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We’re lucky here in my hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, in that we have a lot of choices available to us when it comes to where the family dog will stay when we go on vacation. But just because we have all these options doesn’t mean that every dog is “boarding” material. Yes, boarding a dog is easy … gather up her bed, a few toys, and bag of food and you can drop your dog off at one of many boarding facilities and be reasonably assured that she’ll be well taken care of. But not all dogs adjust very well to being away from home. And you’re going to want to figure this out before you split for a week or more. I learned this the hard way. I dropped my two dogs off at my vet hospital in Wilmington that I have been going to for years. They have a huge boarding program that is well priced and well staffed. I loved them there and while I knew my dogs didn’t like the idea of being away from home based on weekends that they had boarded, I never realized just how hard two weeks would be on them. Is Your Dog Okay to be Boarded When You Go Away for the Holidays?

I got emails from the kennel per my request and was assured that my pups were eating and drinking and doing fine. Per a suggestion from a vet friend, I suggested that if my pit bull got stressed being around so many other dogs that she could be mildly sedated. Again, I was reassured that all was well. At the end of two weeks when I went to pick up my girls, I was left stunned by what I saw. They had both lost quite a bit of weight and their noses were dry as pumice stone. I had tears streaming down my face and asked the tech what in the heck had happened. She didn’t know what to say and I was on the verge of having a serious meltdown, so I left. The next morning I took the dogs to another vet because I was concerned that they were dehydrated. My poor pit bull was given IV fluids; my Boston Terrier was sent home with me. My pitty had lost 5 pounds and my Boston had lost 3 in two weeks. The new vet was diplomatic, but shocked by what she was seeing. I can’t say for sure what happened to my dogs while at the kennel, but I know their health was negatively impacted by their stay and that they are just not boarding material.

I’ve since talked to others who have dogs that also don’t do well when boarding away from home. The stress can just be too much for some. My girls took weeks to get their energy back; they clearly didn’t sleep well while boarding and spent the better part of the first week home just sleeping. When I think of my first dog as an adult, a yellow Lab, I’m reminded that she had no trouble boarding at all. But for dogs that don’t do well away from home, there are plenty of options. Rover.com and Dogvacay.com are just two sites that I know a lot of people use when looking for pet sitters. The members are vetted and comprise a great selection of sitters who can stay at your home overnight or come by multiple times a day to walk your dog. Camp Bow Wow, which is a doggie daycare and boarding facility in Newark, Delaware, has a program called Home Buddies in which you can hire walkers or overnight sitters for your dog. Since my experience with the vet hospital’s kennel, I’ve used Home Buddies with great success. My girls were walked 4 times a day, fed, and loved during my last vacation. Since I live in a condo, I wasn’t worried about leaving the pups alone overnight as our building has 24-hour staffing. When I got home, they were in great shape and happy to see me.

For dogs that do well at daycare or being boarded away from home, Camp Bow Wow and Dogtopia in Wilmington, Delaware, are great options. You may pay a bit more per day than you would for a kennel without a daycare option, but your dog gets out of the kennel and gets to play all day. Plus, both of these facilities have webcams so you can watch your dog play and make friends when your away. Your dog will have to pass a “meet and greet” to make sure she gets along with other dogs, but it’s so worth it if your pup doesn’t mind being away from home.

So before you make your holiday travel plans, make sure your dog is going to be well taken care of. Whether she gets to stay at home with a sitter or head off to doggie daycare and boarding, make that decision well ahead of time so you can ensure that it’s the best decision for your pooch.