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Vet Boarding or Pet Sitter?
  • Hi all,

    Some background: I have a 5-month old Shiba named Senketsu and we brought him home from the breeder at 4 months. He is wary and sometimes fearful of strangers even though we have been socializing him around lots of people (we live in a very urban area and there are lots of people around when he walks). From what I understand, this is a pretty typical breed characteristic. We have strangers offer him treats and bring people to visit our apartment to get him used to being around people he doesn't know well. However, my mother visited recently and it took him about two days to warm up to her, which isn't bad! He usually will not let a stranger pet or handle him; he has never bitten a person, but will run away, scream, and maybe open his mouth to show off his fierce little baby teeth :)

    In September, my husband and I are going out of state for a week. This will be the first time I am leaving Senketsu and I am anxious (I would love to bring him with us but our hospitality arrangements don't allow dogs). Luckily, my next-door neighbor in my apartment is also a coworker of mine, and I know him pretty well and he has met Senketsu. However, Senkets does the typical "stranger" thing with him every time. I have the option of having my neighbor watch him for the week, or I could spend the extra money and board him with our vet. Oddly enough, Senketsu really likes our vet even though she's stuck plenty of needles into him! It would cost about $250 for 9 days for boarding at the vet. I am willing and able to pay the money, but I am worried he will get upset about being in a new place. However, I also almost feel more comfortable going with the vet since most people there are professionals and will know exactly what to do if something goes awry when we are gone. As a side note for boarding, he has never bitten a dog; he will be mildly friendly with smaller dogs and usually just try to run away from large dogs. I am not sure if boarding requires dogs to be in the same space like daycare (I've never done either before), so I'm just pointing this out in case that's the situation.

    Tonight I will be bringing Senketsu to my neighbor's apartment to see how he does in a new place with new-ish people as opposed to getting protective of our apartment like he does when strangers visit. I am hoping to make a judgment about the situation based on this, plus it'll be a good experience for him since we will basically hang out and feed him delicious treats! I'd really love to get him to the point of being able to be tolerant of a stranger so he can be watched by a regular pet sitter as opposed to a boarding situation. However, I do understand that with some Shibas, that's just not possible and that's okay; I won't love him any less!

    Any advice is appreciated. As an extra note, Senketsu will be well past his neutering date and recovery by the time we leave for vacation, so I am wondering if that helps him calm down a bit. He will also be reaching the 7-month mark.

    Thanks in advance!
  • Slurve30Slurve30
    Posts: 4
    I've had to travel a few times since I got my lil' Huey about 6 months ago. I was still learning how he handled different types of people and situations, so I wrangled with the same situation as you - board professionally, find a sitter or find a helpful friend/family/neighbor. But I know that first time I had to take a trip, I was super duper nervous.

    You are absolutely right about what you said... you should be able to make a better judgement of what is best for your dog after placing him in different situations, and taking Senketsu to your neighbor's is a great test run. If he isn't protective while in a different situation and different faces, then your friend may be the way to go. That's what I did my first time as well. I had a friend whose house he visited, and when I left Huey with her I was fortunate that the stay went without a hitch.

    That said, with more experience and time together I did come to find that my dog does really well in group play, so I now lean towards boarding him. Even with friends and family, it's a bit of a hassle arranging/trading favors and hoping nothing goes wrong, and I would feel bad for a friend/neighbor if an incident were to arise.

    Hope your trip goes well!