It’s fun for both people and their canine companions to go on trips. Traveling offers wonderful opportunities for dogs to explore and learn new things. However, there are times when you simply cannot take your pet with you. Maybe she is too young to travel or has anxiety issues, or maybe the place you are going to does not accommodate pets. The last thing you would want to happen is to leave your dog alone in the house or in the company of people who may not be able to take care of her properly. Thankfully, there are dog boarding services that can take over the care of your dog while you are away.

Many dog sitters offer a semi-professional service, wherein their business consists mainly of pet sitting. There are boarding facilities as well that combine veterinary and dog hotel services. And of course, there’s always your trusted vet, who may offer boarding services.

Finding the right dog boarding service can be daunting. Of course, you want a place where your dog is not only safe but also happy and fed. To narrow down your search, here are tips you can take.

Go to Your Trusted Vet

You know your vet and have a pretty good idea of how they deal with your pet. If your vet runs a clinic or works at a pet hospital, ask about possible dog boarding arrangements. Some veterinary clinics also have their own, which means you do not have to go very far to find a place for your dog to stay. If not, ask your vet if he/she can recommend a place for your pet.

Ask for Referrals

Referrals are often a good way to go if you want to find a trusted dog boarding facility. Ask friends and family members who have experienced getting their pet boarded before. Or, you could also ask people who go to the same vet as you. They could recommend a good boarding service for you to check out.

Dog Boarding or Dog Sitter?

Whether you choose a dog boarding service, like, or a sitter will really depend on your preferred arrangements for your dog. Typically, pet sitters will charge around $10 to $20 a day. Their job will usually consist of checking in on your pet several times a day. If you have a live-in arrangement with the sitter, such as in a home boarding, your pet will be living with them. A dog boarding service is more expensive, costing around $50 a day. Although you will pay more, keep in mind that your dog will have more access to other services. Depending on your dog’s needs, one option may be better for her. To determine if your dog will thrive with a sitter or with a boarding facility, here are some considerations you need to keep in mind.

Have your dog stay at a boarding facility if she:

– has no problems with unfamiliar people and other dogs
– is well-socialized and has no anxiety issues that will affect how she acts around new people and other dogs
– does not have separation anxiety
– can thrive in a new environment
– is healthy and has had her vaccines

Some Dogs are Better Suited With Pet Sitters. A more personal, one-on-one approach may be better for your dog if she:

– is aggressive toward strangers and other dogs
– is scared or timid around unfamiliar people
– has separation anxiety
– is uncomfortable in new environments
– is very young or too young to receive vaccines; has a medical condition or compromised immune system due to disease or other conditions

You should also consider other services available in a dog boarding facility that your dog might need. If your pup requires some medical care, for example, it will be safer to have her boarded at a facility where vet services can be administered.

Another key thing to remember is to make sure to arrange for your dog’s accommodations in advance. You need time to inspect the facility, talk to the staff, and ask questions. Furthermore, dog services tend to be busy during holidays, and if you plan to travel then, you need to make reservations at least 2 to 3 months before your trip.

Do Professional Memberships and Accreditations Matter?

Memberships and accreditations such as Pet Sitters International and the National Association of Prof. Pet Sitters are always welcome, and it is good to know that the person or facility you will be trusting with your dog is serious about the job. However, membership or accreditation may not always be a guarantee.

Keep in mind that membership is different from accreditation or certification. A private dog sitter, for example, can apply for membership to an organization provided they pay the required membership fees and comply with other requirements. Memberships often allow pet sitters to network with other member pet sitters and find learning opportunities in the industry. In short, a membership is beneficial to the pet sitter but may not necessarily offer any benefits to your pet.

An accreditation/certification, however, may require a type of training before it is granted. Training may consist of videos, online courses, or hands-on learning and testing.

As you can see, membership or certification is not always impressive. What matters is that you find a dog boarding service that is qualified, trained, experienced, and capable.

What to Ask Your Dog Boarding Facility

  • Will you allow me to inspect the areas where the dogs will be housed? (The facility must not only look clean and organized, but it should also smell clean.)
  • How big are the living spaces for the dogs based on their breed and size? Is the bedding provided? How much water and food are provided per dog?
  • Is the facility bonded and insured?
  • In case of an emergency, how do you handle the logistics and payment for veterinary services?
  • How many staff members are available for the dogs? (In general, there should be one staff for every 10 to 15 dogs.)
  • How many staff members are available 24/7? Is someone on-site at night?
  • Are the staff trained? What type of training do they receive?
  • What types of services do you offer?
  • Is there a veterinarian in-house or on-call? Do you work with a local veterinarian?
  • In common spaces, are dogs chosen by size, breed, age, or temperament? If not, do all dogs share the same space?
  • Is there a fenced-in area outdoors or indoors for dogs to exercise? Are they walked on leash individually?
  • Is the dogs’ living space temperature-controlled?
  • How often and how much will my dog be fed? What type of food will be served? Will you allow it if my dog brings her own food?
  • How will regular medications be handled by the staff if my dog needs them?
  • Is there an evacuation plan in case of an emergency? Can I review it?
  • Do you have a vaccination policy for dogs that use your facility?
  • Will you give me updates about my dog through photos, videos, text messages, and live video streams?

Take note of the kind of questions that the staff asks about your dog. The questions are necessary to assess how well your dog will do in the facility and to get to know her. Be wary if the facility does not even bother to know what your dog is like. The better boarding facilities carefully screen both you and your pet, asking about her personality, vaccinations, and medical history.

What You Should Ask Your Pet Sitter

  • What training have you completed?
  • Do you know how to perform animal CPR?
  • Do you have commercial liability insurance? May I see proof?
  • In case of a medical emergency, how will you bring my dog to the vet? What transport will you use? Does your car have a carrier or harness to keep my dog in place?
  • What other services do you provide? (These may include walking, basic grooming, etc.)
  • Do you have other pets in the house? Will you take on other pets during the time my dog is with you? If yes, how many?
  • In case my dog requires medications, are you capable and willing to administer these yourself on the schedule required?
  • In case you have to bring my dog to the vet for an emergency, how will you handle the payment?
  • Will you send me updates about my dog? How?
  • Can you provide references such as past clients?
  • Do you have a contract for fees and services?

Note the type of questions that the pet sitter asks you about your dog. A good sitter will ask you questions to get to know your dog and to learn more about her.

Getting It on Paper

Before finalizing your arrangements, visit the home or facility personally to meet with the sitter or the staff. If the sitter refuses or declines to meet with your dog, consider this a red flag. The same is true for facilities that do not allow you to inspect their kennel area. Reputable dog boarding services should be transparent and willing to work with you to ensure that your dog is safe and comfortable during her stay.