Did you find yourself singing along with the title of this blog? I did as soon as I typed the words...lol. But in all seriousness: Are you going on vacation this summer? Are you planning to leave your pet at home while you are away? If you are, this is going to take some pre-planning on your part and the sooner you start, the better the situation will be for your pet and the less you will have to worry about as your vacation draws near.
First off, you know your pets better than anyone. If you have multiple pets, dogs and cats for example, it is likely better to keep everyone home and have a qualified and trusted pet sitter stay in your home while you are gone. You can leave a detailed plan of how you want them cared for, what you do with your pets throughout the day, their exercise requirements, feeding plan, etc. While your pets might prefer to have someone they know like a family member or close friend be the one to stay with them when you are gone, that isn't always feasible. If that's the case, you will want to start interviewing pet sitters who are licensed, bonded, and insured. I have several clients who have found not just dog walkers through Rover.com, but wonderful house sitters as well. If you are looking for a place to start, I think Rover.com is as good a spot as any to begin your search. If one or more of your pets has medical needs (e.g. fluid therapy, daily medications, or injections), you may want to even check with your veterinarian's office to see if they have any veterinary technicians on staff who also do house sitting.
If you aren't comfortable having someone stay in your home, then it's time to take a look at the different pet boarding options available in your area. You will find everything from traditional boarding kennels to places that do "boarding unleashed," with dogs rooming together in large rooms with dog beds and sofas and staff that stays on site 24/7, and everything in between. A lot of the doggie daycares also offer boarding and that may work well if you have a dog who already enjoys going to daycare; spending several nights at a daycare your dog is already used to is key. If your dog doesn't normally do daycare, isn't fond of other dogs, or is older and would be anxious being off leash with other dogs all day long, a more traditional boarding situation in a kennel environment may work better. Some of these kennels will even offer upgrades which can include boarding your dogs together if you have more than one dog; daily walks or time in a play yard alone with a staff member; grooming; and even cuddle time. Kennels also have staff that can administer medications to your pet for an additional fee, if needed.
If you want a more personal touch for your pet, but don't want someone staying in your home, you can also explore in-home boarding options with people who offer the service in their homes, rather than yours. These dog-loving folks will want to host your dog(s) in advance to make sure they are a good fit for their home as they usually have one or more of their own resident dogs as well.
No matter what option you choose, you will want to have your pet care arrangements made at least 2 months in advance, often even further out for peak holidays. Now is the time to make those pet care arrangements if you plan to be gone over the summer holidays, for example. And it's never too soon to make plans for the winter holidays if you know when you'll need help caring for your pets while you are away.
If you intend to use a kennel or daycare, whether in home daycare/boarding, or one of the larger places, go ahead and set your pet up for an overnight stay BEFORE you actually have to leave them for multiple days on your planned vacation. That way, you will know if that boarding/care option works well for them, or if you will need to pursue alternate arrangements. The time to find out that your dog doesn't like being kenneled, or hates hanging out all day with other dogs, is well before you actually go on vacation!
Remember, too, that boarding means making sure your pet is in good health and up to date on all of the vaccines required to safely board. Some even require a visit to the veterinarian prior to a stay, so finding that out in advance is key to making those appointments and getting all the necessary paperwork ready to go. Don't forget to ask ahead of time if you want to bring your pet's bed, favorite toy, etc. with them when they board. Some facilities don't allow any personal belongings while others welcome it! If your pet is on a special diet, be sure they know that as well as you will want to make sure any treats or shared snacks are safe for your pet while you are away.
We all worry when we are away from home and have left our pets behind. Check to see if you can get daily reports emailed to you on how they are doing while you are gone (if you like), or if they have cameras set up so you can check in whenever you want. Leaving your beloved furred family members in someone else's care is a leap of faith, and those whose job involves caring for those pets while their owners are away, take their jobs very seriously. They want everyone to be safe and as happy as possible.
Finally, try not to take it too personally if your pets snub you a bit when you return home. This is perfectly normal as they acclimate to having you back home and getting back into their routine with you at the helm. While they missed you as much as you missed them, it takes a little time to get back into the swing of things. And if, conversely, your pet seems a bit clingier than usual, that's okay too and it most certainly is NOT a sign that they weren't well cared for in your absence. It just means they noticed you were gone and are happy to have you back.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and need boarding suggestions, don't hesitate to send me a message and I'll try to send some good options your way. And as always, if you have questions about your pet's behavior, you know where to find me.