By Mark Forrest Patrick, CDT VA
As the New Year approaches many of us have made our resolutions. When clients and friends mention their New Year resolution to me I ask “Does it include your pet?” That might be something to think about as you begin 2012 with your pets. I might suggestion a resolution for you to think about in the New Year.
First and foremost is the commitment that you have made by taking ownership of your pet. Your pet will live for several years. Many pet owners forget to make arrangements for their pet should the pet outlive them. Who will take care of your pet? Are there funds in your estate to cover medical expenses for your pet? Is your pet in the will?
Do you have travel plans in the New Year, if so who will take care of your pet? There are many great services available in Rochester and surrounding areas. Before making your travel arrangements check out the local services to accommodate your pet. If you feel more comfortable keeping your pet at home there are pet sitting services available at a reasonable cost. The services of pet sitters vary from daily visits to staying in your home while you are away. Be sure to check references and set up an in home visit in advance of your trip. Be specific as to what you would like the pet sitter to do, water plants, get mail, how many walks per day, feeding and sleeping instructions.
Another option for your companion is boarding. The boarding options have improved over the past couple of years with cage free facilities. A cage free facility is a boarding facility where the pets stay in individual small room without a “cage”. They have food, water and playtime with other dogs in a supervised area inside or outside. This creates more of a friendly and calming environment. For some breeds being in a cage with several other barking dogs can become very stressful. Contact the facility and ask to take a tour, look at the cleanliness, feeding area, play area and most important be prepared to ask questions. How many playtimes will they receive daily? Do they have a staff member on site 24/7? Do they have a Certified Trainer on site for any behavioral concerns? What type of food is given to your pet and can you bring your own? Are the small and large breed dogs in playtime together? Who conducts the initial behavioral assessment and are they trained/certified? Ask for references.
The option that most pet owners are aware of is the kennel with runs and cages. This option has been available the longest and there are several kennel facilities available. When looking into a kennel there are several options available. Some veterinary clinics offer boarding in their facility with limited spacing. Other kennels offer indoor cages with runs outside during the day. When visiting the facility it is important to look at cleanliness. Are the kennels clean of any waste? Are the pets sleeping on a concrete or dirt floor? Are the dogs separated based on size and breed? Will your pet be content, relaxed and happy to stay in the facility?
Traveling can be a very stressful time for everyone, it is important to plan ahead. Make arrangements with the facility or person for your pet to stay a couple of nights before you travel. Portion out their food and place their food into zip lock bags. When your pet is back home check their food intake. Did they eat while they were away? When your pet comes home from their overnight stay are they relaxed? Has there been any behavioral change at home?
Planning ahead for your pet’s safety and comfort will allow you a stress free vacation. On behalf of Tuxedo’s K9 Training Camp, Inc. safe travels to you and your companion in 2012.
Mark Forrest Patrick is the owner and trainer at Tuxedo’s K9 Training Camp, Inc. for more information visit www.tuxedosk9.com