Q: The holidays are arriving and we will be doing a lot of traveling. We have two young dogs, ages one and two. They get along great. What would work better — hiring a professional pet sitter or boarding them at a doggy kennel while we travel? I want to make sure they don’t experience separation anxiety and feel safe and happy either at home or at a boarding kennel.

Doggie care should not cause separation anxiety, although, if your dog already has separation anxiety, they may not be able to tolerate being crated or kenneled. On the other hand, sometimes being around other dogs with human supervision 24/7 can ease anxiety.

Before you pack your bags for holiday travel, consider these tips:

Boarding Kennel Tips: The most important factor to evaluate is the staffs’ qualifications; kennels can vary dramatically when it comes to training, safety and quality of care. Ask for referrals and tour the facility. If you are denied the opportunity to see where the dogs are kenneled, go someplace else. Set up a “trial” visit before you leave for the holidays. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of current clients picking up and dropping off; people love to talk about what’s best for their pups!

  • “Allinclusive” or “a la carte”? Consider pricing, policies, and pickup/dropoff hours. Can you drop off/pick up any time, or only during certain hours? Do they provide a web cam service to observe your dogs, giving you peace of mind that the facility is delivering on its promise?
  • Is there 24hour care? How are pets monitored; what is the dogtohuman supervisor ratio?
  • Is there an outdoor play area? Are dogs separated by size and temperament during playtime?
  • Do dogs get alone time to chill and rest, or are they in a group the whole time? Many dogs get overwhelmed and need their own space.

Pet Sitter Tips: If you decide on an inhome professional pet sitter, my numberone tip is to get referrals. It’s also important to consider whether your dogs like the person. Set up a “trial” to ensure doggy sitting is ideal. Create a contact list with Vets’ info and a 24hour veterinary number and address. Include an emergency backup person if the sitter has an issue.

  • Set expectations: twice daily walks or supervised in the yard for potty and play?
  • Confirm they will spend the night at your house to reassure you and your pups!
  • Are they experienced in caring for your dog’s breed and temperament?
  • Experienced feeding and dispensing medications?

If neither option is ideal, consider my first choice and take your dogs with you. It’s a great way to bond, and there’s nothing like having your whole family with you during the holidays!