Your dog is a member of your family, and leaving to go on holiday may be hard on you both. With some preparation, however, you can set your dog up for success before you leave. These following steps will help your dog get ready for your absence.
Where Will Your Dog Stay?
With the logistics taken care of, let’s focus on your dog’s emotional well-being.
Preparing Your Dog for Your Trip
- Spend some extra time together.
Spending extra time with your dog before you leave can help both of you. Your dog appreciates all of the time he gets to spend with you! A little goes a long way: a few extra snuggles on the couch or an additional daily walk are a big deal for your dog.
- Meet the pet sitter or staff at your boarding facility of choice.
Allowing your dog to meet the pet sitter a couple of times before you leave will help him feel more comfortable. He’ll feel like he’s staying with someone he knows rather than a stranger. If you’re using Rover, a Meet & Greet is a standard procedure before booking.
- Inform the pet sitter about separation anxiety.
If your dog experiences separation anxiety, talk to your dog’s caregiver about his symptoms. Make sure your dog won’t be left alone for long periods, or at all if the separation anxiety is intense. Training for separation anxiety takes time but it’s time well spent.
- Send your dog with familiar items.
One advantage of having a pet sitter come to your home is that your dog’s surroundings will remain familiar. However, even if your dog is staying elsewhere, you can pack a piece of home to go with them. Make sure your dog’s bed will stay with your dog while you’re away. The bed will smell like you and your home and make him more comfortable. Other comforting items include:
- Your dog’s usual food and treats.
- One of your jumpers or a pair of your socks.
- A special blanket. Purchase a dog-specific blanket about a week before you leave if you don’t have one already so it can pick up all the scents of home. Burrowing is a comforting action for many dogs.
- Ensure your dog gets enough exercise before you leave.
This simple, tried-and-tested tip is key to your dog’s happiness. Take a walk, play fetch, or otherwise get your dog moving before you pack up. Expending some energy will help your dog feel more relaxed during the changes.
- Consider calming tools on the day of departure.
Some dogs respond well to dog calming pheromone products and calming supplements or wearing a ThunderShirt. Consult your vet before trying a new supplement.
- Stay calm and confident during the separation.
Your dog can quickly and easily pick up on your emotions. If you’re feeling anxious about leaving him, he will feel anxious about you leaving. If you’re feeling comfortable (though of course, you’ll miss him), your dog will feel the same way.
- Provide your dog with distractions.
Choose a few new chews or toys to give your dog on the day of departure. The novelty will keep your dog more interested.
Note: if your dog will be staying in a home with other dogs or in a boarding facility, avoid sending the toy or chew, as it can provoke territorial behaviour.
The Bottom Line
Your dog will miss you, just as you will absolutely miss your dog. Just remember: if you’re comfortable, your dog will be more comfortable. Project calm confidence, plan ahead, and you’ll both feel more ready for your temporary separation.