THE PEOPLE IN YOUR DOG’S ENVIRONMENT

Let’s say you’re going to be traveling and will be leaving your dog at a boarding facility. Or perhaps someone’s going to stay at your home to pet-sit in your absence, or simply come by a few times a day to walk him, feed him, and pay him some attention.

No matter what the situation, it’s imperative that you leave good contact information so the dog sitter has the best chance of reaching you should an emergency arise. Equally important is leaving information and instructions should you not be found.

Apprise the people taking care of your dog in your absence of any medical conditions he has and what to watch out for. In addition, leave instructions for what to do in the event of the unexpected. It’s extremely difficult for someone else to make the decision to put your dog to sleep.

Perhaps you want to put a dollar amount on it. If the bill reaches $X, they have your permission to let the dog go. Or maybe you want the caretaker to make the decision after receiving input from a veterinarian you know and trust. Maybe it’s about hospitalization. Your dog has kidney disease but has been able to remain at home, yet when the only way to keep him alive is at the clinic, it’s time to put him down.

The more specific you can be, the better the chance your dog has of being treated according to your wishes should you be unavailable to make decisions yourself. “Here’s his food; I’ll see you a week from Thursday” is not enough for a dog getting on in years.

The people who care for your older dog in your absence are not the only ones in his environment warranting special consideration. Newcomers to your household will affect your friend as well.

If There’s a Baby in the House . . .

Maybe the newcomer is a newborn. Is certain ways, a geriatric dog will be easier with a new baby than a younger dog. Inquisitiveness tends to lessen in a dog’s older years, so he won’t be as likely to get in your way as you tend to the little one.

That said, never leave the baby and the dog alone together, in case the dog’s predatory instinct gets the better of him (it has happened in extremely rare cases), or he tries to nuzzle the infant in a well-meaning gesture but is too rough in his affection.

Keep in mind that an older dog is going to be relatively set in his ways, and it will be harder to maintain his routine when you feel exhausted from the 2:00 A.M. feedings. Try as hard as you can to make sure he’s walked and fed according to his usual schedule, so he does not see the addition to the family as an unwelcome intruder.

A comforting routine will make him less inclined to mind the baby’s touching his toys and clumsy attempts at petting once crawling and toddling get underway.