We’d all love to be with our dogs 24/7, but the reality is, sometimes we have to travel, sometimes for work, and other times for family holidays and weekend escapes. But, while increasingly hotels and accommodation are providing pet friendly options, it’s not always possible to take our dogs with us – especially when we travel overseas. In these instances, it’s our responsibility as pet owners to find suitable care for our pets while we’re away from them, to ensure they are kept safe and secure, well-fed and exercised in our absence, and have access to medical care should anything happen while we’re away.

While most people seek out pet boarding when they have to travel – either for short or long trips – there are other occasions when we, as pet owners, may require dog boarding. When moving house, for example, or undergoing renovations, the disruption to everyday life can be significant, and pets may be better housed in an alternate environment. Similarly, if you have to move into a rental property temporarily, you may not be able to take your pet with you, in which case you will need to organise care for your pet while you’re temporarily unable to provide them with a home.


What are my pet boarding options?

According to the Animal Medicines Australia 2016 Report on Pet Ownership in Australia, only 19% of dog owners take their dog on holiday with them, which leaves 81% requiring care for their pets. Thankfully, there are a number of options available to you and there is no reason why your dog can’t be well cared for while you’re away.

The most popular pet boarding options for your dog are:  

  • Take your pet with you
  • Trusted family member, friend or neighbour
  • Pet Sitter
  • In-home pet boarding
  • Traditional boarding (dog kennels and catteries)
  • Luxury Pet Hotel

If not taking their pets with them, most dog owners choose to leave their pets with someone with whom they have a trusted personal relationship while they are away. This includes family (57%), friends (28%) or neighbours (15%).

Trusted Family member, friend or neighbour

For short trips, trusting your pet to a neighbour or family friend can be a convenient and cost-effective means of caring for your pet and it often means your pet can stay in their home environment, with your neighbour visiting to feed, exercise and check on your pet. However, there are risks. You will need to ensure your outdoor area is secure, with no risk of escape or injury to your pet, and that your friend, family member or neighbour visits at least twice a day to feed your dog and check on their welfare. Your dog will also be alone for significant periods, so should be left with enrichment toys that can be circulated while you’re away. It’s for this reason trusting your pet’s welfare to a family member, friend or neighbour should only be considered for short trips.

Pet-sitter

If you don’t have a trusted friend, family-member or neighbour to care for your pet while you’re away another option is to employ a professional pet sitter. The pet sitter will visit your property on an agreed schedule, to care for your pet in the same way your family member, friend or neighbour would.

Again, employing a pet sitter means your dog can stay in their home environment while you’re away, so long as they have access to your safe and secure outdoor area. However, trusting your pet to a pet sitter carries the same risks as asking your family member, friend or neighbour to care for them in that your pet will spend significant portions of the day alone, whilst also opening up your home to a stranger. Ideally, you want to look for someone who has been recommended to your by a friend or colleague. Always check their reviews on Google, for example, and ensure your pet sitter has been police checked.

In-home pet boarding

Another option is to book your pet in to stay at a pet-sitter’s home, or book a pet sitter to stay in your own home whilst you’re away. In this way, your dog will have more company and will have someone on hand in case anything goes wrong.

Traditional Dog Boarding (dog kennels)  

Kennels are designed to offer your dog a safe and secure environment during times they can’t be housed at home and there are a number of advantages.

Traditional dog kennels offer plenty of socialisation both with people and other dogs while you’re away. Typically located on acreage, kennels will have many outdoor and indoor yards for your dog to play in with other dogs where appropriate, and are staffed throughout the day, meaning your dog has access to loving care around the clock.

Traditional dog boarding facilities also employ staff who are experienced and trained in companion animal handling and safety so, which your typical pet sitter, family member, friend or neighbour is not (unless you’re lucky enough to be related to a vet!). For this reason, kennels are able to offer specialist care, for example to aged care dogs and those requiring medication and a little extra TLC.

Luxury Pet Hotels

Luxury dog accommodation has become increasingly popular in the last few years, with many pet owners choosing to accommodate their dog in luxury suites when they have to travel. Choosing a Pet Hotel means you have the benefits of a kennel – with qualified staff and plenty of socialisation for your dog – whilst also affording your dog a luxurious home-style environment to stay in while you’re away. Typically, pet hotels will also offer added luxuries, such as grooming, pet postcards and additional daily exercise for your dog.

How do I choose the best pet boarding option for my dog?

It’s important to consider a number of factors before settling on which pet boarding option is right for you:

  • How long will you be away? For short trips, you may be able to trust your pet care to a neighbour, friend or relative, but for longer trips you need to ensure your dog has sufficient company and interaction with other people and dogs.
  • Consider your dog’s individual needs – does your dog like (and need) lots of activity? Are they likely to try and escape your yard if they’re not engaged on a daily basis? Do they have special requirements such as a feeding schedule or medication?

Questions to ask your pet sitter

If you’ve decided to find a pet sitter to care for your dog, it’s important you ask a few important questions:

  • Have you been police vetted – don’t give access to your property or your pet without a police check.  
  • Do you get on with my dog? Before you go away, give them a trial! Your dog may not like your chosen pet sitter as much as you do!
  • Do you have references – if your pet sitter hasn’t been recommended to you, ensure you ask for at least two references and give them a call to check them out!
  • What will you do in an emergency? Make sure your pet sitter is connected with your local vet and knows exactly what to do if anything goes wrong.

Questions to ask your dog kennels or pet hotel

You’re going to book your pet in to a dog kennels or pet hotel. Before you decide on your dog’s accommodation, ensure you ask the following questions:

  • How much supervision will my dog receive? Most kennels should provide consistent care for your dog throughout the daylight hours, and settle dogs overnight for their sleep.
  • How much space is there for my dog to exercise and to rest? Most kennels and pet hotels will have many indoor and outdoor yards, ideally grassy, which your dog will be able to play in with other dogs at certain times during the day. Depending on the size and breed of your dog, you also want to ensure the accommodation they sleep and rest in is sufficient.
  • Is veterinary care readily available and what happens if something goes wrong? You want to ensure your dog has access to veterinary care and that you or an emergency contact will be informed if anything does go wrong.
  • How sanitary is the facility? If you can’t visit the kennel or pet hotel for a tour, make sure you ask about cleanliness regimes and vaccination requirements. All kennels should require dogs to be fully vaccinated in order to board.

Of course, no matter what option you choose for dog boarding, ensure you leave your contact details – as well as your regular veterinarian’s details and those of an emergency contact who can be trusted if you’re unable to be contacted – to ensure your peace of mind while you’re away.

Ultimately, no matter what you choose, everyone’s priority will be to keep your dog happy and healthy when you’re not there to care for them.

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