your Dog When You Travel

Traveling on business or for vacation? Great!  But what to do with your dog while you’re away? The Dog Trainer discusses 5 boarding options and how to choose the best one for your pet.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA,
June 24, 2013
Episode #155

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Despite the cost, an in-home sitter may be best for your dog, especially if the sitter is someone who knows her well. Any stress caused by your absence may be lessened by staying in a familiar place with a familiar person and keeping something like a familiar routine. Also, if your dog is fearful of new experiences or has other behavior problems, the more stable you can keep her environment the better.  Or kenneling may simply not be an option.  My dog, Juniper, is socially maladroit with other dogs, to say the least; he’d be miserable in a kennel, and the other dogs wouldn’t enjoy his company, either.

Option #3: Boarding at the Pet Sitter’s Home

I am also a fan of boarding at the pet sitter’s home. Again, a domestic environment with a routine like the one at your own home is most comfortable for many dogs. Once your sitter and your dog have established a relationship, you may find your dog perfectly happy to go on his own little vacation while you have yours. Our late dog Muggsy adored his sitter; if we walked him on her block, he would pull so hard toward her house that leash manners went out the window.

Again, take behavior issues into account: Will other dogs be present? Cats? Birds? Remember that even if your Zippy is friendly, any resident dogs or other boarders have to get along well with other dogs too. Or suppose your dog is afraid of, say, men with beards, will any bearded male visitors to the sitter’s home behave appropriately, so as not to increase Zippy’s anxiety or, worse yet, elicit aggression?

Option #4: Kennels and Doggy Spas

With respect to kennels and doggy spas, I have to admit to some prejudice. Years ago, before my dog Muggsy’s behavior problems had been more or less resolved, I was exploring the possibility of boarding him. I’ll never forget the macho, smug tone of the kennel representative who told me, “Oh, we know how to deal with aggressive dogs.” Needless to say, that gentleman was not getting near any dog of mine. (This, by the way, is a powerful example of how one strong aversive can taint a whole experience even long term. Remember it when you’re interacting with your dog.)