A Tale of Two Dogs; Pet Sitter Versus a Kennel

Years ago when trying to find week-long care for our dogs, we struggled with the decision as to whether to use a kennel or to use the services of a pet sitter.

At the time, Jake was an old golden retriever. He had had minimal socialization with other dogs through most of his life. (We have since learned our lesson.) Because he was older and suffering from some arthritis, he didn’t move well and liked to sleep long hours on the cushy sofa. He had a tendency to be a bit cranky if pestered when he wanted to sleep. And although he liked to ride in the truck, he was adverse to adventure – liking his own house and yard.

Baxter, our two-year-old Labrador retriever, had gone to doggie daycare since he was old enough to be accepted. When we didn’t find sufficient ways for him to funnel his excess energy, he would find his own ways, such as chewing on house molding and ripping up carpet. To Baxter, riding in the truck was a means to getting someplace for a new adventure – away from home.

Jake & Baxter

Jake & Baxter

We had two very different dogs, with two very different sets of needs. As a result, we hired a pet sitter to visit Jake three times a day and we took Baxter to his daycare facility, which also provided boarding, to keep him entertained and out of trouble.

Whether you choose a kennel or a pet sitter is largely dependent upon the needs of the animals. If your pet is uncomfortable around other animals, or stressed outside their own environment, consider hiring a professional pet sitter to come to your home. If your animal needs more interaction with people and other animals, consider a kennel. If your pet doesn’t react well to visitors or strange people entering your house, he or she may also be a good candidate for a kennel.

You need to also decide whether the amount of time required for crating is acceptable. Many kennels offer extra out-of-crate playtime for an additional fee. Some overnight care facilities also provide a non-crated environment. An older animal with health issues might be a good candidate for a veterinarian-operated facility.

Cost is another consideration. You will usually pay more for a pet sitter than you will for kennel service, unless there are multiple animals involved. But there are side-benefits to having a pet sitter come to your home: you don’t need to stop the newspaper or mail, plants will be watered if necessary, and someone going in and out of your home makes it look “lived in” while you are gone. They will also put food into an often forgotten fish tank.

Check with friends, relatives and co-workers for suggestions about reliable kennels and pet sitters in your area. Also check with the Better Business Bureau (www.norfolk.bbb.org) to determine if there have been any complaints about them.

Do not wait until the last minute to book either a kennel or a pet sitter. The better companies are often booked far in advance of popular, get-away periods. You will enjoy your vacation far more knowing that your furry family members as safe and well cared for while you are away from home.

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