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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.

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Choosing a Responsible Dog Sitter

Why sharing isn’t always caring when it comes to dog care

Advice for using a responsible dog sitter with Barking Mad Dog Care

Do you know how well prepared your dog sitter is for potential problems?


One of the biggest decisions a dog lover will ever have to make,  is who will care for their canine best friend when they have to go away. As fellow dog lovers, we understand that your dog means everything to you but sometimes you have to fulfil your dreams of travel too. Sometimes it is tempting to think about the cheapest dog sitting option but there can be hidden costs. Have you ever heard the expression, ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch?’ Unfortunately, the same principle applies to dog care, as some unlucky dog lovers have discovered to their emotional and financial cost, when things go wrong.

There has been much debate in the press surrounding the soaring rise in popularity of the so called ‘sharing economy’ recently. The sharing economy is based on the idea of collaborative consumption where owners can rent out something they aren’t currently using. The very simplest version of this relates to an informal arrangement between family and friends but increasingly refers to sharing with a stranger, using a for-profit communications platform which links buyers and sellers. Services such as AirBnB and Uber are considered two of the most prominent examples.

Barking Mad Dog Care is a responsible anomaly of the sharing economy. We have our origins firmly rooted in the sharing principle, with dogs whose owners are away being cared for by those who love dogs but find full time pet ownership too much of an emotional or financial commitment. However, instead of just putting in touch the two parties like an online agent, we provide a full local, professional service with insurance and a proven, personally executed checking and vetting process.  We provide 24 hour support so that if a problem does arise, we will swiftly be on hand, in person to deal with any given situation.


Barking Mad dog sitting is a responsible and professional option

Barking Mad provide a dog sitting service with 24 hr local support


In a Guardian review of ‘What’s Yours is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy’ by Tom Slee, the author is quoted as saying:

“What is explicitly not shared by any of the poster children of the “sharing economy” is responsibility. When something goes horribly wrong with an Airbnb or Uber transaction, the companies just say: “It wasn’t me.”

The review then informs us that Slee has written a “brilliant chapter on how star-rating “reputation systems” between users simply don’t work, because people feel bad about giving low ratings even when they are amply deserved, so they all cluster between four and five.”

Barking Mad is proud of our use of the customer review platform Trustpilot.  As our customers and hosts have an arrangement with our professional service rather than each other and never meet personally, there is no emotional pressure to leave an over inflated rating. Our reviews are independently verified and provide a true insight into our business.

The Guardian concludes by saying:

“Slee uses Airbnb himself but backs the city authorities seeking to regulate it more tightly; and there is no contradiction in taking an Uber home from a party while wishing the company were better behaved. Only the law can force it to be so.”

We agree whole-heartedly that the ‘sharing economy’ is a fantastic concept but there are certainly limitations. If you choose to use Barking Mad’s dog sitting service to care for your four legged best friend, you can be assured that your dog’s welfare is our ultimate concern and we will take full responsibility in ensuring they enjoy their holiday just as much as you enjoy yours! Call us now on 0845 8623845 for more information.

5 Steps to Finding a Dog Sitter You Can Trust

A  reputable dog sitter will be only too happy to provide reviews and testimonials


When your dog means everything to you it can be almost impossible to comprehend leaving them behind but sometimes there is no other option. If you have to go away for work or family reasons, or really need a holiday to recharge your batteries, you can be left facing what feels like a very nerve-wracking decision. The number one person to care for your canine best friend is obviously you but what is the next best option? 

Some people are lucky enough to have friends and family who will care for their dog when needed but not everyone has the time, the right environment or the love of dogs to oblige. An informal arrangement can also cause problems if things don’t go to plan. If your dog or dog sitter becomes unwell or if accidents happen, there is often no back up. So if you can’t entrust the care of your beloved pet to someone you know personally, how do you find a commercial dog sitting service you can trust?

You need to know that your best friend will be happy so that you can enjoy your time away


1.The first thing you can do is to try and obtain a personal recommendation. Ask your dog owning friends, either in person or via social media, if they have ever used a local dog sitter and what their experience was.

2. Why not ask your local vet or pet shop if they can recommend a dog care option? They will most likely have a working relationship with nearby dog sitters / home dog boarding providers and kennels. This will enable them to really know which have the best reputation and working practices.

3. It can be hard to cut through the advertising speil employed by commercial dog sitting companies to promote their businesses. How can you really trust what they say? A good idea is to look for a company which uses an independent review community such as TrustPilot. You can visit their website and check out their pets’ category for rankings, star ratings and read genuine, independently verified customer reviews. You should also take into account the number of reviews provided as a larger number will create a more reliable picture.

4. First impressions are so important! When you call a dog sitter for more information, they should be interested in finding out as much as possible about your dog and their routine, rather than just how long you would like to book for! A trustworthy dog sitter will want to ensure that they fully understand your dog’s requirements, so that they can faithfully replicate your pet’s routine. Make sure that you also ask what will happen if your pet becomes unwell and how much support is provided.

5. Take time to research your local dog sitters. Don’t leave booking holiday care for your dog until the last minute as the best options may be fully booked. Choosing and booking your dog’s care should be done in plenty of time, to ensure you make the right decision and have full peace of mind.


Once you know that your dog will have a great time, you can relax and enjoy your time away!


There’s Always a Price to Pay for Free Pet Care

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your dog is an important member of your household. It may seem as though pets have a sixth sense when it comes to travel; especially when they’re not invited! Rover may cosy up to you the second suitcases are packed, or start looking depressed during the pre-holiday hustle and bustle. They know you too well!

So what do you do before going away? One of the biggest decisions for dog lovers is what to do with their best friend as unfortunately, you can’t always take them with you. Having spent a small fortune on your well-earned break there is always a temptation to plump for the cheapest option but there are hidden costs.

What are your options and the real costs involved?

  1. Friends / Neighbours  – They love your pooch when they visit so perhaps you could consider asking them to pop round to feed and play with your four-legged family member when you’re away? anxious-dogThe best scenario here is that they take your dog into their home but it may well be very different at their place. Of course, this person is going to need to be responsible and knowledgeable about the basics of pet care. Can you trust them to do the right thing in all number of situations? How hectic is it behind thier closed doors? You must be cautious as some dogs can be a little bit stressed when their routine changes and one issue too many may put a strain on your friendship. If your chosen friend or neighbour is a pet owner, you could offer to return the favour someday although will their dog really get on with yours 24 hours a day?
  2. Family – Bless your nearest and dearest! They are always there to offer a free service hectic familyand your mother will do anything she can to help. However, your dad has a dodgy knee, your sister has a very hectic life as it is and your brother spends a lot of time out with the lads; would any of this fit in with two decent dog walks a day? Perhaps not.

What happens when something goes wrong?

Dog destroys sofa!

Dog destroys sofa!

The issue with both family and friends is that everything can work really well until something unexpected happens and you can end up being left high and dry with no suitable options. Unofficial arrangements are not insured so what happens when:

  • Your pet is ill or needs special attention
  • Your designated pet carer can no look after your dog e.g. due to a change in personal circumstances
  • Your pet is in trouble and gets into a bit of bother (they do sometimes don’t they) e.g. your dog eats your friends favourite family photos or makes a mess on the carpet or even worse falls out with someone in their household (cat, rabbit, small child, etc).

Now for the Paid-for Options:

Kennels – We all know what some dog boarding establishments can look like and you wouldn’t recommend them to your worst enemy’s dog.

Dog in Kennels

Kennel option

Some kennels call themselves 5* canine hotel accommodation and can look pretty swish nowadays however at the end of the day your dog is going to spend long periods of time without human interaction and stimulation. It also going to be very different to their normal home life routine. This traditional option always leaves a haunting feeling of guilt in the dog lovers’ mind. What will he or she be like when I get back and how long will it take for that kennel smell to disappear?  Good quality kennels kennel logowill have proper health and safety procedures and be fully insured. Find out more from the British Kennel & Cattery Association


4. Pet / House Sitting (you pay for someone to come to or stay at your house)

Using a pet sitter is one way to fuse the personal with professional. Many cats and dogs feel comfortable in their own environments, so having an experienced pet sitter come by for feedings, walks and play times can be a good option. Decide whether you want a sitter to simply visit your home on a daily basis (or perhaps multiple times per day) to spend some quality time with your pet, or have them stay in your home for the duration of your trip. Are you happy with someone coming to your house and can you trust them? There are plenty of organisations that are trustworthy but there is a lot to cover regarding keys, alarm codes and general rules of the house.

5. In-Home Pet Boarding

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAWhile enlisting a pet sitter is a good option, so is in-home pet boarding. In-home boarding involves your animals going to a pet sitter’s home in your area before leaving for your holiday. Whether to in-home board or hire a pet sitter to come to your home depends on the needs of your pet and as with anything there are good and not so good options available.

Pet Services Association

In-home boarding gives dogs the opportunity to socialise with other dogs under the supervision of a responsible pet owner, as well as individualised attention and more daily interaction. In-home boarding can be more affordable than pet sitters that come to the home, too, and there is the added security of not giving up your house keys.

Here are some of the key things to consider and check if using this option:

  • How many dogs will be in their care?
  • What experience do they have?
  • Are they licensed by the local authorities?
  • Are they fully insured?
  • Can you get a list of testimonials from previous satisfied customers?
  • Are they fully insured?
  • What are their back-up procedures?

6. Take Them On Holiday with You

dog-deck-chairIt can be fun to travel with your pet in certain situations, and is becoming more feasible as the number of pet-friendly hotels grows. If an activity like camping is on the agenda, your canine may enjoy being with your family in the great outdoors. Double check that your holiday is pet-friendly, though, as many places, including parks and beaches, are known for “no dogs allowed” policies. But if your pet loves to travel, a pet-friendly trip away could be a nice change of pace.

How to arrange appropriate care for your dog whilst you’re away.

Guide to Dog Care – How to arrange appropriate care for your pet whilst you’re away.

Deciding between friends and family, a pet sitter, professional home from home care or a boarding kennel can be tough. You will need to consider the following questions:

– Would your dog prefer activity and the company of other dogs in a kennel situation?

– How will your dog’s exercise and mental stimulation requirements be met?

– Would they be happier in the comfort of a home with their normal routine?

– Does your dog have special medical needs (such as arthritis or diabetes) that would help determine which type of care is best?

– Will family and friends be capable of looking after your dog’s needs?

Home from home boarding care

An alternative to kennels where your dog stays with a loving host family in their own home. Detailed information is taken about your pet’s lifestyle and then matched with a family able to offer similar care. This ensures they benefit from keeping their normal home-life routine and therefore experience very little disruption when you are away. It is an alternative to pet sitting as your dog has companionship all of the time on a one on one basis with no need for anyone to have access to your home.

 (Barking Mad Host Vera)

How to choose what’s right for your dog?

Recommendations by a trusted source are a good starting point. If choosing professional care such as a home from home care or a pet sitter, check their references and invite them to an introductory meeting at your home to meet the pet, discuss care, and plan visits. If boarding your pet, request a tour of the facilities before booking – check for overall cleanliness, feeding and exercise timetables, and staff friendliness, knowledge and willingness to accommodate any individual pet requirements or deal with emergency situations.

Whatever you decide, ensure that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date (with a certificate) well in advance of your departure. Vaccinating on the day you leave may satisfy the requirements of the kennel or cattery, but may not be the best disease protection for your pet. If your pet is boarding, bringing their own toys, blankets, treats, familiar unwashed bedding and food can also help to reassure them, reducing stress and the chances of an upset stomach. Finally, have a great trip, knowing that your pet is in good hands and will be happy to see you when you return!

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