We know that if Globe Aware volunteers had their way ( we don't blame them), their dogs would accompany them to everywhere. But the reality is that sometimes, leaving your dog at home while you travel is a necessary evil. Here are some tips to help smoothen that process!
Tips for Leaving Your Dog at Home When You Travel
Apr 28, 2023
If you had your way, your dog would accompany you everywhere: to work, on vacation, even to the dentist’s office. But the reality is that sometimes, leaving your dog at home while you travel is a necessary evil.
Parting ways, even temporarily, is especially tough when you travel. Of course, you’d prefer to bring your pooch along on your adventures. However, not all trips are dog-friendly, and sometimes, the best place for your pup is not on the road or in a motel but at home with a trusted caretaker.
It may be challenging to say goodbye to Fido for a few days or a week. But rest assured that you can handle the separation, and so can your pupper. That said, there are ways to help prepare your dog for your absence and ease the anxiety it might cause. Hannah Gillihan, a certified dog trainer at Zoom Room Dog Training, has graciously provided DogTime with some helpful tips for leaving your dog at home while you travel.
Downplay your absence
One of the best things you can do to prepare your dog for your travel plans is not to make a big deal about leaving. As you get closer to your travel date, every time you leave your dog, say, “See you later!” or “I’ll be right back!” in a normal tone. Doing so will take some of the emotions out of your absence.
If you are always sad to leave and excited to return, those extreme reactions can create stress and anxiety in your dog. Intense emotions teach dogs that your absence is a big deal and something to dread. So, instead, try a quick head pat and a “See you later!” Keeping the interactions nonchalant is a great way to prep your pup for stress-free time away from you.
Choose your pet sitter wisely
Ensure that a trusted, familiar person dog sits while you are away. Arrange for your friend to visit and meet your dog before you leave so they get comfortable with each other. If your dog can relax and have fun with this person, they are likelier to have a stress-free stay without you.
Give your trusted sitter vet information, medicine and feeding instructions, leashes, harnesses and collars, toys and treats, and maps of places or walking routes your dog loves. This preparation will help create a sense of normalcy that may ease your dog’s mind. Thorough prep will also equip the sitter with everything they need to know for a successful stay.
Distract with toys
Use mental stimulation games and puzzle toys to ensure your dog’s time without you is fun and stress-free. Choose toys with varying difficulty levels and a compartment for food or treats. Your dog will entertain themselves trying to figure out how to get the food out.
Zoom Room carries many different toys that will help keep your dog occupied for long periods of time. Kongs, lick mats, and slow-feeder puzzles are just a few effective distractions. These puzzles and mental stimulation toys allow your dog to channel some of that anxious and bored energy into problem-solving that will keep them busy while you’re gone. Also, remember to leave instructions on using all of the toys for your dog sitter.
How to reunite properly after leaving your dog at home
When you do reunite with your pup at long last, do so in a way that reaffirms your bond. Greet your dog both verbally and with physical touch. A study by Swedish researchers found that dogs who received both verbal greetings and physical touch during reunions with their owners had higher oxytocin levels than dogs who were only greeted verbally or not at all.
“Although the sight of a familiar person is a positive event for a dog, and the sound of that person’s voice is better, it is actually the sensation of being touched by that person which helps to boost the level of good feeling in the dog and allows it to carry over for much longer than just the moments when dog and loved one reunite,” the study concluded.
So feel free to pour on the love as soon as you walk through that door! While leaving your dog at home while you travel can be heartbreaking, chances are, your dog missed you as much as you missed them.