The hardest part of planning a vacation isn’t picking the perfect hotel or finding cheap airfare—it’s deciding what to do with the dog. You wish you could take them with you, but a vacation destination isn’t always the best place for your pup. When you’re going somewhere your dog can’t follow, you have to decide whether to send them to a boarding facility or trust a pet sitter with that important part of your family. It’s not an easy decision to make, and the right choice isn’t the same for every dog owner. We’re going to break down the good and the bad about each option to help you make your decision.
A decade ago, the average pet boarding facility had stained concrete floors, small kennels, and dogs spent their days looking out from behind chain link fences. These kinds of kennels got the job done, but today’s pet parents have spurred a new trend in dog boarding. Instead of those dank kennels, most present-day boarding facilities can be compared to luxurious doggy hotels.
Instead of cold floors, dogs sleep on comfy raised beds behind Plexiglas walls. Their large runs are climate controlled, and canine tenants have the option to socialize with other dogs and play with human friends. There are usually plenty of toys, not to mention paddling pools, agility equipment, and everything else dogs need to stay active, enriched, and entertained. Some facilities even offer extra amenities like grooming and doggy massages.
Special services typically cost extra, but dog owners love spoiling their pets while they’re away spoiling themselves. Kennels offer peace of mind that your dog is being taken care of by a team of professionals, but there are also drawbacks. Here are the major pros and cons:
- You know your dog is in a secure environment; it’s especially good for escape-artist dogs that could run away from an unsuspecting pet sitter.
- Most boarding centers have veterinary professionals on site in case of emergencies.
- Boarding can be loads of fun for dogs that enjoy playing with doggy friends and meeting new people.
- Diseases like kennel cough spread quickly even when the facility does their best to reinforce vaccination rules.
- Dogs have to adapt to the kennel’s schedule. This isn’t great for puppies new to training or senior dogs set in their ways.
- Nervous and anxious dogs get stressed easily when they’re away from home. Some get diarrhea or refuse to eat.
- Making sure your dog gets individual attention sometimes costs extra.
If you’re considering hiring a pet sitter, there’s flexibility about what kind of service you want. Most pet sitting takes place in your home, and the pet sitter either takes up temporary residence or makes frequent drop-in visits. For most dog owners, the live-in option offers the best kind of care and peace of mind.
Live-in pet sitters provide constant companionship for pets while families are away from home. They handle meal times, bathroom breaks, exercise, and everything else the dog needs. Pet owners explain their dogs’ daily routines, and pet sitters maintain that schedule to minimize the dog’s stress. This option is ideal for anxious dogs that prefer the comfort of a familiar environment. It’s also a good option for dogs that don’t get along with fellow canines.
The main drawback of hiring a pet sitter is finding someone you trust. Not only are you putting your dog’s well-being in their hands, you’re also trusting them with your house keys and codes. Being a pet sitter is an important responsibility, and finding someone who has experience with dogs, is willing to follow your dog’s daily routine, and won’t trash your house can turn into a time-consuming search. Consider these pros and cons:
- Dogs get to stay in their familiar environments, and it’s usually less stressful for them.
- Your dog will get the pet sitter’s full focus and receive plenty of personalized attention.
- Overnight pet sitters provide 24/7 care and supervision while some kennels leave dogs alone overnight.
- Having someone stay at your house deters trespassers, and pet sitters often include watering plants and collecting mail as part of their fee.
- Dogs that are protective or territorial won’t appreciate a pet sitter coming on to their property when you’re not home.
- It’s not easy finding someone you trust with both your dog and your house.
Deciding on either a boarding facility or pet sitter all depends on your individual dog and situation. Some dogs love when their families go on vacation because it means they get to go have fun at the boarding facility. They play with other dogs every day and enjoy games and toys they might not have at home. When their family comes to pick them up, they’re pleasantly tired and content.
There are other dogs, however, that can’t handle the stress of being separated from their families and placed in a foreign environment. They make themselves sick with worrying and spend their days at the kennel being scared and unhappy. Dogs that don’t like other dogs can be given individualized play sessions at the kennel, but for some, even the smell of other dogs nearby can put them on edge. They’re much happier at home knowing they’re top dog.
Before you make your final decision, think about your dog’s personality and how they handle time away from you. Whichever option you pick, your dog deserves to spend your vacation safe and comfortable.