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Doggie Dilemma - Dog Boarding or Dog Sitting Services

Updated on September 6, 2013

Pet owners question which service to use: dog boarding or dog sitting?

Every summer and every trip out of town the same problem pops up. What do I do with the dogs? Now, it was bad when I just had one or two dogs, got worse with three and four, and by five and six it became quite a problem. Do I take the dogs to a boarding kennel or do I hire a pet sitting service? As far as I'm concerned, there are pros and cons to both.

Look at that photo of Waco, my Great Pyrenees, and Charlie the Pug. I ask you: What do you think I should do? I can tell you those two think they should come along. Can you see me trying to stuff a 130 lb Great Pyrenees into a cute pink dog carrier? Like that's going to happen anytime soon.

Charlie, on the other hand, sees no problem. He's small, about 12 lbs. He'll fit in a carrier easy. But try to sneak him into a motel that won't take pets. He snuffles, snores, and snorts all night long. And I could go on. The problem is I've tried both in the past and I'm really not sure which is better. So I'd like to hear from others. What are your experiences? How do you feel about boarding dogs at kennels? Have you used a pet sitting service and how did it turn out? Essentially, what do you do?

Image Credits.All photographs in this article are provided by Vikk Simmons 2000-2011 with all rights reserved.

Teddy is anxious about all this talk of kennels, pet sitters, and dog boarding.

Teddy is anxious about all this talk of kennels, pet sitters, and dog boarding.
Teddy is anxious about all this talk of kennels, pet sitters, and dog boarding.

What To Do With the Dog(s) During Vacations and Trips? - Help reduce Teddy's anxiety: Dog Boarding or Pet Sitting?

Would you board your dog(s) or hire a pet sitting service?

I would board my dogs.

I would board my dogs.

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    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I would never under any circumstance abandon my puppies and cats in the house and let some stranger come into their territory and throw food at them. Getting someone to come to your house is the cheap way out. Find the right kennel, always inspect and get a feel for the owners. Not all kennels are lovely but the majority are holiday havens for dogs and cats where they finally feel they have found their "pack". I was stupid enough to employ a woman from an apparent reputable agency as a house sitter specializing in animal care. I came home early to discover she had actually had a party in the house and had literally gone thru every drawer in my house. I had called a few hours ahead when I was on my way home and could clearly see that she had attempted to clean up. Before this a neighbors up the road had her son come feed the cat. He "forgot" and she came home to a dead cat. So remember before you judge just think how ur baby feels. Being all alone with no one, no friends, abandoned by his pack, with some stranger coming into his home. At least in a kennel they are safe, fed, and excited at the prospect of making new friends with dogs, trying new foods, new walks and new experiences. An remember when you pay for boarding you pay for what you get. Board in family owned, council approved, tax paying kennels with years of experience and good reviews online. And for people who dump the dog on neighbors. Maybe they would like you to board it rather than lumping this huge responsibility on them. Making them walk on eggshells incase the animal gets out, gets sick or rips ur house up! Don't cheap out! Book a kennel! No excuse!

    • Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

      Since you ask what do I do, I will jump on this side of the board. We still board our dogs, but I would much rather have a pet sitter. It is really hard to find someone trustworthy though.

    • Lisa Marie Gabriel 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      It very much depends on the dogs. I don't have a dog now though. On the whole I would go with boarding as dogs are less territorial than cats. I have to say that with rescue persian cats, separate holidays have to be the order of the day though. They have serious abandonment issues!

    • Jess Mahler 6 years ago from Lehighton, PA

      I don't have dogs right now, but my parents always boarded theirs. After a few vacations she got to know the people at the boarding place and seemed to enjoy visiting them.

    • Carol 6 years ago from Arkansas

      I've done both but I have found a dog boarding place that they really do well at and I trust them so most of the time, that's my choice. Sometimes we have asked family or friends to help out but it seems such an imposition since we live way out in the country.

    • BunnyFabulous 6 years ago from Central Florida

      My dog always loved being boarded because he got spoiled. Was a lot cheaper too.

    • Nancy Tate Hellams 6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      We are boarding our Bruno for the first time next week.

    • miaponzo 6 years ago

      I think boarding would be better... ie. safer.. :)

    • Sandy Mertens 6 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      My dog use to go to my sister-in-law's house, but since she moved to a farm we have had to board him. I really hate boarding him and have considered pet sitting but it isn't cost effective.

    • GiftsBonanza 6 years ago

      I use a kennel if it is for more than a few days... the people at the boarding kennel spoil him rotten!

    I think a pet sitting service is the best way to go.

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      • dja555 3 years ago

        I personally prefer a pet-sitter. My dogs have never been kept in any sort of a kennel accept when going to the groomer. My Cocker will tolerate a kennel, but my Chihuahua would be devastated. I believe when you have the correct pet sitter your pets and home will be safe. That is why you must really screen the service whether it be a kennel or a sitter.

      • dja555 3 years ago

        I personally prefer a pet-sitter. My dogs have never been kept in any sort of a kennel accept when going to the groomer. My Cocker will tolerate a kennel, but my Chihuahua would be devastated. I believe when you have the correct pet sitter your pets and home will be safe. That is why you must really screen the service whether it be a kennel or a sitter.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        Working at a doggie Daycare and cage-less boarding facility, we see many dogs that are not used to the social aspect of interaction whether it be with people or other dogs. We work with these dogs and have the owners bring them in for play and to become better adjusted to the facility. These can only be dogs that are good with other dogs, something that is not always the case! Dogs whom are not good with other dogs may go to a kennel, which is fine assuming they are getting enough exercise and interaction. Ideally every dog would be comfortable at a kennel, or boarding facility. This is not the way the world works. I have also done pet sitting and dog walking and believe this is a good if not the best choice for some dogs. Many kennel will only do so many walks a day (if you are lucky) or charge extra for services like interacting with the pets staying. I say forgo these places, as they are not trained to understand the health issue or behavior concerns that can arise. Many times dogs who are not confident or are fearful will not to well in a kennel situation and the home is a safe and comfortable and a much better choice. Since most dogs are under socialized, I think pet sitting is the better choice over boarding, unless it is a socailly stimulating facility.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        leave him with a family member

      • Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

        Either boarding or a pet sitting service would be fine. I think when you have more dogs then a pet sitting service may be more economical.

      • jayhiattinfo 5 years ago

        over the years of being around animals and boarding dogs i have come to see that kenneling your dog is a horrible idea a lady that has changed the dog boarding indusry in utah is amy hiatt with www.slcdogsitter.com a great way of people in utah to use cageless dog boarding

      • darciefrench lm 6 years ago

        When I had more than one dog, I never went anywhere. We didn't even leave them alone for a few hours in the day. I was very attached to my pets -:)

      • Joan4 6 years ago

        We much prefer that our dogs stay in their own home. Thankfully our adult children live nearby and are willing to help take care of them.

      • Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

        better they stay in their own home

      • sheilamarie78 6 years ago

        Sometimes a neighbour will care for your dog and take him for walks, especially if the dog already knows them. I have done this for friends before.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        I think they do better at home if possible. We have two poms and have been fortunate to have exchanged dog sitting with neighbors. We did look into a kennel, in case, but have lucked out so far. Several times we've been able to hire family members to come in. I know it would all be more difficult with six.

      • NoYouAreNot 6 years ago

        Neither, up to know. Family live close by and they feed and keep an eye on our animals. Then, when they're away, it's our turn to look after theirs.

      • Julia M S Pearce 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

        I used to have a friend look after my dog when going away somewhere.I don't think she would have liked dog boarding situation.

      • happynutritionist 6 years ago

        My dog would not do well being taken somewhere other than home, and even with pet sitting, misses us terribly...but that's my preferred choice if necessary. We have family to help now. When she was younger and less nervous, we'd sometimes take her along. She's a small dog and sometimes co-lensmaster, Aspen the Yorkie.

      Teddy and Riley Speak Dog
      Teddy and Riley Speak Dog

      The Pros and Cons of Dog Boarding

      Dog kennels have changed over the years into dog boarding facilities

      Over the years I've boarded dogs at several reputable dog kennels. For years I only left my dog at my vet's. They would board animals while clients went on trips or vacations and this seemed like a good idea.

      Given that Riley, my current Cocker Spaniel, is quite the communicator, I'm sure boarding my dogs makes for happy neighbors. With no one else to talk to but the other dogs, Riley will make it his business to entertain them all day and all night long. He is not shy when it comes to dog talk.

      To do that, Riley has a series of special barks. There's a high alert bark that is used when he wants to go outside. There is a little lower, more repetitious bark that is used when Charlie the Pug and Waco the Great Pyrenees cut him out of their playing--yes, that happens quite a lot. And then there's his happy bark plus squeal when he pounces on his current favorite rock. (He's the rockhound in the family and is the proud owner of a large river rock collection.) Somehow I don't think the kennel crew will get up to speed on Riley-Talk quick enough.

      Image Credits.All photographs in this article are provided by Vikk Simmons 2000-2011 with all rights reserved.

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      goDog Flats 770600 Lamb Mama Plush Dog Toy

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      Boarding and care tips for dogs

      Here are a few things I consider when it comes to dog boarding kennels or facilities.

      • The dogs are kept in kennels or large contained areas and usually limited to 2-3 walks or exercise times a day. While many kennels offer additional playtimes, it costs more.
      • The dogs are looked after all day by a variety of staff members so there's no worry that someone might not show up. It's nice to know that there are people checking in on the dogs regularly.
      • The dogs are enclosed, although separate, with many other dogs so there's a high level of noise. For Riley, my Cocker Spaniel, and Freddie, my Maltese, the high noise level might make it harder for them to settle down.
      • The dogs are usually required to have the Bordatella vaccination before being allowed into the kennels. That's for the dog's safety because of kennel cough but it is an additional expense.
      • The dogs can now usually be boarded together at some of the dog boarding facilities by taking advantage of the larger areas or "rooms." Although I will usually have to break them up into one "room" with the 3-4 little ones and one "room" for the bigger dogs, Waco and Riley.
      • The dog boarding costs are pretty high so going out of town for even a few days can be expensive, especially if you use the newer model dog boarding facilities.

      Waco, Riley, Teddy, and Freddie pose for photos
      Waco, Riley, Teddy, and Freddie pose for photos

      The Pros and Cons of Pet Sitting Services

      Pet sitter friend or pet sitting services?

      As my canine crew increased I began to look at pet sitting services. Of course the most common route is to ask a friend or family member to take care of the dog(s). But then you have to wonder at their level of commitment. Will they really come when they should and will they stay as long as you have asked them to? It's easy for someone else to slough off the responsibility and "forget" to check on the dogs.

      That means the other option is to hire a professional pet sitter. But that comes with its own questions, concerns, and responsibilities. Do you really want to leave the key to your house with a stranger?

      Here are a few of my concerns and questions when it comes to pet sitters.

      Image Credits.All photographs in this article are provided by Vikk Simmons 2000-2011 with all rights reserved.

      • What's their history with dogs? Do they like dogs? Have they owned dogs themselves?
      • Do they have references? If I can find a sitter who's worked for any of my friends or family members, that's a plus. If not, I want to be able to call and talk to the people they have worked for before.
      • What exactly are they willing to do? What are the services they offer and do they charge extra? I want them to spend some time with my dogs, walk my dogs, feed my dogs, and give them some special one-on-one time. Will all this be spelled out in a contract?
      • Are they bonded? Are they insured? If I'm going to turn over my house key this is a major deal-breaker.

      What's Your Experience with Dog Boarding Kennels or Sitters? - Take the poll and help me decide.

      Feel free to comment about whether your experience was good or bad and why.

      How have you handled the dog/pet question when you've vacationed or gone out of town?

      See results

      Why I wrote this article - RM's Spring Session: Week 6 - Help Me Decide Week!

      This article came out for a couple of reasons. One, I'd never written about this subject and it's been on my mind for a long, long time. And two, the RocketMoms group on Squidoo issued a weekly challenge which seemed to dovetail with this question. I've included a few links in case you're interested in seeing what others have done for this challenge. Our articles are posted on the blog, the Facebook page and the Squidoo compilation lens.

      Image Credits.All photographs in this article are provided by Vikk Simmons 2000-2011 with all rights reserved.

      Share your concerns, your advice or just say hello! - I love to hear from my readers.

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        • profile image

          dogwalkerscity 5 years ago

          Dog walkers and sitters could also list their services on sites like http://www.dogwalkerscity.com

        • Cinnamonbite profile image

          Cinnamonbite 5 years ago

          Every time I think about getting a dog, I think how we could never go anywhere anymore. Cats and the rabbit are so much easier. Under no circumstances would I allow a stranger free reign of my home so that's right out. Dogs catch so many diseases at a kennel. No-win situation.

        • retta719 profile image

          Loretta 5 years ago from United States

          For our dog who was a rescue, he is very intimidated by kennels and people he doesn't know, he will get scared and hide or run away, won't eat, won't drink, etc.... For that reason we either take him with us or have someone he is familiar with dog sit. Because of his situation he is safer and more comfortable having someone come to the house and be with him than to go to a boarding location.

        • simplyoasis profile image

          simplyoasis 6 years ago

          Nice lens, I have never used a kennel service nor would I but simply because I'm frugal. I'm not one of those ppl who treat their dog like there child, I had have enough children all ready. Having said that I think if put in the position to need one or the other I would have a family/friend come feed/water my animals daily.

        • Sylvestermouse profile image

          Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

          This is a great subject and one all pet parents have to face from time to time. I would love to have a pet sitter, but I simply cannot find anyone in our area that I could leave the keys t my home with while I am out of town. Not only that, my sister uses a pet sitter and the crazy guy let her dog out the front door. They have never found him (the dog) and my sister was 400+ miles away when the pup was lost. She was frantic and couldn't do a thing.

        • dannygator7790 profile image

          dannygator7790 6 years ago

          I used to work as a vet tech so I had to take care of a lot of the boarding dogs and am pretty comfortable with the way they're treated. So I'm fine with boarding if I like the vet and their facility.

        • Monika Weise profile image

          Monika Weise 6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

          I hate the thought of doing either -- thanks for explaining both so well.

        • profile image

          Joan4 6 years ago

          It's really nice, too, when there are teenagers living nearby, who are willing to take care of our animals when we are gone.

        • profile image

          anonymous 6 years ago

          very helpful lens as we just bought a new puppy

        • Richard-H profile image

          Richard 6 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

          I don't have dogs, but if I am away for a long period, my cats get boarded. Always nice to be assured that your pets are being looked after well.

        • balancebydesign4u profile image

          Carol 6 years ago from Arkansas

          Good topic. It's always such a dilemma when we travel, which is often. And we also have 2 horses that need feeding/watering. Very expensive. But I love my animals and wouldn't get rid of them for anything.

        • Vikk Simmons profile image
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          'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

          Thanks to all who are leaving comments. Judge Judy has a pet sitter on who left muscle relaxers out and the dog ate them. Skyrocketing vet bills and a euthanized dog. Horrors.

        • annieangel1 profile image

          Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

          great lens

        • sheilamarie78 profile image

          sheilamarie78 6 years ago

          We are currently without a dog because of the need to travel. It would be nice . . .

        • Vikk Simmons profile image
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          'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

          @miaponzo: Thanks! Some of the new facilities are pretty cool but it is expensive.

        • Vikk Simmons profile image
          Author

          'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

          @RhondaAlbom: I have several friends who've made the same choice. I somehow managed to go without a dog for nearly ten years due to my work schedule but I definitely missed them.

        • RhondaAlbom profile image

          Rhonda Albom 6 years ago from New Zealand

          Great debate. We made a different choice, we travel a lot, so we have no pets.

        • profile image

          miaponzo 6 years ago

          Thanks! Great lens!!!! I have never had to board, but that is what I would choose :)

        • SandyMertens profile image

          Sandy Mertens 6 years ago from Frozen Tundra

          With as many dogs as you have, I would say a dog sitter is the best choice.

        • jmsp206 profile image

          Julia M S Pearce 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

          If you dogs are socialized I really thing they would love to be together in a boarding kennel for dogs . After they get over saying goodbye to you I think they will have a ball. What a lovely family of beautiful dogs.

        • Vikk Simmons profile image
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          'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

          @SusanDeppner: I definitely prefer home. But when Hurricane Rita came through I had to board my four dogs--at the time--to give room for my elderly parents and their two cats in the back seat. :) Now that was chaotic and worrisome.

        • Vikk Simmons profile image
          Author

          'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

          @Wednesday-Elf: Right now I have a friend who helps me around here and helps take care of my mom. She has vet office experience which is great and sometimes is able to stay and care for both my mom and the dogs. That is a real blessing when it happens.

        • Vikk Simmons profile image
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          'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

          @GiftsBonanza: Thanks! Over the years I've tried several different ways and it's still a quandry. :)

        • SusanDeppner profile image

          Susan Deppner 6 years ago from Arkansas USA

          Oh, I feel your pain - and I only have one dog now! I have two elderly cats, though. In the past we've had neighbors take care of the pets. That's no longer a good solution, so hopefully if we have to be gone, one of our sons can stay here and take care of things. Fortunately, I prefer to stay home. Great topic. Wish I had a better answer for both of us!

        • Wednesday-Elf profile image

          Wednesday-Elf 6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

          I can see that there are pros and cons to each option when finding someone to care for your dog(s). In your case, with six, I'd think the best option would be to have a trusted person 'move in' to your house to be with the dogs 24/7 while you're gone. A 'dog nanny', if you will. :-).

          My brother's girlfriend has been a dog sitter for quite some time (she has two dogs of her own, plus 2 cats). She sometimes just goes over several times a day to feed, walk, play with her charge. Other times she 'housesits' for the dog owner, which includes taking care of the dog(s). A couple times the 'dog' has come to stay at her house and loves playing with her dogs! :-).

        • profile image

          GiftsBonanza 6 years ago

          Great overview of the options available... it is such a hard decision to make... harder than any of the holiday plans!

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