Vaccinations, dog boarding, and pet sitting, what is wrong with this picture?
Joyce Kesling, CDBC
September 15, 2009
The above blog is worth reading, especially if you are concerned and/or need additional information concerning vaccination requirements for your pet. In many instances, boarding facilities arbitrarily require yearly vaccinations; however, this may be contrary to the real needs of your pet.
Unfortunately, this is a very sensitive subject, and not just for pet owners aware of the issue; many of us may qualify our veterinarians based on this awareness. However, many pet owners aren’t aware of the issue and perhaps blindly without question continue to vaccinate their dogs on a yearly schedule and/or do this out of need for boarding/kenneling mandates.
I discuss this issue http://www.responsibledog.net/choose_a_kennel.html and recommend based on evaluating several key pieces of literature that suggest this requirement should be made on an individual basis, not arbitrarily and routinely, as has been the past. When issues of boarding mandate your dog require specific vaccinations, you should consult with your veterinarian for advice. However, at the same time, you should be armed with knowledge that enables you to discuss the matter openly so that you and your veterinarian make the best decision for your individual pet/s.
Additional concerns might include when boarding includes socialization/play time. You should want qualified staff actually educated in dog training and/or behavior overseeing the facility; in addition, you want to know how well supervision is provided. Another issue of importance often ignored is cleaning up pet waste and why, this is covered in my paper referenced above. Finally, one should evaluate the mental and physical needs of one’s dog. This means understanding stress and exercise constraints. Stress in dogs has been studied and analyzed and applies to boarding situations, here is an excerpt from the paper cited earlier.
Is stress a consideration during boarding?
“Stress occurs when any demand is placed upon a dog that requires the dog to change or adjust” (Lindsay, 2000). For stress to occur events or situations do not have to be unpleasant, but rather any biological or psychological demand placed on an animal is capable of producing stress. There are certain amounts of healthy stress all animals are capable of adapting to, however chronic stress may lead to stress-related conditions. This is an important consideration when making your decision on how, where and under what conditions you will board your animals.
Stress-related hormonal changes occur during separation in a number of species. Tuber and colleagues (1996) studied dogs and found a “differential glucocorticoid (cortisol and corticosterone) response” occurs during five conditions of separation.
1. Alone in a novel environment
2. With a conspecific (another dog) in a novel environment
3. Alone in a familiar environment
4. With a human in a novel environment
5. With a conspecific (another dog) in a familiar environment.
The results of their study showed dogs left alone in novel environments had the highest level of cortisol output with the lowest level occurring in home kennels with a familiar conspecific. However, dogs tested in novel environments with a human companion had significantly lower cortisol levels when compared to dogs kept in the novel environment with a conspecific. These results lend support when considering your decision concerning your dog’s welfare when kenneling or boarding.
What exactly does my dog prefer?
According to these studies, dogs prefer the company of humans even in novel (unfamiliar) environments when compared to at home environments even with a familiar dog! What this means, is you may need to consider your dogs stress levels when using a pet sitter who only drops by on occasion and compared to a kennel alternative that not only meets your dogs need for dog socialization but also benefits from more human contact.
I recently wrote Pet Sitting Personal Attention or Madame Running Prostitution Business! after hearing a terrible story about a dog left in the care of a pet sitter. I had no idea dog owners were actually leaving dogs alone at home for 24-hour periods while paying a per visit charge, usually only 30 minutes. It was always my understanding pet sitting provided working owners a service by providing walks for midday exercise and/or opportunities to potty and especially for owners raising new puppies. It was my further understanding that pet sitting actually meant the pet sitter was actually staying at the owners home, what I require if it’s necessary for me to be out of town. It seems the business has morphed into what it is today, a drive by business coupled with employees, supposedly screened and in most instances little to no education in dog training and/or behavior.
This can create a serious welfare issue for dogs, leaving dogs locked up in kennels all day and night (to prevent destructive behavior) and/or leaving them loose seems neglectful considering individual dog needs (Tuber et al, 2006). Returning to the issue of vaccinations, if this is one of the reasons for deciding on this type of service, one might want to rethink that decision, there are those of us that fully recognize your needs, your pets, and concerns regarding vaccinations and still provide a safe environment for your pet.
Responsible Dog and Cat
Training and Behavior Solutions
Combining Art and Science for Training Animals
Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC
P.O. Box 15992
Sarasota, Florida 34277
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948
Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat 2009