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Dog Sitting vs. Dog Kennels – Which One is Right for My Pup?

Dog kennels vs. Dog Sitting - which is right for my pup?

Dogs love holidays too!

If you’ve landed on this post, you’re probably wondering what your options are when it’s time for a hard-earned holiday. Although there are plenty of great places you can take your dogs with you for a break, and dog friendly hotels are springing up all over the country, sometimes you need a fortnight abroad in the sun, or receive an invitation for an overnight stay where pooches aren’t on the guest list. So how do you ensure your doggy has a great time too – do you choose dog sitting or dog kennels? Here are the facts you should consider.

First things first:

What is dog sitting, and how is it different to kennels?


dog in kennel

Not all dogs are suited to kennels

With dog sitting, your pup will stay in a home environment. Unlike when you call in favours from family and friends to mind your dog, the dog sitter doesn’t come to your house – your canine friend goes to stay with them. This is sometimes known as “home dog boarding”. Do be careful though, as with any service there are lots of different types of dog sitting services on offer and trust and professionalism are the most important factors. You will need to feel comfortable with the person responsible for your dog whilst you are away, so make sure you do your research.

In contrast, many dog kennels are purpose-built housing where many dogs can stay at once – in their own individual “kennels” – although they have access to outside space for exercise.


One of the key differences between dog sitting and kennels is routine. Due to the fact that kennels need to care for multiple dogs, they usually have a set routine. This is structured around keeping the kennels clean, feeding time, exercise, one-on-one time and ensuring that the dogs have a toilet break before bed. This can be an exciting or challenging experience, depending on your dog’s personality.

On the flip side, dog sitters like Barking Mad keep the routines that your dog already has in place. When you join Barking Mad, your local branch owner will come to visit you and your dog to learn about their normal home life routine and specific requirements. Based on this information, they will be matched with a local experienced pet carer who can fulfil those needs. Things to consider are the amount of exercise your pet needs, the types of games they like to play and their nature (whether bold or nervous!)

At Barking Mad, we send owners a picture of their dog when they arrive at their host’s house and an update the next day on how they are doing, so you can relax and enjoy your break.

Black Labrador playing with toy on a Barking Mad dog holiday


Walkies & Exercise

We wouldn’t be considering the key factors for dogs if we didn’t take daily walks into account.

A dog sitter will have been briefed on the routine that your dog requires, whether it’s a 10 minute stroll for a little Lhaso Apso, or an hour long hack through the undergrowth for your bouncy Labrador. This goal of keeping to the same schedule can make your dog’s holiday a happy, stress free experience for them.

You need to research and visit a few different kennels to find one which will be able to meet the needs of your dog. Not all kennels are able to offer walks – or sometimes a 10 minute walk on a lead will be all that is available. In some cases, walks are replaced by outdoor exercise time– usually only with other dogs from their family. However, depending on the resources at the kennel you choose, the outdoor space might include equipment and toys they wouldn’t have access to at home. So look around.

Helen loves being a Barking Mad dog sitting host

Host Helen with one of her very happy dog holiday makers


At kennels, dogs may meet lots of different people, from the cleaning staff there to keep the place hygienic to the different people bringing food and letting them out for exercise. If your dog is the kind of person who loves meeting new people this could work well, but it could be nerve-wracking or overly exciting for other doggies!

On the other hand, once you are matched with the perfect Barking Mad host for your dog, the personal relationship begins right away. They become an honourary member of the family and our hosts love their company! They get the same one-on-one treatment that they do at home (and sometime even better!). We’ve yet to meet a dog who doesn’t thrive with this sort of attention.


For the best health, dogs should always be kept up to date on their routine vaccinations. If you are considering placing your dog into a kennel you should also get them vaccinated for kennel cough.

Whilst it’s important to keep up to date with vaccinations, as dogs stay on their own with Barking Mad dog sitters, there is less risk of them catching illnesses.

With regards to dogs with health concerns, dog sitting is a good choice due to the fact that hosts will be briefed on the medication and special requirements that your dog needs. Many kennels will also be able to provide this, but you do need to be sure your canine friend will be comfortable in those environments.

Whenever you choose holiday care for your dog, you should check references and insurance before placing a booking.

How to choose for your dog

Choosing someone to look after your dog is like choosing childcare – you often have to visit a lot of places before you find “the one”. One of the benefits of Barking Mad is that we visit you to introduce the different hosts available.

At the end of the day, no one knows your dog better than you, so you will be best placed to decide what’s best based on the factors above. Your dog might love the excitement and change of kennels, but we believe they have more fun when they are staying in a family home and keeping their normal schedule.

The clearest indicator that you have chosen well comes when it’s time to return – and the dogs which stay with Barking Mad are always excited to meet their new human friends again! Plus, when you pick them up you’ll receive a postcard which tells you all about their stay.

To register with Barking Mad for your next holiday or to find out more about the service, search for your postcode here to get in touch with your local branch.