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 thing happens with 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, or carry them in the hold. For this reason, many families choose to look for an alternative so that their dog stays 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 animal’s emotions very seriously,” explains Belén Morón Roësset, veterinarian and clinical ethologist at RetoVet and monitor at the canine school at the Complutense University of Madrid. (UCM). In that the caregiver does not work using punishment, not even verbal, also agrees Cristina González Cano, veterinary ethologist of the Clinical Ethology Service of the Clinical Hospital of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, who adds: “I would put, as essential guidelines, that the The person who is going to take care of him has the appropriate training for it, who does not work using punishment and who is approved to do the job.”
González Cano opens a melon that has been around for several years in the face of 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 kennels must have, apart from the activity license, a zoological nucleus, here the keepers do not have to be professionals or have a license to no type. They fill out a profile in which they usually tell about their personal experience with the animals and their skills with them (Rover states on its page that it follows a “strict selection process” for caregivers), the characteristics of their home (when they offer to house pets ) and the limitations they impose, for example, not taking care of puppies or unneutered males. They work like a kind of Airbnb, the owners leave opinions, payments are made through the web, which keeps a percentage and, in exchange, basic veterinary coverage is offered.
Whichever option is chosen, a totally recommended practice is that there is a previous approach between the dog and the caretaker. “That the animal knows the keepers with whom it is going to live and the area, if we change habitat, it is basic because if it does not generate a lot of insecurity,” explains González Cano. Ideally, between two and three encounters occur 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 recognize smells, 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”, summarizes Morón Roësset.
It is important to see the facilities in which our pet will stay. In the same way, you also have to 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. This is one of the comparisons in which, firstthey lose the residences, where in the majority they are used kennelcages in which dogs and cats are introduced in this type of center. “If a correct habituation is made to the dog poundThere does not have to be any type of problem as long as the needs of the dog are met. The problem of residences with kennel is that many times, you put it there and they don’t go for a walk, there is no game routine, there is no 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 their own food be brought to them. “It is also important that they feed them as many times as their owner feeds them. There are centers that feed them once and that, in large dogs, entails the problem that they may later have gastric torsion”, warns Morón Roësset. This pathology, which can cause the death of the animal, consists of a rotation of the stomach caused by its strong dilation and is especially prevented by preventing the dog from eating a lot in a short time and performing an 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 been adapting, but one of the best ways to check if you have made the right choice it’s around the corner You go to pick up your dog after some time apart and, when the animal sees you, he greets you warmly, but then he leaves and goes back to playing with the rest of the dogs. It is possible that your little heart resents this apparent lack of affection, but it really is a very good reaction. “That 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 you insecure or shows avoidance or fear behaviors, it is important to leave it margin and a little more space to recover and feel comfortable again. And it is that one of the most important characteristics, both of a good caretaker 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 ours in the same situation”, says González Cano.