If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your dog is an important member of your household. It may seem as though pets have a sixth sense when it comes to travel; especially when they’re not invited! Rover may cosy up to you the second suitcases are packed, or start looking depressed during the pre-holiday hustle and bustle. They know you too well!
So what do you do before going away? One of the biggest decisions for dog lovers is what to do with their best friend as unfortunately, you can’t always take them with you. Having spent a small fortune on your well-earned break there is always a temptation to plump for the cheapest option but there are hidden costs.
What are your options and the real costs involved?
- Friends / Neighbours – They love your pooch when they visit so perhaps you could consider asking them to pop round to feed and play with your four-legged family member when you’re away? The best scenario here is that they take your dog into their home but it may well be very different at their place. Of course, this person is going to need to be responsible and knowledgeable about the basics of pet care. Can you trust them to do the right thing in all number of situations? How hectic is it behind thier closed doors? You must be cautious as some dogs can be a little bit stressed when their routine changes and one issue too many may put a strain on your friendship. If your chosen friend or neighbour is a pet owner, you could offer to return the favour someday although will their dog really get on with yours 24 hours a day?
- Family – Bless your nearest and dearest! They are always there to offer a free service and your mother will do anything she can to help. However, your dad has a dodgy knee, your sister has a very hectic life as it is and your brother spends a lot of time out with the lads; would any of this fit in with two decent dog walks a day? Perhaps not.
What happens when something goes wrong?
Dog destroys sofa!
The issue with both family and friends is that everything can work really well until something unexpected happens and you can end up being left high and dry with no suitable options. Unofficial arrangements are not insured so what happens when:
- Your pet is ill or needs special attention
- Your designated pet carer can no look after your dog e.g. due to a change in personal circumstances
- Your pet is in trouble and gets into a bit of bother (they do sometimes don’t they) e.g. your dog eats your friends favourite family photos or makes a mess on the carpet or even worse falls out with someone in their household (cat, rabbit, small child, etc).
Now for the Paid-for Options:
Kennels – We all know what some dog boarding establishments can look like and you wouldn’t recommend them to your worst enemy’s dog.
Some kennels call themselves 5* canine hotel accommodation and can look pretty swish nowadays however at the end of the day your dog is going to spend long periods of time without human interaction and stimulation. It also going to be very different to their normal home life routine. This traditional option always leaves a haunting feeling of guilt in the dog lovers’ mind. What will he or she be like when I get back and how long will it take for that kennel smell to disappear? Good quality kennels will have proper health and safety procedures and be fully insured. Find out more from the British Kennel & Cattery Association
4. Pet / House Sitting (you pay for someone to come to or stay at your house)
Using a pet sitter is one way to fuse the personal with professional. Many cats and dogs feel comfortable in their own environments, so having an experienced pet sitter come by for feedings, walks and play times can be a good option. Decide whether you want a sitter to simply visit your home on a daily basis (or perhaps multiple times per day) to spend some quality time with your pet, or have them stay in your home for the duration of your trip. Are you happy with someone coming to your house and can you trust them? There are plenty of organisations that are trustworthy but there is a lot to cover regarding keys, alarm codes and general rules of the house.
5. In-Home Pet Boarding
While enlisting a pet sitter is a good option, so is in-home pet boarding. In-home boarding involves your animals going to a pet sitter’s home in your area before leaving for your holiday. Whether to in-home board or hire a pet sitter to come to your home depends on the needs of your pet and as with anything there are good and not so good options available.
In-home boarding gives dogs the opportunity to socialise with other dogs under the supervision of a responsible pet owner, as well as individualised attention and more daily interaction. In-home boarding can be more affordable than pet sitters that come to the home, too, and there is the added security of not giving up your house keys.
Here are some of the key things to consider and check if using this option:
- How many dogs will be in their care?
- What experience do they have?
- Are they licensed by the local authorities?
- Are they fully insured?
- Can you get a list of testimonials from previous satisfied customers?
- Are they fully insured?
- What are their back-up procedures?
6. Take Them On Holiday with You
It can be fun to travel with your pet in certain situations, and is becoming more feasible as the number of pet-friendly hotels grows. If an activity like camping is on the agenda, your canine may enjoy being with your family in the great outdoors. Double check that your holiday is pet-friendly, though, as many places, including parks and beaches, are known for “no dogs allowed” policies. But if your pet loves to travel, a pet-friendly trip away could be a nice change of pace.