This is the time of the year that most people take a vacation. What do you do with your pets when you want to go away? Very few people take them with them but it’s not unheard of. Most people, however, make other arrangements for their “furkids.” Many years ago, I had boarded a dog or two but then I discovered pet sitters who came to my house and this is my choice when I need to be away for any length of time. That said, dog boarding has come a long way since I tried it years ago. Let’s take a look at the two options.
Some of today’s more innovative boarding kennels use the most up to date equipment and procedures for the comfort of your dog. Most boarding facilities will have indoor/outdoor runs for your dogs. Very few put dogs in crates at night unless they are staying at your veterinarians. Many of the boarding kennels with the indoor runs have a cot for the dog to lie on. Many of the outdoor runs are covered to protect them from the elements. The majority of the runs are made of cement flooring for easy cleaning.
When considering boarding your dog you should always check the facility for cleanliness and check to see how the place smells. Some of the things you should discuss with the owner is: that your dog has fresh, clean water available to him, that he will be fed on the schedule that you feed him (1 time a day or 2), if your animal needs to be on a special diet, (you should bring your dogs food so it’s not changed), ask if there is someone on duty at all times, and ask about the veterinarian services. I would bring my dog a few toys from home and a blanket to lay on in the indoor run so he has something familiar with him.
Some boarding kennels have a great new service. For an extra charge some dogs will have their own “special” room with a camera. The owner of the dog is given a special code that he uses to go on the internet and he can watch his dog anytime that he’s in the room. My sister did this with her dog one year when she came to visit me. I watched her dog barking when he was left alone, pacing the room or peacefully sleeping. I think this is a great idea to help give you peace of mind.
Also some of these newer facilities offer play time for your dog. The dog's with the good temperaments and who are friendly with other dogs are allowed a supervised play time with the other dogs. It gives them the much needed exercise and interaction with other animals and people. Some facilities will also walk your dog. Check with the establishment before hand and to also give your permission to do these things with your dog.
Some of the kennels will bathe and groom your dog for you before you pick him up so check to see if this is something they offer if you’re interested. Some of them do it free of charge.
A dog sitter is a person or persons who come to your house to take care of your animals. Some come in at designated times of the day and evening and some stay overnight. The dog sitter will come to your house a few days before you leave to get acquainted with your dogs and to go over everything that needs to be done. They’ll feed the dogs and provide water to them, they’ll clean the dog runs and put them away at night if this is what you want done. I let the dog sitter know if there are any particular things that they need to know about each dog. They are supplied all the important telephone numbers……not unlike what you would do if you had a baby sitter come in to take care of your children.
I have never been disappointed when I had someone come in to dog sit with my animals. I call the sitter several times a week to check to see that everything is alright. Most of the time that I’ve boarded my dogs, I was happy, except sometimes they would have a “kennel” smell to them which I didn’t like. It indicated to me that perhaps they didn’t clean the kennel as much as they should have. But this was rare.
There are advantages and disadvantages with each of these methods. The advantage of the boarding kennel is that MOST of the time there is someone there with the dogs. Some of the newer kennels have that camera that I mentioned earlier. The disadvantages are that the dog is taken from his own environment and this can be very upsetting to him.
The advantage of the dog sitter in your home is that the dog never has to leave what is familiar to him. The disadvantage: the dogs can become very territorial to strangers coming on their property, that’s why you MUST introduce the dogs before hand to the pet sitter. Also most sitters do not stay overnight so your animals are left alone until the next morning. Remember when someone pet sits, you are allowing a stranger to come into your home. Make sure that they are bonded.
So which ever one you choose for your dogs, do your research on the facilities or the people who come in to your home. Get references on the people who you entrust to take care of your beloved pets. Make sure you get a contract to know what they are responsible for and what they’re not responsible for.
Leaving our dogs is never an easy thing to do, but sometimes it’s a necessity and we want to do the best by them and cause them the least amount of stress.
Prices may vary where you live so check before hand because it will be different with each place you call. Boarding can run $25 a day and up and house sitters can be quite a bit more expensive than this because of the traveling they have to do to come to your house a few times a day.
My rating: Boarding kennels: cleanliness: (3), safety: (3), reliability: (4)
Pet sitters: cleanliness: (4), safety: (3), reliability: (4)