What do you do with the dogs when you travel? Oh my, my, my…I get this question SO often that I thought it was high time I set aside a full post for it!
Anyone who has been around here for awhile knows that Judy + Bill are our two chocolate Labradors. If you’ve never met them, let me introduce you…
Bill | Judy
The answer that most people might tell you is that they call a kennel and book them an appointment. I’ll be honest – I don’t trust kennels. Here in Hawaii, the majority of them are outside and/or don’t have AC units and overall it just wouldn’t be a great experience for my dogs. Never mind the fact that I can’t imagine them not getting one-on-one attention like they do at home for a week or longer while we are on vacation. Call me what you will, but I only want the best for them, so for us, that means a dog nanny or sitter.
Because we have a lot of military friends here, they’ve rotated in and out pretty regularly. We knew that with our travel schedule, we needed a constant for the dogs and it wasn’t fair to constantly be asking our friends – hey, can you watch the dogs?! After a lot of consideration, I turned to Rover.com. Have you heard of it?
Basically, it’s a site that allows you to look over dog sitters in your area and see if they would be a good fit for your family. The first time I logged on, I was really overwhelmed – what was I even looking for?! Thankfully, Rover makes it really easy for you to see the location and ratings of each sitter who is nearby, along with their photo and a list of services. In addition to over night stays, registered Rover sitters offer daycare, dog walking and can even come to your house to pop in on your pet if you’re working a long day, going out after work, etc. I knew I wanted someone who had experience, a history of using Rover with satisfied customers, a yard with a fence and a love of big dogs. Weird fact: People in Hawaii are pretty averse to big dogs. Most people are afraid and 9 times out of 10 when I walk Judy + Bill, people cross the street to avoid interacting with them. So strange. Anyway, I knew I needed a sitter who not only loved big dogs, but could handle them! Big dogs are AMAZING, but they can be a lot of work (see above) 😉
I sorted through the entire Rover database for my area, picked seven, interviewed them all, had “dates” with three of them, and then tested two out with a daytime play date with the dogs while I was present. The next step was letting the dogs do an overnight with the one I liked the most. From there, we booked her for longer stays and vacations. As you can see, I don’t take watching my dogs lightly! And if I’m being totally honest – neither should you. What I’ve learned is that there is no price tag for the sanity I have knowing my dogs are in good hands.
Here are my best tips for finding a dog nanny who can take the best possible care of your babies:
1. Identify what you need from them. Walking, dog sitting (in your home or theirs), pop-ins during work hours, etc. Be realistic with your needs so that you can be clear with your directions to the person!
2. Do your research. After your identify what you need, find a couple people who are up for the task! Ask them questions, get to know them, figure out if they would be a good fit. Do a trial run to see if it works with your pet. I’ve learned that just because someone “looks good on paper”, doesn’t mean they work out in practice.
3. It’s all in the details. I’m very detail-oriented by nature, but some people aren’t, so I leave very detailed descriptions of everything when I am away. What time the dogs eat, what they eat, how they eat, etc. These people can’t read your mind or know your daily routines, so it’s important to put it all on paper. Also be sure to include emergency contact information and your pet’s vet information just in case!
4. Pay ahead of time. One of the things I liked best about Rover is that the payment portion is all taken care of ahead of Judy + Bill’s stay. I put in my credit card and it is all set; the payment then goes to the sitter via a third party and I don’t need to worry about getting cash or writing a check. I also like it, because then Rover has my stay on record. If, God forbid, anything should happen during their stay, it’s documented. It’s just a nice security benefit!
Now, let’s talk…what do you do with your pets when you travel? Do you also use Rover? Have you even heard of it?