It’s that time of year again. The time when millions of dogs take to the highways.
What? You look puzzled.
American Thanksgiving is coming up fast. It’s the biggest travel day of the year. If you’re visiting distant friends or family and have a dog, he’s probably traveling too. And you have a big decision to make.
Should you board your dog? Take her along with you? Or let her stay home with a petsitter?
Boarding Your Dog
I have never boarded my dogs. My first dogs, Agatha and Christie had severe separation anxiety. And Agatha didn’t like other dogs. Heck, she didn’t even like her sister.
But boarding kennels have been around for years and many dogs tolerate them well.
Boarding facilities in my town feature radiant heat floors, piped in music, and home-type rooms with soft beds. Heck, sign me up. It sounds nicer than my house.
If your dog is sociable and doesn’t suffer from separation anxiety, boarding him can work well. Just make sure, if you’re considering boarding your dog, to interview the owners, tour the facility, and follow-up on references.
Personally, I would not leave Honey in a boarding facility for an extended stay while I traveled without doing a test first. An overnight visit while you’re still in town is one way to see if your dog likes a boarding situation before you travel miles away.
Pros of boarding your dog
- Usually the least expensive option if your dog can’t go with you.
- Simplifies your travel plans.
Cons of boarding your dog
- No matter how many tours you take or references you read, you won’t know how your dog tolerates boarding until you try it.
- Leaving your dog in someone else’s care is risky. Add dozens of strange dogs to the mix and the risk of your dog being injured or becoming ill goes up.
If boarding is not a good fit for your dog, it’s getting easier to take him with you.
Taking Your Dog With You
This is always my first choice. But sometimes it’s impossible—especially if you’re flying.
If you take your dog with you, you’ll have lots of decisions to make. Where will you stay? In a hotel or with family? Will your dog tolerate the noise and excitement of a family gathering? Does your family like dogs?
And the most important question of all: how likely is it that you can transport three pies and a lab mix in the same car without incident?
Once you decide to take your dog with you, use a website like Go Pet Friendly to plan your doggie road trip. The last thing you need is to try to smuggle a mastiff into a hotel room because you can’t find one that allows dogs.
Pros of taking your dog with you
- You don’t miss him.
- You know exactly how he’s being cared for.
Cons of taking your dog with you
- Unless your dog is a back-up driver, having her along complicates your travel plans. Just try pulling over for a potty break on the highway when you’re in bumper to bumper traffic, if you don’t believe me.
- Not everyone in your family or group of friends will understand why you need to have your dog along.
If you decide not to take your dog with you, you could leave him at home with a petsitter.
Leaving Your Dog With a Petsitter
It was hard to go to Panama for a month and leave Honey behind. Luckily, Honey’s best (human) friend is also a terrific petsitter. Our absence was no big deal since our petsitter stayed in the house and was with Honey in the mornings and evenings. Honey’s schedule changed very little from what it would be if I was home.
And that’s the ideal.
I believe that most dogs, if they can’t be with you, would at least like to be surrounded by your smells. At home.
That’s why we left plenty of dirty socks in the hamper before our vacation. No, it had nothing to do with running out of time to clean the house before I left. I was only thinking of the comfort of my dog. Honest.
Pros of having a petsitter stay with your dog
- Disrupts your dog’s routine the least amount.
- Your petsitter will also keep an eye on your house for you.
Cons of having a petsitter stay with your dog
- It’s expensive.
- You’re leaving your home and your best friend in the care of a stranger.
I’ve given a lot of thought to making sure my dogs have a good experience with a petsitter. Your dog will do fine if you think it over in advance too.
Staying Home With Your Dog For The Holidays
Of course, who says you have to travel for the holidays at all? If the purpose of a celebration is to enjoy it with those you love, maybe the best place for you to be for the holidays is at home. With your dog.
Your Turn: What do you and your dog do for big family holidays? Do you hit the road? Or do you stay home?
Get Your Petsitter Printables
I’ve fine tuned my planning to make sure Honey has a good experience with a petsitter.
I prepare a vet permission letter authorizing my petsitter to seek treatment for Honey in case of an emergency. I leave a thorough list of important numbers, including the microchip company’s. And I make a petsitter check list for myself so I don’t forget anything.
Sign up below to get your copies of these helpful petsitter printables.
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