Unless a dog suffers from real separation anxiety, he or she will cope quite happily when you go out for a while. However, many seem to have a real sixth sense about when you’re away for a while and may react accordingly. Obviously, one of the best ways to care for them is by employing a sitter so they can enjoy Holiday Care in their own home – but even that needs handling carefully to ensure a settled and happy dog (which in turn helps to make sure you’re settled and happy on your travels, too!)
Firstly, a well-socialised and well-trained dog, who is used to a routine, will accept change more readily – particularly when your sitter adheres to your routines. For a socially acceptable dog, there’s no substitute for regular training classes – you may not be interested in winning the Crufts obedience championships, or excelling at agility or even flyball – but attending a good club, on a regular basis will make certain that he’s used to noise, bustle and lots of people. It should also maintain a reliable recall and stay – essential at all times and especially so when being cared for by someone other than yourself.
The best way to guarantee your dog is happy with the sitter is to take a great deal of time and care over choosing your sitter in the first place. Research carefully, and ask for recommendations – but do specify you only want sitters recommended whom your contacts have actually used – not just friends and family – then check qualifications, references and experience. Ascertain that the sitter will:
- understand your dog and any of his little foibles
- look after your dog like their own
- follow your instructions – and your routines – to the letter
- deal well with any accidents or emergencies
- assess your dog initially and be happy to get to know him
It can help considerably if the sitter is prepared to come and meet your dog in the home a couple of times, so your dog will accept him as a friend and caregiver. Even better, perhaps employ the sitter as a walker a few times over the weeks leading up to your absence – and stipulate that he must have plenty of exercise while you’re away. An under-exercised or hyperactive dog who’s missing his people can become very distressed and destructive.
If he’s happy with his sitter, you can relax in the knowledge that he’s safe and well – and enjoy your break.