Guild of Shepherds & Collies

Vacationing With Your Herding Dog

Vacationing With Your Herding Dog Is Easy!


The phrase “The dog is man’s best friend” was popularized by beloved American poet, Ogden Nash, in his poem, ‘An Introduction to Dogs’. That statement rings so true when you share your heart and home with a herding breed dog.

Herding dogs typically build strong bonds with their people. So, what happens when their people opt for a much needed break from the busyness of life and go on vacation? No worries - vacations need not be stressful for you or your dog. Fortunately these days, there are a variety of pet care options.

Two great choices that combine personal attention and quality care are inviting pet sitters into your home or embarking on a dog-friendly vacation. Both ensure that your beloved four-legged friend is well cared for while you relax. vacationing

Preparing for Vacation—Assess the Situation

Vacations should be as relaxing as possible—regular periods of relaxation are healthy for your body and mind. So, choosing the best possible scenario for your dog while you’re away is key. Consequently, you’ll need to assess the situation and ask yourself these two questions:

  • What type of vacation are we planning?
  • Where will my dog be most comfortable?

Some vacation destinations and itineraries are much more suitable than others when it comes to traveling with your dog alongside you. Week-long, or longer, stays at a family or rental cabin on the lake are ideal settings for a little R&R with a canine companion. Busier trips to a resort where you’ll most likely be on the move a lot, may not work as well. Take some time to seriously consider your dog’s age, personality, and any specific medical needs and how he or she will fit into your time away.

Now, let’s take a look at the different stages of development. The following tips will help guide you in choosing the place where your dog will feel most comfortable:

Puppies and Young Dogs: With their seemingly unlimited energy, puppies could be quite a handful on vacation. Young dogs also need and thrive on routine and may be more comfortable remaining at home. Also, whether or not your dog is house trained is a big factor. The typical pet friendly accommodation will only roll out the welcome mat for fully house trained canines.  Newly trained young dogs may still have accidents on occasion, especially in an unfamiliar environment. And, any chew-happy furry friend would definitely pose a challenge.

Adult Dogs: Adult dogs could be more comfortable staying at home with a loving, responsible caregiver or do well tagging along. It really depends upon your ability and interest in meeting its needs while vacationing as well as your dog’s activity level—some are still just puppies in an older dog’s fur.

Senior Dogs: Again, just as with adult dogs, senior dogs may do well either way. Your senior dog’s overall health and ability to get around are the two most important considerations. Much like humans, aging dogs do slow down and are vulnerable to common age related conditions—be on the lookout for subtle signs of arthritis, deteriorating vision, gum disease and Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, all of which, though minor while at home, could impact your older dog to the point where traveling would be uncomfortable.

You will always be the best judge of your furry friend’s needs, though. Sometimes, your instinct will be your best guide. Most importantly though, a well-trained dog will always be more welcome than an untrained one. This holds true whether you leave your dog at home with a sitter or bring him along on vacation. An obedient, well-mannered dog will be welcomed back time and time again, whether it be into the waiting arms of your pet-sitter or the hotel staff. Just a little food for thought.

Pet-Savvy Sitters

Canine-savvy friends and relatives are often more than happy to house sit and spend a little quality time with your dog. Responsible friends or relatives that already know your dog well is an ideal scenario. You know them well and vice versa - trust is already established. Or, pet lovers with an entrepreneurial spirit will pet-sit for you—professionals with references and knowledge of canine first aid are best.

Pet sitting is a thriving business. Experienced pet sitters are everywhere. In fact, Pet Sitters International (PSI), founded in 1994 by fellow pet lover, Patti Moran, is the go to source for how-to information, education, and the very specialized Certificate in Professional Pet Sitting Program. PSI is a great place to start. Visit their website and learn the value of hiring a professional, well-prepared, and educated pet sitter to care for your dog today. Search their database of thousands of PSI certified pet sitters just waiting to befriend your happy-go-herding canine companion.

Another option for in-home care is to consider a house sitter. House sitters are simply pet sitters with a bonus. They’ll typically care for your pets while also watering plants, giving your home that “lived in” appearance to keep unwanted strangers away, and other agreed upon tasks. Some pet and house sitters do charge a fee; however, many, especially house sitters, will sit for you for free. Trusted Housesitters is a highly respected, family-owned business  with an award-winning website and community. Inspired by their own amazing house sitting experience in Spain, co-founder Andy Peck and his fiancé, Rachel Martin, discovered that there was a growing need for responsible, knowledgeable house sitters and as a result, Trusted Housesitters was born. For more information, visit their website where you can access their informative blog or chat with a customer service representative.

Also, remember to check with your homeowner’s insurance policy—as a general rule, pet sitters who sit for free are usually covered if problems arise. Otherwise, visit the PSI website and click on the For Pet Sitters tab on the menu. From there, you can access helpful pet sitter insurance information.

Dog-Friendly Vacations ROCK!

Can’t bear to part with your furry sidekick? Then, how about vacationing with your dog? Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. The hospitality industry recognizes our great love affair with our dogs and as a result, caters to our furry friends with an abundance of pet friendly hotels, rental cabins, and houses across the country and internationally.

Fuel your nomad spirit with a vacation on wheels. Camping and RVing might just be the dog-friendly vacation you’ve been seeking. With all the comforts of home and the freedom of the open road, you and your dog can take shorter jaunts to a must see tourist attraction or travel from coast to coast, pausing for rest stops whenever either of you needs a little break. Don’t own a camper or RV? No worries. You can rent them.

Vacationing with your dog can be oodles of fun! And, with a little prep time on your part, it will be. As a family who always embarked on dog-friendly vacations, chances are we’ve been there, done that. In honor of our beloved Pip, (July 12, 2002-January 9, 2016), let me share some tips from the field:

  • DON’T follow the “less is more” philosophy. We found it best to pack everything we thought our dog might need and then some. It’s always best to err on the side of “just in case” because stuff happens. So, basically, take more than enough food, toys, etc. Unfamiliar surroundings may cause temporary anxiety resulting in loss of appetite (food may spoil) and/or vomiting, etc.
  • DO take along a dog bed or familiar blankets for sleeping even if your dog usually sleeps in bed with you. Dogs may not feel comfortable in an unfamiliar bed.
  • DO take along your veterinarian’s contact information, all immunization, and medical records in case of illness.
  • DO take along dog shampoo, just in case.
  • DO prepare for inclement weather by packing your dog’s rain and/or colder weather gear. We all know, you can’t keep a good dog down.
  • DO keep to your dog’s regular routine as much as possible.
  • Top Tip of the article: DO pack all of your dog’s food, bowls, clothing, toys, meds, records, etc. in one duffel bag if possible along with a checklist. Checklists help you to tick off all items when you pack up to go home. It’s so very easy to leave behind a favorite toy that’s rolled underneath a couch or bed. A true doggy bag, so to speak!

So, be in the know and rock your dog-friendly vacation with these excellent resources:

Ready, Set, Go on Vacation with your Herding Dog

A well-planned vacation will last a lifetime in your mind. As dog lovers, we all know, you love your furry friend. Whether or not you decide to travel with your beloved canine companion is a personal choice. The best vacations are comfortable and free from stress—some are just furrier than others. That being said, sometimes a stress-free vacation means you travel solo. On the bright side though, you have the peace of mind knowing that your dog is happy and well cared for. And, you can happily count down the days until you’re once again reunited and glistening from mushy wet dog kisses.

We here at the Guild of Shepherds & Collies wish you safe, happy, and stress-free travels. Happy vacationing!

Article By:
Karen Doll


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