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Casey’s Corner: What to do with your dog when you’re traveling

 

We’d all like to be able to take our dogs with us everywhere, but what if that’s impossible? What about a business trip, a cruise or an overseas vacation? There are simply times when we can’t take our canine companions along when we leave home.

Many people turn to local boarding kennels — and there’s nothing wrong with that if you’ve found one that fits your dog’s needs and temperament, and in which you feel confident.

But today’s pet parents have many more choices when it comes to finding a place to leave their dogs when they can’t take them along.

Rover.com pioneered the notion of boarding dogs in private homes in 2011. In addition to in-home dog boarding, they also list members who offer pet sitting, dog walking, grooming, and day care. All individuals are screened and certified for security and safety, and the company offers a comprehensive guarantee. Another company offering the same types of services is PetBacker.

With both companies, pet parents search through a listing of hosts, sitters, walkers, etc., which also includes their rates and acceptance criteria (such as size or breed of dog, length of stay and special services).

Another option for short- or long-term dog care is a professional pet sitter. But how do you find someone reputable and trustworthy?

First, talk with your veterinarian, groomer or fellow dog owners for recommendations.

You can also look through the membership lists of organizations like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International.

Another alternative is to do an Internet search for people in your local area. For instance, “pet sitters Victorville, CA.”

But getting names is only the beginning: you need to spend time researching anyone you’re going to entrust with the care of your pet. Here are the most important things to keep in mind:

Ask for references — preferably local — and check on them. Talk with people who’ve used their services, and don’t be afraid to ask probing questions.

Ask if the person is bonded and insured. Some will be, some won’t. You have to decide how important this is to you.

If you’re expecting someone to stay in your home, it’s critical to request some level of background verification, and read that background report. Remember, you’re trusting this person not just with your beloved companion, but also with the keys to your home, and everything in it.

Ask about the person’s experience with the breed and age of dog you have. Don’t accept a vague answer about how they love “every type” of dog—get specific responses. There’s a big difference between caring for a 12-week-old Dachshund and a 12-year old Mastiff.

Find out if the person is willing or able to provide your dog with daily exercise… but be reasonable. If you’re training for a marathon and regularly take Fido on 8-mile runs, don’t expect your sitter or boarder to do the same!

Conduct an initial interview so you can observe how the person interacts with your dog. If your dog will be going to their home, insist on doing a home visit to make sure it’s clean and free of obvious hazards; if someone will be staying at your home, ask them to visit you before you sign the contract.

So whether you’re leaving home for pleasure or profit, business or the beach, make sure you’ve done everything you can to keep your canine companion happy and healthy while you’re gone.