By: Kris Elig, PPS
I just finished reading another holiday travel article that suggested people take their dogs with them when traveling by car for their holiday vacations. While I do believe this is a great idea if you are traveling in a motor home if they are used to it, however it is not always the best solution if you are staying in a hotel. Keep in mind that while you want to go sightseeing, that most places don't allow dogs to be with you. So your dog will be left for long hours, stuck in the hotel room feeling lonely in unfamiliar surroundings. Not to mention being stressed because of the constant noise of people in the hallway. Therefore he won't be able to get any rest being in that hyper alert state. Most dogs are not like people, where they can just block out the sounds. You may also feel more tied down having to rush back to the room to make sure your pet gets out for a potty, rather than being able to stay and enjoy events. The purpose of getting away is to be able to relax, not be bound by responsibilities.
The article I read made a general comment that "pets are frightened by large boarding kennel atmospheres" as their reason for taking your pet with you. While that may be true for some dogs, I know that is not true for all. I do believe that some dogs love to socialize and enjoy doggy day care facilities and boarding kennels because it reminds them of the group plays they have at dog beach and the dog parks with their owners. It really depends on the individual dog, and whether or not they have been socialized, or brought up spending time with large groups of dogs. It can be extremely stressful for a dog that is not used to being around other dogs though, so keep that in mind. The article made no mention of other alternatives available for pets that do not do well with boarding, or travel well.
For those dogs who are not used to those types of facilities, I recommend you hire a professional pet sitter who is city licensed and carries liability insurance. The great thing about having a professional sitter come to your home is that your pets get to stay in an environment that they are familiar with and feel safe in. Of course this goes double for other types of pets who have never been out of their home and have never even heard a dog bark before; like indoor cats, rabbits, birds, in addition to pets that can't be moved easily, such as aquarium fish or reptiles. However, I would also like to point out some of the many other benefits to having a professional come to your home while you are away.
Holiday times are periods of increased burglaries. Thieves know that many people travel for the holidays. They also know that there may be many newly purchased items in the home with the holidays around the corner. Burglars look to steal because of the easy return policies most stores have at the holiday time. Having dogs in the homes is one of the best burglary deterrents, proven more efficient than even alarms. Also having a pet sitter come to your home daily makes the home looked lived in since your sitter will pick up the newspapers, mail, and flyers left at the door. Your sitter will usually rotate lights within the home to give it an occupied look from the outside in the evenings. in addition you won't come home to dead plants that haven't been watered in a week.
I am a professional pet sitter, so of course there is some bias in believing that we are the best option for your pets when you travel. However, I do believe that other options work for people as I mentioned at the start of my article. Private in-home boarding may also be a great option, where there are not a lot of other dogs putting them at risk of injury from dog fights or rough play. Another idea is to ask relatives who are familiar with your pets and home to stay at your place. However, they may not have the free time at the busy holiday season. I would advise against hiring the neighbor kid or imposing on friends who have a hard time saying no to you. With the neighbor kid, many things can go wrong: from forgetting to and relieve your pet and forgetting to feed them, to not locking your home up securely, to having pets escape, to not knowing what to do in an emergency situation, or having the capability to take your pet to the vet when there is a critical need. Not to mention you are taking on a huge liability allowing a minor in your home when you are not there. As for imposing on friends, many friends will agree only because they feel you will judge them as not being a good friend if they refuse. But secretly they will resent you for imposing on them interrupting their holiday time having to do your tasks. Had you really thought about it, would you really want to put them in that position? It would be like them dropping off their human child to you every time they had an event to attend, or were leaving town. Your pet is like your child, and is your responsibility, therefore should be treated with the same forethought when it comes to their care.
I service a small are of San Diego and La Mesa, California, so I may not be able to help you unless you live in my area. If you would like to visit my website; http://wwwProfessionalPetSit.com to inquire about professional pet sitting in my area and surrounding areas, I would love to be of service. In the event I do not cover your area, I do network with other professional pet sitters throughout central San Diego, North County, and in the South Bay area of San Diego, and would be more than willing to help you locate a professional who does service your area. Please just send me an email from my website, giving me your name, address, and phone number, and I will post your request on my network. For everyone else around the country, and beyond, you should be able to find a handful of professional pet sitters through a simple web search. Have a consult with a couple to see if they are right for you. I wish you a safe and glorious holiday season, and don't forget to get a little holiday gift for your pet too, to slide under the tree to share the joy with them.
Happy Howl-adays ~Kris Elig, P.P.S.