Any travel plans for the summer? Then what are you going to do with your pets? Finding safe places and people to care for pets is always an issue for pet owners. Fortunately, the Central Coast offers some great dog-friendly locations where you and your best friend can enjoy the day together. Before visiting a dog park or other pet-friendly location, be sure to check their website to familiarize yourself with the rules, fees and hours. Generally, dog parks do not allow aggressive animals, dogs in heat, dogs without owners, dogs who are not current on their vaccinations or unlicensed. Most parks require a small fee, usually paid on the honor system. And of course, clean up after your pet! Here’s a rundown of some of the cool places you and your pup can visit this summer:
- Del Mar Park, Morro Bay
- El Chorro Regional Park, San Luis Obispo
- Elm Street Dog Park, Arroyo Grande
- Cambria Dog Park, Cambria
- Heilmann Dog Park, Atascadero
- Laguna Lake Off-Leash Dog Park, San Luis Obispo
- Nipomo Park Off-Leash Area, Nipomo
- Sherwood Dog Park, Paso Robles
- Vineyard Dog Park, Templeton
If you and your pet crave a little more adventure, try one of the many hiking trails where leashed dogs are welcome. Lake Lopez, Lake San Antonia, Lake Nacimiento and Santa Margarita Lake are all dog-friendly spots where your well-behaved buddy can have fun. Most of the beaches on the Central Coast welcome leashed dogs, but there are some exceptions. For example, dogs are only welcome at Downtown Avila Beach before 9am or after 5pm. You may be fined for bringing a dog on the beach where it is prohibited, so do your homework. Olde Port Beach and Fisherman’s Beach, both in the Avila area, and a two-mile section of beach about 5 miles north of Morro Rock are some of the most popular off-leash spots.
Of course, taking your pet along for summer fun isn’t always practical or smart. If you’re in the market for a pet sitter the options can seem intimidating. Do you let a complete stranger come into your home to feed Tweetie or do you take your menagerie to a kennel? The best way to find the right care for your pets is to ask friends and family. Your vet may also be able to make a recommendation. Whether you prefer to board your pets at a kennel or hire a sitter, always take time to peruse the company’s website and check references—and not just the references posted on the site. Use public rating sites like Yelp to get a bigger picture. If you must go with the unknown, a few tips may help you feel more confident in your choice.
Interview questions for a pet sitter:
- What is your training? A veterinary technician or someone with some type of degree in animal care is preferable.
- How long have you been pet sitting? Follow this up by asking for confirmation. Who was their first client or how did they get started?
- Are you bonded and insured? Being bonded and insured protects you if the sitter has an accident or damages your property while you’re gone.
- Do you provide a contract? A contract should show you the exact list of services being provided.
- How many pets to you take care of at a time? A busy pet sitter might seem like one who is good at their job, but if they’re too busy your pets might not get the attention they need.
- Are you skilled in taking care of my type of pets? Rodents, birds, reptiles and other less common creatures may need special care. Just because someone is experienced with dogs doesn’t mean they will be great with chickens.
Tips for choosing a kennel:
- Make an appointment to visit the facility. Does it look and smell clean? Are you seeing positive interactions between the staff and the animals? Trust your gut, if it doesn’t look like the right place for your pets, it’s not.
- What is the hiring criteria for the staff? Is any sort of specialized training or on-site education required?
- Ask about the feeding schedule. Will they provide food and treats similarly to the way you do at home or do they adhere to a strict “one size feeds all” schedule?
- What happens in case of an emergency? If staff doesn’t know what to do in case of a natural disaster or if a pet gets sick, the facility may not be up to grade.
- Visit a second time—unannounced. Once you’ve narrowed down your selections, give the facilities at the top of your list a pop-in visit. If they don’t welcome surprise visitors, there may be something to hide.
- Prepare your pets for a visit. Start with short stays and build up to longer ones. Both you and your pets will feel better if everyone has the chance to get used to boarding before you take that long trip out of town.
- Once you find a kennel you and your pets both like, stay in practice. Even if you’re not going on vacation, keep your pets in the habit of boarding by making a reservation once or twice a year.
Living with pets impacts every part of a person’s life—mostly for the better! But travel is one of the true challenges of sharing life with animals. If you need to leave your pets for any reason, don’t feel guilty. With the right care they can still have fun without you.
Tammie is owned by two Shih Tzus who enjoy fine dining. Her favorite restaurants have outdoor seating and free bowls of water.