Usually when we go on a short trip we take our rescue dog Lulu to the kennel. This works well for anywhere from one to three nights away from home. While we believe she is under responsible care at the kennel (which is under our veterinarian service), we know she doesn’t receive much one-on-one attention, does not receive walks and spends most of her days in a dog crate. And when we do this, we do not leave any pet sitter instructions.
We will be taking a trip again this summer and I figured now was a good time to review our pet sitter instructions and add to them or update them. Pet needs and preferences may change so a review is helpful to perform.
Pet Sitter Instructions
Pet Care Options
While this is safe for her I’m sure she is isn’t too happy while she is there. Typically she refuses meals or will only eat half her normal dog food, which is Zignature dog food.There are more expensive kenneling options, and ones with socialization, walks and doggy daycare under camera – but a hefty price comes with this luxurious service.
Here are the typical options when planning a trip or vacation:
- Pet Stays in Your Home (pet sitter visits at least twice a day)
- Pet Stays at Pet Sitter’s Home
- Use a Kennel or Overnight Boarding (usually through veterinarian or doggy daycare)
- Travel with Your Pet (stay at pet friendly hotels or stay in a camper or RV)
In full disclosure we have rarely traveled with our dog Lulu. She rides with us two hours for Christmas (and occasionally other visits) to see family. These are trips where we accompany her. However, she has never enjoyed car rides and gets very upset and has even thrown up.
We have found it best not to make her travel further than this so we have used a few options when we travel that allow everyone to be comfortable. You know your pet best and your family situation so any of these options are healthy for you and your pet, select which one works best.
Related blog posts:
• Dog Ate Bread Dough? Symptoms and What to Do
• The Honest Truth About Having a Dog and a Baby
• Pros and Cons of Adopting a Rescue Dog
• Run With Your Dog at These Dog Friendly Races
Sending Your Dog to a Pet Sitter
If you opt to send your dog to a pet sitter, the sitter could be hired help or a family member or friend, depending on your preferences and needs. A few summers ago, when we decided to take a week long vacation, we asked family if they could watch Lulu. We asked family members who have pet sat before, have been around Lulu a lot and who Lulu seems to enjoy. They do not have a dog of their own but have had them in the past – which was also reassuring.
In preparation for Lulu’s stay I wrote up guidelines on how to care for her. Today I am sharing a few ideas to include on your tip sheet for pet sitter instructions. This can be helpful for pets staying overnight, for an extended period of time or even a pet sitter who agrees to come to your home to check on your animal – instead of taking them under their own wing.
Tips for Writing Pet Sitter Instructions
The following are guidelines I use when writing pet sitter instructions. Read through each item and see what might apply to your dog. You can use this list as a pet sitter instructions template if that’s helpful to you:
- Share an Outline of Your Pet’s Daily Routine. Dogs in particular, are creatures of habit. While it wasn’t necessary for her normal routine to be followed exact, following it at least somewhat would provide Lulu comfort. If that daily routine includes a walk, be sure to pack your dog’s collar and leash (I recommend a 6-foot nylon leash).
- Include Directions on Any Commands or Training Your Pet Has. Written explanation of commands is important, especially if there is an emergency and your pet needs to “come” back to the pet sitter. Showing physical hand signs in person is also helpful. If your pet sitters follow some of your routine commands your pet may also feel more at home hearing familiar commands during your absence.
- Provide Guidelines on Feeding & Amounts. You may also include hazardous foods, feeding times and typical routines. It also doesn’t hurt to bring your dog bowls.
- Include Contact Information for Your Veterinarian. Include the vet’s name, address, phone number and hours of operation – just in case.
- Include Information on Allergies, Special Needs, Etc. If your pet takes medication, has allergies or any other special needs, be sure to communicate them as well.
If Your Pet is Traveling to their Caretaker, Bring Familiar Surroundings.
After writing out your pet sitter instructions and printing a copy for the sitter, next make a list of what items you will need to pack for your dog or have available for the dog sitter. From your dog crate, to bedding and toys (Lulu loves her Bowsers Dog Bed and her Loofa Plush Dog Toy), bring objects they are familiar with and use during daily life. This will also help keep them in their routine and feel more at home in a strange place.
Even after you provide a detailed list of pet sitter instructions to your dog sitter, it’s still important you remain accessible should an emergency arise. Discuss the plan for contact. It might include leaving your phone on while you travel, checking voicemail once a day or email.
Because we have a pet, we didn’t feel comfortable leaving town for a full week and turning off our phones. What if there was an emergency or question? We decided to take one cell phone with us and keep it on for emergency only.
Pet Sitter Instructions
I hope these pet sitter instructions were helpful. These tips for writing pet sitter instructions will work whether your dog stays at a kennel or doggy daycare, or if they stay at home with a pet sitter or with family. Making sure you leave clear, easy to understand instructions for the care of your pet is important for your pet’s safety and well-being along with your peace of mind.
What comforts your pet while you are away?
*This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.