How to Prepare Your Dog Emotionally Before You Go on Holidays

Picture of a Jack Russell on Deck

You love spending time with your dog; there is no question that he is an important member of your family. However, sometimes, you need to take a trip, and it’s just not possible for Fido to tag along. If you’re soon to head out on a vacation and you’re worried about how your pooch will handle your absence, there are things you can do now to help ease any anxiety he may experience while you are away.

How Do I Pick the Perfect Place for My Dog to Stay at During My Vacation?

Determining where your dog will stay when you are on vacation can be a stressful task. Thankfully, there are lots of options from which you can choose.

In your home

If you are fortunate to have a family member or friend willing to provide in house care for your best canine pal, this is often the best option. Allowing your dog to remain in his home environment is a great way to alleviate any stress he may feel with you gone. Sometimes, you will be lucky enough to discover professional pet sitters who are willing to come to your home to provide on-site care for your dog. Fully insured and very experienced, professional pet sitters not only provide 24/7 hands on care for your dog, they also take him for a daily walk and ensure he has lots of playtime and is properly fed and given his medication if required. Though a professional pet sitter can be expensive, they are well worth the money. Many pet sitters keep you updated with regular photos and videos, giving you peace of mind that your best canine pal is well and having a ball with his new human friend.

At a boarding kennel

There are many boarding kennels that offer short and long term stays for dogs when their owners need to go away. Many boarding kennels also provide day care services, giving your dog the chance to make some new canine friends and have some fun in your absence. If you opt to book Fido into a boarding kennel during your vacation, it is important that you first do your research. Not all boarding kennels are the same.  You want to be certain the place that you select employs pet professionals with a thorough understanding of canine behavior and that provide continuous oversight of your dog in case an emergency arises. It is also important to find out ahead of time how the kennel will address any accidents, injuries, or illnesses if they occur.

A stay at the right boarding kennel can be a lot of fun for your dog especially if day care is part of the package. To ensure your dog experiences the least amount of stress possible during your absence, it’s a great idea to book your dog in for a morning or afternoon of day care fun to help Fido to become familiar with the place. By doing this, your dog will already be comfortable with the kennel and its staff and will look forward to a return visit instead of approaching it with fear and dread.

At your veterinary clinic

Some veterinary clinics offer pet boarding. This is an option you could definitely consider and is a great idea if your dog requires specialized treatment or medical care. It is important to ask the personnel at your veterinary clinic if the clinic employs staff around the clock or if your dog will be alone overnight. Though it is unlikely an emergency could occur during the evening hours when your pet is asleep, some owners prefer their dog be in the company of a person at all times.

Whichever route you choose to go, you will need to be certain to prepare a dossier that includes all of the pertinent information about your pet for the person who will be providing his care.

Among the information your pet professional will need are:

  • The name, address, and phone number of your veterinarian
  • The type and amount of food your dog receives each meal
  • Your dog’s meal schedule
  • Any information regarding medications
  • Any information regarding unique habits, practices, or quirks
  • Access to your pet’s health records in the event of an emergency
  • The course of action to take if your dog becomes lost, sick, or injured
  • Your personal contact information 

Are There Any Specific Things I Can Do to Get My Dog Ready for Me to Leave for Vacation?

There are most definitely some things you can do to help prepare your dog for you to be away on vacation. Among the steps you can take that will help alleviate your dog’s anxiety over your trip are:

Enjoying additional time together

Spending as much time as you can with your dog before you head out for your trip can help alleviate any anxieties you both may be feeling. Take the time to enjoy an extra walk, some cuddle time on the couch, and even a nap and some Netflix before you hit the road. Any extra time spent with you is sure to have Fido feeling good.

Do early introductions

Once you have settled on where Fido will spend his time while you are away, it’s a good idea to do some early introductions. If you are having a pet sitter come to stay at your home, plan to have your dog meet his caregiver in a neutral setting first. Once your dog has had the opportunity to make a new friend outside his home, he will be that much happier when he or she comes to visit his house. By making friends with Fido’s pet sitter in advance of your trip, your dog is able to feel much more at ease both with your absence and with a new person in his home.

If you are using a boarding kennel, schedule a morning or afternoon of day care to help your dog feel at ease in the kennel environment and with the staff there.

Properly prepare your pet sitter/veterinarian/kennel staff

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, it’s important that you have a frank talk with the person who will be caring for your dog while you are away. Be sure to let your pet professional know what symptoms your dog experiences and what helps your dog to feel more at ease. If there is sufficient time before your trip, it is a good idea to hire a canine behaviorist to assist you with helping your dog to learn more productive coping skills when you must be away from him.

Pack a bag with familiar and comforting items

Ensuring your dog has access to toys, blankets, bones, stuffies, and even articles of clothing that smell like you is a great way to help calm your dog’s anxiety and fears if he needs to be away from home during your vacation. One important item that needs to be with your dog whether he will be with a pet sitter in your home, at your veterinary clinic, or at a kennel is his bed. Your dog’s bed is something smells like his home and will provide him with great comfort when he is in a new and unfamiliar environment. Other items to consider packing are your dog’s food and treats, a piece of your clothing, a favorite toy, and a blanket.

Provide sufficient exercise before you go

Ensuring your dog is properly exercised is one way to keep him feeling positive. Before you hit the open road, be sure to take Fido for a vigorous walk or engage in a play session together. By helping your dog burn off some extra energy before you leave, your dog will feel more at ease and relaxed, helping him to adapt more readily to your temporary absence.

Use calming tools to help

If your dog experiences severe anxiety when you must be away from him, there are calming tools that may be a help to him. Some dogs benefit from the use of collars that release pheromones to help reduce feelings of anxiety. Many owners also report that the swaddling effect achieved with a Thundershirt is highly effective. Still other owners recommend the use of calming supplements and treats containing CBD oil to help induce a more relaxed state of mind.

Remain calm and avoid becoming overly emotional

Your dog is deeply in tune with your emotions. If you are stressed and anxious, your dog will be too. As best you can, remain calm and unemotional to keep your dog on as even a keel as possible.

Provide positive distractions

It’s a great idea to stock up on items such as raw meaty bones, Kongs, antlers, and puzzle games to keep your dog’s mind productively engaged during your absence. Be sure to buy a few different items to allow your pet professional to provide your dog with some variety to keep his interest level piqued.

There is no question your dog will miss you equally as much as you miss him when you have to be away on vacation. Still, armed with our top tips, you can help Fido to feel more at ease and even have a good time making some new friends during your absence.

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