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Pet-Sitting Options When Vacationing With a Pet

For many families, a vacation without the family pet just isn't a real vacation. Watching your dog splash in the lake, or enjoying hikes through the woods is a part of the fun. But what do you do if you want to take in some of the sights that don't welcome your furry pal? The key is to plan in advance - even if you don't end up needing the services.

Boarding Options

Not all attractions are dog-friendly. When you have to leave your dog for a few hours, your options are:

  • Dog daycare: great for social dogs. Many dogs are totally worn out afterwards, and will sleep soundly for the rest of the day. Some facilities will have separate areas for large and small dogs, and sometimes even another area for older dogs who may not care for the exuberant antics of the younger dogs. Note that there are generally drop-off and pick-up hours.

  • Pet-sitter: great for personal, one-on-one attention and for pets who aren't necessarily interested in hanging out with other animals. However, not every pet-sitter will be willing to watch your pet for only a few hours so be sure to ask.

  • Kennel or boarding facility: individual kennels are available, or expanded "family" kennels for pets (of the same species) who live together. Kennels are a good option for pets who don't enjoy interacting with other dogs or cats. Cats and dogs are typically housed in separate areas. Once again, owners are typically asked to drop-off and pick-up pets between certain hours.

  • Vet clinic: sometimes travelers bring their pets because their pet has special medical needs. A vet clinic is well-suited to medicating and monitoring pets who need that extra attention.

Why Can't I Leave My Dog In My Hotel Room?

Many accommodations don't allow pets to be left unattended, even if crated (always ask your accommodation in advance for their pet policies). It's not that they don't love dogs; but even the most well-behaved dog can get stressed out in a strange new place. Excessive vocalizing (barking or whining) and chewing or other destructive behavior can result.

Please don't ever leave your pet alone in the guest room if it's not allowed. Poor experiences with pets can cause an accommodation manager to question whether or not they want to remain pet-friendly in the future.

A dog care facility or a pet-sitter can provide your dog with exercise, love and attention. It's much preferable to sitting around alone in an unfamiliar guest room! Of course, if most of your vacation plans involve going places where you can't bring your pet with you, it's better to leave him comfortably at home with a trusted friend, family, or pet-sitter.

Ask for Help from Local Businesses

Personal recommendations are a powerful tool. Local businesses can be a great source of information. Ask for suggestions for nearby dog daycares, boarding facilities, or pet-sitters from:

  • The concierge at your pet-friendly hotel (if you're staying in a smaller property like a Bed & Breakfast or a vacation rental, ask the owner for suggestions);

  • Local vet clinics;

  • Local pet supply stores.

Some pet-friendly accommodations offer short-term dog-sitting and dog-walking services. It doesn't hurt to ask!

Expand Your Search Online

If you don't know anyone in the area where you'll be traveling, post a question on social media channels like Facebook or Twitter.

You can also search online resources like PawShake,, or GoFetch. Check online reviews too, but take them with a grain of salt since reviews can be faked. A recommendation from someone you know and trust is ideal.

Plan In Advance

Popular vacation times like the summer holidays and long weekends can be particularly difficult to find availability for dog boarding or sitting. Do your research in advance whenever possible, and book early if you can. It gives you the best chance of getting the pet-sitter or facility you want.

Safety Precautions

  • If possible, do a test-trial first: a short stay or visit with the pet-sitter or facility, to make sure that it's a good fit for both sides.

  • Always leave your cell phone number with the pet-sitter or dog care facility. Keep your phone on, and check it periodically to make sure you didn't miss any notifications.

  • Make sure your dog is wearing an ID tag with a cell number where you can be reached while you are traveling. It's good idea to make sure your pet is also microchipped if he isn't already. Tattoos are good but they can fade; and ID tags (or the collar itself) may come off. Microchips are permanent and easily scanned. Be sure that your contact phone number and address information is always up-to-date.

Vacations can be a wonderful experience for the whole family - pets included! Should you need to leave your dog for a few hours, he can still be lovingly cared for and ready to happily greet you when you return.

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Topic: Pet-Sitting Options When Vacationing With a Pet
Pam Fischer says...

Based on our experience as a pet-friendly resort (Lake Edge Cottages) and having travelled with our dog Floozee: If you decide to leave your dog alone in a cottage that allows it, exercise your dog fully so that he/she will be tired out and enjoy a good snooze while you are away. We leave Floozee for a short period of time at the beginning of our vacation so she knows that we will return. Then, after a good hike or walk, we are able to leave her for a longer period so we can go out for a nice dinner. It works wonderfully with our resort guests' dogs too. Exercise is key along with bringing your dogs own bed, toys, treats, food bowls etc. They then know the pack is here to stay.

Pet Friendly says...

Great advice! Dogs who have adequately exercised are much happier to hang out and snooze. As always, travelers should check with their accommodation to see if it's okay to leave their pet alone. Some may require them to be crated, but regardless, be sure to leave a cell phone number in case they need to contact you.

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