Traveling with a dog is not an easy task. Although the number of hotels declaring pet friendlymany still limit their friendship to those pets that weigh less than 10 kilos. The same is true of Renfe trains —it is currently running a pilot test with heavier dogs on the Madrid-Barcelona line—, with the exception of Cercanías, or with some ferry companies such as Trasmediterránea, while many of the airlines low cost They do not allow under any circumstances to fly with pets, nor take them in the hold. For this reason, there are many families who choose to look for an alternative so that their dog is in good hands while they travel, but how to choose the perfect sitter?
“First of all, I would look for the caregiver to have the same philosophy that I have. There are still people, from what I call the old school, who use punishment and others take the emotions of the animal very much into account”, explains Belén Morón Roësset, veterinarian and clinical ethologist at RetoVet and instructor at the canine school at the Complutense University of Madrid. (UCM). Cristina González Cano, ethologist veterinarian at the Clinical Ethology Service of the Hospital Clínico de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, also agrees that the caregiver does not work using punishment, not even verbal, and adds: “I would put, as essential guidelines, that the The person who is going to take care of him has the adequate training for it, who does not work using punishment and who is approved to carry out the work”.
González Cano opens a melon that has been around for several years due to the proliferation of platforms that offer pet sitter services, both as walkers and home visits or accommodation. One of the best known is Rover (Gudog is another one of them) and, while dog kennels must have, apart from the activity license, a zoo nucleus, here the keepers do not have to be professionals or have a license no type. They fill out a profile in which they usually tell their personal experience with animals and their skills with them (Rover claims on its page to follow a “strict selection process” of caregivers), the characteristics of their home (when they offer to house pets ) and the limitations they put, for example, not taking care of puppies or uncastrated males. They work like a kind of Airbnb, the owners leave opinions, payments are made through the web, a percentage remains and, in exchange, basic veterinary coverage is offered.
Whichever option is chosen, a totally recommended practice is that there is a prior approach between the dog and the caregiver. “That the animal knows the caregivers with whom it will live and the area, if we change habitat, is essential because if it does not generate a lot of insecurity,” explains González Cano. Ideally, there should be between two and three meetings with the person who will take care of the dog and in the environment in which they will do so, so that the animal can gradually recognize smells and dispositions and will feel less vulnerable. But how do you know that you are comfortable with that person? “You are going to see it in the language of the dog; he enjoys it, he goes to greet him and asks for caresses ”, sums up Morón Roësset.
It is important to see the facilities where our pet will stay. In the same way, you must also make sure of the conditions in which it will be, in addition to the routine of walks or games, or if it will be with other dogs or where it will rest. That is one of the comparisons in which, a priorithe residences lose out, where in the majority they are used cheniles, cages in which dogs and cats are introduced in this type of centers. “If a correct habituation is made to the chenil, there does not have to be any type of problem as long as the needs of the dog are covered. The problem of residences with cheniles It is that many times, you put it there and they do not go for a walk, there is no game routine, or there is social interaction, so there we are reducing the welfare of the animal ”, warns González Cano.
Another point to take into account is how flexible the care is to adapt it to the pet’s routine. An example is food, since it is not recommended that the dog change it drastically, which is why it is increasingly common for caregivers to ask that they bring their own food. “It is also important that they are fed as many times as their owner gives them. There are centers that give them food once and that, in large dogs, entails the problem that they may later have a gastric torsion”, warns Morón Roësset. This pathology, which can cause the death of the animal, consists of a rotation of the stomach caused by a strong dilation of the same and is especially prevented by preventing the dog from eating a lot in a short time and performing intense activity right after.
How to know if you have succeeded
It is common that during the time that the dog is with the caretaker or in the residence, information, photos and videos are sent showing how the animal has adapted, but one of the best ways to check if the choice has been correct it’s around the corner You go to pick up your dog after being apart for a while, and when the animal sees you, it greets you warmly, but then it leaves and goes back to play with the other dogs. It is possible that your little heart resents this apparent lack of affection, but it really is a very good reaction. “This is fantastic, it shows that the dog has a good bond with you because he knows that you are not going to leave and it shows that he is not insecure, that he is comfortable,” says González Cano.
In the event that this is not the case, and the animal approaches insecurely or shows avoidance or fear behaviors, it is important to leave room and a little more space for it to recover and feel comfortable again. And it is that one of the most important characteristics, both of a good caregiver and of a good owner, is knowing how to read canine language, and that is not so easy: “What goes through his head is usually quite far from what would go through his head.” ours is in the same situation”, says González Cano.