N Pet Sitting Service vs Friend Stopping In

Updated on July 31, 2014
D.D. asks from Norwood, MA
19 answers

My hubby and I are having a debate on this one so I wanted to get some other thoughts on this. We are thinking of taking a vacation for a couple weeks. We have a dog and a cat so of course arrangements would need to be made for their care. In the past we've had adult children who lived here so they would look after the pets but they've all moved out and live at least 30-60 minutes away.

I looked into boarding which would cost $64 per day. In addition I'd have to stop the paper and mail. If I hire a pet sitting company they will come 3 times a day. The cost would be $57 a day and they would bring in the paper and mail in addition to leaving on lights and making the house look lived in. Or we could ask my hubby's friend to stay here and he'd do everything for $25-30 a day. I also have a neighbor with a teen who could do this for $20 a day.

The pros and cons: Kennel will give them more interaction during the day but it also exposes them to potential illness, mites, and parasites. Plus it's the most expensive. Pet sitter will leave our pets in a setting they are comfortable with but will change their schedule a bit and have strangers in the house several times a day. Friend staying here will have someone we know in the house but the dog doesn't really care much for this person and to be honest although he grew up with pets he's not really an animal person. My neighbor's teen is good with animals but a teen with my house keys flashes PARTY WITH MY FRIENDS WHILE YOU ARE ON VACATION in my brain.

What would you choose and why?

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So What Happened?

Nice to get so many different points of view. I'm friends with the teen's grandma not really his parents. The grandparents don't really leave their house due to health issues and although the house is right next to mine there's no line of sight because of plantings, trees, and overgrowth in their yard. This would be my last choice if I were to make one.

My adult children will be with us at least half of the time on vacation. They live in apartments so no pets allowed there and even if they could sneak the dog and cat in they would be gone 8-12 hrs a day so my pets would be left alone constantly. This would be the same issue we'd be looking at if my hubby's friend stayed here. He works long hours so the dog would be alone from around 5 am to 6 pm.

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answers from San Francisco on

We use a neighborhood teen and have had no problems. I would only kennel my animals as a last resort, I think it's so much better for them to be home if possible.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We use the teen boy across the street and let all the neighbors (including his mom) know that we are not expecting any guests or visitors. Haven't had a single problem.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

We sort of did a combo deal when we went on our last vacation. We had our friend/babysitter stay every night and then had a teenager in the neighborhood come in while she was working at her regular job during the day. The teen was responsible for letting our dog out and spending a little time with her during the day. The overnight petsitter did the rest, garbage, mail, laundry if the dog made a mess, food and medicine for the dog, etc. It worked out really well for us to make sure that our pooch had almost constant care. We spent about $40/day for everything. We gave out two keys and they came and went according to the schedule I left them.

Keeping our dog home was top priority for us. We also trust the teen, but he's not quite old enough for us to trust him overnight in our home. Both the petsitter and teenager went above and beyond. So we gave them both a nice bonus.

So, in your case, I would suggest something similar. Have the friend stay overnight and have the teenager come over during the day to make sure your animals have water, go for a nice walk, etc. The teenager might offer a little more interaction and love that the friend lacks.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I house-sat all the time as a teen, and never threw any parties. Actually, I took really good care of the place and wound up training the guy's dog for him. (He had two boxers, and hadn't had a chance to train the younger one yet... So I housebroke and taught her basic commands during the 3 weeks he was gone. He actually wound up giving her to me because two boxers turned out to be more than he could handle. Lol)

Plus, if it's a neighbor's kid you could just ask the parents to be mindful of whatever is going on at your house... I'm pretty sure they would notice if their teen is missing all night when he/she is just supposed to be checking on the dog. If possible, maybe the teen would even be willing to take the dog home with him for a few hours in the day, so it can have the extra time with people.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

He/She's not going to get away with anything with parents next door!
Sounds like the teen is the best of all combos: lives animals, handy, grabs mail, eyes on house, etc.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I took care of neighbors pets and never threw a party... So it depends on the teenager. My concern more would be how much time the teen is really going to spend with the pets. I think I only did it for several days, maybe a week. Thrill will wear off quickly if this isn't a real animal lover and I'd worry my pets would be a bit neglected. So is the teen really into your dog or just a responsible kid who's ok with dogs? A pet service 3x a day sounds great! Cheaper than the kennel and 3 times a day isn't bad. I guess kind of depends on your dog too. Is your dog really into playing with other dogs? Mine is more of a "people" dog. So I'd take that into consideration. Teenager is cheapest but I bet in the scheme of your vacation the extra isn't all that much and it's a long time. You don't want your pets to suffer.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

You need to do what is best for your pets, regardless of the cost. Your animals need interaction and exercise every day. Having a teen drop in a couple of times is not sufficient care if you're going to be gone more than a day or two. It sounds like you don't really trust the adult friend that could stay in your house. That leaves the kennel or pet service. Because you'll be gone so long, I'd go with the pet service. Your animals will be in familiar surroundings, the service will bring in your mail, etc. Money well spent. Just make sure they are bonded and trustworthy.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Has the teen given you reason to think that you'll have a house party or are you just worried about his age group? To be honest, my SD has more respect for the neighbor's home than ours sometimes and while she's popped in on their dogs for minutes at a time (before/after school), she doesn't linger. You can also make it very clear to the teen that the neighbors are watching.

I personally prefer not to kennel whenever a friend or family member is available. If you want a professional, go with the pet/house sitter. Make sure they are licensed, have references, etc. Ask people who use pet sitters or your vet. My niece works for a pet store and their staff routinely pet sit on their off time. An ex boyfriend of mine pet sat professionally and was really, really respectful of people's homes.

ETA: IMO I also agree that it matters less if the pet and sitter love each other as long as the job is done and nobody is likely to be hurt. You might also consider having the neighbor kid drop in on the cat and take the dog to one of your children's homes for the duration. A cat is much more aloof and doesn't need the routine as much as a dog.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I would choose a licensed, bonded pet sitter. They are experienced and covered in case anything goes wrong. I've done almost all of the choices--professional pet sitter, kennels and a vet clinic employee who stayed in my home. However, I have never trusted the care of my pets to teenagers. Maybe I would consider it for a day or two at most, but not a couple weeks. I would also not have someone do it who isn't an animal person (and it sounds like the animals have figured that out). I have two teenagers and several teenage neighbors. I can think of one or two who would be reliable, but teenagers are prone to forgetfulness, boredom and distraction. I wouldn't be so concerned about parties as I would he/she always remembering and providing the care needed. (Oh, and Facebook/Twitter can be issue. The teen can by trustworthy, but if he/she even tells one or two friends word can pass quickly that you are gone for a couple of weeks.)

I like our current kennel because the dogs get a lot of exercise and playtime. Plus, I trust the kennel and its staff implicitly. However, twice the dogs have come home with mild viruses so that is always a risk.

Have a good vacation!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I have always used a pet sitter. I have had the same pet sitter over 20 years. The mom used to own the business and the daughter would help out. Now the daughter owns the business. I am perfectly ok with them having a key and access to my house.

I pay $25/visit and I ask for a minimum of 2 visits per day and allow the sitter t guage visits based on her schedule and knowing my schedule for my dogs. We don't leave our dogs alone more than 5 hours so that is her timeframe to work with. She comes back at night to sleepover and I pay $40 for that. I always have her favorite K-cups ready for coffee and sometimes she will just hag out here on a nice morning for a couple of extra hours.

I like the added security that someone is living here while we are away. My total pet bill is anywhere from $250-$400, depending on how long we are gone and I am generous with a tip as well because I know she truly loves our dogs.

My dogs have never been in a kennel with exception of a surgery. My poodle does have to sit in a kennel on a grooming visit because they schedule appointments just like a hair salon does and no dog sits in a kennel at this location.

As for the person you know your dog does not favor and is not a dog person, I would scratch that option now. Your dogs will need attention.

As for the teen, ONLY if I knew the teen was very responsible. It sounds like you don't trust the teen or assume the teen would disrespect your property.

If anything... a service is bonded, insured and has connections with the Dr's in the area if they need to seek help for your pet. If anything is broken, misplaced, etc... they are held liable. The service is more expensive but the perks of making sure your pet is cared for the way you want is higher.

Best wishes and I hope you have a great vacation.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I do your last option (neighbor teen coming over to care for them in their own environment). And if you trust the teen with your pets and don't really think a party town atmosphere is likely while you're away (we know that won't happen, the kid's parents are right over the fence! and we live so far out that few people, especially other teens, would just be "dropping by"... ).

However, you said "a couple of weeks," and that to me indicates a bigger responsibility than a week, or a few days. So I'm not entirely sure I would go with that choice. Honestly, given your choices, if you can afford it, I'd probably go with a service, so long as they come over for a meet/greet with the animals prior to your departure.

How long did you actually mean when you said, "a couple of weeks"? The longest we have ever left our dog using a teen to watch him at our home was 7 full days. She did fine. But missed us. And the neighbor teen did fine also, so far as we know ;) but teens may not be able to commit to the length of time you are talking about. Especially with school rapidly approaching. For our kids, it starts next week.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My first choice would be to use a service, but would also consider the teen, if you are friendly with the parents. My 16 year old son often pet sits our next door neighbors' dog and cats and he's been very responsible. He takes the job very seriously and puts in a lot of time-- four 20 to 30 minute visits per day. (And even if he wanted to throw a party there, no way he could do it because we would know!)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

We used kennels because a good one is well worth it. Only once did I have my dog come home sick and it was from a poorly selected kennel so the fault was on me. After that I was pickier about where I took my dogs (did research, took the tour, asked the questions just like for a daycare) and had nothing but positive to say about kennels. If your police department has a canine unit and uses a public kennel, go there. I used a kennel once which housed the city's dogs when they were off duty and it was top notch in its care.

From a kennel I would expect consistent quality care because that is their business. The staff interact with the dogs on a regular basis and are typically serious animal lovers so they spoil the dogs. For us it was a vacation for the dog and for ourselves. They don't just watch your dog; they dote on your dog.

We did a house sitter a few times but it was subpar each time regardless of whether it was a service or a trusted relative/neighbor. Once a well-respected relative left our dog alone for over 24 hours because he couldn't be bothered to head to our house. That one slipped out over a beer several months after the fact and boy were we mad about that. People can be so funny about agreeing to an obligation which later on turns out to be more than can or want to handle. As well we are funny about having strangers in our home. Yes, a company can be bonded, licensed and and and but they are in my home without me there. Too strange for my tastes but that is my own hang up.

Whatever you decide ask lots of questions and follow your gut. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

D., every time we go on vacation, the main concerns are: 1. How long will we be gone 2. What will be the most comfortable for our dogs?

Since you will be gone for a few weeks, boarding seems rather cost prohibitive. Also, it is a large disruption from a dogs routine - unfamiliar setting, people, activity, strange dogs, etc. And then, as you mentioned, the higher risk of them contracting an illness.

For those reasons, I would forego kenneling. That means they will be staying in your house. Because you are going to be gone for a few weeks, having someone come in & out of the house, such as a pet sitter service, can be very stressful for dogs. When you are home, your presence is there at night, even while sleeping, and the potty schedule is expanded to include first thing in the morning & last thing at night. We have only done this when we will be gone for just a day or two, as we have found our dogs stress out at the lack of interaction for longer than that.

Having a friend stay, vs. the teenager. Since your length of travel will be quite extended, I would personally use the teenager (I am assuming that they will be living @ your house while you are gone). This is a great opportunity to help a teen earn money, by doing something responsible. They can get a good reference from you for future jobs (doesn't have to be related). And your pets will get more interaction & attentive care, most likely.

This is based on the assumption that you trust this teen, and have an acquaintance relationship with their family (at least). Just make sure you set ground rules, maybe even draw up a contract to have the teen sign, stating who/how many can be @ the house (a friend or 2 to watch a movie OK, party with more than 4 people, not OK), the schedule for the pet care, their agreeance on when to call you & when to call authorities in case of emergency, etc.

We did have 2 teens stay @ our house when we were gone for 2 weeks, and it went very well. They loved on our dogs, and were very responsible, checking in with us every day via email to let us know how everything was going, and checking in with their folks if anything came up (we were out of the country).

Good luck! T. =-)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'd keep the animals in their home if you can, because it's more comfortable and not just because of the cost. The most important thing, especially for the dog, is socialization. (Maybe the cat too, depending on personality.) If you have someone who is going to hang out with the animals and let them feel a human presence, that's great. Yes, the dog needs to be walked and maybe played with a bit, but there's also value to having someone just sitting there watching TV with a hand on the doggie's head for an hour a few times a day. If a teen will do this, it might be better. Some teens are happy to have their own space away from parents, but if the neighbor is close by, the kid isn't going to be able to get away with much. (Yes, I'd lock up the liquor and tuck away anything of value just because a curious teen might not take great care of something he didn't know was important to you, but I wouldn't be too concerned about a party if you have caring and "nosy" neighbors to keep an eye out.) In our town, we also let the police know we'll be away, and we let the teens know that the police will be patrolling.

A pet service can be a good option because these are usually people who truly like animals. If the adults are bonded, it's probably not riskier than having a teen there.

I'd be least comfortable with having a friend stay who doesn't like the animals and whom you already know the dog doesn't love.

Kennels do provide socialization and if you have the pets visit ahead of time, it can be an option. I have a rescue dog who was abandoned several times and so this is not an option for her at all, but I did board my previous dog on several occasions. I felt better about smaller places than huge ones that looked like prisons with aisles and aisles of cages. But it is expensive and you usually have to pre-treat for things like kennel cough. It entirely depends on your animals' personalities and fears. If they've never boarded, and they're older, it might be a tough adjustment.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Do your young adult children have any friends you trust near by? You can offer them the same you would offer your husband's friend.

I used to be the 'go to' person when I was in my 20's before i had my own family. I didn't have my own dog, yet love them. It was a win-win.

I was also asked as a young teen. I am embarrassed to admit, that because of my forgetfulness I do not think I would ask a teen. I forgot to feed a neighbor's cat one day and went back and didn't see her right away and I was scared she ran away. Thankfully she showed up while on my watch the following day. On the plus side, a teen can be texted nowadays and reminded.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I wouldn't have a teen do it. I agree with you about the party thing. Or bringing friends to come hang out and then someone steals your stuff.

I'd ask an adult neighbor who has the same kind of pet. See if you can exchange the favor for taking care of pets while you're both away. My mom feeds, waters and cleans the kitty litter for the people across the way, once a day. No, she doesn't play with them, but they don't want to anyway. If it were a dog, she'd sit and play for a while.

If he has any problems, she goes over and asks the fellow for help and he helps. That's the trade-off - neighbor helping neighbor.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I would take the dog to my kids house. Then just have someone come in every few days for cat. Surely an hour ride for your dog to be happy, would be worth it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I just came back from a month "vacation" - my two boys and I left while my husband stayed because he didn't have 30 days of leave...and my job? I can do from anywhere as long as I have internet connection and a phone/tablet.

We paid a friend (who LOVES animals and LOVES my baby) $100 a week to come over and take care of my fur baby during the day - he walked him and took him over to his house to play with his dogs. He's 15 and I KNOW he wouldn't "party" at my house. If you think this teen will do that? Then I would NOT have him take care of my fur baby.

A friend who my dog does not like? They probably wouldn't be a friend of mine - dogs are pretty good judges of character. So that option would be out.

While I do NOT like kenneling - sometimes it's necessary. In this instance? I would pay the teen to come over and pick up our mail and take it to his house and kennel my pets.

Have you considered having a serious talk with the teen and his parents to talk about your expectations and concerns? Set the rules. If you trust him - go for it. If not - kennel.

I would MUCH prefer to have my dog being taken care of my someone who cares for him than a kennel. I'd have a serious talk with the teen and his parents and go from there.

Good luck!

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