Traveling with (Or without) Your Boston

Love Dog
In This Chapter
  • Packing necessary supplies for the journey
  • Keeping your dog safe while traveling
  • Choosing a long- or short-term boarding facility
  • Knowing what to look for in a pet sitter

With his relatively small size and gentlemanly demeanor, your Boston Terrier makes an ideal travel companion. He’ll happily sit shotgun (safely restrained by a seat belt, of course!) as you motor to the store. He’ll be your companion during spontaneous weekend getaways. He’ll even fly the skies with you, too, content in his travel carrier.

When it comes to traveling with your Boston, you can liken it to traveling with a 3-year-old child: Pack a bag of essentials, bring plenty of distractions, and prepare for just about anything! Planning ahead before any trip — be it a 10-minute car ride or a cross-country vacation — will make the adventure enjoyable for everyone.

Sometimes, though, you can’t take your Boston along, so you may want to enlist the help of a dog sitter, doggy day care, or boarding facility. In this chapter, you find out what to bring on the trip, how to get your Boston comfortable with car rides, and what to do if you have to leave your Boston behind.

Preparing for the Journey

Before you hit the road with your Boston, you need to gather a few essentials to keep your dog safe and his needs fulfilled. They include identification, a travel carrier, and day or overnight bag.

Identification, please

Whether you’re traveling a block to the pet store or cross-country to a relative’s home, identification tags virtually guarantee that someone will return your Boston to you if he goes missing. With your name and home and cellphone numbers inscribed on that little disk, the person who finds your Boston has an immediate and direct line to you.
To ensure that your dog is returned to you, always keep an updated, legible ID tag on your Boston’s collar. If you have multiple collars, purchase multiple ID tags and hang one on each collar. The tags are inexpensive and easy to obtain, and they can save you heartache — and expense — if your dog escapes while you’re on the road.

Tip

If you’re traveling far from home and staying in a hotel or at a relative’s house, purchase some inexpensive disposable tags and list the hotel or relative’s phone number, as well as your cellphone number. It’s good insurance, just in case.

A microchip is an excellent backup to an ID tag, especially if your Boston’s collar slips off. A veterinarian or shelter employee can use a scanner to read the code that is unique to your pup’s microchip. That code tells the vet which registry has your contact information. The vet or the person who found your dog can call the registry to get your information so she can reconnect you with your dog. (For more about microchips, see Chapter Preparing for Your Boston’s Homecoming.)

Remember

Keep in mind that it can take some time for the person who recovered your dog to find a veterinarian or shelter with a microchip scanner, contact the registry to get your phone number, and call you. And those hours and days when your Boston is missing can seem like a lifetime!

The right carrier for the trip

A carrier protects your Boston while he’s traveling. Depending on your mode of transportation — be it car or airplane — you’ll need a different carrier to keep him safe and secure.

By car

You may be tempted to let your Boston sit shotgun or even ride on your lap while you’re driving, but doing so is extremely dangerous for you, your dog, and other drivers. An unrestrained dog in your car can be more distracting than using a cellphone or eating lunch while driving. Even if he’s well-behaved, your Boston may see a dog walking down the street and lunge toward it, jumping in your lap, blocking your view, and potentially causing an accident.
The safest way to travel in a car is with your Boston secured in a crate, carrier, car seat, or seatbelt harness. Because of the public’s growing concern about keeping their traveling pets safe, manufacturers have created a wide range of options to restrain dogs in the car. Most of them include seatbelt loops so you can buckle your Boston in. Your options include:

Crates: Like the hard-sided plastic kennel that you used to housetrain your Boston, a crate keeps your dog safe and confined in case of an accident. With its solid sides, the crate prevents your dog from flying out a window or being crushed. Soft-sided crates often feature steel or aluminum frames that offer some protection, but their greatest asset is that you can fold them down for easy storage.

Travel carriers: Made rigid with plastic frames, soft-sided carriers make traveling with your Boston relatively easy. They resemble gym bags with ventilated sides, but they are designed to carry your 20-pound pup safely on short journeys to the pet store, veterinarian, or Grandma’s house. Some include built-in removable casters for easy wheeling and pockets for storing pickup bags and treats.

Car seats: Framed with rigid plastic or metal and lined with fleece, faux sheepskin, or canvas, canine car seats keep your pup secure while allowing him to look out the window. Most resemble a miniature dog bed with upright sides that keep your pup both contained and comfortable on the road. If you’re thinking about buying one of these, make sure that it has a seatbelt slot and a place to connect a harness or other restraint.

Warning!

You may have seen dog beds and booster seats designed for use in cars. They look stylish and comfy for your Boston, but avoid them. Many don’t restrain your dog in any way, and if you have to stop or turn your car quickly, your pup can be sent flying and possibly get hurt. Instead, invest in a quality travel carrier with a cushy liner or a dog car seat with harness attachment, and buckle him in.

Seatbelt harness: Your Boston wears a harness around his torso (see Figure 13-1; check out Chapter Preparing for Your Boston’s Homecoming for more details about harnesses). You can restrain your Boston in the car by connecting the harness to a seat belt. Some harnesses come with a seatbelt latch built in.

Figure 13-1: Restraining your Boston in your car keeps him, you, and other drivers safe.

By airplane

Airline requirements stipulate what types of carriers you can use to safely transport your Boston. The requirements vary among airlines, so check with the one you’re flying well before you get to the airport.
Generally, however, because your Boston will likely be traveling in the cargo area of the plane, you need a hard-plastic crate with absorbent bedding, and food and water dishes secured to the inside of the kennel door. Add your Boston’s favorite toy, and he’s ready to fly!

Pack your Boston’s bags

Any responsible parent keeps a bag of her child’s belongings ready to go. Likewise, as a pet parent, you should keep a bag of dog necessities handy when you travel with your Boston. You never know when you’ll need a bowl for some water, the first-aid kit in case of a bee sting, or a treat for a well-behaved pup!

For short jaunts to the market, you don’t need too many supplies: A leash, pickup bags, a bottle of water, a portable bowl, treats, and a favorite toy, all stashed in a handy tote bag, will do.
For longer journeys, however, you need a lot more. Pack the following items in your Boston’s suitcase:
  • Extra leash and collar with ID tags already attached
  • Enough food to last for the journey
  • Bottled water
  • Treats
  • Two portable bowls (one for water, one for food)
  • Grooming supplies, including toothbrush and toothpaste, brush, shampoo, and nail clippers
  • Extra crate pads
  • Pickup bags
  • Medications
  • Portable first-aid kit
  • Some favorite chew toys
  • His favorite bedding
  • A jacket or sweater if it will be cold
  • Important veterinary files, including health and vaccination records

Hitting the Road

Before you and your Boston head out on a road trip, you must teach your puppy all about riding in the car. Most dogs are naturalborn copilots; a few are more the homebody types. But whether he’s an eager passenger or a nervous one, you can teach your Boston to be a well-behaved traveler. And I include some safety pointers so you can keep your pup safe on your journeys.

Introducing the car

Before you even think about taking your Boston on the road, you need to introduce him to the idea of riding in a car. That big metallic beast with the growling motor may intimidate your Boston puppy, and if he’s not slowly familiarized with it, he can develop a fear that’s hard to shake.

Teaching your Boston about traveling begins with his crate or carrier. If you’re crate training him, he already knows that his crate is his den: It’s his safe place where he can play with his toys, take a nap, and enjoy some “me” time. (Check out Chapter Housetraining for Bostons for more details about crate training.) You can easily carry over that feeling of safety when you put him in his crate to travel in the car. He’ll instinctually feel confident in his den, whether it’s in your home or in the vehicle.
The first car “ride” should be a brief introduction to the vehicle. By following these steps, you can make your Boston a confident traveling companion:
1. Place the crate in a secure place in your car, like the back seat, and buckle it in.
Make sure the spot has plenty of air circulation.
2. Load the crate with toys, his blanket, and a crate pad (just in case) — things that will help him feel comfortable.
3. Put your Boston on his leash, and walk him to the car. Let him sniff the metallic beast, walk around it, and inspect it.
Use positive reinforcement to encourage him and build his confidence.
4. When you’re ready to leave, say “Let’s go,” and help him into his crate.
5. Turn the car on and watch his reaction.
If he settles down right away and seems ready for an adventure, take a drive around the block and praise him for a job well done. But if he whines and shakes, calm him down and call it a day. You don’t want to overdo it and cause him to fear the car. Next time, however, take his training a step further.
6. Have him sit in the car while the motor is running, and then back the car out of the garage or driveway and return.
As he becomes more comfortable with the car and its sounds and movements, continue to broaden his experience by driving around the block to a dog-friendly park or taking a short trip to Grandma’s house.
In time, your Boston will associate driving with a positive experience, and he’ll be ready to hit the open road without a backward glance!

Tip

Your Boston is an intelligent dog. If you just drive him to the veterinarian for checkups and shots, he’ll connect the car with a negative experience. Take your Boston on pleasant trips as often as possible so he associates driving with fun. Excursions to dog parks, lakes, shopping centers, and friends’ houses not only give your dog reasons to love to travel, but they also help to socialize him (read more about socializing your pup in Chapter Socializing for Life).

Driving in style

With his adventurous spirit, there’s no doubt that your Boston will love to accompany you everywhere. You’ll go to the dog park together, out for coffee with friends, and to doggy play dates.

Warning!

When you arrive at your destination, don’t leave your dog unattended in a closed vehicle, no matter what the weather is. In as little as 15 minutes, the temperature in an automobile can rise to scorching levels, and your dog can suffer a heat stroke that can lead to brain damage or death. If you must leave your pup in the car, designate a responsible family member to stay with your Boston.

Regardless of where you go, your primary goal is to keep your dog safe and secure. Short trips are pretty easy to manage; long trips require a bit more organization.

Short trips

When your Boston feels comfortable riding in the car, you can take him on short car rides around town.
If you’re visiting a friend’s house or apartment, make sure before you leave that it’s okay to bring your dog along. Most likely, your host will welcome your Boston with open arms! Grab your pup’s day bag with his toys, water and water bowl, treats, pickup bags, and portable first-aid kit. If you’ll be staying longer than a few hours, bring some food along, too. Load him in his carrier and be on your way.
Keeping your dog safe during these short rides is easy: Make sure that he wears his collar and leash inside the car and that he stays in his seatbelt harness or in the carrier while you’re driving.

Warning!

If you use a seatbelt harness and your dog has access to an open window, do not let him stick his head out. His large prominent eyes can be easily scratched or otherwise damaged by dust, rocks, sand, or salt pieces whizzing by.

Warning!

If possible, don’t let your dog ride in a seat with an airbag. The force with which the airbag deploys can injure your dog, just as it would injure a child.

Long trips

Long road trips with overnight stays take a little more planning. Besides grabbing your dog’s suitcase and favorite bedding, you also need to check with your veterinarian, find dog-friendly hotels, and map out a course to your destination.

Vet check: Before you leave, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to be sure that your dog is healthy and ready for travel. Tell your vet where you’re going, and ask him if your pooch will need additional vaccinations or preventive medication before you leave. If you live in a colder climate and you’re driving to Florida during the winter, for example, you may need to apply some flea-and-tick repellant to your Boston.

Find dog-friendly lodging: As you’re planning your itinerary, you need to find hotels that accept dogs. Because of the rise in pet popularity, more hotels than ever welcome dogs, but they typically require an additional deposit to cover the cost of cleaning.

Tip

When you’re at the hotel, treat it as if it were your home: Pick up messes your dog leaves behind, clean up any accidents, and don’t let him bark. Keep him off the bed or bring a sheet to put down before he lays on the bed. Many dog-friendly hotels don’t allow you to leave the dog unattended in the room, but you can put him in his crate if you go out to dinner or take a shower. Respect the rules so other dog-owning patrons can enjoy bunking with their pets, too.

At campgrounds, follow the same manners with your dog. Just because you’re out in the wilderness doesn’t mean your dog can run loose! Keep him on his leash at all times and don’t let him bark.

Identify appropriate rest areas: Map out your journey to make sure you can stop at places where your Boston can get out and stretch his legs. As you travel, stop every few hours to let your dog exercise and relieve himself. Though many rest stops have designated pet areas, these patches may be flea infested and frequented by unvaccinated dogs. Old, spoiled food may be laying around, and stagnant water may be diseaseridden. Instead, choose clean areas and pick up your Boston’s messes. Offer your Boston water from a portable dish whenever you stop.

Tip

If your Boston tends to get motion sickness, avoid feeding him just before and during the car ride. Long trips may require that you feed him, but plan the meals so he has adequate time to digest the food before you hit the road again.

Flying the Skies

Airplane trips with your Boston Terrier require even more preparation than traveling by car (see the “Hitting the Road” section). Use the following tips and begin planning at least 30 days in advance to ensure a turbulence-free journey:

Government agency and vet check: First, check with the necessary government agency (usually the Department of Agriculture) for specifics about what documentation your Boston will need at your destination location. Fill out any paperwork and turn it in well before the deadline.

A veterinarian will need to examine your Boston and give you a signed health certificate no more than 10 days before your departure. That appointment gives you the opportunity to tell your veterinarian where you’re going and ask about any special vaccinations your Boston may require.

Talk to an airline representative: When you make your flight reservation, notify the airline representative that you’ll be bringing a live animal onboard. She will ask the dog’s size and weight, and tell you what size carrier your Boston will need. If you already have a carrier, have the brand and dimensions available so you can check them with the representative. She will also tell you what documentation you’ll need to present to the ticketing agent at the airport. Be prepared and gather these papers well in advance. Ask her, too, where you can pick up your pup at your destination.

Airlines typically charge for transporting pets; the price varies between companies. When you make your reservations, ask the representative how much they charge and when you will be required to pay. Many times, they collect the fee when you check in your pup at the ticket counter.

Prepare your dog’s travel crate: Federal law requires absorbent bedding on the bottom of the crate. You must also provide food and water dishes that are attached to the inside of the crate’s wire door.

Tip

Fill one of the dishes with water and pop it in the freezer the night before you leave. Just before you head out, place the frozen dish inside the crate. The ice will melt slowly, providing water for your pup and preventing spillage during flight. Tape a small bag of food to the top of the crate with feeding instructions in case of delays.

Also tape all of your contact information on the crate, including your dog’s name, your name, cellphone number, destination phone number and address, and flight number.

Gather your Boston’s belongings: Just as you pack your own bag, pack your Boston’s bag, too (see the “Pack your Boston’s bags” section earlier in this chapter). Remember any medication, toys, plenty of food, treats, an extra leash, and favorite bedding. Put all your contact info on this bag, too, just as you do for your own suitcase. Make sure that your Boston is wearing a collar with an updated ID tag listing your cellphone number and destination telephone number.

Before-flight fasting and relieving: Before you leave for the airport, exercise your Boston as much as possible so he can relieve himself completely before the flight. Do not feed him for six hours before the plane departs; most airlines give specific recommendations for fasting before the flight.

Arrive early: Get to the airport at least two hours before your plane is scheduled to leave. At the ticket counter, present the agent with the necessary paperwork and payment for transporting your Boston. She will process the paperwork, put a “live animal” sticker on the crate, sneak a peak at your dog, and check him in. Double-check with her where you’ll pick up your Boston when you arrive. After you land at your destination, gather your bags, and then pick up your pup. Have the required documentation handy to show the airline representative.

Airline regulations change constantly, so speak with an airline representative before you leave to be sure you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s. You wouldn’t want to have to cancel your flight because of forgotten paperwork!

Leaving Your Boston Behind

You won’t always be able to travel with your Boston, no matter how fun it is. Long meetings, business trips, sick relatives, or a range of other circumstances may require you to leave your dog behind for the day, a few days, or longer. In these situations, you’ll need to drop your Boston off at doggy day care, board him in a kennel, or hire a dog sitter.

Short- and long-term boarding

Short- and long-term boarding facilities keep your Boston safe and secure when you can’t be with him. You can use a doggy daycare facility or a boarding kennel to make sure your dog stays happy and healthy when you can’t tend him.

Tip

Besides asking your veterinarian, breeder, or dog-owning friends for boarding recommendations, you can visit the American Boarding Kennels Association’s Web site (www.abka.com) and search its database for an ABKA-accredited facility.

Doggy day care

Dog daycare centers, which are cropping up in major metropolitan cities and suburbs across the United States, are generally intended for daylong stays. The staff supervises the dogs, feeds them, and plays with them. They lead them through activities, such as fetch, water play, and playground time — yes, playground time! Many dog daycare centers are inspired by children’s playgrounds. They often include an outdoor play area that has playground equipment designed for children. Some even have swimming pools for those dog days of summer!
The daily rates for these facilities run from $20 and up, depending on the location and the services provided. For an extra fee, many of these dog daycare facilities offer grooming and training services.
Ask your dog-owning friends and family members, your vet, and members of your local Boston club if they can recommend a doggy daycare center. When you’ve got a list of places, check out the “Screening the facilities” section later in this chapter to help you make sure you’re leaving your Boston in good hands.
The first time you drop off your Boston, you’ll need to provide proof of vaccinations, including rabies, distemper, parvo, and bordetella. Different daycare centers have varying rules with regard to bringing your dog’s own toys, food, and treats, so talk to the daycare owner or manager before you drop your pup off.
Dog daycare centers provide many benefits to your Boston, including

Focused attention by experienced staff members: Many daycare employees are skilled in handling and training dogs. Ask the facility manager if you’re curious about the employees’ credentials.

Socialization with other humans and dogs: Meeting and playing with other dogs and humans is essential in your dog’s mental and physical development. Daycare facilities provide a fantastic opportunity to interact with a range of personalities and breeds.

Plenty of free time to run around outside and expend pentup energy: After enjoying the playground equipment, open fields, and other canine carousers, your Boston will sleep like a baby when he comes home from doggy day care!

Opportunities to swim and try agility or other games to keep his curious mind stimulated: You may not have room in your backyard for playground or agility equipment, so visiting a doggy day care is a great way to introduce your Boston to these fun activities. Some day cares host agility and behavior training classes; talk to the facility manger for details.

Quiet time in a kennel for napping or playing with his favorite toy: Most dog daycare facilities have individual kennels or runs for dogs who want to have some space. They’re perfect for naptime or if your Boston needs a timeout.

Long-term kennels

Similar to dog daycare facilities, boarding kennels provide your Boston a home away from home while you’re on longer trips. Your Boston will be kept in a run or a large kennel, and the facility’s staff will feed your pup, clean up after him, take him for walks, and give him lots of attention while you’re away. Some kennels even have volunteers who will exercise and play fetch with your dog.
You can find kennels through your veterinarian, your local Boston club, dog-owning friends, and family members. The best kennels fill up quickly, especially during holidays and peak vacation weeks during the summertime, so reserve your space as soon as you know you’re going on vacation.
The facility will require you to provide proof of vaccinations, including rabies, distemper, parvo, and bordetella. Have your paperwork handy when you check your pup in. The rates vary, depending on the facility, the services provided, and your location, but you can expect to pay a minimum of $25 per day.
It may not be like keeping your Boston at home, but boarding kennels do have their benefits, including

– Assurance that your Boston will be cared for while you’re away: Knowing that your dog will be fed, cleaned up after, played with, and safeguarded while you’re away assures that you’ll have a pleasant trip — and a happy, healthy dog when you come home.

Socialization with other humans and dogs: Though your pup may not interact with other people or canines as much as he would at a dog daycare facility, he’ll be exposed to other dogs during playtime and walks.

Attention from skilled kennel staff: Because many kennels are affiliated with a veterinary clinic or hospital, your Boston will get quality care while in the facility. If he falls ill or injures himself, he’ll have fast access to veterinary care.

Access to grooming services: Many kennels offer grooming services while the dogs are being boarded. Schedule a bath, toenail trim, tooth brushing, and flea bath while he’s there, and you’ll bring home a dog who smells and looks great — and is delighted to see you!

Screening the facilities

Whether you use a doggy day care or a boarding kennel, you’ll want to screen the facility before you drop off your beloved Boston. After getting recommendations from veterinarians, your groomer, Boston club members, and friends, compile your list and schedule meetings with the facility owners or managers. Request a tour of the facility and ask them a few questions about the services they provide. If they’re a reputable operation, they won’t mind at all.
Prepare a list of expectations and questions in advance, including

What hours are you open? When can my dog be dropped off and picked up? Some daycare facilities are open during normal business hours, so you’ll have to pick up your pooch at a reasonable hour after work. Likewise, some kennels close at the end of the day and may restrict when you can drop off and pick up your dog.

Is the kennel supervised 24 hours in case of emergency? Even if you can’t drop off and pick up your dog at just any time of day, you should choose a kennel that has supervision 24 hours a day, seven days a week in case of fire or some other emergency.

What vaccinations do you require the dogs to have? Most kennels and daycare facilities require you to provide up-todate vaccination records to prove that your Boston has been vaccinated against rabies, distemper, and parvo in the past 12 months. Other kennels require a bordetella vaccine within six months of boarding.

Are incoming dogs screened for fleas, ticks, and other parasites? Some kennels require that your dog be on a flea-and-tick preventive. If he’s not, they may be able to apply one for you.

Is a veterinarian on call in case of emergency? Reputable facilities will have a veterinarian on call or even on site. If they don’t, ask about their protocol if a medical emergency occurs.

What experience do you require your staff to have? Do they know dog first aid? CPR? At least one staff member who has experience administering canine first aid should be on the clock. You want to make sure your Boston is in capable hands if something happens.

How large are the kennels? Are they cleaned several times a day? When you tour the facility, make note of the cleanliness of the kennels, the common areas, and the overall grounds. You should see little or no fecal waste and detect very little smell. The kennels should be large enough for your dog to feel comfortable.

How often are the dogs fed? Watered? Again, take note of the water bowls in the kennels and common areas as you tour the facility. The dogs should have access to clean, fresh water at all times.

Can I bring my own food, treats, and toys? Is bedding provided, or can I bring my own? A change in diet can cause diarrhea in some dogs, so being able to keep your pup on his regular diet is a must. Bringing your dog’s favorite toys and bedding will help him feel comfortable in the unfamiliar setting. Some dog daycare facilities, however, do not allow toys from home to avoid dominance conflicts.

Will someone walk my dog every day? Is there a fee for this service? Getting out of the kennel will brighten your Boston’s day and burn up some extra energy.

Do you offer any grooming services? If so, take advantage of them! There’s nothing better than picking up a clean dog who’s absolutely delighted to see you!

Remember

The daycare or kennel representative should take as much time as necessary to answer these questions and give you a thorough tour of the facility. If she is curt or hurried in any way, move on. You don’t want to leave your Boston in the care of someone whom you don’t trust 100 percent.

After you choose a kennel or dog daycare facility, provide a list of your dog’s needs, including any medication he is taking or allergies he may have.

Hiring a pet sitter

Finding someone reliable who is willing to stay with your dog or drop in on him several times during the day while you’re away can be a better alternative than boarding your Boston in a kennel. He’ll get to stay home with familiar smells and sounds. He’ll have access to all his favorite toys and bedding. He won’t be exposed to kennel cough or fleas. Plus, he may get some extra attention — and treats — from his favorite auntie or Grandma!

Your neighbor or friend makes an excellent dog sitter during short trips, but if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, you can hire a professional dog sitter to care for your pet. They typically charge between $10 and $30 per day, depending on the services they provide and how many pets you have.
Ask your veterinarian or fellow dog club members for pet sitter recommendations. Often, word of mouth is a good reference. You can also visit the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters Web site (www.petsitters.org) or the Pet Sitters International Web site (www.petsit.com) to search for a pet sitter in your area.

Leaving information behind

Even though the daycare facility, boarding kennel, or dog sitter may have plenty of experience with dogs, the caregiver doesn’t know your dog and his idiosyncrasies.
A detailed list of instructions gives your dog sitter or care provider a guide to feeding, exercising, and caring for your Boston while you’re away. If your dog requires any special needs, jot those down, too, so the person can refer to it if necessary.
As you compose your list, use these suggestions to get started:
  • Phone number, address, and location of where you can be reached
  • Your veterinarian’s name, address, and office and emergency phone numbers
  • Written permission for your caregiver to obtain veterinary treatment in your absence
  • A short list of your pup’s medical history, vaccinations, and allergies, if any
  • Whether your dog is microchipped
  • Your dog’s age and birth date
  • Feeding amounts and times to feed
  • Any medication or supplements your dog needs, and instructions on how to administer them
  • A backup dog sitter or kennel in case of emergency
  • Your dog’s favorite toys, games, and treats
By writing down this information and these instructions, you provide your caregiver with everything she needs to tend to your Boston’s every want. It will help you and your dog better deal with the time that you are away.
When you have a list of potential dog sitters, schedule an appointment with each one to visit your home and meet your Boston. You’ll know right away if you — and your dog — like her! A good dog sitter will develop a rapport with your pup right away.
Use this list of questions to interview potential dog sitters.

Do you belong to a professional pet-sitting organization, such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters? Your candidate doesn’t necessarily have to belong, but members of groups like these have met basic handling standards set by the organization.

Do you have references? Confident pet sitters will happily provide you a list of satisfied clients. Call the references and ask if they would hire the pet sitter again.

Are you insured and bonded? Ask to see proof of commercial liability insurance and ask exactly what coverage it provides.

How long have you been working as a pet sitter? Have you ever dog-sat a Boston? A top candidate should have some experience caring for small dogs, ideally a Boston.

What experience do you have with medical care? Do you know canine CPR? First aid? If your dog has an emergency, this person should be able to provide or obtain emergency care and treatment.

When will you come to my home? How long will you stay? Your candidate should come at least twice a day to feed and check on your dog. She should also spend some time with him playing fetch, taking a walk, or just hanging out and watching television.

Tip

When you find a quality pet sitter, hold on to her! Notify her well in advance of trips so she can block off the time. Invite her to your home while you’re there so she can bond with your Boston before you leave. She will be caring for your baby during your trip, so prepare everything she’ll need to make her job easy — and fun!

by Wendy Bedwell-Wilson

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