As the saying goes, “variety is the spice of life.” For many, this is true. On the flip side, we also find comfort in our daily routines, as do inquisitive canines. Meal time, walk time, play time, nap time, snack time, snuggle time, bed time, just to name a few. As a certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, I can’t overemphasize the importance of preparing, well in advance, for those times when you’ll be away from home for just an afternoon, a family vacation, or forever. So much of the information you have in your head needs to be written down to ensure your inquisitive canine’s routine is stable, and comfort level isn’t jeopardized, should you be unavailable.
Hard copy pet-planning workbooks might not be as easy to find as those on the best-sellers lists, but fortunately organizations such as 2ndChance4Pets have created a very thorough product that fits the bill, in digital format no less. The DIY option would be another route you could take: notebook paper, pen, and paperclip will do the trick, or feel free to get as fancy as you’d like. I’ve listed the basics below. Adapt and tailor to your inquisitive canine.
- About your inquisitive canine. The name s/he responds to, the name on the license and where licensed, microchip number, tag or nameplate. Address, phone number. Contact information for a neighbor, or two, who know your dog. Description including fur color, short/long hair, distinguishing marks, height, weight. Photo of dog, and photo of dog with human family.
- Some small print. Breed, any AKC registration info. If your inquisitive canine is in your will or trust, your attorney’s name. Name and contact info of caregiver designated in will/trust.
- Regular vet visits and emergency situations. Doctor’s name, contact information, and location of regular vet. Info for an emergency and/or after hours vet. Request and fill out a treatment authorization form, or create your own. Include dollar amount you are willing to pay for treatment and euthanization decision making criteria. Pet health insurance policy information.
- General health. Regular medication and dosage. Any allergies. Unique behavior tendencies – any fears or triggers. Scary noises like fireworks and thunder. Grooming and hygiene concerns such as bathing, brushing, teeth brushing, nail care, and groomer appointments. Groomer contact info.
- Eating. Inquisitive canine’s regular menu choices and portions. Foods to avoid. Special treats.
- Lifestyle. Meal and walk times. Common commands. Where does your inquisitive canine sleep? Tuck-in rituals. Favorite toys and games. Bathroom times. Humans your inquisitive canine may feel necessary to protect you against, e.g. mail person, skateboarders, delivery personnel, gardeners, etc. Other animals your inquisitive canine should avoid.
It may help to think of the pet planner as a combination instruction manual and baby book. The above gives a good start to planning for time away from your inquisitive canine, whether you’re going on vacation or not. No surprise, there is tons of information on the Internet, too. I found a lot of great info at care.com. Special thanks to the San Francisco SPCA for a pet planner they produced in 2004 (no longer available) that I found very helpful.
So, tell us inquisitive pet parents, what would you add to your pet planner? Share in the comments section below.