By Deb Young
For some of us, taking a vacation just wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if we couldn’t share it with our dogs. Camping and other outdoor adventures are natural vacation options with our four-legged friends, although dog-friendly vacations can be as plush as a four-star hotel stay!
While taking your dog on vacation can be great fun, it can also pose some challenges. Not every dog (or person, for that matter) will enjoy a visit to a crowded tourist destination. Not every relative will appreciate having us show up on their doorstep with our dog in tow. And some dogs just aren’t cut out for rugged camping adventures. Plus, some dogs become over-excited or anxious when traveling, which can lead to things like marking, barking, or destructive behavior. These won’t make for the most relaxing vacation experience!
Consider some of these dog-related questions when thinking about your vacation:
-Does your dog like adventure and excitement? Or would she be happier with a calm, quiet experience?
-Is your dog a seasoned traveler? Or will this experience be all new?
-Does your dog enjoy people? Other dogs?
-Does your dog have any special needs or physical limitations that might affect her enjoyment of a trip?
How will thinking about these questions help?
If your dog is a social butterfly, and you both love the bustle of people and activity, for example, you might choose a dog-friendly resort area or city.
Or, if your dog is shy of people or likes to run and swim, you might choose a quiet week in a lake-front cabin instead.
Keeping your dog’s personality and experience in mind will help you plan a fun vacation for you both.
The most important thing to consider about traveling with your dog is how accustomed he or she is to the type of travel you will be doing. Is your dog comfortable in the car or camper? Can you take steps ahead of time to help him become more comfortable?
If traveling by car or recreational vehicle, make sure your dog is relaxed on longer rides, doesn’t get car sick, and knows how to settle down. To make it even more pleasant for your dog, plan to make frequent stops to stretch, play, and potty.
Don’t leave your dog alone in the car while you play tourist. Some tourist destinations also have day kennels where you may be able to leave your dog while you visit the sights, but check out any kennel carefully to make sure it is a safe and appropriate place for your dog.
If your vacation involves walking, hiking, or backpacking, make sure your dog is in good enough shape to handle your walking expectations.
What if you can’t take your dog on vacation with you, what do you do?
Selecting the best possible care for your dog while you go on vacation can be a challenge so daunting as to make you seriously consider staying home. Making sure your dog will be safe and in good hands is vital both for her well-being and for the peace of mind you need in order to enjoy your vacation. Selection of the best care environment and the best person to entrust with your dog, you must take into account your dog’s specific needs and comfort level and the options available.
Here are a few helpful things you can do.
– Have someone already well-known and liked by your dog care for him while you are away. Many dog owners prefer this option, because they trust their friends and relatives.
– Hire a qualified in-home pet sitter. This is a good option if your dog will do best in the familiar surroundings of the home and you do not have a neighbor, friend or relative able.
– Board your dog in a traditional boarding kennel. This is a good option if your dog has anxiety or the tendency to be destructive when left alone. Choose a modern boarding facility to provide personalized care for your dog.
Today, many boarding facilities are more like dog resorts, and they are set up to allow friendly dogs to roam freely. Or they have individual rooms instead of kennel runs for their canine clients.
Leave your dog with the familiar items necessary to maintain her comfort level while you are away. Having a favorite food / treats will be comforting. Also having a favorite blanket or toy will be a comfort whether pet stays with a friend, a sitter or in a kennel.
Provide emergency contact information to your dog’s caretaker. It is important that the person or facility responsible for your dog’s care is able to reach you / veterinarian in case of an emergency. Put these important numbers in a location in your home that is easily accessible, or give them to the kennel staff when you drop your dog off to be boarded.
Having a safe and happy summer for you and your dog takes a little planning , but is very important.
Plan well in advance to allow time to research your options. We all want what is best for “Woman’s/Man’s Best Friend”