First and foremost, it is important to remember that every pet is unique, and has its own set of needs and requirements, so there is no across-the-board advice that is going to apply to every pet. However, all pets, much like children, require a high level of attention, affection, exercise and enrichment. Locking a pet up or confining it in a cage for long periods of time is a definite no-no. Dog boarding, however, can provide an effective means for most people, but is it the right choice for your pet?
Is Dog Boarding the Right Choice? What to do with your Pet when Vacationing
Your pet is a member of your family who requires and deserves your careful consideration in any situation in which they might be put outside their comfort zone. Your pet – whether it is a cat, dog, hamster, bird or rabbit – is a creature of routine. They are accustomed, and thrive off the routine and consistency that you provide them with, whether it be their 7am breakfast, or their nightly walk. It is important to remember this particularly if you are planning on taking long or frequent trips away from the home. Of course, each species has a very different set of requirements and needs. Your pet parakeet might not be as enthusiastic about a nightly walk as your dog is!
If you are planning on taking a holiday or trip away from the home, you will ideally find a suitable pet minder that can accommodate for all your pet’s needs. The following tips should help in ensuring that your beloved pet is well cared for while you are absent from the home:
Planning A Holiday
Dogs are by nature extremely affectionate beings and crave our contact and affection. They pick up on your routines and thrive off them. Meanwhile, cats, reptiles and birds are generally more independent by nature, however, they require exactly the same amount of consideration as your pooch, as they will most certainly miss you when you’re gone!
If you are planning a trip away from the home, we would recommend finding a friend or family member who is willing to stay at your home and maintain your pet’s normal routine. Try to choose someone that is comfortable with your pet, and also keep in mind the energy levels of that person. If you’re asking your 85-year old grandmother to pet sit your rambunctious 1-year-old Staffordshire terrier, there might be some problems! It is extremely important that you make sure that you are leaving your pet with someone who understands their needs, and can be trusted to adhere to your rules, and provide a high level of attention, affection and enrichment.
If you cannot find someone to stay at your house with your dog, then you should try to find a location/facility that is safe, secure and accommodating to the needs of both you and your pet. There are plenty of petsit, homesit and boarding options available to pet owners, but it is imperative to thoroughly research the place you plan to host your pet beforehand. With dogs, it is a good idea to introduce them to the people who will be minding them, and to familiarize them with the sights, smells and sounds of this facility. Be sure to ask lots of questions, and never leave your pet with somebody who you do not feel 100% percent comfortable with.
Equal consideration must also be given to the winged critters of your household. Birds may not be as overtly demanding as a dog or cat, but they still require a high level of care and attention. A life in a cage is not ideal for a bird, but if that is the situation in your home, be sure to provide good cage enrichment and activities. This is particularly important for your bird if you are planning on leaving the home for long periods. Finding a bird sitter who is comfortable letting the bird out of the cage may be difficult, so be sure that your bird has a wide range of activities to keep it busy in your absence. Alternatively, finding a boarding facility for your bird might be a good idea if your bird enjoys an active environment with lots of company! However, a shy bird may be upset by the constant activity when boarded.
Understanding Your Pet
Lack of enrichment, attention and exercise can result in some unwanted and upsetting behaviors in your pet. A pet who is not given adequate care and attention can become stressed, agitated, aggressive, and destructive. While most dogs (especially puppies) are known to chew your favorite shoes or put holes in your socks, it is important to identify destructive behaviors that signal that your pet is unhappy. If your dog is chewing on furniture, rugs or personal items, damaging window sills and door frames, scratching at windows in your absence, or exhibiting obsessive behavior over a toy (like a ball), then this may be a warning sign that your dog is not receiving adequate care, exercise and/or attention.
The same goes for birds, cats and other companion animals, who may exhibit abnormal behavior, such as pacing, gnawing incessantly on things, damaging their feathers or fur or appearing listless. If you notice any of these behavior, it is important to allocate more time to spend with your pet. This may mean walking your dog more, finding better enrichment devices for your bird, buying toys or climbing apparatuses for your cat, or simply spending more time with them. Providing a home that meets your pet’s specific needs is extremely important, and each pet will have its own preferences, so it is a good idea to supply a variety of choices for them.
Some suggestions are:
• Audio-visual enrichment: Your pet may love to watch TV, or listen to the radio. Or you may wish to open up a room for your pet that has nice views of the backyard so they can have some visual and auditory entertainment!
• Olfactory stimulation: Exciting new smells can be really interesting for your pet. Get creative with your pets and set up scent trails, play hide and seek with toys, or add some more plants to your home.
• Physical and structural environment: Look at enriching your pet’s environment by placing new perches for your bird, window sills or scratching poles for your cat, or toys for your dog. If you don’t have time to walk your dog, hire a dog walker or dog minder to do this- dogs need exercise!
• A loyal companion: Many owners consider adding a second pet to their home, and this can be an extremely rewarding experience for both you and your pet. If you are considering a furry or feathered addition to your home, please be mindful to find a pet whose energy levels match or balance the energy levels of your own animal. There are thousands of pets in shelters across the country, many of whom are desperate to find a furrever home, so please make sure your decision to add another pet to your family is very carefully considered to avoid putting your pet, or a potential shelter pet, through unnecessary trauma. A second animal can be an excellent companion for your pet, but it can also mean double the trouble, so that is also worth keeping in mind!
Dog Boarding/Pet Sitting
We would not recommend leaving your pet alone in your home for more than a day without a constant companion. Not only can this be extremely boring and lonely for your pet, but it can lead to long term emotional trauma if this is a regular occurrence. Alternatively, if you choose to keep your pet at an animal/dog boarding facility, please keep in mind that time in a boarding kennel can be a lot like a prison, with unfamiliar sights, smells and sounds and limited exercise and enrichment. This should only be utilised as a last resort. Before choosing a dog boarding facility, or any sort of animal boarding facility, be sure to gain a strong understanding of your pets needs.
Below are a list of questions you will need to ask yourself in order to make a decision on the type of care your pet will need in your absence:
Is your pet active and confident? Or quiet and withdrawn?
Would your pet thrive in an environment with other animals at a boarding facility, or would he/she prefer to be in the comfort of their home?
Does your pet require a lot of attention? (Most do!)
Is he/she trusting of other people?
Would leaving your pet at a boarding facililty cause a lot of stress?
Does your pet have any medical requirements that need considering?
Does your pet suffer anxiety?
There are some great pet-sitting options available:
• Pet sitter – For either overnight stays or daily visits
• Ask your neighbor, relative or friend – Make sure they are responsible, reliable and willing to give the time and effort
• Veterinarians – some offer boarding services
• Cat groomers – some offer boarding services
• Boarding facilities – local pet boarding kennels, pet hotels, pet lodges or catteries
Here are some resources for you to consider for your beloved pet:
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