The Labrador Brats Dog Blog

Canine Holiday Hospitality

Whether you’re traveling to visit family and friends for the holidays or the mob is descending on your home, you need to make plans to accommodate the four legged family members during the festivities. Luckily, now as never before, there are real choices that you can feel good about making, far more than in the past when, if you didn’t have someone you could trust to house-sit or leave your pets with, the only choice was a stall at the vet’s, reasonably safe, but stressful, or locking the dog in the back bedroom or out in the garage.

Happily, finding a reputable dog sitter is far easier than ever before. Dog sitting and walking has become a booming industry and sitters now come with references, bonded and insured, sometimes even with an impressive array of professional training credentials. There are sites that provide listing space for pet sitters and allow the client to search for sitters available in their area.

The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) is an organization that provides continuing education and certifications for its members and listings of their affiliated professional pet sitters to the public. That’s a long way from paying the neighbor kid twenty bucks to come feed, water and walk the dogs twice a day.

Now, that being said, if you’ve got a neighbor kid (or a neighbor) who just loves your dogs and whom you trust, there’s nothing wrong with hiring them to come take care of the pets while you’re gone. If your dogs already know them and like them, it’s less of an adjustment and you take the “stranger in the house” variable out of the equation. It’s also usually less expensive than hiring a professional pet sitter, but it’s a matter of your comfort level with the competence level of the choices.

Day care/camp facilities are a new option for dog owners. There are chains and franchises springing up across the country, found in most metropolitan areas and cities of “a certain size” as well as individual “mom and pop” businesses found not only in larger cities but in smaller cities and towns.

These doggie day cares and day camps offer more than a place for your pup to chow and crash; there are individual and group play areas, indoors and out, usually divided into large and small dog spaces or with rotating times. The staff typically has a mix of experience and expertise, from novice to expert; some even have training credentials. One of the most popular features of these day cares and camps is live web cams so
you can check in on Dodger and Brandy and watch them having fun playing without you. Some facilities will also offer the option of a webcam in your dog’s private kennel area and will be happy to let you talk with your dog on the phone — it’s great when you’ve got separation anxiety and you’re miles away for several days.

The term “day care” is a bit of a misnomer for most of these businesses because they generally offer overnight kennel options as well. What makes the concept of day care great, especially during the holidays when there’s a lot going on at home is you can give the dog a break from the stress of having a house full of kids and other strangers and concentrate on taking care of your guests instead of having to keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t feed the dog chocolate or ride herd on the little kids to keep someone from trying to find out if the dog’s shiny eyes will come off like the ones on their stuffed animals at home. They’re usually relatively affordable as well, especially when you compare them to vet bills and carpet cleaning for a dog who’s been fed too many goodies — or the wrong goodies — by well meaning or uncaring guests. Your vet’s office is still an option and most are becoming more aware of the level of care and companionship their clients demand for their boarded dog. So if you’ve got a vet you love who takes good care of your dog, and you’re satisfied and can leave the dog and not worry, there’s nothing wrong with sticking with it, after all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The above article was written by Julia Gates of, an online pet supply store where you can find elevated dog feeders and dog gates.