As much as you may love your loyal pooch, there are times when traveling without your dog makes sense. While some dogs are born travelers, others can get anxious or suffer from motion sickness. Even if your dog doesn’t have a problem traveling, many hotels (and relatives) may not welcome your pet with open arms.

If you’re traveling without your dog, you have to make a choice: should you entrust your pet to dog kennels or pet sitters?

Search for a Dog Sitter in Your Area!

Although you may sometimes travel with your dog, other times taking your dog along for the journey may not be an option. If you are going on a business trip or visiting a friend who is allergic to dogs, you will need to find a dog sitter. While friends and family can sometimes provide you with this service, knowing about professional dog sitters in your area is essential for those last minute trips or when others are unavailable.

The services provided by professional dog sitters vary from sitter to sitter, so be sure to call or, if possible, meet with a dog sitter before enlisting his/her services. Some dog sitters will come to your home to care for your dog. Others will care for your dog out of their own homes. Choose a sitter you feel can offer your dog what (s)he needs. If you feel comfortable with a certain dog sitter, your dog will also likely be at home with him/her.

Dog Kennels vs. Dog Sitters

Your choice between dog kennels or pet sitters when traveling without your pet depends on your personal preferences and your pet’s personality. While a laid back dog probably won’t mind a dog kennel, an older dog or a dog with special needs may be better off with a pet sitter.

Dogs used to being the center of attention may also prefer dog sitters to dog kennels due to the greater degree of personal attention a dog sitter can provide. Some high-end dog kennels can take the level of personal attention to the extreme and really pamper your pet.

Dog Sitters and Pet Sitters

Pet sitters can be professional dog sitters, friends, family members or perhaps a neighbor’s responsible teenager. Some pet sitters are willing to house sit, so you know that both house and pet are being watched while you’re traveling without your dog. Other pet sitters may drop by the house several times a day to care for your dog, and still others may care for your dog in their own homes.

If you’re considering using professional pet sitters, take the time to find one you trust to properly care for your pet. If you don’t know where to find dog sitters, ask you vet, local animal shelter, other dog owners or your breeder for suggestions.

When you meet prospective dog sitters, observe how they interact with your dog. Pet sitters who ignore your dog or play with your pet inappropriately (too rough or too permissive, for example) are unlikely to make good dog sitters. Insist that dog sitters provide you with several references, and call each one. Questions to ask a pet sitter’s references may include:

  • How happy was your dog with the sitter?
  • Did the pet sitter handle any emergencies and, if so, how well was the emergency handled?
  • Do any of the references have any concerns about the dog sitter?
  • Would they hire the pet sitter again?

If pet sitters choose to care for your pet at their own home, pay a visit to the sitter’s house well ahead of your trip. The house should be clean, and any pets should be happy and healthy.

Avoid pet sitters that “pack walk,” or attempt to walk more than three dogs at the same time. Aggressive behavior is much more likely during a pack walk than if only a couple of dogs are walked.

Pet sitters should provide pets with companionship while you’re traveling without your dog. The dog should receive not only his usual food on a normal schedule but also adequate exercise, grooming and human contact.

If any medical emergencies arise while you’re traveling without your dog, the pet sitter should be able to handle them and get your dog to your preferred vet.

If you suspect a dog sitter cannot provide these services, trust your instincts and look for other pet sitters.

Preparing for Pet Sitters

Before leaving the dog with a pet sitter, you’ll have to make some preparations. Write a letter granting the pet sitter permission to enter your house, care for your dog and seek veterinary assistance if necessary.

Inform your vet that you’ll be traveling without your dog and provide him with the name of the pet sitter.

If the dog sitter will be entering your home, he or she will need a key. Have a spare key ready, with “do not duplicate” written on it. Also, introduce the dog sitter to your neighbors—you don’t want them calling the police because they think the pet sitter’s breaking into your home.

Dog Kennels

Dog kennels, like pet sitters, should be carefully examined before traveling without your dog. Whether dog kennels offer basic services or provide “doggie resort” extras, all dog kennels should provide certain key features:

  • Kennels should be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Dog runs should be clean.
  • Dogs are checked on several times a day.
  • Dogs should be fed their usual food on their usual schedule.
  • Kennels should be well ventilated.
  • Medical care should be provided if necessary.

Dog kennels that provide 24 hour staffing are good choices if you’re traveling without your dog. If you choose to leave your dog at a dog kennel, your dog should have up-to-date vaccinations and immunizations, especially against Bordatella, or kennel cough.

Some dog kennels also insist dogs be flea dipped prior to admission. These rules are crucial to prevent diseases from spreading among the dogs housed in the kennel.

Dog kennels that offer spa-like features typically provide grooming and bathing, obedience training refresher courses, dog beds and special care for elderly or sick dogs.

Book in Advance

Most dog kennels require that you book reservations for your dog in advance. While good dog kennels may be fully booked months in advance of Thanksgiving and other major holidays, the best dog kennels have to be booked over a year in advance. Bear this in mind when traveling without your dog and book dog kennels well in advance to ensure the proper care for your dog.