Your dog is a loved and respected member of your family. You probably have some amazing memories of dog-friendly trips taken together in the past, along with plans and ideas for future vacations with your dog. There will inevitably come a time, however, when you need to prepare for a long trip away from your dog.
Maybe you're heading away for work and can't stand the idea of your dog being left alone in a hotel while you sit through day after day of meeting and conferences. Maybe you're traveling to an area that isn't pet-friendly. Or maybe it's time for a vacation focussed on your partner or family, without having to revolve your daily plans around your dog's needs and comfort.
Whatever the reason, if you're planning a long trip away from your dog, the secret lies in being as prepared as possible. The more time and effort you put into picking a boarding facility or making other accommodation arrangements, along with planning for every contingency, the better chance you have of a stress-free trip with an amazingly happy reunion at the end.
Make Accommodation Arrangements You're Happy With
The safety of your dog will ultimately be your paramount consideration when you're preparing for a trip without your dog. Once you've made arrangements for your dog's care while you're away, you can get on with the business of planning other aspects of your trip, safe in the knowledge that your pet will be well cared for while you're out of town.
Your choice will ultimately come down to whether your dog will remain at home and be cared for by someone else, or whether your dog will go to stay at a boarding kenning or someone else's home while you're away.
Pet Sitter / In-Home Care
Many people choose to have their dog stay in their own home and to hire someone to either visit twice a day to feed, water, and exercise your pet, or to have someone live in your home in exchange for cash or free accommodation.
This type of arrangement works best with someone you already know and trust, rather than inviting a stranger to live in your home while you're out of town. If you are in a position where you need to put your trust in someone new, ask for references and make a point of contacting former clients to get a feel for the person's trustworthiness.
If you're looking for peace of mind, you can't go past a professional dog boarding facility. Rather than trusting a family member or friend to take care of your pet or worrying about the fencing in your neighbor's backyard, dropping your dog off at a boarding kennel ensures that they will be completely protected and well cared for. Boarding kennels are usually specially built facilities, and each has the sole purpose of caring for other people's pets while they're away.
Your dog may not have all the comforts and familiarity of home, but at least you know they will be properly fed, exercised, and cared for during their time at a boarding kennel.
Stay In Someone Else's Home
In some circumstances, the best solution may be to take your dog to live in someone else's home while you're away. This arrangement may work well with a friend or relative who is happy to look after your dog and treat them as a member of their family, but who may not live near enough or have the flexibility to come to your home twice a day to feed, water, and exercise your dog.
The benefit of this kind of arrangement is that your dog will become part of another family and will usually have more company throughout the day than if they were left home alone and looked in on twice a day.
Pack Toys and Comfort Items
If you've chosen to leave your dog at home and have arranged for someone to come to your house regularly to feed and exercise your dog, your dog will have the benefit of being surrounded with their normal favorite items and the home environment they're used to. Before you leave, you may like to leave an unlaundered shirt or blanket that smells like you. You'll probably find that your dog will enjoy snuggling up with the item while you're away.
If your dog will be staying at a boarding kennel or someone else's house, pack a selection of your dog's favorite items to take with them. A small bed or familiar blanket to sleep on, favorite toys, or even their usual food and water bowls can keep your dog calm and reminded of home.
Consider Tools To Keep Everyone Calm
As dog owners, we are discovering more and more about the ways our feelings and emotions influence those of our pets. Have you ever noticed that when you're stressed or anxious, your dog is harder to settle? And when you're feeling sad or worried, your dog appears more clingy than usual? It is becoming ever clearer that dogs (and potentially small children) act out our inner feelings and emotions - no matter how much we feel that we're hiding our feelings from others.
With this in mind, remember that the calmer you are, the calmer your dog will be. If you're wondering how to make it easier on your dog when you are away from home, remember that the biggest favor you can do for your dog is to stay confident and calm through the whole process. If you can present a calm and detached demeanor while preparing your dog for your time apart, and especially when saying goodbye, you will be doing your dog a great favor. If you're a wreck when you're leaving your pet, your dog will feel that something is truly wrong and will be much more likely to panic or misbehave.
If your dog is used to taking natural supplements, wearing a special garment to reduce anxiety, or responds well to aromatherapy to help stay calm, consider using these natural remedies as you normally would in other stressful situations.
Leaving your dog behind while you head off on a long trip won't be easy for either of you. But if you have planned ahead and made arrangements that you're comfortable with, you can head off on your trip knowing that your dog is perfectly fine. Regardless of whether you choose a boarding kennel, at-home care, or arrange to leave your dog in someone's else home, as long as you're happy with the arrangements you've made, your dog will be fine.
Just think how happy you'll both be when you've reunited again after your long trip is over.