Recently, I have been publishing blog post on my travels. So it seems like I travel a lot. (That’s true…) Some friends have been asking me and some maybe wondering about what do I do with my kids when we go for holidays?
Simple answer, we put them to pet boarding!
I love traveling and I love my kids! Unfortunately, the world (or perhaps specifically my home country) is not so much ready yet for pet vacation or pet travel. To accommodate to this, we have to leave them in good hands when we travel.
I totally can relate to the anxieties and concerns when we put them into boarding places. I cannot fully take away the stress (in me) and also in my dogs when we’re away. The further the destination, the more restless we become. But I can try (and..hopefully) at least minimize some of the stress.
To do that, I have some recommendations we can do before we board them.. it’s like a checklist to make sure we get to enjoy a little holiday together.
Choosing a holiday boarding place for my kids is always the most difficult thing. You may wonder if I have any specific place to board them and why not just stick to that boarder? Well honestly, I am still searching for the right place that I can stick with.. Not to say the current place we go to is bad, but is not the best yet. (So yea, I am still in the lookout for one good suitable boarder for my kids).
There are tonnes of varieties of boarding place or pet hotels in KL and PJ city; (despite how unfriendly to dogs in this country, there’s still a certain of competitiveness and demands in the industry. (Yay to all customers!). From kennel/ shop boarding, to cage-less boarding to home boarding – you’ll just need to try out and find the right one. And because of the varieties, I have difficulty choosing. LOL. So what do I look for?
My choice – is always proper kennel / shop boarding with a sufficient amount of playtime. As you bond with your dog, you’ll slowly noticed that sometimes what you think is right for them may put more harm to them, so it’s kinda tough to find the right one. Let me tell you why I prefer kennel boarding – Reason is very simple, my dogs’ are very playful. If they’re allowed, they can play the whole damn day! And they play rough too.
Not that I don’t stop them, simply because they know we’re not around, so they will always be playful (unless you’re saying that they’re senior dogs). So I don’t want to cause harm to anyone or to them (which sometimes play can leads to dog fights.. ) I decided kennel boarding with a certain amount of playtime!
It leads then to my 2nd concern and you must always ask the boarders / or caretakers… What is their routines (from shop opening hours right to their exercise, and feeding ritual). When in this stage, ask as much as you can! If the boarder gets annoyed by your questions, you shouldn’t even consider. Let’s just say, if someone is annoyed by your concerns, I don’t think they’ll be considerate enough to care for your furry kid except wanting your money.
Of course, be smart when you try to ask questions lah.. (don’t go start bargaining like it’s pasar malam. Have a bit of integrity and stand strong to your ground. Always remember, at the end of they day, you pay for what you get… this is business. But is no harm hoping for something more…. )
Play time is an extremely important thing to me. If anyone tell me this ‘magic’ word, I definitely put that place on my top list for consideration. LOL. I’ll always observe their place for boarding (through internet; their facebook and websites plays a big role) and what play time they’ll get. Some caretakers promised to walk your dog for 30 minutes a day.. or twice a day. Sounds absolutely great right!! But for me, walking outside creates more risk and anxieties on me worrying about my dog pulling and ran away.So I actually preferred them staying indoor for the amounts of days I’m away. So, I actually look for playtime and socialization with other dogs. I’ll observe whether or not their place have enough room for them to walk and run around and where do they put them when they’re busy tending their shop, and where are their kennels or beds.
Why don’t I go for home boarding then? Well, I’m having siberian husky not one by two. And home boarding for breeds like husky, will cost a minimum of RM75 each per night and time 2 means approximately RM150 per night… (that is more expensive than my airbnb place in Korea per night. LOL. get it?! So yeah, I am cheapskate and still want to make do for whichever freedom I can get.
As a pet groomer myself now, and a huskymama… I find play time to be very beneficial for dogs and owners. Dogs gets to socialize and learn to communicate with their similar species. Sometimes, dogs teach each other or send of each other’s good energy. And giving them the right amount of resting time in between, helps them become calmer and more mature. Everyone wants a calmer, gentler and more mature husky right!
I have had comments and recommendations from dog owners to send my kids to boarders that carry the same or close enough routine as yours. As much as I would love this, I have to be fair that anywhere outside of home, is not the same ‘home’ no matter how much they try to be. Having said that doesn’t mean you can just choose any place to board. What I mean is that sometimes, trying to stubbornly stick to a routine would create more problems than not having such a fix routine when boarding. So, rather than doing this, you’ll probably want to ask what’s their routine ritual in their place. It’s easier for the dogs to adapt than trying to fake ‘home’ routine at them.
And my 3rd important concern is what is their feeding ritual, because I absolutely will not want them go starving! Keep in mind, that usually dogs tend to not eat when they are in new environment. Don’t assumed that your dogs frequent that place, and so they’ll get used to it easily – Maybe yes and many no. To them, anywhere that is not their home, is consider a new place. They live in the moment all the time. If your dog have too much play time, they won’t eat. If they feed dogs all at the same place, chances they get tummy ache is higher, because you can never guarantee that they won’t steal others food. If they don’t get enough rest, they’d be too restless to eat. So there’s really a lot of possibilities… (please don’t jump to conclusions too quickly when you know your dog isn’t eating – always understand the situation first)
So.. for the first night usually they’d skip meals. Is normal, just check with your boarders if they eat. But to really ensure if they do, and when they do eat… they’re eating the right portion. I usually pack their food in individual packages labeled day by day.
For example, if I’m traveling for 4 nights, that means, 4 meals = 4 packs each with the right amount = 8 packs of food I packed and labeled. To make it easier for caretaker to feed them, I told them to just open up 1 pack for each a day and put into the dog bowl (which I provided) for them. If they eat, good. If they don’t keep it away and feed them the same thing again tomorrow.
When I collect them, usually caretaker will give you back whatever you have packed during their stay – and if you see there’s remaining packs that means they have skipped meals, and you’ll know exactly whats the assuming amount they skipped (sort of). Sounds like math right? LOL.. I don’t know, but doing this seems to keep me at ease. Also, don’t take for granted that caretaker would do exactly what you said, unless you make it as simple as possible for them. So I would know exactly whether or not they are well fed.
Pampering boarders.. to me it sounds really good to know that they’d pamper your pooch. Really?? You don’t need them to tell you that they’ll pamper your pup. You can see from the way the environment is, and how they treat their pooches. Sometimes, too much pampering, I would hate it. One time, Cloudy and Terra comes home not eating their meals and only begged for treats. Yup, that tells me that during the stay in their holiday, they’ve been begging for treats and getting them… which leads to the reason why Terra have diarrhea. In truth, I like that you like my dog. But I hate that you screw up their diet. See the … confuse customer pattern here? Let’s just put it, I’d appreciate you love my dog the way they are and don’t try to steal away my affection from them, and definitely don’t make them sick!
Dogs will often feel more comfortable if they have their own bed, blanket and perhaps their favourite toy. I’ll always bring along their favourite chew toy, and their feeding bowl. To me that’s the thing they spent the most time with at home. Is not about whether it’s their favourite actually, but rather the item that carry their familiar scent in an unfamiliar place. A little bit of this make a whole lot different to their nose.
Tip: You can leave a worn t-shirt/ clothes that you wore before the day, so there’s a sense of familiarization in a new place. This can help them cope with separation anxiety while you’re away.
Sending them off can be the hardest part. Most owners would say goodbye, hug them and tell them ‘I love you’ which sends off to them a different energy that creates separation anxieties. To make it easier for the boarder and myself, I’d say my goodbyes a day before I send them off. On the day itself, I’ll act really normal (though they already sensed something different the moment I brought out my luggage bag). I will just continue with my pretentious act of everything is normal, drop them off as usual, without looking at them and walk off. According to one of Cesar Millan’s episode, this sends off less anxieties and stress to your dogs which will eventually help them adjust better. It works! They never miss me! *LOL* Also, you can always try bringing them out for a walk before sending them off.
When I picked them up, the signs I look for is their excitement. Usually they’re really happy and reluctant to leave, which I guess they’re having a good time. I like to put it in a way that, they too have their holiday!
Some tips that can help you to decide on a boarding places you’ll feel comfortable with:
- The general attitude of boarder and the environment is incredibly important when deciding trustworthiness.
- Being allowed their own toys and blankets can be comforting to some dogs.
- Sleeping and relaxed dogs around, rather than dogs who look anxious, are pacing or continuously barking.
- Spacious play area where dogs can socialise, and exercise. Mental exercise is also a form of exercise too. (bonus if you found a place that provides interactive environment)
- Resting place and sleeping beds for dog. (if they have those elevated beds in clean areas and proper wee/poo place is a plus point!)
You MUST ALWAYS, make a checklist on what to pack for your dog’s boarding, pack their portion of food in individual packs, write instructions for special care and make sure you are always feeling comfortable leaving them at that place. If you have any doubts, clear them off few days before you send them. PLEASE don’t send them in out of desperation or last minute.
Since I couldn’t really find a good, comfortable and affordable boarding place for my kids, I (Huskymama) decided to start one of my own.
If you’re a furry owner, and is still hunting for the right place to send your furry kids for a holiday, stay tuned to Bowhouse Pet Salon opening in 2017! It’s a playground + salon, inspired with calm and assertive energy so that owners and their pups can create a deeper bonding. We really hope to see you!