The dos and don’ts of making sure your dog is cared for while you’re away on holiday
The summer holidays are here. Whether you’re jetting off for a weekend or a longer trip with the kids, it can be nerve-wracking to leave the fluffiest member of the family at home. To ease your mind, take a read of our dos and don’ts to make sure your dog is properly cared for while you’re away.
Choose a reliable dog sitter – If something goes wrong, you need to know you can count on that person to act the same way you would, and prioritise your dog’s safety above all else.
Before you even begin researching possible sitters, consider whether your dog is going to be best suited to a kennel environment, move in with the sitter or if the sitter will stay at your home with your dog.
Once you’ve decided what type of dog care you need, here are some helpful questions you might want to ask when you meet a potential dog sitter:
- How long have they been dog sitting for? Can they provide references?
- Do they have any prior experience with dogs?
- Are they trained in CPR for dogs, or do they have dog training qualifications that might indicate they are good with dogs?
- What do they plan to do whilst caring for your dog, how long will they be at home and do they plan to take your dog places while you’re away? Make sure to flag any dangerous situations before they arise; for example walking a pug on a hot summer’s day is not advised due to their smaller snouts and difficulty breathing in hot weather.
- If they are a boarding facility, ask to see their insurance cover and be prepared to show documentation that proves your dog has been vaccinated against illnesses like kennel cough.
Write a manual – Caring for someone’s dog is a huge responsibility. It can be made easier with the help of a manual, to guide the person caring for your dog and ensure your pup enjoys their time with someone new.
Don’t forget to detail your dog’s feeding and walking schedule, any important medications they take, and anything else you feel is important. You know your dog best, so feel free to customise the care manual as you see fit.
Keep emergency phone numbers visible – Whether you print them off and stick them to your fridge, or write them down on a piece of paper, it’s crucial that whoever is caring for your dog has access to important details in case of a medical emergency.
These are likely to include: your dog’s veterinary clinic, their emergency out of hours number, any known health conditions or allergies, as well as their insurance details.
Making this information as easy as possible to find could save your dog’s life in an emergency.
Don’t forget to vet anyone you leave your dog with – Many of us see our dogs as part of the family, and it’s important to do our own checks to ensure people are as trustworthy as their website or social media says they are. Read through reviews carefully and contact people who have left reviews to establish their legitimacy and ensure you’re not unknowingly leaving your dog in harm’s way.
Some red flags to be aware of include:
- Good sitters will have their own questions around your dog’s individual care. If they don’t seem interested in your dog, it might not be the right fit.
- Negative reviews online aren’t always accurate, but you might want to take heed if you plan to leave your pet with someone who has controversial reviews about their pet care online. For example, a family from Gloucester were devastated after their beloved dog Banjo died after being left with a dog sitter who ignored important advice.
- Reliable sitters will make sure you feel at ease leaving your precious pet in their care. This might mean texting you a photo or update about your dog each night. Be prepared to ask if this will set your mind at ease. If they are understanding, you’ll know you’ve found someone like-minded to care for your pet, which can help you to relax whilst you’re away.
Don’t rush things – Some dogs take a moment to warm up to new people, so go at your pet’s pace. Meet the potential sitter for a dog walk and have them visit your home so they can ask any questions ahead of time.
If your dog is nervous or this is your first time leaving them to go on holiday, allow your dog to meet their new sitter on their own time and grow comfortable in their company.
Don’t be pressured – Don’t feel pressured to leave your dog with the first person who has availability. If a potential dog sitter is pushing you to book right away, then be wary of them.
Since the pandemic puppy-boom, many dog sitters and boarders are filling up long in advance , so prepare early and meet with recommended dog sitters and boarding facilities in plenty of time before your trip.
Don’t forget their dog tag – By law any dog in a public place must have the name and address of their owner inscribed on a tag on their collar. Be sure your dog has a legible dog tag with your contact information in case they go wandering whilst you’re away.
You can purchase engraved tags online, and don’t forget to attach the new tag to a good quality, sustainable collar before you leave.