Traveling with Your Agility Dog
There are many considerations to take in mind when making travel plans during the holiday season or any other time for that matter. The first being whether or not to take your dog or leave them at home. If you are attending an agility trial, the answer is easy. If it’s a trip to visit friends and family, you also need to take in precautions to help make it a bit safer for your dog.
First and foremost in the decision making process of taking or leaving your dog is comfort. Will the trip invigorate them or cause them undue stress. Does your dog get car sick or will they tolerate a plane ride? Will staying home without you bother them or will they be happy without you.
You also need to consider if you will have time to spend with your dog and if there will be other pets where you are going. How will your dog get along being in a strange place with strange dogs and you gone most of the time. Or, are there pet friendly hotels you can stay at and will your dog be happy with that arrangement? Questions to consider for leaving your dog home is if they can stay with friends or family. Do you have someone you can trust to stay at the house while you are gone?
If your destination requires you to stay at a hotel, that isn’t always a bad thing. Having a place to “hole up” can give both you and your dog some needed quiet time. Here’s a list for US hotels allowing dogs (and there’s a subcategory there for those of us with giant breeds and kitties). It’s a good idea to bring a lot of courtesy bags, chew and be quiet toys, paper towel, shot records, bowls, and a crate (pop-up kennels are great for crate trained dogs). You can’t leave the dog loose in the hotel room when you are not in it, and the chew toys will help keep him happily occupied. Covering the crate with a blanket can help settle dogs as well.
Finding a Good Boarding Kennel
Boarding kennels can be a good option if you do your leg work. Visit any possible locations and see how the dogs are being kept. Sniff around, does it smell clean or rank? Is everything clean and shiny? Is there a play area, and playtime? Some kennels even have webcams so you can watch your dog online while you’re away. The kennel will tell you what you need to bring, but here is a starters’ list: shot records, a few not-quite-favorite toys, and your dog’s food. They will also probably want his veterinarians’ phone number in case of emergency.
Neighborhood kids or adults can offer affordable care for your dogs while the dogs stay at home. Do not hire a stranger. If you are new to the neighborhood, ask around for references and have the prospects come interact with your dog as much as possible to build a relationship. If you hire a responsible kid, be sure you talk about details with their parents. Will they come with their child to take care of the dog? Again, have them interact with your dog as much as possible before you leave. Make sure they are able to handle your dog on a leash if your dog needs to be walked. If anything makes you think they’ll forget to water the animal, say no and look elsewhere for a sitter (perhaps an agility buddy who is staying home?). The obvious benefit of an in-house sitter is your dog does not have to leave his home, has at least a marginally familiar person watching out for him, and knows the rules of his own house.
Think about your dog and his personality before choosing to bring them, board them or leave them at home. Some dogs would really rather just stay home with a bowl of food twice a day and water as they laze around in the laundry room. Some would sooner die than be left all alone even in their own home. And some dogs relish the chance to play with other dogs in a kind of doggie daycare. You know your dog best, and you know your options best and what you need to do in order to enjoy your trip without worrying about your dog.