Why Dog Sitting Vs Kennel Or Boarding?

Contrary to popular opinion, the terms pet sitting, and pet boarding are not the same.

Years ago, the only option for pet owners was to board their pet at the local kennel. Pet boarding is like taking your dog to a hotel, except all the guests are pets.

On the other hand, there is pet sitting.  Pet sitting is defined as “the act of caring for a pet in its own home while the owner is away.” Dog walking is also a form of pet sitting since it involves coming to the pet’s home to provide exercise and companionship. Caring for pets in the clients’ homes is what separates pet sitters from boarders or doggie daycares. Pet sitters visit the pet’s home to provide a range of services. This primarily involves feeding, exercise and companionship. Pet sitters generally bill clients on a per-visit, per-day or per vacation basis, and include additional charges for multiple pets, travel expenses, and non-standard duties.

Pet sitting services do not include services in the pet sitter's home. This is considered "pet boarding." Boarding outside the pet's home generally requires a kennel license, city, or county approval.  Typically, a pet sitter will stop by to care for your pets twice, three or as many times as needed per day or offer overnight or live-in services in your home while you are away. However, some pets do better with boarding, while some will do just fine staying at home.  It all depends on the pet. 

Why Dog Sitting Vs Kennel Or Boarding?

When pet owners are on vacation or working long hours, they hire pet sitters to come to their homes and care for their animals. Primary duties include ensuring pets are exercised, have fresh food, and water, and get personal play time and attention. Pet sitters may be asked to walk dogs, brush them, and clean up any accidents. Cats require litter box cleaning, and animals like snakes, fish and reptiles may require lighting and heat adjustments in addition to food and water. Rodents may need bedding changes, and birds may require cage cleaning as well as interaction. Horses and other livestock may require special feed and knowledge of basic horse care.  Pets who are on medication may need to have their dosages administered per a specific schedule, especially insulin needed pets.   It is critical to ensure the pets are in good overall heath and spirit, and to report any concerns to the pet owner. Some owners will also request video clips, texts and/or report cards to ensure their pets are well cared for.  In some instances, pet sitters may be asked to do other household tasks, such as bringing in mail, watering plants or turning lights on and off to give the appearance that someone is home. 

The great thing about hiring a pet sitter is that you have a lot of control over who and what your pet interacts with. If you have an animal that is shy, skittish, or unfriendly towards other animals or strangers, a pet sitter may be the way to go. A pet sitter will always schedule a free meet and greet visit at your home to be introduced to your pet beforehand so that the pet sitter is not a stranger to your pet when they come to the house.

Here at Home on the Range Pet Sitting LLC, we believe hiring a pet sitter is great because your pet can keep their normal routine. They will be fed at home, go for walks in your neighborhood, and sleep in their own beds.  Sitters can play along with their favorite cat toys or throw the ball with your pup. This is beneficial for dogs with separation anxiety or who get thrown off for a long time when they deviate from their regular routine. You can hire a professional pet sitter to come watch your pet for a few days, weeks or everyday visits for potty breaks or dog walking. If you have a pet that needs a lot of special attention, such as an older animal, you can even have someone stay at the house with him overnight.

Ultimately, which one you decide is up to you. You know what is best for your pet, your family

PROS: Why choose a professional pet sitter to care for my pets?

1. If your “menagerie” includes chickens, ducks, donkeys, sheep, goats, mules, reptiles, small furry animals, birds or horses, pet sitting could be a perfect fit. These visits are custom quoted depending on the services you need and the time it will take them to properly care for each pet properly.   Dogs who have a companion or two will not feel as lonely as they would if they are the only pet. And if your dogs are older, letting them stay in familiar surroundings will prevent them from getting stressed.  If you have house cats who like to do their own thing when you are home, having a sitter who can visit them once or twice a day may be all you need.

2. Your pets will obviously be the focus of the pet-sitter. I am not saying that pet boarding does not pay attention to your pet, I am just saying that pet-boarders/boarding facilities usually take in many other pets as well and they all require attention. Pet sitters spend the entire visit playing and interacting with your pet.  Sitters provide the pets with their normal routine whether it is fetching a ball, going for a walk, or simply just lying on the couch watching a show and receiving belly rubs and loves.   

3. Your pet will be able to stay in his own home where he is most comfortable, with the sights, sounds, and smells to which he is accustomed.  Most pets, especially cats and dogs, like routine. Using the services of a professional pet sitter will enable your pets to keep their normal eating, playtime, exercise, and sleep routines.  We try to keep same pet sitter for all visits.

4. Your pet does not have to adjust to a new environment. They are in the comfort of its own home.  Your pet will have all its favorite foods, toys, blankets and so on. A sudden change of environment and strangers taking care of your pet may be a very stressful factor for your dog to get adjusted to.  Let us put ourselves in our pet’s shoes. If your house and your family members were to suddenly change overnight- wouldn’t you be freaked out/stressed? This is how a pet will feel whenever it must adjust to a new environment.

5. Pets will not be stressed from being transported to a strange place.

6. If your pet is on medication, or other medical treatment, your pet sitter will be able to keep him on his regular schedule.  This includes diabetic pets.

7. Having a pet sitter come to your home also works as a crime deterrent. Most pet sitters will bring in the mail, turn lights off/on, open/close draperies, etc. to help give your home a lived-in look. And, in the event of an emergency, they will be able to contact you immediately rather than you are coming home to find a problem with your home.

8. You do not have to inconvenience family or friends. While they may mean well, and intend to give excellent care, sometimes they may fall short of your expectations. When you hire a professional pet sitter, it creates a business relationship with clear expectations for you and your pet sitter.

9. Many pet sitters further their education and continue to improve their skills to give your pets the best care possible (first aid training, pet CPR, pet behavior seminars, etc.).

10. Your pet will get consistent and personalized care from one sitter who knows your pet well. Most pet sitters will become quite fond of your pets and will give them excellent care!

11. It is more convenient for you. You will not have to carve time out of your busy schedule to drop off or pick up your pet from a kennel.  Your pet will be home, waiting at the door to greet you when you come home!

12. Pet Sitters require only updated Rabies vaccination

CONS (When to Consider Boarding your Pet)

1. Pets with separation anxiety, other behavioral issues, or pets with delicate medical conditions may do better in a kennel or veterinary boarding facility. If you have any concerns, be sure to talk to your pet sitter or veterinarian, who will be able to help you determine the best option for your pet.

2. Boarding can be the best option if your pet is a youngster. You will rest easier knowing he is getting plenty of potty breaks, attention, and social time needed to keep him happy and stimulated. 

3. Boarding is also a better bet if you have a pet who gets destructive when you are away. 

4. Pets prone to getting separation issues will do better with 24-hour attention.

5. The most notable turn off when it comes to pet sitting is usually the high prices being charged. This is understandable as pet sitting is a personal service, unlike boarding your pet, which is often significantly cheaper. Just like any other service, a 1 on 1 session will be more expensive than a group session.

6. Another con would depend on your pet itself. If your pet is not comfortable in the house around strangers- life is going to be difficult for both your pet and the pet sitter. Although your pet is in a friendly environment, leaving it alone with a stranger for too long is sure to cause alarm within a pet’s mind.   But then again, this would still be an issue if you do decide to send it to pet boarding. So yes, this con is unavoidable in most cases.

7. The weather can be a factor when deciding between boarding or pet sitting. What happens if there is a snowstorm and your sitter cannot drive to your house? 

8. Require dogs to be vaccinated on all shots:  Rabies, Distemper/Parvo, Influenza, Bordetella by licensed veterinarian.

 Another thing to consider is the reputation of whoever will be caring for your pets. Always do your homework. Ask people you know if they can recommend a boarding facility or sitter they trust. Check review sites and social media to see what other people are saying.  If you are using a pet sitter, ask for references and make sure they are insured and bonded. Also, plan in case of an emergency. Leave phone numbers for your veterinarian and at least one backup person in case you do not have service where you are going, or the sitter cannot get a hold of you for whatever reason.

Whether you choose to have your pet stay at a boarding facility or hire a pet sitter, making sure your pet is “in good paws” will give you peace of mind while you are away.

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