Weigh your pet care options when it comes time to take that well-deserved
Jennifer Geisman, Contributor on Care.com
   |  Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012  |    2 Comments  
  Bags packed -- check. Boarding passes printed -- check. Taxi pick up
scheduled -- check. Arrangements for Fido -- uh oh! Whether Pongo is an
energetic puppy or Tweety is an old bird, making preparations for a pet's care
during your absence can be stressful and overwhelming. The decision between
in-home pet
or kennel care is packed with both pros and
considerations for each. Gain some insight into the best approach for your furry
1.Consider Your Pet's Age
Like most of us, Los Angeles, California
pet-owner Cassandra Loch admits she is always scrambling before leaving on a
trip, and her eight-year-old pug, Beluga, sometimes feels the stress of it. A
user of both in-home care and kennels, Loch says the boarding experience
benefited her dog in his early years. "Cage-free boarding was great for Beluga,"
says Loch. "He received a lot of exercise and playtime with other dogs -- it was
like going to camp. But as he has gotten older, his energy level changed and it
was better for him to be at home." As your pet ages, the introduction of a new
environment can be taxing and sometimes increase levels of anxiety. Using
in-home care for older pets will give them the personalized attention they need
and give you peace of mind. 
2. Estimate How Often You Intend to Travel
As her travel  schedule increased, Loch found that packing up Beluga and driving him to the
kennel became an inconvenience, and felt having in-home care fit better with her
lifestyle. Loch now uses dog walking and pet sitting services, which provide her
dog with one-on-one care when she is out of town. In addition, Loch feels
confident that her pet sitter will keep Beluga's regular routine in the comforts
of his own home and familiar neighborhood surroundings. Because he knows he
doesn't have to leave home, Beluga's anxiety is greatly reduced when he sees
Loch take her suitcase out. 
3. Know Who Is in Your Home
When choosing a pet sitter, it  is extremely important to hire a professional with references and who is insured  and bonded. Always do a background check and have a back-up plan should something happen or your  sitter's schedule changes. When interviewing a pet-sitter, compile a list of  important questions about previous work experience and ask for references. For  more information on the process, check out our article: How to Interview a Pet Sitter. It is also vital  to schedule a "play-date" between your pet and potential sitter. Let him or her
take your pet on a walk and remain half a block behind them to observe your dog
and the pet sitter's behaviors. If something doesn't feel right, listen to your
instincts and keep interviewing. 
4.  Make Sure Your Kennel Offers Optimal Care for Your Pet 
Just like hiring an in-home pet sitter, boarding your four-legged friend can
also be a healthy option. Letting your pet socialize is an important part of
being a pet-owner, as it teaches him or her how to interact with other animals,
enjoy friendly carousing, adapt to change and transition in new situations.
Cage-free boarding facilities will give your pet a sense of independence, as
well as plenty of space for running around and playing. A lot of dogs like all
the fun and games that come with their peers at the dog run, but they also need
downtime. Look for a boarding facility that provides both intimate and group
activity settings. 
5.  Do Your Research and Set Your Standards
The biggest  question for any pet owner considering boarding or in-home care is "what
will my dog do all day?"
For home care, be sure to create a schedule and go
over it with your sitter. This should include when and how your dog takes meals,
medical information, a walk schedule, grooming needs and playtime and bedtime
routines. In addition, have an emergency plan in place with important contact
phone numbers and emergency meeting location. 
  If you are choosing a kennel, ask the kennel to detail what your animal will
be doing and what interaction your pet will have with other animals and with the
kennel staff -- and how long and how often. It is essential that the boarding
facility pairs your pet with others of similar disposition and provides regular
exercise and playtime rotations throughout the day. When looking at different
kennels, observe the amount of dogs being boarded. Overcrowding can lead to
aggressive behavior, which will ensure a difficult situation for both you and
your pet. Before considering boarding, make sure your pet is up-to-date on all
vaccines, including rabies, DHLPP and bordetella, and provide a spay/neuter
  Whether you choose in-home pet care or find the perfect kennel, you need to
feel comfortable leaving and trusting that your dog's care translates into love
and attention. 
Jennifer Geisman is a freelance writer and faithful beauty junkie living
in Los Angeles

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