Trusting someone to look after your dog while you are away on holiday can be tough, but you’ll have peace of mind if you do your research first.
Family or friends
Leaving your four-legged friend with a trusted member of the family or a friend can be ideal, as your dog will have already met them which will make for an easier transition and give you piece of mind that they’ll be in safe hands.
Will your dog stay with your friend or family in their home or will they come to your house to look after your pet?
If your dog will be staying in another house with your family/friends then think about the following:
Do they have another dog? If so, does your dog get on with them?
Do they have other pets and if they do, has your dog met them before with a positive interaction?
Are there children in the household and is your dog happy around them?
Do they have a garden? If not, are they prepared to walk your dog more regularly to allow for toilet breaks?
If they have a garden, is it secure with high fences so that your dog can’t escape?
Is your dog likely to settle well in the area your friend/family lives in? If your dog is used to the quiet of the countryside, they might find the hustle and bustle of a city a bit stressful.
Pet sitters are people who live in your home during the time you’re away and look after your dog in your own home for a fee. It’s a good alternative for pet owners who aren’t fortunate enough to have friends and family who can help out.
Employing a pet sitter has the added benefit of keeping your pet in their own home so they will be comfortable in their familiar environment.
How to find a good pet sitter
Ask your local dog walking/community group for recommendations
Meet potential sitters before you book to see how they get on with and interact with your dog
Make sure they are insured and DBS checked. Pet sitters don’t need a licence to work, but reputable ones will be able to show you training and insurance certificates.
Check reviews online from independent review sites. You can also ask for existing client details to check on their experiences.
Home boarders are people who take pets into their own homes and look after them within the home (for people who look after dogs in kennels at their own homes, see boarding kennels below). This is different from a pet sitter, who looks after dogs in the dog’s own home.
How to find a good home boarder
A genuine love of dogs shines through when you meet. Meeting your potential home boarder once or twice at a neutral location such as a favourite dog walking spot will allow you to see how they are around your dog, and your dog is around them.
Their home is set up to care for dogs. Check their home is dog-proof with no obvious dangers like exposed wires and cables lying about, toxic substances are locked away, and garden fences are secure.
Your dog is invited round for a short trial period to get to know their temporary home and meet the family – including any children and pets – they’ll be staying with
They can show you reviews and are happy for you to contact other happy customers for recommendations and references
They know what to do and who to contact in an emergency or if your dog gets injured or ill
You can easily find and view their licence to home board dogs from the local council (licensing has been a legal requirement for home boarders since October 2018) and other necessary paperwork such as insurance details and any relevant training, eg dog first aid
Kennels are an option for your dog when you’re away, however this will depend on whether your dog is comfortable with being in a kennel environment. Many dogs find kennels isolating and if your dog hates being left alone, leaving them in a home environment where they can enjoy the company of people will be best for them.
How to find a dog boarding kennel
Good places book up fast, so start your search in plenty of time
Get a personal recommendation if possible, and check the kennel is licensed by the local authority
Drop in without an appointment and ask to look around – you’ll be able to tell a lot from an unannounced visit
Check the living area is warm, secure, clean and dry, with plenty of comfortable areas
Ensure the location is not prone to flooding
Dogs who don’t know each other should not be able to make nose, paw or eye contact – other dogs staring at them can be stressful
A good kennel will ask lots of questions about your pet, including diet, to help keep to their routine
Where will your dog be exercised? Check the exercise area is safe and appropriate for your dog.
Many kennels will insist that dogs are up to date with vaccinations or that you have an up to date titer test certificate from your vet (a test which determines the immunity your pet has to different diseases so that you can make the decision on whether or not to vaccinate them)
Ask about insurance cover and what the procedure is for contacting a vet and you, in case of a veterinary emergency
Find out how many staff there are per animal
It’s a good idea to add the kennel’s name, address and number to your dog’s microchip along with the dates they are in their care, in case they go missing while you are away. Check with your dog’s microchip database to see if this is possible.
A good kennel will ask for you to bring your dog along for a visit so they can get used to the environment that they’ll be in
Kennels are given a rating based on how well they fare on their welfare standards. Those with a rating of four or five stars are considered to have higher standards and are recommended.
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