Should I feel guilty boarding my dog when on vacation?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – Help – My husband and I are retired and our delightful Otis is giving me horrible guilt feelings that we have stopped taking vacations away from him. It bothers me so much putting him in a kennel that it ruins my vacation. Am I too attached? I have tried to find a person to house sit, but most just want to feed and check on the dog a couple times a day or are gone most of the day. Otis has to be with people or at least know that a human is around. My dog is a "Houdini" and can open a locked door as well as causing damage to the door if you leave him in the house. It goes without saying leaving him outside in our fenced yard without a human in the vicinity he would find a way out.


Nichole Jenkins


Hi Nichole– thanks for your email. You wrote that you feel guilty when leaving your dog when on vacation if you are over-attached to your dog.

Well Nichole – this is a very good and common question. You obviously love your dog which is a great thing. However, I think that it is important for you to live your life and have a great life without feeling guilty. Dogs should add to your life, not take away from it. It won't hurt your dog to be in the kennel. I wouldn't let it ruin your vacation. That is not healthy for you and your husband.

I'd research around your area and make sure that you are using a great kennel. Some kennels offer more play time and spend more time with dogs than other kennels. Some kennels have really deluxe accommodations. Maybe you would feel better if your dog was "pampered" while you were gone?

I think a house sitter (not just a pet sitter) is a great option. Maybe someone that could even stay at your home while you are gone. Preferably someone that you know or someone that comes highly recommended. For some, it is a nice break away from their own home or situation.

Our editor spends a lot of time lining up pet sitters for her cats. She interviews veterinary students and asks them to stay at her home when she is gone. They have full use of the TV, VCR, DVD, pool table, etc. And they stay and watch movies. She has a movie collection just for that reason. The students LOVE it and the cats LOVE it too. If she calls when away – often one of the cats are on the students lap while they are watching TV or studying.

Options would be a pet sitting service, someone you know, or maybe someone you know from church could do this job for you. It may take you a while to find the right person but if that allows you to have a good vacation and for your dog to be "happy" – then that sounds like a good option.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

P.S. How do the rest of you handle this type of situation? I'd love to read any suggestions you might have.

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