What to consider when leaving your dog to go on holiday

Photo of Airplane window
Photo of Airplane by Eva Darron on Unsplash

Going on a holiday without your dog can be a sad and upsetting experience. The thought of going away to enjoy yourself while leaving your best friend at home, in a kennel, or with someone they aren’t used to will give you goose bumps. You may wonder how they will behave and react when they are left alone.

Unfortunately, we can’t always take our dogs with us on vacations, especially if we want to go abroad, so the prospect of leaving them will inevitably come true at some point in your life. We all need and deserve a holiday abroad, so having a dog shouldn’t stop you.

If you’ve ever thought about this or have an upcoming holiday that’s worrying you, then you aren’t alone. Leaving a dog behind is a common concern among all pet owners when the holiday season comes around, so you certainly aren’t alone in how you feel.

To help you, in this article we’ve covered the top tips and things to consider before leaving your dog to go on vacation. You may have a holiday booked already, or are looking to book one sometime soon. If it’s your first time leaving your dog, there are certainly a few things to consider before you go on your big trip.

Where your dog will stay when you are on holiday

This is the most significant decision you will need to make and will be fundamental in allowing you to go on your holiday. Who will look after your dog? If you aren’t able to arrange suitable cover while you are away, then you likely won’t be able to go on holiday, so you need a reliable solution.

It’s important to arrange cover weeks before you go and to double check with them that they are still able to look after your dog in the lead up to your holiday. This is to make sure there are no last minute surprises.

Woman house sitting dog while owners are on holiday
Photo a woman house sitting a dog by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

You will need to think about your budget and how long you plan to go on holiday, this will determine the type of cover you need. If you will be away for several months, you may need to consider a longer-term option, but if it’s a short break, you could consider a friend/family member house sitting, or a local kennel, as an example.

Who you can leave your dog with while you are on holiday

Below are some options of who you could leave your dog with while you go on holiday:

  • A family member, friend or neighbour
  • A local kennel or cattery
  • A house sitter
  • A pet resort or hotel

It’s important to leave your dog with someone they know, like a friend or family member, but if this isn’t possible, then it’s worth scheduling an overnight stay in a kennel to see their response. If you would rather someone come and housesit, you should organise for your dog to meet them beforehand, so they can establish a bond with them first.

Looking after dog while parents on holiday
Photo by BRUNO EMMANUELLE on Unsplash

Some kennels refuse to look after dogs that haven’t been trained to be left alone, as a very sensitive and upset dog could alarm other dogs. To avoid any complications while you are away on holiday, it’s worth testing leaving your dog with them for a single night first, to see how they get on. If your dog reacts negatively and doesn’t like their surroundings, you may need to consider other options.

What you will need to consider before you leave your dog to go on holiday

Below are some considerations before leaving your dog to go on holiday:

  • Their needs and whether they will cope with you being away
  • Sleeping arrangements
  • Whether they will get along with other dogs
  • What they will eat while you are away
  • Any medication that will need to be communicated to the house sitter / kennel
  • Make sure their microchip information is up to date
  • Crate training – this will make it easier for the cover to look after and care for your dog

The above considerations will help determine the type of cover you need.

Top tips for leaving your dog while on holiday

Leaving your dog with someone else while you travel abroad is tough, however, unavoidable, as the average dog’s lifespan is between 10 and 13 years, so it will happen at some stage (we all like a holiday!).

Below are some of our best tips to help you prepare your dog before going away on vacation. As dog owners ourselves, we have been through this many times before, so we have some experience and wisdom to share.

Try not to think about your dog while you are away

This is much easier said than done and as we love our little doggies they will naturally come to mind, but the thought of them being somewhere else out of their comfort zone while you enjoy a luxury holiday will make you upset. But the truth is – they are having a great time too, you just don’t realise it.

Crate train your dog before going away

It’s important to prepare your dog before you leave them, so if you plan to leave your dog with a friend or family member and they will need to sleep in a crate, then make sure to crate train them.

This will not only make your dog much happier while you are away, but the person looking after your dog will have an easier time too. We would suggest putting them in a crate overnight a few days a week before your holiday, and leave the crate out in the home so they can explore and use it as they please.

Think about their sleep arrangements

If your dog sleeps in your bed with you and they have done so for a long period, then they aren’t going to be used to sleeping alone. If you plan to leave them in a dog hotel or kennel, they won’t be able to sleep with anyone therefore, it’s important to get them used to sleeping alone before you leave them.

Dog sleeping with sitter
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

If you don’t allow them to sleep alone, the sudden shift in sleeping arrangement at night will scare and unsettle them. This could result in them barking and whining at night.

Leave their favourite toys and a piece of your clothing behind

Leaving some socks or worn t-shirts in their crate will help provide them with peace of mind while you are away. They will be able to pick up your scent from your clothing and they will feel at home – this can also reduce their anxiety and loneliness as they know a part of you is nearby. This is a great tip for dogs that are being crate trained too.

Dog playing with toy
Photo by Jesper Brouwers on Unsplash

Of course, leave their toys too, this will help keep them occupied while you are away and will provide them with a sense of security and reassurance that their favourite belongings are with them.

Do your research and make sure that your dog will be safe

It’s super important to conduct thorough research before leaving your dog with someone else. If you plan to leave your dog in a kennel, resort or with a house sitter, you will need to conduct research to make sure that they have a positive reputation and look after animals well.

Here are some of the key requirements to look for:

  • Customer testimonials
  • If they have been trained to look after dogs
  • Do they have insurance and what does their policy cover?
  • Do they have suitable transportation facilities?
  • Whether you can meet them in person first (and see the kennels for yourself)
  • Availability – if they are available all the time, this may show they aren’t a popular choice
  • Whether they meet your dog’s medical requirements (specific conditions, administering of medicine, fleas, what foods not to eat, etc).
  • How they handle fireworks during seasonal events

If your dog has a medical condition, it’s vital to check all of the above and whether they are able to help administer medicine and provide caring needs for it’s type of condition, while you are away.

If you are super anxious about leaving your dog, it doesn’t hurt to ask what their policy is on sending you regular updates and pictures of your dog! I know some kennels and house sitters offer a daily picture as part of their service, so you know that your dog is safe and well while you are enjoying your holiday!

Is it cruel to leave a dog to go on holiday?

Millions of people leave their dogs behind when they go on holiday, but is this really a cruel thing to do? The answer is no – in fact, it’s often the best thing for both the dog and the owner. It will give you both time to miss one another, and give you time apart.

Below are some reasons why leaving your dog at home to go on vacation can be a good idea:

Dogs need routine

If you’re constantly taking them on holiday with you, they’ll never be able to settle into a proper routine. This can lead to them becoming anxious and stressed, not knowing where they will be next. 

Not every destination is dog-friendly

If you’re staying in a hotel, for example, they may not allow dogs on the premises. Taking your dog with you will restrict where you can stay, and will make exploring new places and things to do on your holiday more difficult.

Travelling with a dog can be expensive

You have to pay for their food and accommodation, as well as any extra fees that the airline or hotel might charge. Your dog may not enjoy flying and become very anxious when left in the cargo hold by themselves.

It’s nice to have a break every so often

They can be demanding pets, and it’s perfectly natural to want to spend some time without them. So next time you’re planning a holiday, don’t feel guilty about leaving your dog at home.

Will the dog miss you when you are on holiday?

Your dog will know very well that you are leaving them behind and they couldn’t be more bummed about it. They will mope around the house, give you those sad puppy eyes, and generally make it known that they are NOT happy. 

All jokes aside, yes they will miss you, but they will totally forgive you as soon as you walk back in the door. As they do with everything – and this time around, they’ll love you more than they did before you left, so don’t ever feel guilty about leaving them to go on vacation.

Will my dog forget about me if I go on holiday?

It’s a common worry for dog owners – will my pet forget about me when I’m on holiday and go weeks without seeing them? The answer is, unfortunately, we can’t be sure. But research has shown that dogs can remember people for up to 12 years! So even if your dog doesn’t seem too bothered when you’re gone, they’ll probably be just as happy to see you when you get back.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to seem like they aren’t excited when you return, as they may still have thoughts of confusion, but once they set foot back in your home, they’ll be back to themselves in a couple of hours!

How can I say goodbye to my dog before going on holiday?

Saying goodbye to your dog is never easy, but it’s an important thing to do before leaving your dog. Never leave them without saying goodbye or giving them any warning, this will leave them anxious and distressed.

You can say goodbye simply by telling them – mention that you will be back soon and give them lots of cuddles and kisses. Take them for a nice walk or do their favourite activity the day before leaving them, tell them you will miss them.

They will be able to sense that you are trying to tell them something, and when they are no longer with you, this could help them understand why. If you tell your dog that you “will be back soon” when you leave the home to go to work or shopping, use the same language when saying goodbye to go on holiday.

Will my dog be OK when I go on holiday?

Every dog is different. Some dogs will take your absence in their stride and carry on as normal, others may become anxious and stressed. If you are worried about your dog being home alone, there are some things you can do to help them feel more comfortable:

Create a safe space for them

Consider setting up a dog-proofed room or area in your house (or where they are staying) where they can relax and feel comfortable. This could be their bed, crate, or a specific spot in the garden.

Leave them with familiar things (toys, blankets, etc)

When you leave to go on holiday without them, make sure to leave your dog with familiar things like their favourite toy or blanket. This will help them feel comforted and safe in your absence.

Make sure they have enough food and water

It’s important to make sure your dog has enough food and water for the time you are away. Leave them with more than enough, just in case they become thirsty. Your dog sitter or the kennel will be able to organise and take ownership of this responsibility.

Arrange for someone they know to check in on them

If you can, arrange for a friend or neighbour to check on your dog while you are away. This will help them feel less lonely and gives you peace of mind that they are being looked after.

If your dog is staying in a kennel, ask for your friend or family member to visit them, so they see a friendly face. This will be a lovely surprise and give them a sense of reassurance while you are away on vacation.

Going on holiday is an exciting time, but it’s important to remember your dog at home. With a little planning, you can make sure they are happy and comfortable while you are away.

Should I crate train my dog before going on holiday?

Yes, crate training your dog before you go on holiday will be beneficial for both you and your dog. It will provide them with a safe space to stay while you are away, and they will feel more comfortable in a familiar environment.

Crate training can take some time and effort, but it will be worth it in the end. If you are planning on leaving your dog in a kennel while you are away, they may already be crate trained. If not, there are plenty of resources available to help you get started.

When should I start crate training my dog?

The best time to start crate training your dog is a few weeks before you plan on going on holiday. This will give you enough time to get them used to the crate and ensure they are comfortable in it.

How do I crate train my dog?

The first thing you will want to do is find them a crate. It should be a big enough size for them to be able to manoeuvre around, stand and lie down comfortably. You can purchase crates online or in your local pet store. It’s worth taking your dog into the store so they can test out the crate – or take measurements, so you know what crate will be suitable for them.

Once you have the perfect crate, the next step is to make it a comfortable and inviting space for your dog. This could include adding a soft bed, their favourite toy, or a blanket.

The next step is to get your dog used to being in the crate. Start by putting their food in the crate and letting them eat inside it. Then, try putting a treat in the crate and letting them go in to get it. Once they are comfortable with this, you can start closing the door for short periods of time.

How long should I leave the dog in the crate for?

At first, only close it for a few seconds. Then, gradually increase the amount of time you leave them in the crate. Once they are settled, you can start leaving them in the crate for longer periods of time, such as overnight. Remember to always let them out of the crate when they need to go to the bathroom – otherwise they may pee or poop inside!

When you are ready to leave for your holiday, your dog should be used to being in the crate and feel comfortable in it. This will make the transition much easier for them, and ensure they are well behaved while you are gone.

There’s nothing worse than a misbehaved dog in a kennel, so make sure to crate train your dog before you go on holiday! It will be worth it in the end and your dog will thank you for it.

If your don’t isn’t crate trained, you may find the kennel won’t take your dog again – especially if they cry and whine at night, as this will upset and rattle other dogs.

Conclusion: What to consider when leaving your dog to go on holiday

That’s everything you should know before leaving your dog to go on holiday. It’s normal to be very anxious, but you shouldn’t let having a dog get in the way of you travelling the world and enjoying yourselves abroad. It’s a long-term commitment in having a dog after all and it’s important that you take time for yourself.

If your dog has a positive experience while you are away, it’s worth keeping their details for next time!

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