Alternatives to Dog Boarding this Holiday Season

Alternatives to Dog Boarding this Holiday Season

Leave your dog in good hands this holiday season with a few alternatives to dog boarding.

The holidays are right around the corner and you’ve started to make travel arrangements…unfortunately, your dog can’t come along. Don’t feel bad—sometimes, it’s just not possible. You don’t want to leave him in a traditional boarding facility, and you have your reasons. Perhaps you’re nervous about leaving him in a facility with strange dogs and people for an extended period of time. Maybe your dog doesn’t do well in new situations and leaving him there would cause stress and other health issues. Or it could be that you can’t afford dog boarding—it is the holidays, and with shopping and travel expenses, you’re all tapped out. Whatever your reasons are, here are a few alternatives to dog boarding that will help give you peace of mind while you’re away for the holidays.

Leave Your Dog With a Trusted Friend or Family Member

This is the most common and desirable of the alternative options. Your dog already knows and loves these people, so trust won’t be an issue. When you’re away, your dog will still miss you, just not as much. Besides, your friends and family would jump at the chance to look after your dog for a couple of days, especially if they don’t have any of their own. You can expect your dog to be spoiled rotten, which will make this as much of a vacation for him as it is for you. A few days before you head off, leave a detailed list of your dog’s daily routine, how much food/treats he can eat and other important information. Provide a list of emergency contacts, as well as a list of phone numbers where you can be reached at.

Hiring a Live-In Pet Sitter

Another alternative is to hire a professional that will stay in your home and look after your dog. This can be an expensive option, but then again, some people may do it for free, in exchange for rent-free living (if you’re gone for an extended period of time). There are many pet sitting professionals out there—try out a dog-sitting site like or Ask around your local pet haunts (pet stores, dog parking, dog daycare, other pet parents you know) to see if they can recommend someone they’ve used and trust. And when you’re thinking about the money spent on this kind of service, remember that hiring a dog sitter is kind of a two-for-one deal—you have someone watching over your house and your dog!

Home-Style Boarding

Home-style boarding is where your dog lives with a family in their home for a fee. Often, the family has dogs of their own, so your pooch can interactive with them. Many pet parents say that home-style boarding is a safer alternative for boarding your dog than at a large kennel, and you dog will get much more attention and care. It can also be less expensive than a traditional dog boarding facility. Before going with any home-style boarding environment, you’ll have to know what items you’ll be responsible for bringing, including food, toys and other essentials.

Join a Network

If you like to travel (and not just on the holidays), look into joining a network where you swap dog-sitting services. You can start one yourself with people you know from the dog park or from other pet-friendly sources. These groups can be breed specific or an “all dogs welcome” group. The best part about dog-swapping networks is that it’s free. You just have to be willing to look after someone else’s dog when they are away on vacation.

Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.
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