How to keep your dog happy when you go away
Dogs sulk. Especially when you put them in kennels when you go away and, while you feel guilty, their silent treatment on your return can make you feel much worse.
A good friend of mine resolved never again to put his dog into a kennel after a three day sulk by the, normally, adoring Lab who clearly didn’t appreciate being abandoned in a kennel for two weeks. The fact that it was a 5 star kennel and cost over €200 was irrelevant (to the Lab).
Unfortunately there can be few options for pet owners. Bringing the pet on holiday is a great idea but none of the airlines flying out of this island take dogs on board. And driving to Fuengirola for two weeks in the sun with the mutt is not a runner.
Of course, there are always helpful family members – those brothers and sisters who love you so much that they don’t mind Rover destroying the garden and who can be trusted not to feed toffees to him just because the kids want to do a vine video of the poor dog chewing … and chewing … and chewing.
Then there are the embarrassing calls from abroad back to the host family. You know you are really ringing about the dog. They know you are really ringing about the dog but you still need to go through the small talk:
“What time is it with you?”
“It hasn’t stopped raining since you left.”
“I saw a shop here that sells Tayto.”
“So, er, how’s the dog doing?”
“Oh he’s fine, he loves chocolate and beer and we let him sleep on our bed…”
Kennels are the best idea, but to make the dog’s life, and yours, easier here are some tips to follow if your dog is particularly nervy, or sulky:
- Get them used to the idea with a couple of single day stays at the boarding kennels leading up to the big one. If you have a kennel and run at home, start using it.
- If you have more than one dog, ask the kennel to keep them together. Or make them more independent of each other so that they can cope on their own.
- Make sure you get the right kennels for you. Well, not for you but one where you feel happy leaving your pet.
- Pack for your pet – bring their favourite blanket, toys, feeding bowl and lead with them so that the separation isn’t too traumatic for them.
- Will your dog be walked every day or will they simply be allowed to run wild in an exercise area? Will this be supervised? Even the most gentle pet can get into a fight if they are stressed because they are missing you. If your pet is particularly nervous or aggressive, let the kennel owner know and ask if they can be exercised alone.
- Make sure your dog has enough medication or special food if they need it. It’s also a good idea to bring whatever food he or she normally eats just to keep their routine as normal as possible.
- Spoil them when you get back – make a big show of greeting them, bring the whole family to collect them and take them for a special walk followed by a big meal and some of their favourite treats. Dogs are simple creatures. Distract them with love and happiness and they’ll soon forget!