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Pet Sitting vs. Kennel boarding – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Going away and planning for a trip can be overwhelming enough without having to worry about what to do with your pets while you’re gone. If you’re like me, your pets, whatever they may be, are a part of your family. I can’t simply leave them behind with just anyone. Before going on my trip I must put my mind at ease and feel confident in the care they will get during my absence. Whether to board or hire a Pet Sitter is one of those questions we may ask ourselves. Adding to the mixed feelings of the moment is the idea that we may not know much about either option.

To help you arrive at an informed conclusion I’ve prepared this list of pros and cons or what I’m calling, the good and the bad, I’ll leave out the ugly. Hopefully it’s a fair and impartial list, although you probably know which way I’m going to lean. It should serve as a good starting point for anyone wanting to get more details about either choice.

Pet Sitter or Dog Walker

Good

  • If you’re leaving town for any period of time the advantage of having a professionally insured and bonded Pet Sitter to visit your house regularly is an added benefit. A good Pet Sitter or dog walker will watch over your house, turn on or off any lights, bring in the mail, and generally ensure that the house looks lived in. This alone can be a big deterrent to possible burglars.
  • A Pet Sitter will most likely have general knowledge of many different kinds of pets and not just cats and dogs. I have cared for birds, turtles, hamsters, fishes, and rabbits, to name a few, and have a very good idea on how to care for each.
  • Dogs and cats generally feel safer, less anxious, and more secure in a comfortable and familiar environment as opposed to being transferred to a kennel.
  • Pets can get extra play time and individual attention with a Pet Sitter without the extra charge that is often billed at kennels.
  • A Professional Pet Sitter or Dog Walker will be First Aid and CPR certified and qualified to deal with most emergencies as well as be able to administer medication on a regular schedule.
  • Certain pets such as puppies, kittens, seniors or disabled dogs, or those on medication may require a more regulated schedule and intense care and supervision.
  • A dog who has separation issues or is reactive to other dogs will certainly be better off with a Pet Sitter than in a kennel.

Bad

  • A dog that does not take well with other humans, at least initially, will have a difficult time adjusting to a stranger.
  • Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers charge by the hour or by 30 to 15 minutes increments of time. This can add up and ultimately become pricier than boarding.
  • Pet Sitting is a very easy business to set up with very little restrictions. This means that in the mix with some highly qualified, caring, responsible, care providers you’re also bound to find many unprofessional, uneducated, smooth talkers who are looking to make a quick buck.

Kennel

Good

  • Some of the newer kennels are more like resorts for your pet and operate very differently than the old variety of kennels.
  • Some dogs do very well in kennels and love the interaction with other dogs.

Bad

  • Some dogs do not take well to a kennel environment. They may not even eat much during their stay since their anxiety can reach a very high level.
  • Many kennels are old and in need of major upgrades. Some look no different then dog shelters of 15 to 20 years ago.
  • Pets at kennels are prone to contracting and being exposed to infections and viruses such as Kennel cough, distemper, and other intestinal parasites.
  • While some kennels can be professional operations, many others are not and can go a long way towards worsening any fear or anxiousness or separation issues a dog may already have.
  • A busy kennel can be loud and high energy. This can over stimulate your dog and contribute to heightened stress levels.
  • Staffs at kennels are not always properly educated in dog behavior and body language making them unable to detect when a dog is giving off signs that indicate stress and anxiety.
  • Not every dog or cat gets the attention they require. Some are left alone for extended periods of time in highly stressful environments. In some cases added attention or play time are billed as extras.
  • Cats are typically far more stressed at kennels then they are in their own homes.

Ideally you want to select a service which you feel is the best option for your pet. Hopefully, this will be a decision that will not be determined solely based on price, although it is a consideration.

I’ll address the specifics of what makes a good Pet care provider and what to look for during your first meeting and initial consultation in a later post. For now, keep in mind these simple points when making your decision regarding your pets care.

 

This Post Has 15 Comments
  1. I have heard really good things about animal boarding places. I bet my dog would get more attention there than he does at home! My family is going on vacation for a few weeks but we are leaving our dog behind so I am looking into different animal boarding options.

  2. I like that you pointed out how some dogs do really well when they interact with other dogs. My dog, Milo, is very social, and I don’t want to leave him with a sitter because he likes a lot of attention. I think a pet boarding service would work well for my dog when I’m away on my vacation.

  3. It’s always hard to find places to board pets. My sister has a dog and she usually has to call on family to help. All of the Good and Bad tips are very helpful. I will look for places where it would be more of a resort so that my sister’s dog won’t have so much anxiety.

  4. Hi,
    We purchased the 36” for our 50lb golden retriever. It fit her perfectly and worked well. Except after owning it two weeks our daughter zipped the door shut and left a gap just large enough for our dogs nose to fit. Our dog had her nose through, tried to push the rest of herself through and instead the zipper ripped right off the crate. Totally ruined, the material just shredded apart from the zipper. Granted, the instructions clearly say that it is not meant for a dog who may try to get out. But I felt like as a one time incident where the dog was trying to come through an open area in the zipper….. it should have held up better and been made better. Buying a metal crate for the extra 20$ now
    Hope this helps.

  5. I have a German Shepherd. I cannot board her or hire a sitter. The only place I can take her is my mom’s farm.
    She was abused; the farmer I got her from starves and abuses his animals. I have known him since I was a kid.
    Anyway, as a result she is very slow to warm up to people. My boyfriend now husband could not walk her for 6 months. She would grip the floor, than start thrashing, and finally aggression. It took 6 months for her to trust him.
    When I did kennel her. She stopped eating and drinking. The workers said she acted like a wild animal. She would pace frantically and they couldn’t get her out of the kennel.(That’s kinda why I love her she does act feral.) I had my mom get her, the kennel was worried about her behavior.
    A stranger gave her a steak once ( long story not going into details), she would not touch it unless I put my hand on it.
    I also own a Doberman, who is chill for the most part, but is very protective of the house. The Sheperd will not walk with strangers. So a house sitter isn’t happening

    The Doberman does fine in a kennel.
    The Shepherd has to stay with my mom, and even than she will starve herself for 3 days, but eventually she will eat.
    Fortunately my mom likes her, she won’t watch my dobie though.

  6. Inspite of her flaws this German Shepherd is the most loyal dog I have ever owned.
    She has pulled of some epic Rin tin tin stuff.
    Jumping out of two story window and chasing down my car. Lodging herself in a too small doggie door. All because she thought I was leaving her.
    I left her with a friend for a weekend. She escaped him. She tracked 15 miles across busy city and suburban streets all the way back home.
    This is a dog that would sit at my grave if I died.
    It’s hard to explain I am psychically linked to this dog. She knows exactly what I want her to do without saying a word. I could walk her through a busy 6 lane road without a leash. Police have stopped me and asked me if she was professionally trained because she acts like it. Honestly I don’t know anything about dog training.
    Even though I have issues with boarding, she is still awesome and I am probably never going to own another dog like this.

    1. You might do well to seek out the help of a behaviorist. I feel you need a deeper understanding of what’s going on with your dog. Your descriptions of situations lead me to different conclusions then what you’re arriving at. For example, I don’t think that what you’re seeing are demonstrations of loyalty.

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