Throughout my years of dog care I have met a variety of dog parents. Some humans become very connected to their fur babies, and feel they are more than just a mere dog, while others simply got them to match the decor in their home. Yet regardless of what kind of relationship humans have with their pups, almost every pet owner is looking for the best possible care for their critters while they are away.
Here are some things I have learned about daycares, boarding facilities, and in-home sitters that you might want to consider:
- Give yourself plenty of time before a trip to find a good pet care option. Waiting until the last minute could leave your pup in the hands of someone less qualified than if you look a couple months ahead, especially during busy holiday seasons. If you currently have pets, and do not have a pet sitting option, find someone you like now! Even if you never leave your house, it is always a good idea to have someone you trust that can care for your pets if any emergencies arise. (it’s an even better idea to find more than one place for your pets, in case the first is unavailable)
- Meet the in-home sitter! If you choose to go the in-home sitting route, meet the sitter with plenty of time before your trip. Watch how they interact with your pets, have a list of questions ready for them, and make sure they have good references from other pet parents. Go with your gut! If you feel a person isn’t right for your pets, interview another sitter!
- Take a tour of the facility you plan to use! This is a very important step in finding reliable dog care. Every boarding facility should offer a tour for new clients. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to see where your dog will be staying while you are out of town. They might offer odd hours for tours, based on the boarding dogs’ schedules, but if they refuse a tour altogether, red flag! Don’t forget your list of questions!
- Think about the size of the pack and the daily environment. A lot of boarding facilities have large pack sizes, and house anywhere from 40-140 dogs. Some places have the space and staff for this many dogs, while others pack them to the gills simply for profit. Remember that tour you took? Was the facility loud and filled with barking? Were the playgrounds ample space for the amount of dogs using them? How many humans were on staff to watch the dogs? Were things clean and organized, or did the indoor rooms smell of urine? Though there are numerous facilities that look and smell like dogs use them as their personal toilets, and have little to no supervision during play, know that there are also boarding facilities that smell clean, look sanitary, and have friendly and caring staff constantly observing your pet. A larger boarding facility doesn’t always mean a good or bad thing. Some dogs could do well in these environments, but others can get very overwhelmed in larger pack sizes, and perhaps an in-home sitter is a better option.
- Humans. This is the most important thing to consider in dog care. What are the humans doing? Are they with your dog at all times? Or is your dog in a room of 80 dogs and no human supervision? If you are using an in-home pet sitter, you normally only have to worry about one human. If you’re using a boarding facility, your pet is around a variety of faces and you often don’t get to meet the entire staff ahead of time. It’s always a good idea to observe staff while on a tour. Do they seem connected to the job and animal they are working with, or are they dragging their feet and mumbling under their breath? Even at the worst boarding facility, a caring and knowledgable staff can go a very long way. Those invested in dog care will always go above and beyond to make sure your pup receives the best care possible, regardless of the environment.
- Every animal is different. As you may know, not every pet will react the same to boarding. Think about what is right for your unique individual before committing. Do they like being around just a few dogs, or do they crave a larger pack? Would they do ok in a kennel throughout the day, or do they suffer from separation anxiety? You know your pet best, after all!
As I said before, go with your gut! You could always do a trial run before the big day arrives. Board your pup, or have them enjoy a day of daycare at the facility (or with the sitter) before you head out of town. If any issues arise, you’ll be close by. Plus you’ll get a night to yourself to be human!