A dog sitter or neighbor can take care of your dog when you are not there to feed or let them out but only if you prepare the pet-sitter with this information.




by Tam Cordingley, CSI Instructor/ Canine Consultant


What is the main item of concern when we have to leave our dogs behind, for an hour, a day, a week, or forever?


In my mind the first and most important item is safety. We have to make sure the dog is as well and safe as when we left them.


This means a secure facility, not the next door neighbor’s teenager. They may mean well, and probably do, but they can’t provide the safety and security we need to make sure our dogs will be safe and well upon our return. Dogs act differently when their family is not in residence. The same dog who is turned out morning and evening to “take care of his business” will not act the same when the family is gone.


For many people the thought of a dog sitter coming by morning and evening to take care of the dogs in their own environment sounds perfect. However, let’s give this a little thought.


Clock, Timepiece, Watch, they all keep us on timeIf the dog sitter is a professional he or she will certainly have to take care of the dogs belonging to more than one family. Not all of them will be let out first thing in the morning and last thing at night. The pet sitter cannot travel from place to place without counting in travel time. Therefore if you have a pet sitter taking care of 5 families dogs it will take from say 8 AM to 12 PM to do the morning let outs and feeding, by 4 PM she has to start over to finish by 8PM. Which gives her a minimum of a 12 hour work day and how much time is she able to devote to every stop?


Another nice warm and fuzzy solution that sounds better than it is-- staying with another dog loving family as a sleepover with their dog, a place your dog can live as part of the family.


Lovely except when the toddler opens the front door and lets the dog out, or when the resident dog (or other guests) hate your dog and there’s a fight, or when there are fleas in the house’s carpet or yard. Is there a secure fence, how high, gates always locked?  Dogs will always try to go "home" and that means escaping.


There was a case nearby which I’ve never forgotten. A family who owned a German Shorthair Pointer were getting ready to take a three week vacation to Europe. Their next door neighbor was a friend of the family and knew the dog well so he volunteered to take care of the dog while they were gone so there was no need for a boarding kennel. Perfect, right? Wrong, three days after the family left, the dog escaped. The kid next door didn’t know what to do so he walked around the neighborhood and then gave up. The dog was not microchipped or tattooed.


Animal Control had the dog but no one knew and he was not wearing an ID tag, so the beloved family dog was put to sleep over a week before the family returned home. Was all this misery because of saving a few bucks by not boarding the dog? Maybe but probably it was because the owner felt warm and fuzzies and neighbors were more important than safety.


Boarding kennels must be checked out before leaving your dog to be boardedUnless you are fortunate enough to have a family member or close friend who lives in the same house with you and the dogs, take your dog(s) to a good boarding kennel. A good kennel is fanatic about separation of dogs, has good fences, good gates, and conscientious employees. Doors are closed, fences and gates are closed, meds are given promptly, and the dog, or dogs, are safe. Safety is a priority. Cleanliness is a priority. Parasite control is a priority.


All the warm and fuzzies are fine but the most important thing is that your dogs are there and safe and well upon your return.


 If carefully checked out, the best option is a professional boarding kennel. They exist and get paid to take care of your dogs.  It doesn't have to be close to your home, the dogs won't know and you only have to go there three times, to inspect it, to leave your dogs to be cared for, and to pick up your pets.


What to look for in a boarding kennel?  When you preview a kennel look first at security. Then check cleanliness, then the staff’s attitude toward the dogs. Cutesy names, cartoon paint, nature walks, and all the rest are for the people, not the dogs. Talk to the owner, not the kennel girl, about care for the dogs. Make sure they have knowledge not just that they like dogs. Look at the other dogs, are they clean and happy? If they appear fine yours is most likely to be fine also.


Remember it is most important that your dog is safe, happy and the same when you return as when you have to leave him.

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