The holidays are upon us and while travel may not be on your agenda during the age of Covid-19, you may still be planning to head north for a ski trip or south to the beach for some socially-distanced activities. But, what to do about your dog who hates to travel? 

This is the time to decide between a pet sitter or a boarding facility – and honestly, there should be no other option in your book. Leaving your dogs with friends or family is risky at best. What happens if your friend or family member becomes ill and requires hospitalization? Are they going to be as committed to your pets as you are? 

Businesses have emergency plans in place should anything happen to limit their ability to care for your pet or to accommodate any other emergency. We do urge you to find out what those plans are if you employ them. 

Let’s face it, 2020 is the year that anything can happen.  We need to be our best selves during this time and that means paying a little extra for the care of our best four-legged friends. 

Should Board Your Dog Or Use A Sitter?

Whether to board or have a pet sitter stay with your pets will vary according to your personal situation, the amount of time you’ll be away and the amount of care your dogs require. If you have a younger dog who requires crating or regular checks, you should consider a reliable boarding facility or a live-in pet sitter. Senior dogs who hate change or share a home with other animals may do better with a pet sitter in your home. 

Advantages of Pet Sitters

If you have multiple pets (and species) a pet sitter may be the best solution for you. They can care for all of your pets in one place, keep a close eye on your home, pick up your mail and water your plants. Your sitter can provide quality enrichment for your dog, feed them in the bowls they love, play with them in the yard they love, take them for walks, and even watch DogTV with them! 

What to Look for in a Pet Sitter:

  • Licensed: The pet sitter industry is largely unregulated, but some states do require licensing and at the very least, all pet sitting businesses should be registered with the state. Ask them which professional organizations they belong to and ask for references. 
  • Insured and Bonded: Make sure any professional you bring into your home is insured and bonded. They will be able to present a copy of their credentials if asked. 
  • Reviews: Check references on Yelp, Facebook, the Better Business Bureau and other general searches. You should also ask your friends and family who they recommend.
  • History: How long have they been in business? You can check their history on the Better Business Bureau. 

If you’re a very private person, the idea of having a pet sitter in your home may be uncomfortable. There’s nothing wrong with being private. But, do keep in mind that highly qualified pet sitters would never invade your privacy – their reputation depends on discretion and confidentiality! 

For dogs who are young and rambunctious or seniors who require more one-on-one care, a boarding facility may be for you. 

Advantages of Boarding Facilities

These days, boarding facilities can be as basic as a kennel that’s rinsed off once a day, to luxury facilities with swimming pools, pupsicles, activities and turn down service (which usually includes one-on-one attention and a lavender treat to help with a restful sleep). Some facilities even offer webcams so you can virtually check on your pet while you’re away. 

What to Look for in a Boarding Facility

Prior to selecting a facility, take a tour. Be sure you specifically ask them to take you anywhere your dog or cat will have access and pay particular attention to the following:

  • Security: How secure is their facility? Do they have multiple staff on hand? Do they have staff who will spend the night? Do they have webcams with secure logins for you to see your dog during play or sleep while you’re away? 
  • Safety: Are the kennels in good condition? Have they utilized good safety practices? Do they pay their staff well? Is there an on-call vet? 
  • Supervision: Is there adequate supervision? Do they have enough staff? Are the staff trained in handling all types of dogs and personalities? 
  • Sanitation: Does the facility look and smell clean? What is the temperature of the kennels? Is there adequate ventilation? Do they require and verify your pet’s vaccination and health records? 
  • Reputation: The reputation of the kennel is critical. Check with friends, read online reviews, search out complaints by typing in “name of kennel + complaint” into Google. The kennel above had plenty of bad reviews prior to this event happening… 

When you arrive home, leave an honest review so others will know of your experience. Pet resorts and other care facilities rely on these for their business and your experience may help others either avoid a bad experience or find a loving place to leave their most important member of the family. 

Will you travel with your dog? Board or use a pet sitter if you’re going away this holiday season? Let us know on our DOGTV Facebook page.