Updated: Aug 17
When I opened my door to greet the new boarder for the next few days a thought crossed my mind, I really wish more places would offer house boarding services like me. A service where another human, friend, would watch over my dogs in a safe environment like a second family while I am out of town.
Anyways, I knew the dog at my front door, I had set up a meet and greet a couple of weeks before to assess the dog, and her interaction with me and my dogs. It went very well and so I added her into my boarding program. Her owners had confirmed her stay, and have been communicating clearly, so I was hopeful that this was going to go great.
I welcomed the new dog and helped her parents to bring all of her overnight belongings into my house. I instructed the owners to just leave everything in the middle of the room, as I would sort through everything once they leave and everyone was self entertaining.
After a hearty goodbye and a hug from the owners, they were out the front door
and onto their vacation and I looked down at the gang of 5 dogs at my feet. Good, I told myself, this will be a good weekend. I said the famous words "let's go outside" and everyone turned on a dime and ran through the kitchen, through the fly screen and onto the porch. There they sat, stood and somewhat impatiently stared outside while I apparently took my sweet time getting there. After ushering the group outside into the fully fenced-in and terrier-proof backyard, I returned inside for a moment to sort through all of the new boarders belongings..and just like that another weekend started for me and my pack of pets.
But what does this mean for you and your dog? Is house boarding for you? Have you boarded at a facility before or do you rather have someone pet sit from your house?
Boarding at a facility
This option is probably familiar to most of you. Some dog daycares offer dog boarding as well, so most families utilize this option more regularly. Most of these boarding facilities have their multitudes of crates stacked along walls, and have at least one fenced in outside area. Boarding at a facility comes with a lot of positives which include knowledgeable staff (especially when you board at the vets), a safe surrounding being crated for some hours of the day, numerous dog friends and even some with a camera installed, so be sure to ask about that if you are considering this option!
Employees are generally at the facility between 6am-6pm, and not at night. I think you can think of it as a city for dogs with an iron-clad curfew and rules. Though there are variations with extended hours and accommodations, I personally do not consider boarding at a facility as an option for my two dogs right now nor in the foreseeable future.
Currently, I understand that my Jack Russell Terrier would not do well in a new environment and being amongst many random, new dogs gives her extreme anxiety in addition to her separation anxiety. She does way better in a house boarding situation with my amazing friend, who loves my dogs and cares for them like she does for her own. That is the experience you are paying for; find a person you trust that clicks with your dogs, and I believe you can find peace and joy in traveling again.
My recommendation is that you should do your due diligence for your dogs and their needs before planning a vacation and having to worry about finding a place! Keep in mind most house boarding places book up extremely fast especially during high travel seasons due to their limited space for boarding. I can only take in two to four dogs, and four is at the extreme high end of that limit and my sanity.
Pet Sitting at your house
Is your dog most comfortable at home? Do you have multiple animals that are not all dogs? Do you have a dog that does not do well with other dogs? If these or any other concerns cross your mind when thinking about vacationing without your pets, then a person or business that checks up on your home and animals might be the perfect solution for you.
Pet sitters usually do not have dogs or cats of their own and are able to give your pets all the snuggles, and if you are comfortable with it, you can even have them sleep over so that your pets have company while you are away at night.
This service is usually a bit more expensive than boarding at a facility, but your pets would also get more one-on-one interactions from the sitter and you would not have to worry about your dog interacting with any other unknown dogs. In addition to that perk, your dogs would not have to leave their home environment which is most beneficial for most anxious dogs that have a hard time adjusting and eating in new environments or strange surroundings.
Find a person that you can trust to come to your house and take care of your dogs and other pets. It is going to be an investment, and who would not want the absolute cherry on top of the ice cream for their dogs? This is like the VIP option of pet sitting and/or boarding and your pets will love you for it. Note that while it is totally worth it to have a person or service stop by your house or even stay at your house when you have multiple dogs and other pets that require attention, it may be overkill for families with only one or two dogs.
For those families, I recommend finding a person, a business or family members who can take in dogs at their home, who love your dogs and are good to them. Do not abuse their openness and willingness to open their homes to your dogs, and keep in mind that watching another person's dog requires monitoring and attention 24hrs a day. Sounds silly? Well, I get up in the middle of the night when the dog whines, or barks, when I board a puppy... Goodness me, an actual puppy needs a potty-break ever three to four hours! Otherwise you end up with an avoidable mess in your own house, that you then also have to clean up...let's talk about instant karma.
I think finding the best solution for you and your dogs and other pets is most important and should be a priority when planning a vacation away from them. You have invited them into your family, so I believe they deserve the kindness and consideration that you would pay any other family member.