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  • Writer's pictureStefani Cotten

How to Prepare Your Dog for Your Vacation

Going on vacation is exciting but leaving your dog can be difficult. Your dog is a member of your family, and leaving for vacation can be hard on both of you, but with some preparation, you can set your dog up for success before you leave.

Whether you board your dog at a kennel, leave her with friends or family, or hire a pet sitter, here are some helpful tips for your dog’s care while you’re away. This will ensure that your mind will be at ease while you’re on vacation, and you come home to a happy dog.

Meet the pet sitter or staff at your boarding facility of choice.

Visit the boarding facility and meet the staff. If you are hiring a pet sitter, allow your dog to meet the pet sitter a couple of times before you leave. Whether you choose a boarding facility, friend or pet sitter, be sure to share with them your dog’s needs, routines, and quirks. Also provide all necessary health and vaccination information, including your vet’s contact info.

Spend a little extra time together.

Spending extra time with your dog before you leave helps both of you. Your dog always appreciates the time she gets to spend with you, and a few extra snuggles on the couch or an additional daily walk are a big deal for your dog.

Leave detailed instructions about your dog’s care.

Whether you board your dog or have someone come over to care for them, you want to leave clear instructions. Leave a note detailing exactly how much food your dog gets for every meal, including whether it is okay to give them treats and how many. If they’re on medication, leave instructions on how much they need to take and the best way to give it to them (ie. put it in a Pill Pocket or peanut butter) and any other necessary information. It’s a good idea to have the pet sitter come over in advance and go through your dog’s routine and show them where everything is.

Important personal details.

Point out your dog’s quirks so the caregivers know what to expect, and how to keep her safe. Does she stop eating when she visits the kennel? My dog, Benji would go on a hunger strike at the kennel, so I always included special food or ideas on how to entice him to eat. Can your dog jump fences? Does she lunge and bark at other dogs when walked on the leash? How is she socialized with other dogs? Does your dog have separation anxiety? These are important behaviors you’ll want to point out.

Pack a piece of home for them.

Think about what your dog likes and if there are any items in particular that usually help them relax. Their favorite bedding, treats or toys will help them feel more at home. The bedding will smell like you and your home and make her more comfortable. Put an old t-shirt on their bed so they’ll be comforted by your scent. If your dog will be alone for long stretches of the day, leave a treat-dispensing toy like a Kong with peanut butter, or a pet-safe bone to keep them occupied. Ask your pet sitter to leave the radio on if your dog is used to the noises of a busy household.

Ensure your dog gets enough exercise before you leave.

This simple, tried-and-true tip is key to your dog’s happiness. Take a long walk, play fetch, or otherwise get your dog moving before you pack up. Expending some energy will help your dog feel more relaxed.

Keep the goodbye short and sweet.

Don’t make a big production of your departure. Your dog can quickly and easily pick up on your emotions. If you’re feeling anxious about leaving her, she will feel anxious about you leaving. Try to treat it like any other time you’re leaving the house, or dropping them off at the groomer. It’s easier said than done, but if you can leave her in as relaxed a state as possible, it will serve you both well. If you’re feeling comfortable (though of course, you’ll miss her), your dog will feel the same way. Your dog will miss you, just as you will absolutely miss your dog. Just remember: if you’re comfortable, your dog will be more comfortable. Project calm confidence, plan ahead, and you’ll both feel more ready for your temporary separation.

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