Religiously keeping track of passports. Remembering to check-in online. Triple-checking you’ve packed enough pairs of shorts. We all recognise the common stresses that come with holiday preparation.
However, us pet owners know of a whole different kind of pre-holiday nerves. Making sure our furry friends get the love and attention they need while we’re away can take its toll on both us and them. To take the pressure off, we’ve spoken to five animal care experts, to help you pull together your pet-sitting plan of action. By following their guidance, you can be sure everyone’s happy next time you jet away.
How can I find the best pet sitter or pet hotel for my furry friend?
Max & Kitty say… You could use a pet sitting site – such as Max & Kitty. These sites let you interact with other animal lovers, many of whom will offer your pet their company while you’re away. You’ll be able to look at their profiles; which should tell you all about their home, their interests, any pets they have and include plenty of photos – so you can be sure they’re the right fit.
DogBuddy say… Reading reviews from other dog owners is a great way to learn about the experiences of other dogs and their owners. Sites like ours only list dog sitters who have been through an application process, so you can be sure they’re a fellow dog lover, and reading the on-site reviews will always add an extra level of trust and confidence.
Cheshire Creature Comforts say… You’d be surprised how quickly places get booked up and even more surprised how often people ring looking for dog boarding only a week before they need it. Sadly, we turn many potential customers away as they’ve left it too late and we’re already fully booked. So start your search well in advance.
Alongside traditional kennels, home boarding is becoming ever more popular and there are plenty of companies out there offering up their homes for your dogs while you enjoy your holiday, so don’t just search for ‘local kennels’. When you’re looking for a company or individual to look after your pet, start by using a search engine to find companies in your locality. It is always busy in the run up to a holiday and the last thing you want to be doing is going on a two hour round trip to drop your dog off before you go away.
How and when should I introduce my pet to their sitter?
Max & Kitty say… We recommend you arrange a meet and greet, so both parties can be sure they want to go ahead with the sitting. It means you can introduce your pet to the sitter and see for yourself how they get on, as well as how they interact with any other pets.
DogBuddy say… When you plan a meet and greet, try to choose a neutral location if possible, such as a local park or dog-friendly pub – it’ll help your dog feel as relaxed as possible. This also helps to prevent a resident dog from becoming territorial.
It’s also a good idea to go for a short walk, to allow the sitter to take your dog’s lead and for you to walk alongside. This will show your dog that you trust the sitter. What’s more, you should always exchange emergency contact information, including veterinary and insurance details, well in advance.
Cheshire Creature Comforts say… Meet and greets are great for more than just your furry friend – they allow owners to ask as many questions as possible. What do you need to provide when the pet comes to stay? Where will your pet sleep at night? Are the dogs walked too? A good idea is to pre-prepare a list of questions. As an owner you need to be completely at ease with what’s on offer otherwise it will have a negative impact on your holiday.
What can be done in the weeks before the holiday to calm my pet’s nerves?
Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel say… The process should start before the cats check in. Hotels like ours get to know all feline guests that stay with us; as if they were our own. It is the hotel owner’s sole responsibility to care for them and emulate the care they receive at home.
Max & Kitty say… While we recommend at least one meet and greet, if they can meet more than once before the sitting – that’s even better. When it comes to the actual sitting, it’s important that the sitter sticks to any regular routines – such as regular feeding and walking times. If routines are going to have to be adjusted, slowly prepare your pet in advance.
DogBuddy say… Dogs feed off our energy, so as the leader of the pack, it’s important to try to stay as calm and collected as you can in the lead up the holiday. This means your pup will be too. Plenty of exercise will also ensure your dog blows off some steam, making them feel less anxious.
You can also help your sitter and your dog to get along like the best of friends by packing a sitter kit. Include the essentials like their usual food, treats and any medicines plus a few home comforts, such as a blanket or their favourite toy from home.
Cheshire Creature Comforts say… From experience, owners will often ask if their dog can stay a night here or there in the run up to their trip away, to give them an idea of how their dog will react when being left. It’s common for owners to ask us to walk their dog in the run up to their holiday, so we form that bond with them before they go. We find both tend to be a big help.
What tips do you have for the day that my pets are dropped off?
Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel say… Generally speaking, cats don’t like travelling. To avoid causing them unnecessary stress; first familiarise your cat with their cat carrier by leaving it in their home environment and filling it with treats. Consider packing a blanket and familiar items inside on the day you’re bringing them, and always secure the carrier in the car using a seatbelt. A great idea is to use Feliway inside the carrier 15 minutes before you travel as it’ll help calm their nerves.
DogBuddy say… Leave plenty of time, so that when you get to your dog sitter’s house you can spend some time helping your dog settle in. Don’t linger too long, either. Make sure your dog is happily playing with their favourite toy or enjoying a cuddle with their sitter and then slip off on your holidays!
Cheshire Creature Comforts say… When dropping a pet off for boarding it’s a little bit like dropping your child off at school on their first day. We say the best thing to do is to hand everything over at the door, give them a quick cuddle and stroke to say ‘see you soon’ and then to leave as quickly as possible. This avoids prolonging the agony which, 95% of the time, is worse for the owners than the dogs!
Any extra advice?
Cheshire Creature Comforts say… The most important thing though, when leaving your pet, is to try not to worry. Don’t worry if they mess on the floor or they bark to go outside. Don’t worry if they chew things they find on the floor or even shred their bed. True pet sitters won’t be phased by this, they will have seen it all before and will be properly insured against all eventualities. If you have found the right people to l
ook after your pet you will be happy in the knowledge that – for however long you are away – they will be welcomed into a new home and loved. And that when you come home, your furry friend will be as happy to see you as you are to see them.
About our experts…
- Max & Kitty are a dedicated pet boarding site. Founded by a vet, it connects pet owners with would-be pet sitters in their local area. All their sitters are certified, and the company are always on hand to give advice.
- DogBuddy are an online dog buddy service, helping to connect owners with a sitter that’s ideal for them. They have a roster of over 30,000 experienced and vetted dog sitters, and their site’s packed full of reviews for extra piece of mind.
- Cheshire Creature Comforts are an independent pet care service, offering everything from visits to dog walking, home boarding and pet taxis – and operate throughout Cheshire and much of the North West of England. They’ve plenty of holiday pet care options; your furry friend can live with them, or a sitter will come stay at home – whatever you prefer!
- Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotels is a chain of top quality catteries located mostly across the South East of England (as well as Southport!). True to their name, their unique brand of pet accommodation is more akin to five-star luxury than your usual kennelling.
With your pet care worries settled, working out how to keep your four-legged friend happy needn’t stop you from jetting off on a hard-earned break. Discover where your travels could take you with Airtours today.