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If your travel plans have suddenly changed and you are no longer able to take your four-legged friend with you, what will you do?

If you adopted a new pup during the pandemic and have not travelled, you may find yourself wondering where you will leave your furry friend while you are away. You may have family members that will care for your pup or have a friend who will come to the rescue. But, if not, you need to do your homework.

You could choose to leave your pet at a local kennel or doggy hotel, but you must be sure that your pup is fully up to date with all his shots and gets a vaccine for kennel cough beforehand.

If you have a pup with special needs, or one that is older, nervous, or not being used to being in an environment other than your home, you should find someone who looks after pups in their own home or, alternatively, someone who will come into your home several times a day or just stay in your home with your pet while you are away.

Regardless of what you decide, you need to make arrangements well before your travel date. First step is to check with fellow dog owners and get recommendations from them. You could also check online with your local community group on Facebook and ask for referrals.

Once you have chosen someone, your pup should go with you to meet the person who will be caring for them. This way you can see what type of environment your pup will be in and how your pup reacts to the caregiver. If he or she is not receptive to this, keep looking.

When you do find someone suitable, send your pup for a visit for a few hours, then for a day, and then try an overnight stay. This way your furry friend will feel more comfortable when you leave him for an extended period.

When you do leave your pup, there are things you can and should do to make his stay more comfortable and to keep your mind at ease.

First, be sure that your pup is microchipped and has his license tag attached to his collar. He should also have a tag with his name and phone number and a tag with the caregiver’s number. This is very important in the event that he manages to escape. When you leave your pet, be sure that the caregiver has a number or email address where you can be reached as well as a list of contact numbers of family and friends that can be reached if necessary.

When preparing to leave, be sure that you also write out detailed instructions as to your pup’s feeding schedule and the amount of food normally given at each meal. While packing the food, also include treats that he is used to, and put on your instructions how many treats your pup is allowed in a day. Be sure that you pack ample food for the time you will be away, plus some extra in the event anything happens, and you are delayed in returning home. Also, if your pup has anything normally added to his kibble, such as rice, chicken, or broth, be sure that you have it prepared and frozen to give to the pet sitter.

If your pup is on any type of medication or supplement, make certain that you provide specific instructions as to when and how the medication is given. Pups are creatures of habit, and if your pup is kept to his normal schedule of feeding and walking, he will certainly feel less stressed while you are away.

You should also mention to the caregiver any little quirks your furry friend may have such as if he has leash aggression, is prone to reacting to or chases cars, or if he could be an escape artist. You may be used to these things, but someone who doesn’t know your pup well could be caught off guard.

Be sure that when packing for your pup you include an article of your clothing which could be a t-shirt or a pair of socks, or anything else with your scent on it.

Make sure you also include your pet’s favourite toy or his blankie, a coat and his bed, if he has one. Also, if your pup is crate trained, you should also bring a crate with you.

Include your vet’s information together with written authorization for the person caring for your pup to take to the vet in case of an emergency. You would also be wise to inform your vet that you will be away and let him know who will be caring for your pup in your absence. This is particularly important as a vet is not legally able to care for your pet without your consent and authorization.

Lastly, be sure he is comfortable in his surroundings and DO NOT make a big fuss when you are leaving, instead just casually go. By doing this, your pup will not feel as stressed.

If you have access to email or text messaging while you are away, you may ask the pet sitter to send an occasional update or picture of your pup.

There are kennels, pet hotels, and private homes that offer pet boarding, but be sure you get references and do your homework before selecting one. If not, your best friend will become stressed and unhappy, and you will not be able to enjoy your time away.

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