Dog Sitter or a Kennel: The 5 Most Important Things About Each
Find out what to look for in a dog kennel or sitter when you’re planning to travel away from home for more than a day. You want to be sure your dog will still get all the love and attention he needs while you’re gone. It turns out you have multiple options, such as:
- Hiring a pet sitter who’s also a house sitter
- Having someone stop by a couple times a day
- Contracting a dog-walking service
- Dropping your pooch at a doggie day care
- Placing your pup at a full-service kennel
Before you decide, you need to learn whom to trust as a sitter, what to look for in a dog kennel or how to find the best dog walker. You may even want to combine some of these services, like a house sitter with a dog walker or a doggie day care with a drop-by service in the evenings. What you ultimately decide on depends as much on your budget as it does on what makes you and your little buddy the most comfortable.
Whether this is your first trip away from home without your furry friend or you’re a seasoned traveler looking for new insights, you can learn something by comparing services:
- A house sitter and a kennel are the only options that provide constant companionship and protection. Your dog may be left alone sometimes, but he’ll get plenty of daytime playtime.
- Stop-by and dog-walking services aren’t constant care. If your dog sleeps a lot, these services give him daily attention for his basic needs.
- A stop-by service, a dog walker and a house sitter let your dog stay at home in comfortable surroundings. That’s great if your little guy is easily upset.
- Doggie day care and dog walkers encourage doggie socialization. If your pup loves playing with other dogs, these are good bets. If your dog doesn’t play well with others, though, avoid these services.
- House sitting and a drop-by service generally require no documentation regarding your pooch’s papers. You don’t have to show proof of vaccinations, especially when you rely on a friend.
While you can sometimes find a friend to take care of your pup at their place, don’t hire a professional to board your dog in their home in New York City because that arrangement is against the law. Stick to one or more of the options listed here, and you and your pooch will stay safe.
The 5 Most Important Things About Sitters
Hiring a pet sitter means inviting someone to stay in your home. You need to be able to trust the person. Fortunately, there are several trustworthy websites and apps you can use to find a sitter, including:
These are the most popular national directories, but you can find a local pet sitter, too. Before you hire someone, however, you need to know what to look for in a sitter, just as you would want to know what to look for in a dog kennel. The five most important things to consider include:
- Always ask for liability insurance. Every sitter should have proof they’re insured and bonded. It’s likely that nothing will happen, but if it does or if something winds up missing, you can rest a little easier knowing the insurance covers it.
- Ask for references and call them. No matter how sweet or accommodating a new sitter appears to be, always check their references. Ask for phone numbers, not email addresses. Talk to the people about the sitter.
- Agree on services rendered beforehand. If housecleaning is part of the deal, make sure you put it in writing. If you insist on two walks a day or doggie day care once a week, get it down on the page.
- Get a list of the fees in writing. Before you leave, make sure you get all the fees in writing. When you come home, you don’t want any surprise charges like a holiday surcharge or a cleaning charge that you never discussed.
- Arrange communication. Do you want daily emails? Hourly updates? Facebook posts? Or do you expect a written day-by-day report at the end of your trip? Work it out. Make sure you exchange contact information and your sitter has the emergency numbers.
The 5 Most Important Things About Kennels
A kennel may sound like a doggie penitentiary, but it’s anything but. When you know what to look for in a dog kennel, you can pick one your little buddy will absolutely love. There is quite a variety:
- Most kennels are locally owned and operated.
- Some kennels are associated with or attached to veterinarian practices.
- Some newer kennels have evolved into doggie resorts and spas that pamper your pooch.
- Some kennels offer training for your pet.
Before you learn what to look for in a dog kennel, you have to learn how to find one. The best way is to ask friends, family, coworkers or others you trust for a recommendation. You can always do an internet search for “dog kennel near me.” Once you’ve found several, you need to know the five most important things to look for in a dog kennel:
- Check for memberships. Responsible kennel owners are members in good standing with the International Boarding & Pet Services Association (IBPSA). They may have taken a program at the Outstanding Pet Care Learning Center (OPCLC). Also, talk to the staff to get a sense of their knowledge and commitment.
- Inspect the facility. Check for cleanliness, odors and temperature control. Listen for sounds of joy or distress. Check out the grounds. Is the play area protected from the elements? Does the kennel have enough space for your dog? You have to know what to look for in a dog kennel when you visit.
- Insist on health certificates. If your pup is going to be in close quarters with many other dogs, make sure they’re all healthy. All kennels — and groomers, for that matter — should require health certificates that show the list of required vaccinations and other shots, such as for Bordetella. It’s the law in many cities; it should be your requirement too.
- Ask about personal stuff. Does the space for your dog look comfortable? Your dog shouldn’t spend all his time on a concrete floor. Ask about bringing your pup’s bed, toys, food and medicine. Most kennels provide everything, except the medicine, which may need instructions. Many dogs do better staying with their normal diet.
- Find out what’s included. Some kennels offer training or grooming services. Others have veterinarians on call, which is great, but you have to pay them for their services. Still other kennels offer baths, flea and tick treatments and other services for a fee. Find out what costs extra. Get an estimate upfront.