Should you board your dog or hire a sitter?

by Kira Garrett | June 18, 2013

For many people, summer means out-of-town vacations. But what are you going to do about your pooch? It’s often not feasible to take him along, which means you may have to decide whether to board him at a kennel or select an in-home sitter. Each has its pros and cons – many owners worry that kennel management won’t be attentive enough to their pooches. Other people are concerned about taking their dogs away from their usual routines.

Here are some suggestions that may help you decide which care would be best for your pet while you’re away.

* Does your dog like the activity and company of other dogs he’ll find in a kennel, or would he be more comfortable in his home where he is comfortable and has established routines?

* Does he have any special medical needs (arthritis, diabetes, medications) that would help determine which type of care would be best?

* At the kennel you are considering, are special requests accommodated? For example, if you feed a raw dog food diet like Sojos, it’s important that the facility will adhere to the pet’s diet. Make sure the staff who will be caring for your dog knows about the importance of soaking Sojos for a sufficient amount of time before feeding.

* Ask your holistic vet, friends and family for recommended kennels or sitters. Then call the Better Business Bureau for references about any you’re considering to make sure there aren’t any open or previous disputes on record.

* Tour any boarding facility you’re considering. When you walk in, are you overpowered by the smell of bleach or urine? Is it well-designed, with good light and plenty of ventilation? From the kennels to the runs, do the spaces look and smell clean? Does it have smoke and CO2 detectors? Are the kennels large enough for dogs to be comfortable? Be sure you see the outdoor areas where your dog will play. If your pet doesn’t get along well with other dogs, make sure some private play space is available.

* When considering a pet sitter, ask for personal references. Schedule an introductory meeting at your home, so your dog and the caregiver can meet. Determine if the person will come by to feed and walk your dog (and how often), or will stay at your home. Does he or she know what to do if your pet has a medical emergency?

Regardless of whether you leave your dog at a boarding kennel or at home, make sure the caregivers have the name and phone number of your holistic vet, your phone number or way to make contact with you, and a secondary local contact in case of emergency.

With careful planning, you can ensure that your dog will be safe and happy while you’re away, so you can enjoy your vacation and Fido can too!