Feeling Guilty About Boarding Your Dog?14 Dog Boarding Tips While on Vacation

dog laying down with sad eyes

Feeling Guilty About Boarding Your Dog?14 Dog Boarding Tips While on Vacation

If you’re feeling guilty about boarding your dog while you’re away on vacation or business travel, we get it. The dog is part of the family, and unless you travel with your pets, you have to arrange care. First, we’ll look at three basic types of pet boarding, along with their approximate costs. Then, we list 14 tips to make sure you and your pet have an enjoyable break from each other!

3 Types of Pet Boarding

Pet parents have several options for boarding their companions, including popular pet sitting and in-home boarding, dog kennels and dog hotels (yep, they are a real thing!), and cage-free kenneling. What is boarding a dog? It means leaving your dog under the care of someone else, preferably someone who loves him or her as much as you do! There are three main types of pet boarding: in-home care (yours or your sitters’), kennel boarding, and posh doggie hotels.

Here’s a look at each one.

In-home dog boarding and pet sitting

In-home dog boarding or pet sitting can occur in your home or at the home of a pet sitter. Having a family member or friend watch your dog in your home is ideal because it can reduce your pet’s anxiety, plus the sitter can watch your home.

In your home: The average cost for in home pet care varies depending on the size and number of pets, as well as where you live. According to Thumbtack, professional overnight pet sitting rates range from $75 to $85 per day nationally, but you may be able to find one locally for $50 per night. The advantage with in-home dog sitting is that you also have someone checking your mail and watching your property.

In the pet sitter’s home: You might be able to save money by using someone who does in-home dog sitting. Several service companies like Rover and Care.com have verified pet sitters across the country that will watch your dog in their homes. Other organizations like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) can also help pet parents find the right sitter for their dog. The average costs for this type of boarding range from $20 to $30 a day and $75 to $85 for overnight sitting (again, geography and cost of living will affect these prices near you).

Things to think about when hiring a reputable pet sitter:

  • Ask for references.
  • Read through their reviews if they have an online presence at sites like Rover.com.
  • Meet and greet a sitter before hiring. This introduction is a good opportunity to see how you feel about them and how well they interact with your dog.
  • Inquire as to whether the sitter knows pet CPR or first aid.
  • Ask how many other dogs will be there at the same time (if in their home) and how the dogs will interact.

Dog kennels

You can find dog kennels either as stand-alone enterprises or as part of a veterinarian’s office or animal hospital. Because each facility has unique requirements, you must contact them well in advance to ensure you meet those requirements in time for your vacation. Requirements typically include:

  • Proof of vaccinations from your veterinarian, including distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, Bordetella (kennel cough), and rabies
  • Temperament test to see how they interact with other dogs
  • Identification, either on the collar or through a microchip
  • Medical information and history

Give as much advanced notice as possible, to make sure they have room for your dog and, if possible, that you can reserve the “best” space. Dog kenneling typically is highly regimented, providing a certain number of potty breaks, meals, and playtime each day (some facilities charge extra for exercise and play time).

Check out the individual spaces for each dog to make sure it will be large enough for your dog to stand up, move around and sleep (similar to that of a dog crate). It is not unusual for the staff to go home at night at dog kennels.

The average cost to board a dog overnight in a kennel is $20 to $50 a night, while the cost of boarding a dog for a week averages $150 and for monthly boarding near $500. The costs at a vet clinic or hospital may run a bit higher. Facilities often offer up to a 50% discount for multiple dogs.

Dog hotels and cage-free kenneling

Doggie hotels are similar to dog kenneling in that your dog will get a set number of potty breaks and amount of playtime, plus dogs often get a “room” with a bed, gourmet meals, and snacks. In-room TVs, webcams, and massages are sometimes offered in dog hotels. Of course, all of these luxury doggie amenities come at a price that’s above and beyond the standard boarding rate.

Pet hotel pricing can be the most expensive of all dog boarding options. These types of facilities have staff on duty throughout the night. Cage-free kenneling is like being at home. Your dog is free to run around and play with fellow canines all day in a protected yard. If your pet isn’t up for playing, they can have alone time. At night, the dogs sleep in individual accommodations with staff members on duty all night. Doggie hotel prices range from $75 to $95 a night, and you’ll have lots of upsell options for pool time, doggie spa, dog grooming and play times.

First-Time Dog Boarding Tips

What do you need to know before boarding your dog for the first time? Plenty. A puppy should be at least four months old before boarding. This is the age when they have their puppy shots. Here are a few other boarding tips that may help make the process smoother and less stressful for you and your pet.

  1. Verify your pet’s vaccinations with your veterinarian. Even if the boarding facility doesn’t require certain vaccinations, knowing your pet is protected while around other dogs can be reassuring for you as a pet parent.
  2. Socialize your pup from a very young age. Experts suggest the crucial time for introducing a dog to other canines is 3 to 12 weeks. Exposing your pup to new people, fellow dogs, places, and experiences can ensure their behavior and temperament is ideal for boarding.
  3. Work on crate training your pup early to get them comfortable sleeping in a crate.
  4. Make sure your dog has the proper identification (ID tag) with your updated contact information. You can microchip your pup at six weeks for extra assurance.
  5. Take a tour of any facility you’re considering. Look for clean and sanitary conditions with secure play and sleeping areas. Observe how the staff interact with the pets.
  6. Try a shorter stay before your longer one. Some boarders offer doggie daycare, which might familiarize your dog with the place before he spends a night there.
  7. Ask to see their schedules for dogs. How often are dogs taken for potty breaks? How much playtime do they get?
  8. Ask about full pricing, including add-ons, so you’re not surprised later. Find out the facility’s fees and checkout times, so you can plan. Inquire about late pickup or cancellation fees.
  9. Ask about their emergency plans and procedures.
  10. Discuss any dietary or medical needs your pet might have. If your pet takes medications, bring them in marked containers and share the details of why your pet is taking the meds and any other relevant information.
  11. Bring plenty of dog food and treats in labeled containers for your pet.
  12. Pack your dog’s favorite belongings, including toys and bedding. Including a piece of your clothing (like a t-shirt) with your scent on it to help keep your dog calm.
  13. Keep your departure pleasant, relaxed, and short. Making it a big deal can cause you and your dog to stress.
  14. Provide a backup local contact, in case of emergency.

Should You Tip A Dog Sitter or Dog Boarder?

Most pet sitters or dog boarders care for pets because they are sincerely passionate about animals, not the money, so they don’t usually expect tips. With that said, if you’re satisfied with their care and your dog is happy and likes the pet sitter or boarding facility, it’s a win-win for you. A 10% to 15% tip (or maybe a gift card or other thoughtful gift), along with a nice online review (if an option) will do.

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