Tips for Finding the Perfect Place to Keep Your Pet Over the Holidays

Photo by Patrick Danforth |

Photo by Patrick Danforth |

Everyone wants to have peace of mind when they leave their dog in the care of someone while on vacation. Here are some recommendations for finding the perfect place for your pet.

Is a boarding facility the right place for your dog while you're away? Do not board an elderly dog or one who is blind. It is hard enough for your dog to be without you; asking them to acclimate to a strange environment is beyond what most older or sight-impaired dog can handle. The best thing you can do for them is keep them in their own home with a reliable house/pet sitter.

Dogs who are extremely fearful or aggressive towards people or other dogs should also be cared for at home during your absence. Make sure that the dog is microchipped, has their name and phone number on their collar and for added peace of mind, get them a collar GPS unit that will actually text and email you and the caretaker with their location if the dog leaves the property. Lock all yard gates and fix any possible escape areas (under fences, over fences, weak areas, etc…)

Do an online search for companies that offer services like this in your area. Make an appointment to interview potential home/pet sitters in your house and with your dogs. Ask for references. Ask if the individual is bonded and insured. Some are not, but, they may come so highly recommended that you won't feel the need for bonding.

Have the house/pet sitter do at least one overnight before you leave leave them with your pets for extended periods.

If you are considering a Boarding Facility:

The best thing to do is to check them out yourself. Ask the following questions:

  • Can I see where my dog will sleep? If they say no, that's a deal breaker. It's because they don't want you to see the area or the accommodations. You need to feel comfortable about where your dog will spend their time.
  • Ask if there is someone on site all night? A camera watching the dogs remotely at someone's house is not enough.
  • Don't take their word for how the play areas operate. Ask to see the play area while dogs are playing. How many staff members are watching the dogs? How does the staff interact with the dogs? Do they squirt them, yell at them, or do other aversive things to control the dogs?
  • Do the dogs seem happy? How many dogs are sitting by the gate waiting to get out of the play area?
  • Ask what kind of evaluation they do on the dogs before they play together. Dogs who will be playing with each other need to be of similar size and play style. This should be standard at all day care and boarding facilities, but, it's not.
  • Does the dog have an outside run for potential "potty" needs or do they take the dogs out on a reasonable time interval?

The boarding facility should be a "home away from home". This requires that the dog be a regular day care visitor. Some facilities are so dedicated to giving your dog a non-stressful stay, that they require boarders to visit a minimum of once a month.

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Positively Expert: Laura Brody

Laura Brody is the owner of Denver's Good Family Dog, Kind, Purposeful, Force-Free Dog Training and Behavior.


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