Going on vacation is something most people look forward to. For dog owners, however, it can be difficult to relax on vacation when you're worried about how your dog is dealing with being separated from you while you are on a dog-free vacation. Separation anxiety is a problem that many dog owners deal with and one that often results in destructive behavior.
It's important to determine whether or not your dog's destructive behavior is due to true separation anxiety or due to other reasons that could range anywhere from boredom to retaliation. Here's how to make this determination and things you can do to make your dog's vacation easier to handle:
Is it separation anxiety or bad behavior?
Dogs are pack animals. Because of this, sometimes they develop separation anxiety when the rest of their pack is not with them. True separation anxiety is not the same thing as bad behavior, even though he may tear things to shreds when he is alone. In many cases, it's actually a panicked response to being all alone.
The difference between true separation anxiety and bad behavior is the difference between a gnawed-on slipper and the destruction of walls and doors from a dog trying to escape. Dogs with separation anxiety will do whatever they can to escape from where they are so they can go out and find the leader of their pack—you. It's an instinctual thing for dogs, particularly when their owners take on a clear leadership role.
Should you use a boarding service or an in-home dog sitter?
While it may sound ideal to have a dog sitter come to your home and stay with your dog while you are on vacation, dogs with true separation anxiety tend to do better in dog boarding services. The reason for this is because it's highly unlikely for an in-home dog sitter to be with your dog 24/7 the entire time you are away on vacation. They may need to run errands or they may have regular employment.
However, it is crucial that you slowly acclimate your dog to the boarding facility instead of just dropping him off one day. When you are in the planning stages of your vacation, arrange for your dog to go to the boarding facility several times, starting with a stint of several hours and gradually increasing the length of time to several overnights in a row.
Speak with the dog caretakers at the boarding facility for more ideas on how to make things easier for your dog.