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Ask a Pro: How to Make Sure Your Dog’s in Good Hands While You Travel

Ask a Pro: How to Make Sure Your Dog’s in Good Hands While You Travel

Ask a Pro: How to Make Sure Your Dog’s in Good Hands While You Travel

Ask a Pro: How to Make Sure Your Dog’s in Good Hands While You Travel

Going away is easy. Drinks served at the pool or beach while tanning on a lounger? Done. All you can eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and room service? Obviously. Spa treatment in the morning and free hydrotherapy in the evening? Yes, please.

The hard part, though? Leaving your furbaby behind.

It’s a tad easier when you have a relative or close friend watching your dog while you’re gone, but the struggle couldn’t be more real when in-the-family petcare isn’t available. And when you’re stuck and scrambling, how will you know you’re making the best decision for your beloved bestie?

To answer these questions, we went to Ask a Pro. Meet Amanda Berjeski, practice manager at Resurgence Veterinary Mobility animal rehab center in East Atlanta … and experienced pet-sitter. Here are some tips she offered to help you set your mind at ease.

Do a Meet & Greet

Whether you’re leaving your pooch at someone else’s home or having a person stay at your place, it’s important that everyone involved feels comfortable with one another and their setting … including the dog. “Do this prior to the pet-sitting dates to ensure your dog feels comfortable around this sitter,” Berjeski advises. This ensures safe interaction, familiarity, and creates trust between your animal and your sitter. The last thing you want to do is surprise your dog with a stranger in their home, or for them to feel confused about being left in an unfamiliar environment with an unknown person!

Even if you’re hiring someone to come by and walk your dog on a schedule, a meet and greet is important. After all, some dogs are territorial and will want to instinctively protect your home against intruders – for some families, this is considered the dog’s job! The last thing you want to do is hire a dog-walker and have them be unable to enter your home or handle your dog safely.

If your dog is friendly and accustomed to meeting people, this interaction should be like any other introduction. However, Berjeski advises that you should also see how the potential caregiver behaves, too. “I always sit down on the floor as soon as I enter one of these meetings and let the dog come to me,” she says. This keeps the greeting from being too rushed and in her experience, “The owner loves how excited and comfortable the dog usually feels around me,” which becomes obvious when the sitter meets their dog on their level.

Go Over the Routine

After you decide to book the sitter, it’s important to go over your dog’s daily routine. While you may be so used to your day-to-day life with your dog, remember that other households follow different feeding patterns, feeding schedules, walking rotations, and all dogs have their own particular quirks. That’s what makes them special and individual!

When you do brief the sitter, “See if they take notes,” she says. This shows that they’re paying attention and are already planning for success and to offer their best care.

Even if they do take copious notes, though, “Put your routine in writing upon arrival of the actual date,” Berjeski says. Memory is fallible, old notes can be muddled or get confused, and it may have been some time and several dogs between the agreement to pet-sit and the actual pet-sitting dates. Plus, medication often needs to be dispensed at set intervals, and having it written down reduces chances of missing the window.

No matter what, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and outline your dog’s day so that there are no surprises.

Notify the Sitter of Stressors and Triggers

Going away for a loud holiday like the Fourth of July, or during a rainy season with lots of big storms rolling through? If so, make sure your sitter knows what upsets your pet. If your dog need a thunder shirt, write it in your notes to your sitter and make sure they know where it’s stored.

Does your dog bark when people walk past your home, want to chase cats on walks, or lunges at other dogs, making greetings a challenge? Again, more things your sitter needs to know about. Or if your dog has separation anxiety and needs to be crated if left alone because they might be destructive, that’s also critical to communicate, so that you can all work around these things.

Stress can also manifest in tummy trouble for your pet, so it’s not a bad idea to put them on probiotics while you travel, and to buy calming treats to be dispensed only initially. Zesty Paws, Fera Pet Organics, and The Native Pet all make vet-approved treats of these nature.

Talk to Your Vet

Having something happen to your dog while you’re away is every pet owner’s nightmare. You don’t want to have to think about it, but it’s much better to be safe than sorry, and have a game plan for if things unexpectedly go awry. After all, you can’t tell your dog that in advance that the mushroom that unexpectedly sprouted up in your yard is poisonous or no, that raccoon does not want to play.

Berjeski recommends that you “Call your vet to give permission for treatment from the pet-sitter and make arrangements for payment.” But that doesn’t mean you’re giving them a blank check – your vet and sitter should get in touch with you to approve treatment and fees before running your card. This just saves you the hassle of having to break out your card while mid-excursion or forcing your sitter in the uncomfortable position of fronting any costs should an emergency arise.

Define Boundaries

If someone is sitting at your house, it’s fair for you to expect them to abide by the rules of the house. But in order to do that, you need to tell them what they are. Again, you can’t assume everyone lives the way you and your pet do!

No shoes in the house? Eating in the kitchen only? Things like that should be no problem as long as it’s clearly communicated. Plus, rules like “no dogs on the furniture,” “no table scraps,” and “sit for treats” also help to reinforce training while you’re gone, ensuring that your pet will always understand what’s expected of their behavior no matter who’s in charge.

And feel free to share if you’re comfortable letting them know if house guests are welcome or not, she says. It’s your home and your prerogative.

Bring Non-Staining, Non-Stinky Safe Treats if Boarding

If you’re having your dog privately boarded in a sitter’s home, it’s also important to be respectful of their space and boundaries. This means if you’re bringing treats and chews, make it something that will keep your potentially anxious pup busy without stinking up the house or damaging or staining their sitter’s rugs, carpets, couch, or wood floors.

Madelene Hisson, Head of Marketing for Natural Farms has a few recommendations that she shared with us.

“Our Braided Collagen Sticks are really fun for dogs with their enticing braided texture. They’re packed with an impressive 95% collagen, promoting healthy skin, a lustrous coat, and robust joint function,” she says. Additionally, “These and our Extra Thick Bully Sticks are our longest-lasting options due to their thick nature,” which means they’ll be busy – and out of trouble! – for some time, and certainly enough to get comfortable in their new surroundings.

But for any treat, be sure that that the treat is safe for your dog. For example, she shares, “All of our products are produced at our human-grade facility in Brazil that meets USDA and FDA standards. Once they’re created, we send them to a lab to be tested to ensure safety and quality. No products have, or ever will, leave our facilities without being tested.”

But don’t rush to give your dog anything too new to them as you place them in a new environment, though. And let your sitter know, “It’s important to maintain close supervision and ensure an ample supply of fresh water. We highly recommend starting with minimal chew time, around 3 – 5 minutes, and gradually increasing it.

“It is essential to exercise extra caution and attentiveness when offering treats to young dogs and puppies – chews should be avoided altogether for puppies under three months.”

If your dog has a sensitive stomach, try something gentler like gullet sticks or beef jerky for dogs, and give them a few pieces before you travel to make sure it’s well digested by your pup. “These are softer than bully sticks but just as fun to chew, and are both natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for positive joint health,” she says.

Also, Bring Something of Yours

In addition to treats to keep your dog preoccupied, don’t forget to bring a piece of your unlaundered clothing, too. Your natural scent can be comforting to them and reassurance that you’ll be coming back for them.

According to the American Kennel Club, “leaving them with something familiar can help them feel more at home. A worn t-shirt or blanket is always a good idea. These items hold your scent, your dog’s scent, and the scent of the rest of your household. The familiarity will help soothe your dog should they become stressed or homesick, and these items are very easy to pack in your pup’s bag. Plus, they’re soft and physically comforting.”

Go with a Pro.

ALG Vacations® has been telling your customers to Plan with a Pro. Choose someone with good experience with animals, and as with travel advisors, pick someone with good reviews, whether online or word of mouth and a vibe you and every member of your family feel like they can trust.

We all know how important it is to Plan with a Pro when it comes to travel. After all, Travel Advisors Get You There. But equally important is making sure advisor pros are supported and surrounded by pros themselves, particularly when it comes to topics peripheral to travel. That’s where TravelBlogue comes in as we Ask a Pro on your behalf to provide you with tips and advice from fitness, health, nutrition, mental health, beauty, wellness, and travel gear experts from around the world … and put it all at advisor fingertips.


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