By Emily Gantt
Published: 01/25/2021, edited: 10/26/2022
It's almost vacation time again, which means you'll probably need someone to watch Fido. So what's it going to be — kennel boarding, home staying, or drop-in sitters? You're not alone if you're overwhelmed by all the new pet care alternatives. So which is better for dogs? We'll discuss what each pet care option involves and go over the good and the bad.
Kennel boarding varies considerably by the establishment. Some still have cages, whereas others have entire rooms with plush beds for resident pooches. These luxury rooms come with a luxury price tag, usually upwards of $100 a night — the same price for a decent human hotel room. Old-fashioned kennel boarding facilities aren't as cozy or as expensive, with small runs that dogs stay in for most of the day when not out for potty breaks.
Boarding isn't inherently bad, but it's definitely different from home staying. Boarding is not for every dog, and the setting can be quite intimidating for some. Reactive dogs typically don't do well in kennel settings due to the sheer number of canines in the facility. House-training puppies may revert to pottying in the house since kennels offer a limited number of potty breaks.
Like human daycare, sickness quickly spreads through kennels. Kennel cough, distemper, and intestinal parasites are something you should safeguard your pet against if you are considering boarding. For many dogs, kennels are high-stress environments and may cause separation anxiety behaviors.
Kennel boarding can be quite costly and may be more expensive than you anticipate when seeing the basic boarding fee. Special attention, extra outdoor time, one-on-one playtime, and cuddles can run up the bill since most kennels provide a la carte services. Likewise, administering medication, hand-feeding, and kennel upgrades will also incur additional charges. Dog boarding at a daycare facility doesn't mean that the dog will automatically get to join in on the playtime fun; you'll typically have to pay a daycare fee in addition to the boarding fees.
With that being said, some dogs genuinely enjoy the social aspect of boarding in more free-range kennels. Boarding offers dogs a consistent schedule and a private enclosure where they can relax. Boarding kennels are typically more secure than in-home boarding facilities, which is especially important for those "Hairy" Houdini types — all things to consider when choosing overnight care.
In-home boarding is a lot like dog sitting, except the dog stays in the boarder's home. Some in-home dog boarders do use kennels, though many offer free-range pet care. In-home boarding is an excellent alternative to dog kennels since they generally house fewer dogs and allow more one-on-one interaction.
In-home boarding comes with clear advantages and disadvantages, and some (but not all) dogs tolerate it well. In-home boarding is a fantastic choice for dogs who enjoy the company of other pets. On the other hand, reactive or aggressive dogs aren't good candidates for in-home boarding since fights can break out easily in a multi-dog setting.
Since in-home boarding takes place in another person's residence, the scenery change may be scary for some dogs. You'll need to arrange for transportation when entrusting your dog with an in-home border, and you may have to pay for a pet taxi service if you can't drop them off yourself.
Just because it's an in-home boarding facility doesn't mean your dog is going to run free. Some in-home boarding facilities will crate your dog during their stay. In-home boarders usually care for several dogs at any given time, so the spread of fleas and illness is always a possibility. Make sure you have your dog vaccinated against kennel cough and on preventative meds for fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites.
In-home boarding is often a great alternative to traditional boarding kennels since the smaller dog-to-human ratio means more one-on-one attention. In-home dog boarding is excellent for socializing friendly young dogs and is often a fun experience for them, but there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to overnight care.
Like a babysitter, pet sitters will watch your dog in your home, but there are a few different types you should know about. Drop-in sitters come a few times a day, whereas overnight sitters stay for the entire time the pet parent is away. Drop-in sitters typically charge by the minute or half-hour, unlike overnight sitters who charge a single fee.
Dog sitters are often the choice pet care option for most pet parents — and for good reason. Pet sitters are less expensive than boarding for multi-pet households. Plus, you don't have to worry about transportation since the sitter comes to you. There are also medical and safety issues that can be avoided with home staying. An in-home dog sitter means your dog won't be exposed to parasites or respiratory illnesses or have the opportunity to get in scuffles with other dogs.
Home staying is usually the best option for senior dogs with poor eyesight since they know how to navigate the area and sitters can help them with any mobility issues they have. On the other hand, kennels can mean bumped noses and falls for these dogs if they don't have a spatial understanding of the facility.
In-home sitters can curb separation anxiety symptoms and reduce the likelihood the pet becomes bored and destructive. Besides being good company, dog sitters give pets one-on-one attention that boarding kennels cannot.
The only downside to home staying is it doesn't allow for the same socialization that boarding kennels do. However, your Wag! sitter can always take Fido for a walk, if you wish.
While kennel boarding does have some advantages, home-staying is often the best pet care solution for most dogs. Being in the home environment is comforting for all dogs and may decrease separation anxiety symptoms. By staying in the home setting, your dog can avoid contagions and chances for dog fights that they might encounter in a boarding kennel. Sure, it may take shy dogs some time to adjust to a dog sitter, but so does kennel boarding. Home staying involves minimal changes and is often an easier transition for reserved or fearful pooches.
Ultimately, overnight pet care is something you'll have to decide on yourself. Consider your pet's attitude, social tendencies, and medical needs when choosing your pet care options. Tour facilities, ask questions, and have a trial run with you there to decide what's right for your dog. Remember, you're your pet's only advocate, and finding trustworthy pet care is a big deal.
Wag! Overnight Care provides a premier network of qualified pet care professionals. The Wag! app can link you with dog sitters and in-home boarders near you for loving, home-based pet care.
Setting up your overnight care appointment is simple. Just open the app, create an account, and select your preferences, then you'll unlock profiles of specialized pet caregivers near you. You can rest assured that any caregiver you choose from the Wag! network has been carefully vetted by our team of professionals. Book with Wag! for trusted care you can feel comfortable about.
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