TAKE A VACATION: FROM WORRYING ABOUT YOUR PET’S WHILE YOU’RE AWAY! What to do to ensure your dog feels safe and secure while you’re gone.


Ever feel like your vacations aren’t really vacations, because you’re too worried about your pets back home? Here are some tips to help reduce anxiety for your dogs while you’re away, and why hiring a professional pet sitter may be the best way to go to ensure your pet remains happy and healthy during your trip.


GIVE YOUR DOG A SAFE PLACE TO BE WHILE YOU’RE AWAY. For some, this is a nice cozy kennel where they feel safe and secure. For others, it’s a favorite doggy-proofed room that smells familiar. My mother-in-law’s dog loves to be in a laundry basket — it’s her safe place, and as long as she has her basket, she is relaxed. Teach your dog where you’d like them to be while you’re away, and make it the most relaxing, wonderful place on Earth by associating all of their favorite things with going there during your departure. Then tell your professional pet sitter to leave Fido there to ensure his safety in between visits.


Manage the environment of that “safe place” well. If your dog likes to bark out the window, consider restricting access to the window while you’re gone. This behavior can easily spin out of control and create anxiety for your pet, as they feel they have to “patrol” the house until your return. Perhaps it’s better these dogs to be gated in a room away from busy active windows, or in a safe quiet crate. Let your professional pet sitter know your leaving protocol, so they can ensure your pet feels comfortable while left alone.


Try playing calming music in the designated area where your dog stays. If your dog seems to bark or scratch at every little sound while you’re away, this will help dilute out other distractions. Through a Dog’s Ear is a CD of classic music has been studied to be more effective at calming dogs. Leaving the radio or TV on for your pooch can also help desensitize and reduce sound reactivity.


EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE! Hire a professional dog walker to care for your pooch while you’re out of town to ensure your pets are getting their daily exercise requirements. A tired dog is a good dog. Exercise releases endorphins and boosts serotonin, helping reduce any anxiety that may be associated with your departure. By hiring a professional dog walker, your dog will be more relaxed and well-exercised, leaving them to curl up on their favorite dog bed until their next visit.


Mental exercise is equally as important for your pup. Have your professional pet sitter play “hide and seek” with your pets for extra indoor fun. Be sure to leave plenty of training treats, and interactive games/toys/puzzles for your professional pet sitter to utilize during their sits. Kongs, the Nina Ottosson puzzles, and the Busy Buddy toys by Premier are favorite picks amongst my pack.


IMPORTANT NOTE: It may not be best to try a new treat or food while you’re away. Some dogs show stress symptoms physically, and commonly their GI tract is affected, so adding a new treat or food may cause further distress. Stressed dogs are more likely to break with colitis (stress-induced diarrhea), have episodes of vomiting, and even inappetence (refusing to eat). When you are planning for your trip away, it’s best to stock your home with plenty of treats and food that you know your dog digests well. I personally leave plenty of boiled, boneless, skinless chicken breast — it’s not only bland, easy to digest, and can be used during times of stomach upset… but the dogs still go wild for it, and the pet sitter can use it as high quality treats to use with puzzle toys and games!


UTILIZE SCENT IN A POSITIVE WAY FOR YOUR POOCH. Leave something behind that smells like you, some dogs love to snuggle up with a familiar and comforting scent. Your professional pet sitter can ensure to keep that T-shirt your slept in close to your pup for security.


Try calming pheromone therapy to reduce stress and anxiety while you’re away. Have your professional pet sitter spray pheromones on their bedding daily, plug-in a pheromone diffuser in the room where your dog stays, or put on a pheromone collar for 24/7 coverage no matter where your dog goes.


Have your professional pet sitter play “scent games” to help mentally stimulate your dog during their visits. Turn mealtime into playtime. Sprinkle the kibble in the yard or play “go hunt” so the dogs can have to sniff out each piece, one at a time. It not only slows down eating and aids in digestion, but it keeps your pooch’s brain active and engaged too.


Try these ideas, so both you and your dogs can relax while you’re away! Happy travels!