Home > Pet News, Pet Sitting, Pet Topics > Dogs: Is Boarding Them The Best Option When You Are Away?

Dogs: Is Boarding Them The Best Option When You Are Away?


Being a pet sitter, I tend to be biased about who should care for your dog when you go on vacation. (People like me, of course!)

The reality is that many people assume that boarding their pet(s) is the ONLY option (or the BEST option) available to them. After all, what dog wouldn’t love to go someplace where they can play with other dogs? The truth is that not all pets do well in a boarding facility. Having someone in the facility 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, does not guarantee your pet will be safe or that your pet won’t be stressed.

Before you go on vacation, you need to determine if your dog is a good fit for a boarding kennel or would do better in your home with a pet sitter. So here are some questions to ask yourself…

– Is my dog easily stressed in new situations? Does he/she drool, pace, whine or pant excessively when in a new situation (such as a boarding kennel)?
– Does my dog have a special medication or multiple medications that need to be administered throughout the day or at specific times?
– Is my dog easily stressed around other dogs? Does he/she have issues with other dogs?
– Did my dog come from an animal shelter or similar facility? Was he/she stressed in this environment before I adopted him/her?
– Is my dog used to being at home with me or with another family member there most of the day? Is he/she most comfortable at home?
– Does my dog have behavioral issues that would make it difficult for a boarding facility to care for?

If you answered “Yes”, to any of these questions, then hiring a pet sitter may be your best option. Most dogs tend to be less stressed in a familiar environment (i.e., their home) and are more likely to be happier and healthier (no exposure to doggie illnesses) at home than in a boarding facility.

People worry that their dog will get too lonely while they are gone, but the truth is that in most households dogs stay home alone a good majority of the day. Even at a minimum of 3 visits a day and 3 walks a day, your dog may be getting more exercise and one-on-one attention than they get on a normal day.

I let my clients do the speaking for me and my profession. Over and over again I have heard the same comments from my clients (many of whom used to board their pets) – “What a surprise! Normally it takes my dog several days to re-acclimate after being boarded, but he was happy and acting normal right away!” or “My dog usually won’t acknowledge me for a few days after returning from being boarded, but this time she was happy to see me and didn’t seem stressed at all!”

Before you go on vacation, think about checking into local pet sitters in your area. Here are a few great directories:
PetSit USA
Pet Sitter’s International
Association of Pet Sitting Excellence
Professional Pet SItters of Minnesota

And, if you do decide to board your pet, do your research. Talk to other clients. Check the Better Business Bureau and/or Angie’s List to see if there have been complaints about the boarding facility. Ask them if they have ever had any pets die or get injured on their premises and why.

Then, make your decision.
Good luck!

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  1. May 26, 2010 at 11:00 PM

    Great tips for determining whether your dog can stand the stress of being boarded.

    I’ve noted that the kennel is evolving more into a spa-like environment, complete with pools, raised beds, and even TVs. I’m sure it does something for the humans, but I still think Fido would like to have a more personal setting that a pet sitter can provide.

    • Mel
      May 27, 2010 at 3:40 AM

      Thanks Rod! I think a boarding kennel can be a great option for some dogs, but not all do well in that setting. Some of the nicer ones are great and it’s awesome to see so many catering to a dog’s needs!

  2. September 29, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    Good to know that there are other options available! We usually get a house sitter, but if we are only planning on being away for one or two nights, I’d like to be able to have someone just take the dog. The cats and chickens would be fine for a day.

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