How to Choose the Best Sitter for Your Pet

When your pet is part of your family, leaving them when you’re on vacation can be a big cause of anxiety for you and for them. What’s a dedicated owner to do? We’ve done some research to help you decide between boarding your pet and hiring an in-home sitter, listing the pros and cons for each.


Boarding is the traditional choice, where you take your pet to a facility while you’re away. Boarding facilities can vary greatly in size and quality, so it’s best to do your homework! Here are some things to look for when checking out pet boarding facilities in your town:

  • Reviews: If the kennel has been in business for any length of time, they probably have online reviews. Read these carefully; it’s best to find a place that has reviews with a wide range of dates. Did other reviews have positive things to say about the facility and staff?
  • Visit: You can tell a lot by visiting in person. Is it clean and well-kept? Are the suites spacious? Do animals have regular outdoor access?
  • Add-Ons: Many kennels have come a long way from the sparse accommodations of the past. Does the kennel have add-ons, like nature walks, play time or other activities?

In-Home Sitter

Having in-home pet care is another popular option for taking care of your pets when you’re away. Assuming the pet sitter isn’t a close friend or relative, there are a few things you should consider:

  • Reviews: This goes for in-home sitters, too! You are opening your home to someone; make sure they come from a licensed, bonded facility and have good reviews. If able, get a referral from someone you know and trust who has used that person or service in the past, and had a good experience.
  • Interview: Talk to your potential pet sitter one-on-one, and go with your gut. Also see how they interact with your pet. Ask them for references, and if they’ve ever had to handle a medical emergency while an animal was in their care.

In-Home Pet Sitter vs. Boarding

Use an in-home sitter if…

You have a nervous or anxious pet. A boarding facility might be too much for an animal that is very attached to its routine or home environment.

You like the extra security. Having someone staying at your home while you’re gone is a great deterrent for potential thieves!

Your pet is susceptible to illness. Sending a pet to a boarding facility isn’t unlike sending a child to daycare — germs can spread! If your pet is elderly or very young, consider keeping them at home. It goes without saying that any pet should be up-to-date on all immunizations.

Use a boarding facility if…

Your pet is social. Many dogs love being able to interact with other canines. If you have an extrovert for a pet, there is a lot to be said for sending them to a boarding facility, especially if they have supervised play times with other boarders.

Your pet needs grooming. One definite advantage to boarding versus pet sitting is that these facilities are often equipped with extras like grooming. Does your dog need a dreaded nail trim or a bath? Experienced professionals are often a part of the staff, and you can add on these services while your pet is in their care.

You want experienced staff. Oftentimes, the staff at boarding facilities have been working with animals for years (as groomers, veterinary staff or trainers), and have likely been trained with sanitation and safety protocols (this is where doing your homework comes in extra handy).

The end message is the same: Research thoroughly, get referrals and trust your instincts. While there are pros and cons to both boarding and in-home pet sitting, the end result should be the same — a healthy, happy pet to greet you when you get home!