Readers Note: For ease of reading 'he' has been used, but if you have a female dog, please substitute 'he' for 'she'.
You have to leave your dog for that much needed vacation. Nothing ruins the relaxation of sipping a Pina Colada on the beach then worrying about your Best Friend and wondering if they are okay. If your Best Friend could talk, you could plan the best care knowing what he will tolerate and what he can't. Here is the inside scoop on your Dog's Secrets that he wants you to know when planning for his Vacation Care:
1. He likes his own bed, his home, his food dish, the noises which represent comfort to him, especially when you are away. His vacation care should make him as comfortable as possible when you are away.
2. He notices his stomach rubbling when his snacks are removed from the diet and his stomach aches when his diet changes, and sometimes he doesn't want to eat when you are not there. When your away make sure your substitute understands and agrees to maintain your Best Friend's dietary needs.
3. Without you there, coping in a new place, and/or new people is confusing to him, and sometimes scary. The coolest dog ever may look okay, but their inside feelings are concerned and unsure of what is happening. His daily exercise and puzzles-solving, just like us, should not be removed/shortened when you are away. Like humans, we need them to manage stress and stay calm. Conversely, suddenly increasing their exercise suddenly will also add on unnecessary stress.
4. He needs his sleep during the day and during the night. Noise and disturbance, such as, barking, whining, and restlessness from others, during his normal napping time and nighttime sleep can leave him unable to cope. Restorative sleep and daytime napping has been linked to a dog's ability to make good decisions - especially important when in a new environment.
5. If he can't see you, then let him smell you. Dog's have powerful memories when tied to strong emotions, including love and touch. Scent is also one of their super-powers with a million more receptors than we mere mortals. Leave your scent behind - an old t-shirt you have recently worn, a blanket, a towel or anything that reminds them of a happy, pleasurable time with you.
More to come as we introduce a timely series to help owners think through Dog Vacation Care decisions.
'Sparky' Smith is a Canine Behaviorist and Practioner, educated through the International School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour, earning her ISCP.DIP.CANINE.PRAC.