Life is better with a dog, that we know, but is vacation better with a dog? The answer – it depends. Not only does it depend where you are going, but also how you are getting there. If your family vacation is a trip in the RV or packing up a tent and heading for the hills, then your precious pups might easily be taken along. There are also many pet friendly options for hotels, Air BnB type places, state parks and beaches. If you have a social dog that is well behaved and can be left alone without wreaking havoc on her surroundings, then leaving for vacation is pretty easy. Pack the dog, a bed, a leash, food and go!
But for many people and for many trips, taking your pet is not an option. You may want to have a carefree week or two away in a tropical paradise, or you may have an anxious dog, a barker, or a homebody.
If you leave your pup at home, there are myriad options for how they will be safe and happy. Not every choice is a great fit for each dog or family, but we will look more closely at each.
- Traditional Boarding Facility. On many of our trips we take Bella (treeing walker) to a traditional pet facility where dogs are in kennels – our favorite is air-conditioned inside with an outdoor run. There is limited interaction with the other dogs but you can buy extra time for your dog with staff each day. Lucky Stars in Hampstead, Maryland, offers 30 minute playtimes, adventure walks, walk to potty, kongs and other add-ons to Bella’s stay. We usually let them feed her their food for her stay and she gets a 30-minute play time each day in a fenced yard. Bell is a jumper and doesn’t really like other dogs, so a solitary stay where she can just hang is her style. She seems happy and tired when she comes home and everyone loves her at the kennel. Staff treat your pup like their own.
- Resort Boarding. Our Buddy is a social doggy who loves to be with people and other dogs, so We’ve Gone to the Dogs in Westminster, MD is perfect for him. This is a daycare/boarding facility that is open concept. Dogs are taken out in playgroups on this huge farm. There is structured play in the morning in different fields (agility, blue, buttercup) and the groups of dogs are always supervised by staff. The dogs are put in groups according to temperament, size and energy level. There is a rest time inside and then they go back out again in the afternoon. The interior of the facility is a doggie dream – crates with pillows on top to lay on, big beds dogs can lounge on and staff loving on them all day. If a dog looks tired, staff may keep them inside for the morning or afternoon to help with laundry or sleep. At night, the boarding dogs sleep in kennels. They post a ton of pictures each day so when we go away we anxiously wait for the day’s pictures to post so we can see our Buddy. He is always playing and loving life it seems. When he comes home he sleeps for several days!
- In-Home. We have also chosen this option several times as well. Whether it is trusted family friend, family or a hired service (we have used the Zookeepers Companion along with Premiere Pet Care), this is a good option if you want your dog to stay in the comfort of their own home. It depends on the company, but we prefer to have someone just stay in our house. The sitter comes over beforehand and learns the daily routine of the dog/s and how things in your house work. Trust is key because you are having someone in your home, but if that is there then this is a great and affordable option. At most kennels, two dogs are about double the price, but with in-home care it is usually substantially less. An added bonus is the someone is watching your house as well and can water plants, bring in mail, etc. If you have anxious dogs, then is often a good option since they have all of their “things” and no stress.
- Veterinary Boarding. Many vets also offer limited boarding for clients. We have used this if we are going away for a day or two and can’t find someone to stay in our home. The amenities are usually less, but if you have a dog with medical needs, this might be a safe place for you to take your pup while you are away. Not that other facilities can’t handle giving medications to dogs, but there are times in a dog’s life when being at a vet for a few days while you are away will give you peace of mind. Some vets also have boarding facilities attached. Airpark Animal Hospital in Westminster has a boarding facility, but they are often booked since they are smaller than other kennels.
So whatever your choice – taking your pet or leaving them at home – there are many things to consider including location, price, and services. And like all pet owners know, having a pet is not a cheap endeavor and having them stay at home while you are away is no exception. Boarding our two dogs for our honeymoon in December – one went to daycare boarding and the other a kennel – cost as much as our airplane tickets to St. Kitts. We all had vacations that were wonderful, but nowhere is better than home!