Investigate Care Options for Your Dog

Going on vacation and can’t bring your dog? Oh no! We know how “ruff” that can be.

But the great news is that there are many options for dog care these days. You can take your dog to a boarding facility, have her stay with friends or family, or even arrange a house sitter. For shorter stays, you instead may opt to have someone come over several times a day to feed your dog and let her out.

Your decision should be based on the length of time you’ll be away, your dog’s personality and needs, and your budget. Here’s the lowdown on your options, and some helpful tips to make your time apart as stress-free as possible.

Boarding Facility

A boarding facility will generally be the most expensive of your dog care options, and each boarding facility will offer different packages and amenities. Some have play yards where dogs can socialize all day, while others keep dogs in kennels and charge extra for walks. If you go with this option, make sure you know these details and are satisfied with the amenities.¬†We like Camp Bow Bow, which has play yards (you can view online to try to spot your dog playing), nighttime music and peanut butter “campfire treats.”

If your dog has never been to the facility before, you may be required to enroll for a test run (most boarding facilities require you to board your dog for at least a few hours to test your dog’s temperament beforehand). You’ll also want to make sure your dog is up-to-date on all shots, including a bordatella (kennel cough) vaccination.

To make sure that your dog is as comfortable as possible, bring his bed and a few of his favorite toys. You should also bring his own food and instructions: how many times he eats per day and at what times, and how much food he receives.

In-Home House Sitter

Generally, this option is cheaper than using a boarding facility. Employing a house sitter also ensures that someone is watching over your house while you’re away. Your dogs may feel more comfortable in their own home, which is another advantage. You can find house sitters on or through friends and family. The disadvantage of this option is that you must trust someone to live in your home while you’re gone. Choose this person wisely.

To make everyone’s life easier, I suggest creating a packet of instructions. Generally, I create one for each dog: a photo of the dog, name, age, details about their feeding and allowed treats, any past or current medical problems, veterinarian contact information and my contact information. I also include their Microchip numbers and vaccination records. I like to have one to two short meet and greet sessions so that my dogs are familiar with the sitter and we can go over any issues they may have.

Also, to make our time apart a little easier, I usually ask the dog sitter to text me photos and/or videos when they can.

IMPORTANT: Make sure your sitter has a copy of your key before you leave! Also, if you have an alarm system, give them the details of how to activate and deactivate the system. You may also want to let your neighbors know someone will be staying in your home (and your landlord if you’re a renter).

With Friends or Family

Another option is utilizing friends or family. You may even get your dog’s stay for free. My advice on this is similar to that of employing an in-house sitter: make an instruction packet for your dogs with all their vital information! Just because you know your friends/family well doesn’t mean they know everything about caring for your furry friend.

Drop-In Visits

If you’re only going to be gone for a day or so, you may opt to have someone come to your house a few times a day to make sure your dog is OK. This is an especially viable option if you have a dog door. Even better if you have multiple pets that can keep each other company. Again, make sure you find someone whom you trust to care for your dogs. Leave instructions, as noted above. I only suggest this option for short trips and independent dogs who aren’t prone to separation anxiety.

Good luck and have a wonderful vacation!


  1. Research your dog’s care options
  2. Get necessary vaccinations
  3. Schedule meet and greets or run-through days if boarding
  4. Prepare a care packet for your dog including:
    • When they eat and what quantity of food
    • Any illnesses they have or have had
    • Vaccination information
    • Vet contact info
    • Your contact info
    • Photo of your dog and name
    • Microchip number
    • Other concerns (separation anxiety, digging, medications, excessive barking, etc.)
  5. Make sure all care items and food are purchased, ready or packed
    • Make sure you have enough food for your dog
    • Leave items scented like you and a few toys
    • If having someone come in home, make sure to give them a key and familiarize them with any security systems you may have