7 Pet Sitting Tips for Leaving Your Pup When You Travel
Not all the trips you take will be pet-friendly, so you may need to leave your best friend behind from time to time. While you're off relaxing or working, your pup's staycation could leave him feeling lonely. The right pet sitter can help keep your furry friend calm and make his time without you happy and secure. You'll both feel more comfortable and your reunion will be even sweeter.
These pet sitting tips can help you prepare your doggo, and you, for a smoother time away from each other.
1. Find the Right Pet Sitter
The first step in a stress-free dog sitting experience is finding the right person for you and your canine companion. You may know someone who loves dogs or is already good buddies with your pooch who can keep him company. If you don't, you can search for reputable pet sitters in your area via organizations such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or popular pet sitting services or apps that offer reviews from fellow pet parents.
Once you find a potential match, schedule at least one meet and greet between your best bud and the pet sitter. This is when you find out if the two are compatible. Watch for whether the sitter seems comfortable with your pup — and vice versa. You could also leave him with the sitter for a few hours as a trial run.
Before selecting a sitter, make sure their schedule can accommodate your buddy's needs. For example, if he needs extra supervision, ask candidates if they're available to spend time with him throughout the day.
2. Pick the Best Place for Your Pup to Stay
A pet sitter might visit your dog at your home, or you may have him stay at the sitter's house or facility. Both options have advantages. At-home care keeps your pup in a familiar place and may make it easier for him to stick to his routine. However, staying with the sitter can allow for more one-on-one time or even socialization with other pooches. For long trips, the American Kennel Club recommends having your pal stay with the sitter.
If you plan to have your buddy stay elsewhere, survey the scene. Are outdoor areas properly fenced off? Do other animals there seem happy and engaged? Look for signs that he will be as secure as he would be at home.
3. Practice Time Apart
If your dog is used to having you around all the time, stage some time away before your vacation. Start small: Practice your leaving "cues," such as putting on a coat or grabbing your keys, and then reward him with a treat. Speak in a calm voice before you leave to minimize stress. Gradually increase how long you're away as he gets more comfortable.
You can also use the times when you leave as practice for distracting your pup. For example, give him an engaging task or a toy filled with peanut butter just before you depart. The treat will keep him occupied, and over time he'll associate you leaving with something fun.
4. Gather Your Pooch's Favorite Things
Before you leave, ensure your furry companion can access toys and blankets in his favorite spots at home. If he's staying with the sitter or in a facility, pack some necessities and favorite toys for the trip. Include toys that allow him to entertain himself, such as puzzle toy feeders.
You can help your dog feel close to you by leaving objects that carry your unique smell nearby. Place clothes you've worn where you know he'll encounter them, such as his bed or favorite corner. You can also scatter socks around the house so that he encounters your scent as he roams.
5. Leave a List of Pet Sitting Tips
Your pet sitter's care will only be as good as the instructions you leave for them. In your note to the sitter, detail your pooch's typical day, including:
When, what, and how much he eats
His exercise regimen, including when, where, and how long he should exercise
How much, when, and the best way to give him any medications or supplements
When he should be in or out of his crate
Any daily rituals he's used to
How often he should have potty breaks or walks
Things he should avoid, such as being around other dogs, loud noises, or crowded places
House rules, such as rooms he can't enter and whether he's allowed on the furniture
Review the instructions with your sitter so they have a chance to ask questions.
6. Have an Emergency Plan
Importantly, plan for possible emergencies. You and your sitter both want to ensure emergencies don't happen, but they need to know what to do just in case. This includes if there is a change in arrangements, or an accident concerning either pet partner. Your sitter needs to have multiple ways of contacting you. Make sure they have your phone number and email. Consider sharing a travel companion's information, or the number of where you will be staying while away.
Also, share your pup's medical history and your preferred vet and clinic. Give them the contact information for someone you trust, like a local neighbor, friend, or family member who knows your pooch. In case the pet sitter can't reach you, this person can make decisions about your dog's care in your place.
7. Stay in Touch
Being away from home and your canine companion doesn't have to mean radio silence. Consider visiting your pup virtually via video calls with your pet sitter. If you have security cameras, you may be able to check in on your four-legged friend from a distance—but remember, he can't see you.
Your pal would always prefer to have you home. While you're away, though,
having the right pet sitter who understands your pup's needs can help him feel less lonely in your absence.
Before your next trip, lay the groundwork for your best friend to stay as secure and relaxed as if you were there. You'll both find greater comfort and peace of mind.