Summer is the season of vacations, a time to get away with family, friends and even your pets. But traveling with man’s best friend can be more stressful than relaxing if the trip isn’t planned correctly. Where you go, what you do and who you may decide to leave your dog with are all important decisions to make before you hit the road.
Making these decisions may seem overwhelming at first, but Teena Patel, owner of the University of Doglando, says that a lot depends on what type of dog you have.
“If you have a puppy, you want to get them used to being with you; but a dog who has not traveled before, who hasn’t socialized before, can be a handful,” says Patel.
She recommends taking your dog to an outdoor destination such as a beach or to a dog camp, where dogs and their owners can participate in activities such as swimming, hiking, games and even obedience training.
But if you’re planning a vacation that isn’t dog-friendly, you may have to send your dog to a boarding facility, especially if you don’t have any friends or family members close by that can care for your canine while you’re away.
“It would be a good idea to travel with your pet and keep them in a boarding facility close enough to you that, should something happen, at least you’re right there,” says Patel.
Karina Pastrana, co-owner of Happy Paws Pet Resort, says that oftentimes her clients will board their dogs close to their vacation destination so they can keep an eye on them and let them participate in the parts of the vacation that are dog-friendly. However, she says that when choosing a boarding facility, there are some things to keep in mind.
“When you go into a boarding facility, there shouldn’t be a smell. If it smells bad for you, it’s going to smell bad for the dog because they have a heightened sense of smell,” says Pastrana.
Aside from the smell, dog owners should also make sure that the facility has clean floors, a good ventilation system and a secure perimeter. Pastrana says that a good test for any pet facility is the random room test.
“A good resort will give you tours. When you go to the next place, ask to see a random room so you know how your dog will be treated if they were staying there as well,” she says.
Owners should also ask about the facility’s emergency plans and, in return, the facility should ask for the dog’s vaccination records and be willing to give feedback during and after the dog’s stay.
But in some cases, a boarding facility may not be right for your dog and, conversely, your dog may not be right for a boarding facility.
“I think it’s a preference. Not every dog is made for a boarding facility. It does tend to be overwhelming,” says Pastrana.
Whether or not you decide to board your dog, it’s important that you pack some essentials for the car ride such as food, water and a comfortable bed. Pastrana suggests packing some new toys and two leashes in case one gets lost. She and Patel both suggest packing a crate or a barrier to restrain the dog during the car ride. If you don’t have either, you can also buckle Buster in with a seat belt.
The bottom line is, whether you take your dog to the great outdoors or leave it at a great pet resort, the goal is to have a safe vacation that both you and your dog can enjoy.
By Marisa Ramiccio