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Vacation Planning for Your Dog


The weather is still cool but soon we will be thinking about summer vacations and warmer weather.

Now is the time to decide whether you will be including your furry friend in your vacation plans.

If your dog is not going with you, where will he stay? With a friend or relative or will he be going to a boarding kennel?

If you choose a friend or relative, they should be familiar with your dog and his particular needs such as how many times per day he is fed and how often he has to be walked.

Before you leave, arrange to take your dog for a walk with your friend or relative and show them any special training commands you are using so your dog’s walking routine remains consistent. If you don’t use dog parks, be sure to mention that as well. You should also give your friend or relative the contact information for your vet and notify your vet that you will be away and who is caring for your dog in case of an emergency.

Make sure the people caring for your dog also have enough food to last while you are gone. When I board client’s dogs in my home I always request this type of information from them in the form of an email as well as a contact number for another family member in case I cannot reach the owner with a question. Having an email address or cell phone number for the dog owner is also helpful. As an added service, I will occasionally take photos of the dog I am boarding and email them to the owner so they know their dog is doing well.

Do you normally crate your dog at home? If so, you should send his crate (and any blankets and toys) with him so he has a familiar place to rest and feel safe.

If you are considering boarding your dog at a kennel and he has never stayed at a kennel before, you should check out a few kennels in your area to find one that you are satisfied with. Some kennels offer additional services such as one-on-one walks, play time with other dogs boarding at the kennel and grooming to name a few. It might also be a good idea to have a few short, trial stays before you leave on vacation. This will help to prepare your dog for your absence. Normally dogs that are crated at home have an easier time transitioning to a kennel environment and, as mentioned earlier, you should also ensure your dog has enough food for their kennel stay and that you have provided the kennel owner with information should they need to contact your vet.

So you have considered leaving your dog at home but have now decided to find a holiday destination that allows you to take him with you. In this case, you need to ask yourself some questions like “does my dog travel well in the car or does he get car sick?” and “is he able to be in the car for several hours at a time?” If he gets car sick, talk to your vet about a medication for motion sickness or check out Rescue Remedy which has a calming effect on dogs.

A few weeks before you leave on your trip, practise going for short trips in the car followed by longer trips to build up his level of comfort in your vehicle. Here are a few more things you should consider before heading out on your road trip:

  • Bring a supply of water and a water dish. When dogs are in the car they tend to pant more which could result in dehydration

  • Be sure to bring your dog’s leash with you so you can control him when stopping along your route. Don’t forget his ID tags and, if possible, micro-chip your dog

  • Use a car harness to restrain your dog in the back seat of your vehicle to prevent him from distracting you while you are driving

  • Keep your dog’s head inside your vehicle to prevent his eyes from being injured from flying debris

  • Purchase a car seat cover to protect your seats from hair, mud etc. and create a cozy place for your dog to rest

  • And most important. Don’t forget doggie bags to pick up after your dog

If you are staying in a cabin or cottage and you normally use a crate for your dog at home, you should take the crate with you so he has a familiar place to rest and feel safe. Any time you put a dog in a different environment, it can be stressful for him and he may exhibit some unusual behaviours. Set up his food and water bowl in a convenient location so he has easy access to them.

During your holiday, have fun with your dog by playing fetch (on a long line) and go for walks (on a shorter leash) to explore your new surroundings. By keeping your dog on a leash outside, it reduces the chances that your dog could get lost in an unfamiliar area.

If you are near water and your dog likes to swim, that would be a fun activity as well and if you have an opportunity to do some boating, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Purchase a life jacket for your dog in case he tries to swim in deep water and let him wear it on land to get used to wearing it

  • Be sure to have someone else along when you go for a boat ride to help supervise your dog in case he decides to jump off the boat and use his life jacket on the boat as well

Are you in the process of planning a vacation this summer?

If so, share your thoughts with us.

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