4 Alternatives to Dog Boarding

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The holidays are coming and you’ve started to make travel arrangements. The people you’re going to see may live across the city or across the country, but you’re planning on spending the night filling up on festive cheer. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to bring your dog along with you. But sometimes, that’s just not possible. It could be that your dog isn’t a good traveler, either for long road trips or on a plane. Or perhaps the people you’re going to visit can’t accommodate your dog. Faced with leaving your dog behind, what are you going to do? The idea of boarding your dog doesn’t float your boat. You’re nervous about leaving him in a facility with strange dogs and people for an extended period of time. Maybe your dog doesn’t do well in new situations and leaving him there would cause massive stress and other health issues. Or it could be that you can’t afford dog boarding – it is the holidays, and with shopping and travel expenses, you’re all tapped out. Whatever your reasons are, we’ve come up with a few alternatives to dog boarding that will help give you peace of mind while you’re away for the holidays.

  1. Leave your dog with a trusted friend or family member. This, of course, is the most desirable of your options. These are the people your dog already knows and trusts. This makes the separation not as keenly felt by your dog. Most times, your friends and family will love to look after your dog for a couple of days, especially if they don’t have any of their own. You can expect your dog to be spoiled rotten, which will make this as much of a vacation for him as it is for you. A few days before you head off, leave a detailed list of your dog’s daily routine, how much food/treats he can eat and other important information. Provide a list of emergency contacts, as well as a list of phone numbers where you can be reached at.
  2. Hiring a pet sitter. Another option that may be more comfortable for your dog than dog boarding is hiring a pet sitter to come stay in your home while you’re away. This can be an expensive option, but then again, some people may do it for free, in exchange for rent-free living (if you’re gone for an extended period of time). There are many pet sitting professionals out there – all you have to do is search for “pet sitter” and “your location.” Or try out a dog-sitting site like DogVacay.com or Rover.com. Ask around your local pet haunts (pet stores, dog parking, dog daycare, other pet parents you know) to see if they can recommend someone they’ve used and trust. And when you’re thinking about the money spent on this kind of service, remember that hiring a dog sitter is kind of a two-for-one deal – you have someone watching over your house and your dog!
  3. Home-Style Boarding. This is a newer kind of dog boarding that’s quickly gaining in popularity. You dog lives with a family in their home for a fee. Often, the family has dogs of their own, so your pooch can interactive with them. Many say that home-style boarding is a safer alternative for boarding your dog than at a large kennel, and you dog will get much more attention and care. It can also be less expensive than a traditional dog boarding facility. Before choosing to go with a home-style boarding environment, you’ll have to know what items you’ll be responsible for bringing, including food, toys and other essentials.
  4. Join a Network. If you like to travel (and not just on the holidays), you may want to look into joining a network where you swap dog-sitting services. You can start one yourself with people you know from the dog park or from other pet friendly sources. These groups can be breed specific or an “all dogs welcome” group. The best part about dog-swapping networks is that it’s free. You just have to be willing to look after someone else’s dog when they are away on vacation.

What do you do with your dog if you have to go away and can’t bring him with you? Leave your tips and experiences in the comment section below.