Originally published on ArlNow.com 

Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of the busiest travel times in the United States, and inevitably people with dogs need to find someone to take care of Fido while they are out of town.

If you can’t take your dog with you, the next best option is to have a family member or friend either take your dog to their house, or come and stay at your house. Being in their own environment, or with someone familiar, is definitely the best option for your dog. But sometimes that isn’t possible and you need to find a boarding facility.

The best boarding option is somewhere that your dog is familiar and comfortable. Most daycare and boarding facilities work well because the dogs who are comfortable coming to daycare usually board without incident. These dogs are already familiar with the staff and often the other dogs that attend regularly. For them it’s like a home away from home. Dogs who attend daycare regularly at WOOFS! are happy and healthy during boarding as well.

What can be very difficult is when a dog needs to be boarded but has never been away from his owners or in a boarding or daycare facility before. In this situation, dogs can be very stressed, and prolonged stress often leads to associated illnesses including gastrointestinal problems, weight loss and upper respiratory infections.

So how can you help your dog survive a week away from home? First, be sure to plan ahead. Take the time to get your dog used to staying at a particular facility. This might mean paying for three or four days of daycare before you eventually drop off for an overnight stay. Trust me, your dog will be so much happier than if you just drop them at a facility and don’t come back for days. The experience of being dropped off and picked up several times can be very helpful in reducing anxiety.

Find the right facility. Daycare is not for all dogs. If your dog is stressed in the presence of other dogs they might do better in a traditional boarding environment where they do not interact with other dogs all day. Every dog is different, and luckily there are many options available in the area. In-home petsitting is a great option for dogs who don’t board well.

Start when your dog is a puppy. Send your puppy to a friend’s for an occasional weekend even if you don’t need to travel. This is an important part of their socialization experiences and should happen two or three times before your pup is 6 months old. Don’t wait for your dog to be 6 years old before you introduce them to spending time away from you.

Happy Holidays!