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December 6, 2010

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Are you traveling a long distance for the holidays?  If so, you may be trying to decide what you should do with your dogs.  Should you take them with you, put them in a boarding kennel, leave them in the care of a friend or neighbor, or hire a pet sitter?  Perhaps you have tried one of these methods and they did not work out for you.  Maybe one of these options is not available.  Or perhaps one of these options is out of your budget.  If you are having some trouble deciding, consider the following advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Take Your Dog With You
Obviously this has the biggest advantage is that you know your dog will be cared for.  You will also be able to enjoy your Holiday with your best friend.  But if you are flying, that could be a big disadvantage in both cost and comfort for your dog.  Flying can be very traumatic for a dog – especially if they are bigger dogs which have to be put in the cold and dark cargo area of the plane.  Weather can also be an issue because animals are not allowed to fly in extreme hot or cold weather.  And cold weather is a big likelihood this season.  If you are traveling by car, consider how your dog travels in the car.  Do they get car sick?  Are they afraid of riding in the car?  Also, you will want to make sure your pet rides in a pet car seat or is wearing a dog seat belt.

Boarding Kennel
Most boarding kennels provide excellent care.  You will want to visit them before-hand to make sure.  Perhaps even consider a boarding kennel which was the new web cams so that you can see for yourself how your dog is doing.  An obvious disadvantage is the cost.  Many boarding kennels charge a flat fee for boarding, day play, and special attention.  But some boarding kennels charge extra fees for this service.  Even boarding kennels with a flat fee can be expensive.  In my area, it is about $25 per day so four days gone for the holiday is $100. Another disadvantage of a boarding kennel is illnesses which sometimes tend to frequent such facilities.  A boarding kennel may have the cleanest facility around but with so many dogs, the chances of your dog catching an airborne illness increases.  Be sure to select a boarding kennel which requires all dogs to get bordetella shots.  Also consider your pet’s temperament.  Some dogs, like my dog Sephi, would hate a boarding kennel.  Putting them in a place which they don’t like could cause more stress and in turn make them more susceptible to illness.

Hire a Pet Sitter
If your dog won’t like a boarding kennel, they may do better being left in the comforts of their own home.  A hired pet sitter can come by 2 to 3 times per day for feeding, walking, affection, and play time.  However, pet sitters can cost as much as a boarding kennel.  Also, if your dog craves attention, the limited visits of a pet sitter may not be enough.  And since a pet sitter does not visit as often, they may not notice any illness or depression issues.

Enlist a Friend
Having your friend or neighbor take care of your dog is a good advantage expense-wise.  It can also be a good alternative for dogs who don’t like boarding kennels.  And a dog who stays with someone they know and trust will be less likely to get depressed.  But finding a friend or neighbor who is going to be able to care for your dog over the holidays may be difficult.  Many people are traveling this time of year.

When I traveled to Oregon one holiday, my biggest concerns were expense and the temperament of my dogs.  We were going to fly to Oregon and taking the dogs was not an option due to cold weather.  Not only that, Sephi has flown before and hated it so I did not want to subject her to that again.  So my only options were boarding kennel, hire a pet sitter, or enlist a friend or neighbor.  Luckily I had a friend who could take one dog, but she couldn’t take both.  Since Sephi doesn’t like boarding kennels, I decided Sephi could stay with the friend.  Since Maya loves to play with other dogs and we had a good boarding kennel which gave all the dogs an all-day play session, I decided to board her.

Be sure that you also consider your dog’s health temperament when making a decision.  Their happiness and well-being is far more important than accumulating a little more holiday expenses.  Take your dog with you when you can.  Try to enlist a friend or trusted neighbor if you can’t.  And if neither is available, budget for a boarding kennel or pet sitter.

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