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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?

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.

Nitey Night Sherpa Sleep Toy for Dogs

goDog Flats 770600 Lamb Mama Plush Dog Toy
goDog Flats 770600 Lamb Mama Plush Dog Toy
Every dog deserves his own little sleep sheep to snuggle into during the night.

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.


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