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Are You Traveling for the Holidays and Your Dog Can’t Tag Along? What to Do

If you don't have a trusted friend to dog-sit, check out our options for finding the best lodging for your dog.

Wendy Newell  |  Oct 16th 2015


Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in a recent issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.

Holiday travel season is coming up, but what about sweet Spot? Is he invited? If not, where does your pup stay while you head out of town?

My dog, Riggins, is a baby. More specifically, he is my baby, and leaving him when I travel is heartbreaking. Luckily, I live close to my parents and can coordinate my trips with them so he has a familiar place to stay and people who spoil him with treats and love. But, not everyone has a trusted family member or friend to dog sit for them. If you’re one of those folks, consider these options and tips.

My sweet Riggins. (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

My sweet Riggins. (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

1. Home dog-sitting

The Internet is a wonderful thing and has allowed companies like DogVacay.com and Rover.com to exist. I describe these sites as Airbnb for dogs, but they are so much more. They let dog lovers sign up and build a dog sitter profile, setting their own prices and services. I am a DogVacay sitter, and I find that rates are competitive per region and offer your pup a personal stay in the comfy atmosphere of an animal-loving home.

Like many of these hosts, I take pups on daily walks, hikes, and dog park trips as part of the service, and I offer personal, one-on-one attention. This might include sleeping in the human bed overnight or individual snuggle time.

When you think about all the individual attention, exercise, and group play your dog could get, these online hosts are a bargain, with rates typically ranging from $15 to $55 per night. You can often negotiate package pricing for multiple pets and extended stays, so don’t be afraid to ask about deals before you book.

Riggins and one of our guests during naptime. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins and one of our guests during naptime. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

When using one of these types of sites, screen the host. Book a meet and greet, and feel free to grill the host as much as you need to in order to feel comfortable.

2. Kennels

Kennel services offered by veterinarians or group dog-sitting companies are often a more budget-friendly option. These three types of dogs do well in this environment and can take advantage of this pricing:

Older pups. Dogs who don’t need much exercise or group playtime are perfect kennel residents. However, if daily interaction or freedom is something your dog craves, the savings may not be worth it.

Antisocial dogs. You know if you own one: that pup who just prefers to be the one and only. If your dog isn’t able to be social with other animals, he may be less stressed in a personal kennel.

Dog in kennel by Shutterstock.

Dog in kennel by Shutterstock.

Dogs with medical needs. Most DogVacay and Rover hosts won’t charge more for administrating medicine, but they usually aren’t vet techs. If your dog has medical needs, it may end up being less expensive in the long run to keep him at your local vet’s office, where any emergency situation can be taken care of on-site.

Kennels have a wide range of costs, and prices can vary depending on the size of dog and any additional special accommodations, such as specific food requirements and medicine. Shop around to find the best pricing.

3. Pet store hotels

The bigger chains like PetSmart and other, more localized dog hotels offer group and individual dog overnight accommodations. These can often be a good in-between option that allows for group dog sitting in a structured environment. One of my clients goes to a Petsmart hotel when I’m not available and does very well there. Of course, he isn’t able to watch Grey’s Anatomy while cuddled up on my lap, but that is a luxury that very few animals and humans are allowed!

One final tip: Talk to your local vet tech to see if she dog sits on the side. Techs often do home visits or even overnight stays at prices that put all other options to shame. You get personal attention, medical background, and a bargain to boot!

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About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.