Finding caregivers for your fur baby is a task not to be taken lightly. If you are like most dog owners, Duncan is your best buddy and you want the best possible care for him. When you travel, you have a few options for what to do with Duncan. If you're lucky, you can either take him with you or have a trusted friend or family member take him in. For many dog owners, those are not possibilities, which is why boarding and pet sitting are part of the booming pet care industry.
Kennels are places where you can leave Duncan while you travel. They provide a place to stay, exercise, and feeding. They are often also called boarding facility, pet hotel, doggy day care, or doggy camp. They can be stand-alone businesses, chains, or a service offered by a large pet store chain. Pet sitters are people who will come to your home while you are gone to walk Duncan, feed him, and give him some loving. They usually come between two and four times per day at your request, or may even stay overnight in your house.
The choice of whether to board Duncan or find him a sitter is an individual one. It may depend on whether Duncan likes other dogs, if he gets nervous going to new places, or how much exercise he needs. Your decision may also depend upon what you can afford and what is available where you live.
Both pet sitting and boarding can be viable and choices for caring for Duncan while you are away. There are plenty of trustworthy, reliable, and responsible pet sitters and boarders out there. And there are also bad and irresponsible ones. Whichever type of care you choose, it is essential that you choose an individual business that is going to take excellent care of your buddy.
The first thing you should look for is insurance. There is absolutely no reason for a kennel or sitter to not be insured. And if it is a sitter, they should also be bonded. It seems like a simple thing, but you can eliminate any businesses immediately if they cannot prove to you that they have liability insurance.
Any business that hesitates to show you references from previous clients can also be scratched off the list. If a kennel or sitter cannot provide you with satisfied customers, that is a major red flag. Take Duncan and walk quickly away from such a business. Insist on nothing less than an email or phone number so that you can communicate directly with a prior customer or two and find out what their experience was like.
If you plan to go with a kennel, take Duncan there well ahead of your planned travels. Let him sniff around, meet the employees, and play with the other dogs. Ask to see where the dogs sleep, find out how much time they get to spend outside of the actual kennels, and find out about feeding schedules. Make sure you are comfortable with everything you see. Dogs should look happy and well-exercised. A bunch of restless dogs locked up in cages is a bad sign.
If you are going to work with a pet sitter, be sure they come out to your house before your travels. You need to be sure Duncan likes the sitter and you want to get to know the person yourself. Insurance and references can tell you a lot about a person, but there is nothing like meeting them in person to make you feel comfortable. Use your intuition, and if something seems off about the sitter, find another option. Remember that this person is not just caring for Duncan, they are going to have a key to your home.