Of course it’s preferable to bring your dog with you when you travel, but sometimes that is not possible. In those situations, you’re probably considering hiring a pet sitter or boarding your dog at a trusted kennel. But which is the best option? There’s no universal answer — but knowing your pet, and their specific needs can help you make the right choice for them.
Boarding versus pet sitting
There are clear differences to consider when deciding between a sitter and a kennel. Boarding your dog means checking them into a trusted kennel with the expectation of 24hr care — like a hotel, but for pets. A pet sitter, on the other hand, comes to your home to take care of your dog’s needs. In many cases, pet sitters will actually stay at your home while you’re away for round-the-clock dog care as well. Or you may even bring your dog to a trusted family member’s home to be looked after.
Some dogs do better with boarding while other dogs are more comfortable staying at home or with a family member. It all depends on the dog.
When boarding is better
If your dog is young, especially if they are a puppy, boarding is often the best option. With people on staff at all hours, you’ll rest easy knowing they’re getting plenty of potty breaks, attention, and social time to keep them well stimulated. Boarding is also better if you have a dog who may get destructive when you’re away. Twenty-four-hour attention from experienced professionals can be really helpful if your dog suffers from separation anxiety.
When pet sitting is better
If you have multiple dogs, or dogs and cats, a pet sitter might be a better fit. Dogs who are used to being around other pets typically prefer to have their companion animals with them. If you board them, your dog and cat won’t be together, and they may feel lonely. Allowing your dog to stay in familiar surroundings can prevent stress, and keep them in their regular routine.
Whether you choose to board or hire a dog sitter, do your homework. Make sure the boarding kennel has a good record. Similarly, do as much research as you can about the pet sitter. After all, this person will have access to your home and the welfare of your dog will be in their hands. Check review sites and social media to see what other people are saying. Ask for references and make sure they’re insured and bonded.
Also, take precautionary measures in case a problem arises. For both the sitter and kennel you should leave the phone number of your veterinarian and have at least one backup contact who can help manage any unexpected issues. For example, if your pet sitter must attend to a personal emergency, or if delays in your travels lead you to miss pick up time at the kennel. That backup person can be helpful in a pinch.