Pet Sitting & Dog Walking Services

Most pet owners would prefer to take their dog with them when the travel. But what if that is not practical, or dogs aren’t allowed at your destination? When your constant companion has to stay behind while you travel, who will care for him? There are several options available to today’s pet owner: asking a friend or neighbor to stop in and visit your dog several times per day; hiring a professional pet sitter; or kenneling your dog – either at a traditional vet, or a more upscale “doggy spa.”
If your trip will be short, you may wish to ask a friend or neighbor who is very familiar with your dog to care for him. Your friend can either take your dog to her house for a few days, or keep him at home, where he is comfortable and content. Your friend should visit three times per day: morning, midday, and evening, with no more than nine hours elapsing between visits.
For puppies or dogs kept in a crate, visits should be more frequent: at least once every five hours. The general rule of thumb is that a puppy is only able to “hold it” for one hour more than his number of months in age. So a four-month-old puppy can go five hours at the absolute maximum between potty breaks.
Many pet owners don’t like having to inconvenience their friends too often, so they frequently choose to sign up with a professional pet sitting service. Pet sitters provide a wonderful service by maintaining your pets’ schedule at home while you travel. There are many services out there, so you must do your homework before choosing one. A lower price should not be the deciding factor for pet owners, as different companies offer different services. Make sure you understand how long the visits will be, what is included in each visit (feeding, watering, walking, mail and newspaper service, etc.), and how vet emergencies will be treated. Professional pet sitters are bonded and insured, and should provide client references upon request. They should complete a client service agreement (contract) with you, and should be very compatible with your pet.
Whether using a professional pet sitter or a friend to care for your dog at home when you travel, here are some suggestions to make the transition much smoother:
  • Leave a recently worn piece of clothing near your pet’s bedding to comfort him/her at night.
  • Move valuables from tabletops, so curious noses and paws can’t knock them over.
  • Leave the right sized food and water bowls out for your pet’s use, and clean them out before you leave.
  • Leave everything needed for the care of your pet in one general area, so the sitter doesn’t have to search for leashes, food cans, and especially medicine.
  • If the sitter will be visiting in the evenings, set a light on a timer so the sitter won’t have to walk into a dark house. It will be friendlier for your pet as well.
  • Leave a radio on, tuned to a jazz or classical station, to keep your pet company and to drown out outside noises.

The last option available to traveling pet owners is to board their dog, either at the vet, a kennel, or a more upscale doggy spa. At any facility, your dog will spend its day in a cage or “condo”, with breaks for walks, but not very much human interaction. Some dogs do just fine in this environment, but many crave more companionship than boarding provides. Take your dog in for a “test run” – kennel him for a day or so to see how he’ll do on longer trips. Make sure to provide his food and some personal items from home, so he doesn’t get too lonely. Get plenty of feedback from the staff – make sure your dog was eating well and wasn’t too depressed – before you commit to boarding him for a longer period of time.

With research, planning, and plenty of advance notice, your dog will be well cared for, loved, and happy while you travel. Just imagine the reunion when you return!

by Beth Greenberg, All Friends Pet Care

Beth Greenberg and partner Pam Ahart are founders and co-owners ofAll Friends Pet Care, and are committed to providing quality, professional pet sitting throughout Northern Virginia. All Friends Pet Carewas a natural progression from our years of shared dedication and passion toward our animal friends, and our desire to build a business where”your best friend is our best customer.”