We have a four-year-old Chiweenie who likes only four people and one other dog. He is afraid of everyone else. We want to go on vacation in the RV and leave him at home because otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to do anything or go anywhere. My sons are not able to take care of him sufficiently since they work all day. What can I do? I feel guilty boarding him in a kennel for seven to ten days since he’s afraid of people and dogs he doesn’t know. My other dog, a husky/Aussie mix, is very friendly and will stay with a friend of mine. I don’t want to put her in a kennel too just to provide company for the Chiweenie. We could take the Chiweenie with us, but then we would have to find daycare while we went sightseeing. Do you have any other ideas?
– Sue B., via email
If your dog is afraid of everyone, then going to a kennel or a daycare while on the road would be stressful for your dog. Any chance one of your sons can sleep over at your house at night with a pet sitter coming by during the day to let him out?
If you find a pet sitter who can come by during the day or who can sleepover while you are gone, there are ways you can get your dog acclimated to this new person. Get Adaptil, a dog pheromone, and have them spray it on their shoes, pant legs and up to the waist before coming in to meet your dog. These pheromones mimic a momma dog’s scent and will allow your Chiweenie to relax more around them. The pet sitter should not touch or pick up your dog in any way. It could take a few visits before he lets the pet sitter approach him. The pet sitter can toss a few treats onto the floor for your Chiweenie to eat. Your dog may not eat the treats at first, but when he does, you will know he is relaxing around the new person.
You also can ask your veterinarian for a mild sedative for your dog during a first-time meeting with a potential pet sitter. If your Chiweenie is chill and the pet sitter smells like a momma dog’s pheromones, chances are they will like each other well enough for them to come by (or sleep over) while you are gone.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal