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How Early Should I Book a Pet Boarder for My Next Vacation?


Few things in life are as fun or fulfilling as a vacation, whether it’s a quick trip to see faraway family and friends or a luxurious stay at a bucket-list destination. While we’d love to bring our fur-children along to lounge by the pool or shop ‘til we drop, sometimes, it’s just not possible.

Luckily, there are tons of overnight pet care options to choose from. If your canine companion or feline friend won't be able to chill at home while you're gone, you'll need to book a mini vacation for them, too.

But how soon should you book a pet boarder before your trip? As far in advance as you can.


For starters, boarding facilities tend to fill up fast, especially during peak periods. Even in-home boarders have limited availability. Plus, as COVID-19 restrictions lift, more pet parents are traveling than ever, which means demand for overnight pet care is high.

Read on for some tips on booking overnight pet care, both in advance and at the last minute.

How early should I book overnight pet care before my trip?

The ideal time frame will depend on which service you’re booking and when. We recommend booking a pet boarder at least 6 weeks in advance.

We know planning this far ahead takes a bit of the spontaneity out of your vacation. But it also gives you plenty of time to find a boarder who's available for your entire trip. Plus, you won't be rushing to complete pre-departure tasks, like:

  • Making a bio for each of your pets

  • Packing your pet's supplies

  • Hosting a meet-and-greet with your boarder

  • Creating a pet care plan that includes your pets’ routines, exercise needs, feeding times, and medication instructions

We recommend leaving yourself even more time if you’re planning to book a stay at a swanky pet resort over a holiday period.

Many pet resorts have reservation deadlines for busy periods like July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Some facilities also have an application and screening process — you’ll want to leave yourself enough time to apply and get approved for overnight care.

Booking a pet boarder at the last minute

If you’re heading on vacation, you’ll have weeks, perhaps even months, to prepare. But if you experience a family emergency or another situation that requires immediate travel, it’s not always possible to book pet care in advance.

Sometimes, the situation is less dire. Maybe you had a super stressful week at work and decided to take an impromptu weekend trip.

That’s where Wag! comes in. Download our pet care app, and you’ll find dozens of Pet Caregivers near you who will wait on your fur-baby hand and paw. While we can’t guarantee last-minute availability for any service, many of our Pet Caregivers are flexible and available on demand.

Heading out of town without your hound? Download the Wag! app from the App Store or Play Store today and start searching for your mutt’s “pawfect” match!

Other considerations

Things happen — your flight might get canceled, or your boarder might experience a family emergency at the last minute. Which means it's always a good idea to have a backup. When researching pet boarders near you, create a shortlist of options. That way, if something falls through, you don’t have to go back to square one.

Let's discuss a few other details you'll need to consider when booking overnight pet care with an in-home boarder or a facility.

In-home boarders

Surfing the Wag! app for a 5-star boarder who will give your four-legged friends the royal treatment while you're gone? Here are a few things to keep in mind during your search:

  • Your pet's routine. If your pup tends to wake up at the crack of dawn, it's not a good idea to book a dog boarder who works a third-shift day job. Make sure the Pet Caregiver you choose will be in sync with your fur-baby.

  • Your pet's temperament. Many pet boarders on the Wag! app host more than one dog or cat in their home at a time. If your cat or canine doesn't play well with others, specify in your booking that your pet needs a one-on-one experience.

  • Your expected arrival time. Pick-ups after 12 PM will incur an extra day's boarding fee.

Boarding facilities

If you're planning to splash some cash at a pet resort or high-end boarding facility, be sure to read the fine print. Here are a few terms and conditions you'll want to know before booking your stay:

  • Deposits and refunds

  • Cancellation policies and fees

  • Early/late pick-up or drop-off fees

  • Extra charges for walks, kibble, or playtime

  • Whether you're allowed to bring your pet's toys, food, or bedding

If any policies are confusing or unclear, don’t be afraid to ask questions before finalizing your reservation.

It's also a good idea to tour the facility beforehand. This gives you the inside scoop on how many pets your fur-child will be in close quarters with.

Need some more advice on finding the right boarder for your dog? Check our guide on preparing for your next boarding appointment.

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