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Going on vacation or traveling, in general, can sometimes be a bit stressful. Making sure you’re packed, and everything is taken care of at home can add extra pressure when you are getting ready to go on your trip. Also, preparing for vacation when you have a nervous dog can add more stress to that situation.
Ensuring your dog is comfortable and feels safe is a great way to remove any worry you may have about your pup while you are traversing the world. Having a dog with separation anxiety can be difficult and even make you feel guilty for leaving. That is why it’s so important to prepare your anxious dog for the days ahead without you. Proper preparation will give everyone involved peace of mind and allow you to relax on your vacation.
Before Traveling – Find the Perfect Sitter
The first and one of the most critical steps is to find the perfect sitter for your dog. Many websites exist to help you find a sitter for your dog or even with kennel options; They may not be the best option if you have a dog with anxiety. In your dog’s position, they see you as having dropped them off somewhere new and scary or with someone completely unfamiliar.
Should I Use a Kennel or a Pet Sitter for my anxious dog?
While these are great options for outgoing and relaxed dogs, a dog with separation issues may not thrive well in either situation. That’s why your dog must have a bond or a familiarity with your pet sitter. Set up time in advance for your dog to meet the sitter. Some dogs require multiple interactions with a new person to feel at ease. Some kennels offer daycare or grooming for dogs who need to be boarded. Leaving your dog at the kennel for a few hours allows your dog to feel safe in the environment without you.
In the best-case scenario of having a family friend or relative stay over, make sure they are comfortable taking your dog with them for the length of your vacation or staying at your home and taking care of your dog in their everyday environment. The latter of the two may be the best if your dog does have a lot of separation anxiety issues. Having a trusted friend you know your dog will be comfortable with will help your beloved dog ease some of their anxieties about you being away.
If you are using a pet sitter or someone you know, have them come over if they stay at your house before you leave. This way, you can run through where everything is, review your dog’s schedule, and it is also an excellent time to give them keys and any other info they may need!
Once you have booked your pet sitter, it is time to prep your home for your dog. Even when they are in their home, pets can still display anxiety or upset signs without your presence. Therefore, creating a comforting environment that reminds your anxious dog of you is essential as it will help keep them a bit more relaxed while you are away.
1. Leave Your Pet a Blanket
It can be a great comfort to your anxious dog if you leave them with a blanket or even a towel you have slept with for a couple of nights. Keeping an item that smells like you (or like home) can be comforting for a lonely pet. Also, creating a safe environment for them to relax is a great way to help keep their anxiety down, especially if they are apprehensive of new people or the sitter. Putting the towel or blanket in their crate or bed can help in this case.
2. Stock Up on Pet Supplies
When preparing to travel also ready your home with everything your pet sitter will need to care for your dog correctly. For example, some dogs refuse to eat their food while their owners are away. If you know this to be true, have your pet’s favorite wet food or treat available so the pet sitter can mix it in with their regular dry food to promote eating even while you are away.
3. Stick to a Routine (and leave room for playtime)
Having the appropriate amount of toys is also a good idea. Playing is a good way for them to get rid of some of your pup’s excess energy. As are longer walks, make sure you tell your sitter about your dog’s favorite activities and walking routes so they can help keep your dog’s mind active and help keep them in routine. Sticking to a routine can help your pet stay relaxed.
Remember, you aren’t the only one going to miss your companion. They will miss you just as much. However, keeping to their regular schedule will help the days go by quicker, so they don’t notice you’re gone!
A Personal Note from the Author
I wrote this article and some helpful tips after leaving my somewhat anxious pup for the first time. In the four years I’ve had my dog, we have never been apart. While thankfully, she is not destructive, when left alone, she has been known to go on hunger strikes and yell to her little heart’s content. I honestly found that having a close friend, who she knew well, take care of her helped relieve some of the stress I had about leaving her. Although with the fun she had with her pet sitter, I’m sure I missed her a lot more than she did me!