Dog Boarding? Dog Sitting? How they compare.

Going away and need someone to mind your dog? Established dog boarding kennels will no doubt be part of your research, but what about dog sitting (pet sitting) as an alternative?

Dog Sitting (Pet Sitting)

Dog sitting, pet sitting or dog minding covers a diverse variety of options. A non-commercial option for dog minding is privately arranged boarding with family or friends. If they have the time, aptitude and facilities, and they already know the dog, this can work well.

For paid pet minding services, one model involves a dog-minder coming to your home while you are away – to feed your dog, check drinking water and ensure nothing is obviously amiss. Such home visits may be as brief as 15 minutes per day, but may extend to a second visit and/or include additional services like exercising your dog, cleaning up dog mess and taking your dog for a walk. Charges will vary with the range of options you require.

Another version of dog minding or dog sitting involves the dog sitter taking your dog into their home. This is frequently offered and promoted through the internet and used by ‘gig’ providers. Standards of such home-based pet care will vary greatly, as will the facilities, security and situation of their place of residence.

Dog Boarding

Boarding kennels, (pet boarding, pet hotels etc) are businesses specifically dedicated to pet and dog care. They cater for multiple dogs so if your dog enjoys the company of others, and if the facility offers supervised group-play, this will be a clear positive. Rooms and yards will be designed to be secure and staff can be expected to be experienced in management and care of dogs, canine health issues and behaviour.

So, Dog-boarding or Dog Sitting? Let’s examine the pros and cons of each to find the best solution to care for your dog.

The Legal Situation

Professional dog boarding facilities are required to be registered and comply with a mandatory Code of Conduct administered by the State Government. They are regularly inspected by Council officers for compliance. ‘Gig’ dog-minders do not have to be licenced or registered but by law are not permitted to accommodate more than two dogs at a time. If in breach of that, Council inspectors may force immediate closure: not something you want to happen whilst you are away.


As already noted, boarding kennels are built with security in mind: having secure windows and doors on all kennel accommodation and high fences and gates on exercise yards.

Where dog-minding is offered in private homes, security will be variable. Is the house secure? Are multiple residents / tenants coming and going? Is there a yard and if so are fences sufficiently high and in good repair?


Dog Sitting / Minding: If you are away for more than a day you will probably want the dog-minder/sitter to walk your dog. You should check whether this means with other dogs walked at the same time and how that will be managed. Any off-site dog-walking, and especially off-lead exercise in public parks, will involve some risk. In such locations, your dog will likely be interacting with unknown dogs. You will want to be quite sure that your dog-sitter/minder has the experience and ability to control any situation that may arise.

The more secure situation of a dog boarding kennel allows for safe dog-walking and exercise on site. Supervised free-running social activity may be offered as at Dogdayz.

Will my dog get Individual Attention?

Whether you choose dog boarding or private dog-sitting you will want to be sure your dog is getting plenty of attention and emotional enrichment. A brief once-a-day home visit will not meet that requirement. If the dog-minder is present at site more frequently than that, either in your home or theirs, the question to ask is whether their work and other commitments will allow time needed for regular attention to your dog.
With a boarding kennel it will be important to establish that sufficient staff are on hand to give proper attention to your dog and whether enrichment activity and one-on-one patting time is a paid ‘extra’ or part of regular care.

Will someone be in attendance overnight?

A properly conducted boarding kennel will have someone on site 24/7. It will be an important consideration for the safety of all dogs being minded and especially for those that require after-hours medical care and attention: diabetics, epileptics etc.

If your dog remains in your home without consistent human contact they may become stressed and bark excessively (not what neighbours will want) or seek to escape their yard. A dog-sitter who is also your house-sitter will be a good solution in that case, especially if they know the dog and their needs.

If the dog-sitter takes your dog into their home it will pay to check that they will indeed be there overnight, every night, consistently and personally. Don’t assume this.

How Long Gone?

The length of your absence may be a factor in the arrangements you make for minding your dog. A home-visit by a responsible person may be adequate for a calm and self-sufficient dog over a single day but for longer periods it will be prudent to look to other options. Boarding kennels can accept a stay of any duration, long or short. Private dog minders may be more restricted in availability.

No Place Like Home (?)

People offering dog minding in their own home may make a special point of dogs being ‘not in a boarding kennel but a family home’. It’s a good line, but from a dog’s point of view, boarding in a home that is not the home they know may be anything but reassuring.

If your dog remains in your home he/she will have the definite advantage of being in a familiar environment. That’s a clear plus, though keep in mind that your dog’s attachment is not to a house – it is to you and/or your family. If you can’t be there it may be better for your dog to enter a totally different environment – not a house but a well-conducted boarding kennel with the company of other dogs ‘on vacation’. This will work even better if you take the time to pre-visit and bring your dog who will then see the location as a familiar place you both know, an interesting place to visit and quite different from home. To a dog, boarding kennel routine, the regular feed times and (at Dogdayz) active exercise, scheduled patting sessions, health checks and socialisation can be an engaging and reassuring interlude.

At a good boarding kennel you can expect accommodation to be at least as comfortable as what is on offer in a private home.

Making friends?

Dogs are social animals.Their human family will be their main ‘pack’ but in other situations they will welcome being with others of their own kind.

Pet sitters taking your dog into their home may already have a dog of their own. That could be a positive provided the two dogs are compatible and well-matched.

At boarding kennels, supervised interaction with other suitable (if offered) will help build the social confidence that comes from a trusted ‘circle of friends’.

Some boarding kennels will offer twin-share dog accommodation with a chosen companion: another point of reassurance. Inevitably some situations and some dogs will require individual accommodation, but be aware that an ‘exclusive’ private room (whilst appealing to human eyes) may be the exact reverse of your dog’s idea of a great holiday.


Dog boarding costs typically vary based on location and size of the dog. Rural/regional boarding kennels tend to be most affordable but least accessible for city-dwellers. Most kennels in the outer metropolitan area will offer transport service. Some facilities may charge for extra services or special medical/nursing care. That’s fair enough, but be cautious of different grades of care and attention varying with price. All dogs deserve genuine individual attention and daily exercise and that should be included in the price.

Dog Sitting: Costs for home-visits will vary greatly depending on the duration and number of visits and additional services: dog-walking etc. The most affordable option will be a dog minder who ‘pops in’ once a day. That may be adequate for a mature and self-sufficient dog for a single day and night. For any longer time it will be best to ensure someone can be on hand continuously, whether in their home or your home or boarding kennel.


Almost any boarding kennel operator will confirm that a frequent source of new clients is due to private pet minding arrangements failing to eventuate – usually at the last minute. It happens a lot, particularly with dog minders sourced from the gig-economy, but can happen even with someone you know and trust if you are relying upon a single individual. With an established and registered boarding kennel, you can be sure your booking is secure and, with multiple staff, can provide the service you need: day and night, 24/7. Further, boarding kennels can usually make a change to extend a stay if that is needed at short notice. Private dog minders may or may not have that flexibility.

Veterinary Care if Needed?

All boarding kennels are required to have a written arrangement with at least one local vet to provide veterinary care, including emergency care, if and when needed. They can also be expected to take note of your regular vet details should they be required at any stage during the stay. Staff at boarding kennels will be very familiar with prescribed canine medications and procedures your dog may need and can administer daily or nightly as required. They should also have the expertise and experience to identify and respond to health issues that arise and act immediately in the case of emergencies.

Equally, an experienced individual pet sitter / minder could also be familiar with the medications or procedures your dog may need but unlike boarding kennels it is not mandatory that they have an established relationship with a veterinary service or emergency centre.

Building a Relationship

If you need dog minding / pet sitting on more than one occasion it will pay to really get to know your chosen dog minder, and the same for a boarding kennel. In either situation there will be obvious benefits if your dog knows them and vice versa. Good dog minders will rightly attract repeat clients but with limited capacity (no more than two dogs) will not be able to meet your needs if already committed to another client. Boarding kennels on the other hand, with sufficient notice at peak periods, will usually be able to help.

So, to choose Dog Boarding or Dog Sitting?

OK, our bias in favour of boarding kennels over casual dog minding arrangements will now be pretty obvious. It is based on over 25 years of seeing the pet care industry grow and change, mostly for the better but sometimes ‘not so much’. There certainly are experienced and caring individuals operating in the private pet minding space, even as in professional pet boarding. In either case, whether you are considering a private dog-sitter or an established boarding kennel it will pay to do your research, meet the people who will be caring for your dog and satisfy yourself that they are genuine dog-lovers committed to the highest standards of care.

A Brief Check-list: Useful Questions

  • Will my dog be secure and safe at all times?
  • Has the provider had substantial experience and/or training?
  • Is the property secure: all gates, doors and fences?
  • Will someone be with my dog throughout the day?
  • Will someone be with my dog throughout the day and overnight?
  • Will special medical needs be met? Medications administered?
  • Is veterinary attention readily available at any time needed?
  • Will my dog be regularly exercised? Where, how often, and how long?
  • What individual attention will be given and how often?
  • Will my dog be given healthy, regular meals?
  • Can I provide my own meals if I choose?