Pet Boarding or Pet Sitting: Which Is Right for You?

Pet Boarding or Pet Sitting: Which Is Right for You?

If you can’t take your dog with you on vacation, you can entrust it to a pet boarding facility or a pet sitter. Learn more about the two and which is better.
01/04/2023 | Sniff & Bark

You’re eager to take a break from work. The flights and hotel have been booked, you’ve got an itinerary planned, and the family is counting the days before you leave. The only problem is you couldn’t find nice hotels that allow dogs on their premises.

What do you do?

Most of us have two options: leave our pets at a pet boarding facility or with a pet sitter. If you’ve never had to entrust your pet to either before, it can be difficult to choose between the two. Though they both allow you to leave your dog with them for a few days, the pros and cons of each can be vastly different. You’ll thus need to arrive at a decision that works best for you and your furry family member.

We’re here to help. In this post, we’ll run you through what they are, how they work as well as why one solution might be better for you than the other. 

Let’s get started.


About Pet Boarding Facilities

Pet boarding facilities can be houses or specialized establishments where your dog will be kept alongside other animals that have been left there temporarily. When you search for “pet boarding near me” or “doggy daycare near me,” you’ll find that there are generally two types of pet boarding services for animals: family homes that take in pets and commercial facilities like veterinary offices, kennels, and pet hotels.

Pet Boarding Homes

With a pet boarding home, you’re essentially leaving your dog with a family that accepts payment in exchange for taking care of your dog. These are usually regular families so they may not have degrees or training in animal care. 

However, they usually like taking care of animals so there’s a greater chance that your furry friend will receive more compassionate care through a pet boarding home. More often than not, they also limit the number of pets they take in to ensure the quality of care. Your dog is also more likely to get more socialization and stimulation from a pet boarding home since it can interact with family members and other animals under their care.

When it comes to cost, this option is less expensive than a pet sitter but more expensive than commercial boarding establishments.

Commercial Pet Boarding Establishments

Expect a more businesslike environment from pet boarding establishments. Their employees generally receive some form of animal-related training before they start working there. Since they accept more pets, there are fixed schedules and routines for eating, playing, and sleeping. 

You’ll find the least flexibility in these types of establishments but if you leave your dog at a veterinary facility, then you can be confident that your pet will always have access to professional healthcare should any issues arise. 

Because vet offices are more focused on cleanliness and maintaining a sterile environment, it’s a less cozy environment. There are some facilities that make allowances for playtime, socialization, and other activities but they generally keep their charges in separate cages.

Some establishments that market themselves as pet hotels offer more amenities for dogs, including regular grooming services, noise machines, special pet beds, and even massages! While commercial establishments are generally cheaper than pet boarding homes, these additional comforts that pet hotels provide can quickly jack up the price.

If you go with pet boarding facilities, screen the establishment or home carefully. Ask if additional services cost extra, where they’ll be keeping your pet, their schedules, and how they plan to take care of your animal. 

Pros and Cons of Pet Boarding Facilities


    • Opportunities for socialization
    • Possible access to professional veterinary care
    • More affordable than pet sitters


    • Less flexible routines and schedules
    • Prices can go up depending on the amenities offered
    • Entails more adjustment for dogs
    • Dogs can catch diseases from other pets


About Pet Sitters

This is the most expensive option, mainly because you’re hiring someone full-time to look after your furry friend. Among the three, however, it’s also the most comfortable for your dog since it entails the least adjustment. Apart from the addition of a dog sitter, your dog’s environment stays exactly the same. 

A pet sitter will accommodate all of your instructions. You can share your preferences on grooming, feeding, things to do with your dog, how to entertain your dog, fun things to do with your dog outside, and more. It’s also good for security to have someone around the house while you’re away.

Finding a good pet sitter requires more effort than simply leaving your dog at a boarding facility. Since the person will be staying inside your house for a few days, you need to be extra careful about the individual you hire. They must be trustworthy, reliable, and genuinely care about the job. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. You can also gauge your dog’s reaction to pet sitter, especially if your dog easily feels threatened around strangers. 

Pros and Cons of Pet Sitters


    • Personalized care, your dog gets 100% of the sitter’s attention
    • Minimal adjustment for dogs
    • Fewer chances of catching diseases
    • Someone can look after your home while you’re away


    • Most expensive option
    • Need to screen pet sitters carefully


What You Need to Remember About Pet Boarding and Pet Sitting

    • Choose a veterinary facility if your dog has health issues.
    • Opt for a pet boarding establishment if your dog is relatively flexible and you’re trying to save money.
    • Consider a pet hotel or a pet sitter if your dog’s comfort is a major consideration.
    • When you board your pet, you’ll need to provide vaccination records, enough dog food for the duration of its stay, and emergency contact information. Other useful items you can bring to make your dog’s transition easier are its bed or favorite blanket, treats, and toys. You can even consider bringing a shirt with your scent on it.

In the absence of pet-friendly hotels, pet boarding and pet sitting are convenient and viable options. However, what’s right for you and your dog will depend on your budget, the level of care your dog needs, and your dog’s personality. 

Always screen the pet sitter, home, or establishment you’ll be leaving your furry friend with to ensure that they get everything they need for a comfortable and safe stay.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between pet sitting and boarding?

With pet sitting, your dog gets one-on-one attention from a pet sitter who will stay in your home. Pet boarding facilities are like dog-friendly hotels where several dogs are checked in at once. A pet sitter provides more personalized care while pet boarding facilities are more rigid in terms of routines, activities, and schedules.

How long can you leave your dog in a hotel?

While you can leave your dog in a pet hotel for extended periods, veterinary expert Sarah Wooten recommends that dogs shouldn’t be left there for more than one month. Dogs that are more anxious can tolerate being away from familiar environments for even shorter periods. Some dogs start having problems at the two-week mark.

What age can you leave a puppy in a dog hotel?

Most boarding facilities require that your puppy is at least three months old. This is the time it takes to complete the first set of vaccinations. If your dog’s health is frail or it has certain health issues, consider leaving it at a veterinary clinic.


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