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Choosing a pet sitter for the first time

We have a beagle mix for almost 10 years. When we go on vacation and cannot bring him we've put him in the kennel. The thought being the kennel is cheaper, there is someone always on staff and there are other dogs so that our dog would not be lonely.

The last couple of times we put our dog in the kennel he came out of it not too happy. He looked tired and worn out. This year we decided on a pet sitter. Luckily, I knew someone who pet sits and I told her I'm nervous and not sure how this will work. She charged $17 for 30-45 minutes of dog time and that many people will set up 3 to 4 visits in a day. That was too much for us but we set it up so that we'd meet once on the first and last days and twice on the days in between. I will include a break down with costs below but

Thoughts on the Kennel:
  • I have always assumed there was someone on staff at kennel at all times. I have found this is not true in most of the kennels we've been too.

  • Since dogs are pack animals, I thought our dog would at least like spending the night with other dogs. After leaving him with a pet sitter, I don't think this is the case.

  • Costs is dependent on weight of the dog, which determines the size of the room s/he gets. The cost of a kennel can vary because of their location, their services, the size of your dog and the gadgets they have in the dog's room. There is one kennel near us, where the dog can have a TV - you're talking $75 a night for that room. There are services available to the dog, like group play (with a group of dogs), one on one play (just your dog and a person), nail clipping, grooming, flea baths and some kennels have dog training.

  • For us, one night's stay and a play time, plus fed twice a day would cost approximately $30 a night. Oddly, if we brought our food from home, we had to pay extra as well.

  • On top of all that we have to make sure his shots are up to day. Yes I know some shots are essential but some like bordatella shots are required every 6 months. Many kennels now require their dogs to have the K9 Influenza shot.

Thoughts on a Pet Sitter:

  • I was very worried about leaving the dog overnight, however when I saw how relaxed our dog was when we got home, I am no longer worry.

  • Luckily, I knew someone who pet sits and knew how she was with my dog. I would recommend you find someone you know or get a recommendation from someone you trust.

  • I told her I'm nervous and not sure how this will work. I explained to her my biggest concerns was that my dog will pee in the house and will be lonely. She worked with me on both of these issues and I gave it a try for a weekend trip.

  • She charged $17 for each visit and that many people will set up 3 to 4 visits in a day. That was too much for us but we set it up so that we'd meet once on the first and last days and twice on the days in between. You can ask if they will come to your house just for an evening pee break for a discounted price.

  • For each visit, she came fed our dog, fed our guinea pig, brought in our mail and any packages we may have out on the porch and with the rest of the time she would walk our dog or let him play in the backyard.

  • Before our vacation, she came to our house and we discussed his routine, where we keep our dog supplies including dog clean up supplies and anything she should know. For us, I did not want our dog in any of the bedrooms but the bathroom door could stay open so if there is a thunderstorm, he had a place to hid.

  • We did not have to get the K9 Influenza shot nor the bordatella shots.

  • The cost for us came out to $40 for a full day - $17 for the days we were there half the day.

  • One con, the pet sitter we used, although license and bonded did not always have the days that we needed. Luckily we were flexible but it could be frustrating if you have affixed date in mind. On the other hand, many sitters today have back up sitters.

  • Oh, and it was so sweet to come home and not worry about how and when can we pick up the dog from the kennel.
Final thoughts: We did not travel without the dog much this summer. For the costs of the shots and the kennel stay, it came out to about the same as getting a pet sitter. When we came home that last day, our dog was happier. At the kennel, he would come home ecstatic that we picked him up and eager to go in the car to get home. Leaving him with the pet sitter, our dog was happy to see us but not a "Oh my god, I'm so glad you're here, it was crazy in there." Our dog is getting old (~12) and I think he needs a break from the craziness of a kennel. We will use the pet sitter for as long as we can.


  1. We have a dog as well. He's a quirky little animal. I recently looked at options because Kevin wanted to an overnight camping trip at the Kerrville Folk Music Festival. I didn't even consider boarding him, because the cost of the shots were too high for just one night, An acquaintance of ours is a pet sitter, although he charges $10.00/hr, he offer to take of Oscar for free. He even offer to let him stay at his house. (I would have paid him anyway). In the end, we did not go on the overnight trip, but it's nice to know we have someone to take care of Oscar, if we decide to take a short trip.

    1. Wow you're lucky and $10/hr is unheard of on the east coast. I should mention our dog, stayed in our house and the sitter would come twice a day to feed him and walk/play with him or just let him outside to play. So he was alone most of the time. I'm not sure if I can do that if we were gone for a week.

      And we try to bring our dog when we can. Where we were going did not allow dogs.

  2. This seems to be a problem and made big business for the pet care arena. I know when we lived in Albuquerque finding a kennel wasn't too hard they did charge extra to give the pet his own food or refused that as part of the service. What is that about? But what was nice is they had indoor outdoor runs which were attached to the kennels. Plus the Kennels were air conditioned. Comming here Kennels are in a premium. Many are booked months if not a year ahead of time,especially for holidays. As to socialization, I boarded my dog at a small mom and pop place at the last minute and when I picked up my dog it had picked up several bad behaviors and fleas/ticks. I havent tried an official sitter. I have on occassion been able to get one of my teen age daughters friends to help out which works ok.

    1. I'm with you - you'd think they'd be saving money on the dog food. And yes, dog kennels have gotten so fancy - some of these dogs stay in places that look nicer than some of the hotels I've stayed in LOL

  3. I also prefer a dog sitter to a kennel. The kennels I have visited look like jails. Each dog has an indoor area and an outdoor area, but they cannot play with each other in one big area. They are safe but probably get almost no interaction with people or dogs.
    My dog did get a little bite on one ear one time when staying overnight with her babysitters and three other dogs, but the sitters took care of it well. Now Casey knows she should not assume that all dogs are willing to share their toys!

    1. The one I go to allows them to play together but you have to pay for it. And I was always afraid of him in the group play because of injury or passing of sickness. This worked out really well. He's actually a better behaved dog since we got home. He doesn't bark every time the door opens.

  4. I have been petsitting for friends for the past four and a half years. I've stayed in the house, had the pets stay at my house, and also dropped by depending on what the pet's parents want. Some kennels actually do let the dogs get out, socialize and play - but the price for places that good can be a hotel room. I charge about the same your sitter charged, adding extra if I have to make long drives. I love petsitting, and I really love it when the owners say it's okay to bring my dog over to help out. That means I get to take care of my dog and my friend's animal(s) too!

    1. yes, I agree about kennels. The other issue is that the kennels let them out but for an extra fee and different prices if you want one on one with human or with group dog. I'm always nervous about group dog play because I've been to the dog park and some of those dogs are aggressive. My guy is mild mannered

  5. A sitter is definitely the better option if you compare all the factors really. I hired a sitter for my dog once, and the service was great. It's like I never left. I also have pet sugar gliders and they were taken care of too! It was free of charge because they were so easy to maintain, the sitter just put some food in their trays and voila! Sitters actually add a personal touch to taking care of your pets, and that's what is important for your pets: to not to feel abandoned while you're gone. Thank you for sharing this insightful comparison to us!

    Priscilla Price @

  6. Yes, that is the beauty of the pet sitter - they take care of all your pets for one fee and when you have exotic pets, it gets that much harder to find someone.


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