A weekend away or even an extended work trip can be a fun break from your day-to-day life, but the unfortunate fact is that while you’re gone, your responsibilities are still waiting for you at home. If one of those responsibilities includes a dog, you have to plan ways in advance to keep your pet happy, healthy, occupied, and fed while you’re away.
Here’s how to prepare your dog for an extended separation from you.
Figure out where your dog will be
Unless you have a doggy door, a perfectly trained pooch, and a very short trip planned, someone is going to need to make sure your dog is fed and can go outside to use the bathroom. You have options here. You can put your fur baby in a boarding kennel, for instance—but try not to do that unless you’re really going to be gone for a long time. If you do have to do that, pack favorite toys and their special blanket so they have some reminders of home. (If you don’t have a special blanket just for your dog, get one now so they get used to it.)
If your trip is a short one, consider an in-home sitter. For your peace of mind and your dog’s comfort, try someone you both know first. A friend or family member is usually not too put out by the idea of stopping by your place and playing with your pup every day. Even though it’s a friend or family member helping you out, you should still offer to pay. Cute dog or no cute dog, it’s a hassle to schlep to someone’s place every day, and you should compensate them for their time and labor.
Even with money on the table, it may not be possible to convince someone you know to dog-sit. Luckily, there are plenty of apps and companies that offer this exact service. Wag, Rover, and PetBacker, for instance, can help you find companions for your pooch.
Grab a few cheap security cameras or pet monitors, too, just to keep an eye on things when no one is around—or in the event you need to hire a stranger to enter your home for this. (Of course, tell any potential dog-sitter about the cameras. It’s creepy and unfair not to let them know.)
Buy supplies ahead of time
No matter who will be with your dog, you need to be sure that person has access to enough food, treats, toys, medication, and whatever else your special friend needs. Check in with your vet about anything your dog might need to have during the length of your trip, including anxiety medication. Stock up on their favorite food.
Consider, too, investing in a gravity feeder or an automatic one. Gravity feeders are old-school and can be relatively cheap. If you want to spend a little more, electronic feeders can cost over $100, but some of them even pair with an app on your phone so you can decide when they dispense food, and how much.
Even if someone has sworn to you they’re going to stick with your pooch the whole time you’re gone, prepare for anything and everything. If, for whatever reason, that person can’t make it one day, your dog still needs to eat. Whether you go cheap or expensive, get a heavy-duty feeder. (And don’t forget a large-capacity water dispenser, either.)
Make a must-know document
Create an extensive document about your pet, their needs, their likes, their dislikes, and their daily routine. Do not leave anything out. Here is what you should include:
- What brand of food your dog eats
- How often they eat
- How much they eat at each meal
- Where their food is located
- Where their dish is located
- What times of day they generally need to be let out to use the bathroom
- Where cleaning supplies are in the event of an accident
- Where their leash, pick-up bags, and other walking essentials are
- Any issues that tend to arise on walks
- Any personality notes
- The name and location of their veterinarian
- Any medications your dog is on or medical issues they have
- The name and location of an emergency contact
- Your contact information
Much of this can and should be mentioned in person before you leave, but if that’s not possible for any reason, make sure all pertinent information is laid out in an easily accessible document. While you’re gone, you’ll be busy and might not be able to answer texts or calls quickly. Include all the information about your animal that you can, then rest easy knowing there is a small chance it will be relevant at all.
Spend quality time with your dog before you go
You probably don’t need to be convinced to cuddle up with your pup any time, but do take special care to give them extra love and attention before you head out. Your dog will miss you. They might even be confused about why you’re not around and why some stranger is instead. Make sure you reinforce how much you love them before you go, and once you’re back, give them lots of attention and belly rubs again.
A few extra treats might be in order when you get home, too.
original source: How to Prepare Your Dog for an Extended Separation