So you’ve planned your dream vacation and you’ve made your checklist. Plane tickets? Check. Hotel booked? Check. Packing list? Check. Mail on hold? Oops, forgot that one — good thing we’re here. And for your pup, you’ve opted to go forgo the kennels and don’t quite trust your in-laws (we’ll never tell). Instead, you’ve chosen in-home boarding through a matching service like DogVacay.com. Great. Now all that’s left is selecting the right host so your dog has as good a time, if not better than, you will.
Start your search early
Whatever you do, don’t wait until the last minute to contact potential boarding hosts. You’ll want to do your homework and research various host profiles to see who is in your area, is available, and makes a great match for your dog’s personality. On dogvacay.com, for example, you can browse through in-home boarding host profiles, narrowing down by specific geographic location, price, housing type and more.
Once you’ve whittled down potential hosts, contact them. It’s important to start a dialogue to make sure the match is a good fit and they have the time available to host your dog while you are away. And your host will want to get to know you as much as you want to get to know him or her.
Know your dog’s habits
Once you’ve started a conversation with potential hosts, let them know your dog’s habits and quirks. If your dog is a high maintenance princess that needs to be the center of attention (hey, no judging) a host that doesn’t have other dogs may be the ideal fit.
On the other hand, if your pup needs to be social, a host with their own dogs will provide your pet some friends with which to play. Similarly, an extremely high-energy dog needs to spend his days hiking and staying active, so you would more likely consider a host who works from home and can give him extra attention.
Pick a location based on size and exercise needs
Let’s face it. A hyperactive German Shepherd isn’t exactly going to have the best time staying in a tiny apartment. He’s going to need a host to keep him occupied and space in which to do it. And a lapdog like a small Yorkie probably doesn’t need the expanse of Ol’ MacDonald’s farm. Rather, a cozy space with constant supervision so she feels secure would be much more preferable. No one knows better than you where your dog would do best. Like the saying goes, it’s all about location, location, location.
Read host profiles and browse photos
And as to location, services like dogvacay.com allow hosts to post in-depth profiles about their hosting experiences, their love of dogs as well as photos of their homes and outdoor spaces. Many are very experienced and have been working in pet care for years. For example, dogvacay.com approves all its hosts, but you’ll also find references and user reviews so you can’t go wrong.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If there’s not enough information in the host profile to convince you or you have additional concerns, ask questions and even request additional photos. Maybe your dog eats hand stirred grain and sliced chicken meals and you want to be sure your host knows how to prepare it. Or maybe there are other special needs, such as handicaps or allergies. The hosts want to put you as much at ease as they do your dog, so ask away!
Determine which hosts can customize to your dog’s routine
Dogs live according to routine and no two routines are exactly alike. To make sure your dog’s routine, such as eating at the same time every day, stays intact while you’re away, a host who is willing to work with you is key. Each dog lives under a different set of disciplined routines. If you don’t allow your dog to sleep on the bed at home, he shouldn’t be allowed to sleep on someone else’s bed. Otherwise, once you are back home, you might wonder why there’s a nice, cozy warm spot on your pillow. It’s important for dog parents to feel like they’re leaving their best friend with someone who respects the rules they’ve set and is willing to adapt to them.
Schedule a meet and greet
Everything may seem perfect — perfect host, perfect location. But as we know, nothing is perfect until it’s…well… perfect. There might be some little unforeseen item that could put a wrench in the best-laid plans. Don’t rely solely on online communication. Schedule an in-person meeting in the location where your dog would potentially be staying. This way, you can discuss any additional needs and see how your dog interacts with the space and other dogs, if there are any. Once you find the perfect host, it’s potentially a relationship that both you and your dog can enjoy for years to come.
We all work hard for our vacations. And vacations should be relaxing, rewarding, and wonderful. With a little planning, your dog will enjoy his or her vacation as much as you will yours.