Michigan Humane Society

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Ask the Behaviorist: Home Alone

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Check out the Michigan Humane Society blog on Wednesdays to see common pet behavior questions answered by our Senior Director of Operations and pet behavior expert, CJ Bentley. If you have an immediate behavior concern with your pet, please call a qualified trainer or behaviorist! If you have a non-urgent question you would like answered on the blog, you can comment here or email us at mail(at)michiganhumane.org.

Senior Director of Operations CJ Bentley and her adopted dog, Rogue

Senior Director of Operations CJ Bentley and her adopted dog, Rogue

“I have a 3 year old Shih Tzu who is very attached to me. He’s ok when I go out but I’m planning a trip out of town for a week and plan on leaving him home alone instead of boarding him. My next door neighbor will be coming over to spend time with him and take him for his daily walk and to feed him everyday. I will leave a light on for him so he won’t be in the dark. Do you think this is okay or should I just board him. I really don’t see the difference. This way he will be in the comfort of own surroundings. What do you think?”

Awwwwwwww…loyal doggie love is the very best isn’t it? Glad to hear he’s ok when you leave. Sounds like a pretty well-balanced fellow. Nice.

The decision you make is really what’s best for your particular dog. Does he like other dogs? Does he like meeting new people? If he’s a very social guy who enjoys being in a more “busy” environment a boarding kennel may be the way to go. But if he’s more the peaceful type, he may very well prefer to be home. It all depends on his personality.

My favorite place to board my guy when I leave for bit is Canine College in Farmington Hills. You can check out their website at: http://www.caninecollegemi.com. The nice thing about them is that you get your first “trial” visit for free to see how your doggy does. They provide you with a report card and can tell you if your dog made friends and seemed to enjoy himself…or not. There’s even an app for your phone that you can get so you can check in on him during your time away. And they are very nice to those of us who worry…I call them all the time to check on my guy and they are VERY helpful and kind. I get a nice report at the end of his stay letting me know how he ate, who he played with, if he behaved, etc.

That’s the choice I make. But again, the decision is really yours based on your particular dog. If you feel your neighbor is able to spend enough time making sure he’s exercised and he’ll be okay sleeping on his own (silly, that’s just something I worry about…although we have already established that I’m worrier so there’s that!) then quite possibly home is where he’d rather be. Lots of people make the decision to leave their dog at home. And for some dogs that’s absolutely the right thing to do. Too bad he can’t just tell you what he’d prefer, right?

And that’s the thing about being “pet parents.” It’s up to us to decide what’s best for our four-legged family members. Whatever you decide, you are doing it with his best interest in mind and you can’t really ask for more than that.

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