Dog sitting and dog day care
Maybe they can’t come on a short holiday with you, or perhaps your working arrangements mean you need regular dog day care. Your dog is lucky (and probably very happy!) if you have the freedom to work from home, or if you’re allowed to take them into the workplace. However, it’s completely normal for people who work to need extra help to give their dogs a happy and sociable life.
Most healthy, mentally active dogs will be able to amuse themselves for a short while on their own, and if you have two or more pets, they can usually keep each other occupied for longer.
But pets need human interaction, and on the occasions when you need to leave your dog alone for longer than four hours at a time (unless they have access to a secure garden via a dog flap or outdoor kennelling to relieve themselves), you should look at dog sitting services and arrange for someone to take care of them.
Some owners rely on the help of a family member or friend when it comes to dog sitting, but of course not everyone has this option! If you need extra help, there is a growing industry of professional carers, including dog day care and dog sitting services.
To find your nearest reliable dog sitter, dog walker or other services, why not visit our Directory for Dogs to start your search?
Professional canine carers
Depending on your dog’s needs and your preferences, there are several types of professional canine carer that you could choose from:
Dog walkers will come at a specific time to take your dog for a walk, often with other dogs, and exercise them while you are out.
Dog sitters will come and care for your dog in the comfort of their own home, feed them (with whatever food you provide), walk them and play with them, and administer any necessary medication. Dog sitting is ideal if you have more than one dog or other pets. Dog-sitters are a popular alternative to boarding your dog in kennels if you go on holiday, and your dog might prefer to be in a familiar place. Dog-sitters can also water your houseplants, and respond to any problems at home, and as well as that their presence can deter burglars. If your dog hates being left alone but is comfortable with people outside of his immediate family, this is a great solution for both of you.
In dog day care, your dog will spend the day in a dedicated doggie day care centre or at an established kennels. You can drop your dog off in the morning and pick them up on your way home. Some establishments will collect and return your dog to your home and may also offer overnight or holiday boarding. Some even have webcams for you to watch your dog for peace of mind wherever you are!
Kennelling is a popular choice of dog care for dogs who aren’t joining their owners on holiday. Licensed kennels have to adhere to various hygiene and safety regulations, and should be clean and comfortable with knowledgeable and caring staff. However, all kennels are different, so why not visit a few before you choose? Check that their licence is displayed, chat with the staff, decide if your dog will be happy there, and get booking – the best kennels often get filled well in advance, especially over busy holidays! Check their admission policies, make sure your dog is fully vaccinated, and you’re ready to go, safe in the knowledge that your friend is being well looked after.
Do your research
Your dog deserves the same great care from professionals that you give them at home, so when researching carers or dog sitting facilities, think about your expectations and what service is being offered. When interviewing dog walkers for example, find out how many other dogs will be walked at the same time and check their professional insurance policies. It’s also a good idea to find out what experience that person has with dogs. For example, many trainers and vet nurses offer boarding, walking or dog sitting services outside of their other jobs, so they probably know a thing or two about looking after pets!
You might want to take a look at the places your dog will be exercised while you are away and have a quick safety check – ask if your dog’s carer has assessed potential risks. Getting references for the carer is a great idea if you want to know about other people’s experiences with them. You might also think about the difference between a self-employed carer and someone who works for a pet care agency; for example, if someone from an agency falls sick, will the agency find a replacement at short notice?
Don’t be embarrassed about asking these questions – your dog is a precious member of your family, and a professional carer will see it as a sign of a good owner, as well as being able to verify their professional services. In some cases you might be trusting your dog’s carer with other things, such as house keys, so your search cannot be too thorough. If you don’t know where to start, recommendations from friends or your dog club are a great way to begin!
Make sure your dog has the opportunity to meet the carers before you leave him in their care. If looking for a dog walker, for example, arrange to tag along on one of their walks so that you can see for yourself how they interact with the dogs in their care.
Be prepared for emergencies
It’s likely that nothing bad is going to happen while you’re away, but being prepared for emergencies is still vital. Just check that your dog’s carer is qualified in canine first aid, is aware of your dog’s medical issues if they have any, and knows how to administer any medication as part of your pet’s dog care routine. Most importantly, make sure they have your contact details – and those of a back-up – as well as the details of your vet, your dog’s microchip information (if they are chipped) and recent veterinary history.
Although it’s not nice to think about, consider in advance what you would like to happen if your dog were to fall ill or die suddenly. It is best to be prepared for every worst-case scenario and to make your feelings known in advance to avoid any unnecessary heartache later.
These things might take a little forward preparation, but once you’ve finished you’ll rest easy knowing that while you’re away your dog is in the best possible hands – and their happiness, after all, is something you can’t put a price on!
…or go on holiday together!
If your dog is joining you on holiday rather than staying in dog day care, they’re not alone. Indeed, many people don’t consider it a proper ‘family holiday’ unless their canine companion is there to share the fun! Fortunately, more and more places are catering for dog owners, meaning your options aren’t limited to camping trips or ‘staycations’.
From B&B breaks, hotels and self-catering cottages to canal boats and even huge castles that can be rented, there is dog-friendly accommodation to suit every taste and budget. Dog training holidays also provide a place where you can enjoy canine activities and sports with other dog lovers under the guidance of a qualified trainer.
If you want to holiday outside of the UK and Ireland, changes to British quarantine laws makes it easier and safer than ever to holiday abroad with your best friend. There are very specific requirements that need to be followed, so visit the Defra website for more information on the Pet Travel Scheme. Always ask your vet’s advice before booking a foreign trip with your dog, just to make sure they’re ready for the trip.
If you’re going on holiday with your dog, check out the Dog Travel Checklist to make sure you’ve got everything under control. All that’s left after that is to get ready to make some memories – and bon voyage!