Sarah Wilson

Dog Expert

Going On Vacation: Bring, Board or Babysit Dogs with Separation Anxiety


It is hard for many of us to leave our dog and extra hard to leave dogs with separation anxiety. Where do you leave him? What is the safest, least potentially damaging option?

Counter-intuitively to many, it is usually boarding your dog. And here’s why: If you leave him at home and hire a pet sitter, you run a big risk of escalating his anxiety whenever you leave the house in the future. Now he knows that sometimes you actually do not return at night and knowing this can skyrocket his concerns.

Why not bring him along? Sometimes you can if you are, say, camping and he is with you 24/7 (all day, everyday). But leave your SA dog alone in a new and unknown location and expect him to panic beyond what he does at home.

So, the best choice? Board him. “Why,” you ask, “he will be so frightened and upset!” True, he may well be but that fear and upset will be triggered by that location – not by being at home or left in a motel.

If your dog is social and friendly, you can leave him at a facility that offers group play, which might go a long way to releasing any of his tension and letting him have a fine time. He may actually learn how to accept crating at “camp” when it is done on schedule, in a matter-of-fact way and when he is truly tired.

If the kennel is an indoor/outdoor run set-up, ask for a “covered run” (one with a secure top on it) if your dog has any potential to climb. Better safe than sorry.

Now go – plan a vacation and enjoy. Your dog will survive the experience and may even be better for it. That would be a win/win for all concerned.


  1. My medium sizes dog is paralyzed in her back legs for about 3 years now. She cant go the 8 hrs plus travel time that im at work without going to the bathroom and ends up dragging herself through it. So when the weather is comfortable I bring her and my small god with me. I have her wheelchair in the trunk and walk them on my lunch break. She has the back seat and the small dog has the front separated by a baby gate. Big dog in a cone because she chews on the paralyzed back legs. I have a thermometer set up to ensure comfortable temps.
    Recently I had dinner with a friend and came out after 3 hours to a confrontation with police. I had the windows closed and it was 64° in my car. They said locking my dogs in the car constitutes cruelty to animals. That they were putting me on a watch list and will arrest me the next time they find the dogs in my car.
    Is this cruelty? If not, what are acceptable temp ranges?

    • Sounds like you are being as careful as you can be in a tough situation but… you’ll never convince people of that. Also, local laws are local laws so you may not have recourse. A letter from your vet might help but no guarantee.

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