Airline tickets? Check. Hotel accommodations? Check. Hold the mail? Check. Made plans for your pet?

Heading out of town for a long-awaited vacation takes a lot of planning. If you’re a pet owner, you have the added task of ensuring that Heathcliff or Sasha is fed, exercised and well cared for while the rest of the pack is away.

NAHS: Keep pets safe while on vacation

By Angie Wood March 12, 2012 5:38PM

Heading out of town for a long-awaited vacation takes a lot of planning. If you’re a pet owner, you have the added task of ensuring that Heathcliff or Sasha is fed, exercised and well cared for while the rest of the pack is away.

As stewards of the cats and dogs under our care, we at NAHS are well aware that an individual pet’s temperament, personality and social skills need to be taken into account when determining the best environment for him. Some cats and dogs enjoy being around other pets, while others are stressed by changes to daily routines. Whether you decide to board your pet or use the services of a pet sitter, choose the option that best suits your pet.

Boarding facilities

Boarding a pet might conjure images of chain-link runs and outdoor kennels. While those places still exist, many of today’s facilities offer more open environments that encourage group play. At Paws in Time, the basic accommodations include an individual room with a cot and a clear door for visual stimulation.

For more “deluxe” accommodations, child-sized beds and even TVs are provided.

During the day, Paws in Time offers cage-free play in a 20,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor facility that includes full-time supervision, toys and swimming pools in warmer months.

Paws in Time founder and head trainer Julie Nelson recommends boarding for dogs that are “social, energetic, and appreciate the ability to run around and get fresh air.” She believes that most dogs benefit from the exercise and interaction offered at a boarding facility, especially when they are trained to board.

“I encourage people to train their dogs to board,” Julie says. “Before you go on vacation, board your dog with us. Drop your dog off on a Tuesday, and pick him up on a Thursday. Do it again a month later. By the time the vacation rolls around, the pet is conditioned to know that when his toys, food and other items are gathered, he goes to Paws in Time or another facility, and then he is picked up and brought back home. When this becomes a habit, it eases separation anxiety for your pet, and he looks forward to his time away as well.”

She also suggests dropping dogs off a day before the vacation.

“When suitcases start appearing, and pet owners are focused on last-minute preparations, dogs sense our emotions and become very anxious.”

Before making a reservation, Paws in Time requires an onsite visit. Trained staff evaluate your pet’s temperament and ability to interact with other dogs.

If considering a facility for boarding, visit beforehand to check for cleanliness, staff friendliness, adequate ventilation, and the condition of the rooms or kennels and yards or play areas.

Any reputable boarding facility will require updated immunization records.

Many facilities, like Paws in Time, also provide grooming services. After a week of romping with her furry friends, Sasha may need a bath before she comes home.

For heavy travel times such as spring break, Julie recommends that pet owners make their reservation a year in advance. During other times, she suggests that pet owners reserve a spot when the trip itinerary is set.

Pet-sitting services

Another option for vacation care is hiring a professional pet sitter.

While dogs and cats of all breeds, sizes and energy levels benefit from pet sitting, the services are a good option for those pets that prefer staying in the comfort of their own homes.

There are two options for pet sitting services: pet sitters can visit the home a few times a day or can stay overnight to provide round-the-clock care while you’re away.

In addition to caring for your cat or dog, pet sitting services also give your home the appearance of being lived in. Before accepting reservations for pet sitting or house sitting, Out-U-Go! Naperville schedules an in-home meet and greet with both the pet and pet owner.

During this visit, Out-U-Go! sitters meet with your pet, learn about your dog or cat, and get a firsthand look at the pet’s daily routine.

Besides feeding, watering and providing treats for dogs and changing litter boxes for cats, Out-U-Go! will walk or play with your pets, bring in mail, alternate lights and water plants. Pet owners can schedule between two and five visits per day at 25, 45 or 60 minutes each.

Out-U-Go! also provides a “Doggy Diary,” personalized notes about your pet’s day.

“Pet sitting allows dogs and cats to stay in the comfort of their own home, eat out of their own bowls and sleep in their own beds,” says Aschley Hopkins Yanda, owner and top dog of Out-U-Go! Naperville. “We treat each pet like our own and offer personalized care to meet each furry family’s specific needs.”

Out-U-Go! accepts reservations by phone, email and even through its website.

Aschley says that Out-U-Go! is available to support same-day reservation requests to meet the changing needs of busy pet owners.

For more information about Paws in Time, go to, and for details about Out-U-Go! Naperville, go to


Angie Wood is executive director of the Naperville Area Humane Society.
Contact her at 630-420-8989. Visit