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In every case, be sure that the sitter or boarding facility staff are prepared to meet your canine’s specific needs. If possible, opt for a caregiver or kennel that has extensive experience with anxious or fearful dogs. Ask if the boarding facility has veterinary technicians or certified trainers on staff who are familiar with the signs of anxiety and fear and who are trained to work with animals requiring special care.
Be sure as well that the sitter or boarding facility’s training methods match your own, especially if you are relying on positive reinforcement-based methods. A fearful or anxious dog’s trust and progress can be hindered by intimidation-based techniques or failures to accommodate the dog’s individual needs.
Help make your dog’s stay a success by offering specific notes on what works best for him. Before you leave, outline any specific protocols for your pooch; tell the sitter or kennel staff about anything that may upset your canine and how you would like them to handle the situation.
If this is your dog’s first experience with a sitter or boarding facility, consider a meet-and-greet. This allows your dog to get familiar with the new person or place and lets you spend some time talking with potential caregivers. If you’re happy with the sitter or kennel, consider scheduling a trial run before your holiday plans kick into high gear. This gives everyone an opportunity to identify concerns that may need to be addressed ahead of time.
When you get ready to leave, even if it’s just for an afternoon of shopping, be sure to provide your sitter or the kennel staff with detailed information about potential problematic behaviors. If your anxious dog has the potential to become aggressive in certain situations, such as when people try to pick him up, it's important to provide caregivers with a list of triggers that may make your dog uncomfortable, as well as advice on how caregivers should best approach such situations. You don't want anyone getting hurt or your dog to be stressed while you're away.
You also want to be sure to provide contact information for all the right professionals, including your veterinarian and your dog’s trainer, just in case. Finally, always have a backup plan in case the sitter or boarding facility is unavailable to care for your pooch.
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