As a dog lover, I wish I could take my dogs with me wherever I go, but sometimes circumstances won’t allow it. Leaving them alone for a few hours to run errands is not a problem. It is when I have to be gone overnight or go on vacation that I worry about them the most.
Let’s say for example that you had planned to spend a week in Las Vegas. If the theme of your trip is to explore the casinos, have some drinks, and take in a few shows, having to run back to your hotel to feed and walk Fido every so often may hinder your plans. This is just one of several possible reasons to board your dog.
Options to Evaluate
- Dog hotels are a popular boarding option even though they can be expensive. Most offer baths, massage, special treats and toys, and plenty of exercise. If Fido isn’t already spoiled, he will be after staying at one of these. The owner or manager can show you where your dog will be sleeping, eating, and playing. Some might have a daily activities list so be sure you ask to see it. I also advise you to look at how employees interact with the dogs that are currently staying there.
- Veterinarian offices are better for boarding older dogs. They generally offer kennels or runs. If your dog needs daily medication or has a disability such as blindness or arthritis, a trained professional will be able to tend to Fido’s needs. Most do not object to letting you see the boarding area, but if they do, take it as a red flag. Ask how often the kennels and runs are cleaned and if sick dogs are sometimes kept in the same pens. You do not want your dog rooming beside another that may be contagious.
- Trusted family members or friends may be best for Fido’s emotional health. Leaving him with someone he knows will lessen stress for both of you. Someone with a personality that matches your own is ideal. If your chosen caretaker stays at your house while you’re away, that’s even better because a change in surroundings may be upsetting to some dogs. Go over any special instructions in advance to make sure Fido gets his 2 p.m. treat and 4 p.m. walk on time. If your dog is in the house-training phase, you do not want to alter the routine he may still be learning. But if all friends and family members are not available, the other two options will be the best way to go.
Over the years, I have boarded my dogs using each of the options listed above. I learned quickly what to watch out for and when to ask the important questions. The bad experiences were the hardest lessons, but they left me better informed.
Take your dog with you whenever you can. If it’s not allowed, take your time and make the best choice for you and your dog.
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