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Pet Sitter vs Boarding Facility: Choosing the Best Option for Your Pets


Summer is on the way and like millions of families, you’re likely planning your trips to Disneyworld or getaways on the beach. But, one thing that is often not planned is where your pets will be while you’re away.

Will you take them along with you? Put them in a boarding facility? Hire a pet sitter? No matter which option you choose, choose early. The best pet sitters will be booked out months in advance and the best boarding facilities will limit the number of animals they can accept during summer.

Today, we’re looking at how you can choose the best option for your pets if you can’t plan for a dog-friendly beach resort in the Pacific Northwest or pet-friendlycamping adventure in the mountains.

Advantages of Pet Sitters

If you have multiple pets (and a variety of species), a pet sitter will be the best solution for you. Highly qualified pet sitters are well-versed in behavior issues, can care for all of your pets in the place your pets are most comfortable, keep a close eye on your home, pick up your mail and even water your plants.

If you’re in Arizona, we highly recommend Pampered Pets & Plants. They care for our pets and do an incredible job!


Your sitter can also provide quality enrichment and other activities for your dog, feed them the food they love, play with them in the yard they know best, take them for walks, and even watch just sit down and watch a movie with them!

What to Look For in a Pet Sitter:

Leaving your pets with another person should not be a risk. Avoid neighbors and friends and instead look for pet sitters with a long history of reliable service and excellent reviews.

Every pet sitter should want to meet your pets and learn their routine before accepting a pet sitting assignment. You should observe your pet closely and make sure they feel comfortable with the sitter by the time the visit is over. Some pet sitters charge for this initial visit, and that is perfectly normal – it takes time out of their day. Don’t be put off by a higher rate – your home and your pets are well worth the expense.

Are they licensed?

The pet sitter industry is largely unregulated, but some states do require licensing. Regardless if it’s required or not, their business should be registered with the state. You can also find out if they’re members of professional organizations (like PSI and NAPPS). Serious pet sitters are fully committed to their trade and are active members in professional associations.

Are they insured?

Make sure any professional you bring into your home is insured and bonded. They should be able to produce a copy of their insurance if asked. Insurance doesn’t just protect the sitter, it protects you and your home, too.

Do they have reviews?

Check references on Yelp, Facebook, and ask for references. If you see a bad review, ask the sitter to explain. As in all businesses, people can be difficult. Sometimes they leave a bad review just to do it. So always give the sitter a chance to explain.

Do they have a long history in business?

While it’s important to give new pet sitters a chance, it’s also important to know the history of their business. 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!

Either way, your best option may be a boarding facility.

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 in with your pet while you’re away.

What to Look for in a Boarding Facility


Look for ways you might escape the facility if you were a dog. If your dog is a jumper, make sure the walls are high enough. If they’re bolters, make sure there are enough doors between the exit and the kennels. Dogs that are playing together should have plenty of room and be with dogs similar in size.


Take a look at the way things are set up, including the kennel area. Do a good walk around the facility and check for obvious hazards. If wires are sticking out between kennels, that indicates a problem. Gates that don’t properly secure are always a concern, as are low walls and unenclosed areas.


Are the animals supervised in play areas? Do kennel associates have easy access to a phone or 2-way radio? Dog play can go very wrong if supervision is not adequate. Be sure employees are comfortable around the animals.


Cleanliness is important when it comes to our pets! Make sure that kennels are cleaned regularly and dogs aren’t being forced to lie in kennels that haven’t been cleaned.


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…

Walk Through Prior to Boarding

pet checklist

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:

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:

  • Does the facility look clean and well-maintained?
  • Does the facility smell clean?
  • What is the temperature in the kennels?
  • Is there adequate ventilation indoors?
  • How does the staff treat and interact with the animals there?
  • Does the facility ask for vaccination records?
  • Is there a requirement for pets to have Bordetella (Kennel Cough) vaccine?
  • Do you see any evidence of fleas or ticks or other parasites?
  • Do the dogs and cats seem happy?
  • Are outdoor runs protected from the elements?
  • Do they have an emergency plan in place in case of natural disaster or other problem?
  • Are the indoor kennels large enough?
  • Are cats and dogs housed separately?
  • What type of training does staff have?
  • Is a veterinarian on call and what is his/her name?

Protecting Your Pets

There are many ways you can protect your pets while you’re away. No matter whether you choose a pet sitter or a boarding facility, utilize technology to ensure your dog is being properly cared for by others. Here are some examples:

GPS Tracker & Activity Monitors

Make sure your dog is wearing a GPS tracker and/or activity monitor so you know where he or she is and what type of activity level they are engaged in. While these can be removed and carried around by someone, it’s just an extra form of protection that we hope will help.

Wireless cameras

If you have a pet sitter come over to your house, let them know that you have wireless cameras installed. It’s just a courtesy and if you trust them with your pets, you should at least let them know that you may be checking in on them.

If you choose a boarding facility, be sure they have live video cams installed that you can access via password. In this day and age, there really is no reason for a facility to not have cameras installed with access to video feeds.

Help Protect Pets with Honest Reviews

When you arrive home, leave an honest review of your experience online so that others will know of your experience.

Pet care providers of all types rely on these reviews 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.

Leave a review
Leave a review for services provided to pets – it helps other pet parents know what to expect!