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Where Should You Leave Your Dog When You Go On Vacation?

Written by Anna Hollisey


doggos on holiday enjoying the beach

Going on vacation? Woohoo! Feeling guilty about leaving your best canine friend behind? We feel you!  Finding a good place for your dog to stay can be challenging – but once you get it right, you can go on all the vacations you like. Here’s our take on the options…

Let’s start with friends and family members.

This can be a wonderful chance for your family to ‘borrow’ a dog and enjoy the walks and cuddle time. If you have any friends who are already fond of your dog and understand their needs, you’re in a good position to ask. 

But there are disadvantages to this option.  Failing to think it through can cause subsequent problems like disagreements, damage, or even more guilt. 

To take some real-life examples… 

  1. Your Mom might spoil your dog so that he returns to you expecting to hog the whole couch while he’s hand-fed fresh shrimp. 
  2. Your friend might find the task more demanding than she thought, and wind up walking your hound less, leading to destructive behavior… then who’s going to pay for the scratches in the kitchen door when you get back? 

When you’re on vacation and you receive a message saying “DOES YR DOG KNOW ANY COMMANDS AT ALL??????!!!!!!”, you’re not going to enjoy your sun-bed the same way.

If you have the budget for a professional service, here’s a round-up of your choices.

Hiring a Pet-sitter: Pros and Cons

The great thing about using a professional is that you can return to them next time you want to go away.  And it will be easier to leave your dog after you’ve done one trip.  

What else is great about choosing a pet-sitter?

  • Your doggo can stay at home, surrounded with all their favorite toys. It’ll help them to be calm and relaxed when you inexplicably go missing.
  • Some dogs love new people and relish the extra attention. They’ll enjoy a little break with someone exciting.
  • The pet-sitter can keep your dog in their regular routine, so they sleep, walk and eat at the same times. This means you’ll come home to a comfortable and routinised dog (not a dog who’s decided he now likes to get up at 5am with Nonna).
  • Pet-sitters usually have loads of experience and know how to deal with difficult situations, like when your dog meets their arch nemesis on a walk. 
  • When you pay for an individual pet-sitting service, you can expect personal ‘pupdates’ throughout your vacation. 

What’s not so great about hiring a pet-sitter?

  • You’ll need an experienced pet-sitter who knows how to deal with the unexpected. This is especially true if your dog has unique demands. 
  • You’ll have to be comfortable with a new person staying at your house (and looking in your kitchen cupboards, examining the dust on top of shelves, etc). 
  • Your pet-sitter is one person. What happens if they’re needed somewhere else in an emergency? Do they have a replacement who will check on your dog?
  • It’s not common, but the pet-sitter might not be trustworthy. (Get around this by choosing a pet-sitter who’s already been tested out by a friend or family member.)
  • Your pet doesn’t yet know the pet-sitter. (But you can get around this too. Invite the pet-sitter over for a meet and greet. Anxious animals might still feel uncomfortable about this – see how it goes.)

Boarding at a Kennel: Pros and Cons

The other main option for your dog while you’re on vacation is boarding them in a dog kennel. This will suit outgoing pups – the ones who love their friends and want to lick everyone!

Here are the pros of choosing a boarding kennel:

  • It’s cheaper than a pet-sitter, since your dog won’t be receiving personalized care. 
  • … Although they should still receive attention and walks, likely from a small team of familiar people. 
  • Your dog will have playmates to run with. Some dogs will adore this setup!
  • If there’s a good outdoor space, your dog may have continual access to it so they can burn lots of energy and sleep well. 
  • Some kennels have taken their outdoor spaces to a new level! If you have spare cash in your budget, you’ll now find luxury dog resorts springing up all over the US. 

And what about the cons of boarding kennels?

  • Your dog won’t stay in their regular routine of eating, sleeping and exercising.
  • No couch to sleep on! (Be sure to take your dog’s own bed, unwashed.)
  • The possibility of over-stimulation is high – especially if your dog is lively – and can be exhausting (not always a good thing). 
  • Your dog won’t get a lot of individual attention, which may lead to anxiety or stress. 
  • What happens at night?  Enquire whether the kennels are staffed at night, because some aren’t – which can be a problem for dogs with medical issues. (Some places now have doggy webcams!)