Going on Vacation? How to Find the Best Solution for Boarding Your Dog in the Greater Washington DC Area
Today's post written by:
Realtor, Licensed in DC & MD
There are a lot of options out there for overnight boarding and pet-sitting for your dog during vacation time. None are cheap and they are not all equal! Here are some tips and options for finding the best situation for your furry pal.
- Your choices are house-sitter, private kennel, corporate kennel, “camp”, or boarding at someone’s home along with a few other dogs using Uber-like online search and booking, which might be the best for last-minute needs.
- Some places do pick-up and drop-off, which can be great if it is out of town and in a country setting (where daily rates might be lower too). Just be sure to ask how long the dog will be in the delivery vehicle …
- Many places will require an in-person “assessment” of your dog on their site. Some places charge for this time, so beware. It’s a good opportunity for you to assess them too — and give them your own “sniff” test!
- Most places will require up-to-date vaccinations and records.
- Be prepared for a la carte pricing regarding walks and even one-on-one time, especially for kennels. I found this off-putting at first, personally. However, labor is costly and this is their way of being transparent with you about exactly what your dog will get. It adds up, but may not e more expensive than an all-inclusive place.
- If an overnight kennel also has doggie daycare, ask whether or not your dog will be out interacting with those dogs. Don't assume! Your dog may end up stuck in a room alone unless you pay the daycare fee.
- Ask whether they have live webcams! It is very common now.
- Think about whether your dog is more social or gets stressed after a long time with other dogs. What exactly does your dog need? Are there quiet rooms to get away from the crowd.
- Be sure to ask specifically how much outdoor or free roam time your dog will have and how big a space it will be. Is there free access from the dog’s “room” to the larger space? Some urban boarding places have roof-top play space.
- Ask what type of surfaces the dog will have indoors and out, especially for sleeping. You might need to bring your dog’s bed or blanket.
- Ask about food. If you can bring your dog’s own food they will feel more at home and are less likely to have stomach issues.
- Ask about temperature control and/or access to shaded outdoor space.
- Ask about protocol for handling issues, e.g. dog bites from other boarders.
A Few Boarding Options To Consider Around DC*
- For home-boarding in your boarder’s home, try finding someone nearby you through DogVacay. This works like Uber where you pay online to DogVacay but each provider is an independent contractor with his/her own rules and ratings that you can see.
- For pet-sitters who stay in your home, or for drop-in visits, try asking your neighborhood Listservs for a trusted person, or your local online community through Nextdoor. You can also try finding someone through Rover, which is the same company as DogVacay. While Rover does general background checks on sitters and people are rated, try to find someone who has references you can trust (e.g. other clients in your neighborhood who would be willing to talk to you).
- For boarding facilities, here are a few urban and country options:
- District Dogs in NW DC is very popular. They are known for genuinely dog-friendly staff, clean and relaxed atmosphere. The playroom has beds and obstacles, not just four square walls like many shopfront kennels.
- Dog-Ma “bed and breakfast experience” at 16 L Street SE in DC. Your dog will be free to play in a group all day and will sleep in a bed in a large crate surrounded by other dog crates, instead of a closed private “room”. They have a quiet room for down time during the day when needed.
- K-9 Divine on a farm in Newburg, MD, is a boarding facility that offers large indoor and outdoor spaces, couches, beds and love. They offer pick-up and drop-off.
- Country Dogs is on a 17-acre farm in Timberville, VA in the Shenandoah Valley. This is like “camp” for your doggy, with off-leash runs and larger accommodations. The website gives you nice introduction to the owners. Pick-up and Drop-off in DC/NoVa/MD is possible but only on Mondays and Thursdays.
*The above tips and options are not to be considered an exhaustive list, nor as "recommendations." This blog is intended for informational purposes only.