Are you spending more than you should for a dog sitter?


Compare dog sitting vs. boarding costs in your city

When puppy parents go away for a few hours, they usually feel safe leaving their dog to their own devices. Maybe the same thing goes for a night if the pet has enough food and water to hold them over.

But, when multiple nights are a factor, the pet owners face a different problem: take their pet with them, get a sitter or board the pet.

Taking your pooch along for the ride can be involved and not every trip, be it on the road or in the air, is as easy as everyone would like. 

Recently, CertaPet investigated the costs of boarding a dog at a sitter’s home vs. hiring a dog sitter to come to your own home in the 50 most populous cities around the U.S. would shake out.

So, the company’s researchers jumped into with both – er, all four – paws to find out. They searched the costs of boarding vs. sitting for one medium-sized dog (16-40lbs) in 50 of the largest U.S. cities and collected the average cost of the first 20 listings.

Then, using the nightly cost of boarding vs. sitting, they calculated an overall annual cost, based on a standard two weeks of paid vacation time.

The bigger the town, the better the deal

You might think that the bigger the place you live in, the more likely you are to pay more for boarding, but actually, out of 50 of the largest U.S. cities cited in the study, 10 came out on top for saving the most annually from boarding vs. sitting, based on a two-week vacation. 

Philadelphia and Los Angeles were within a dollar of each other as the two cities with the largest annual savings going the boarding route. Philadelphia landed the number one spot for saving $336.70 per year by boarding vs. sitting, and Los Angeles came in second place for saving $335.30 per year. 

Things drop about $40 at that point. Atlanta, San Francisco, Tampa, and St. Louis are all members of the $200 savings club, and Denver, Detroit, Houston, and Providence all came in with annual savings somewhere between $180-$200.

“Overall, every city shows some amount of savings for boarding over sitting except for one, Minneapolis,” the researchers noted. “In Minneapolis, the average cost to board your furry friend in a sitter’s home matches the cost of a pet sitter watching your pup at your house; so, Minneapolis folks should take advantage of Rover’s sitting option, where your dog can be cared for in a familiar environment.”

Things change when the boarding time is shorter

If you only need to board your pet for a night, then you should move to Oklahoma City, Memphis, St. Louis, or Jacksonville. Averaging $30.45 per night, Oklahoma City has the cheapest rate for boarding your pooch at a sitter’s house. Then, in a near three-way tie for second, St. Louis, Jacksonville, and Memphis all come in at under $32 per night. 

On the high end, it’s New York City and the Bay Area with the highest costs per night for boarding your pooch – $61 a night for the Big Apple and $59.25 per night in San Jose and San Francisco. 

Dog owners who would prefer their pet to stay in the comfort of their own homes can find sitters in a few cities who offer cost-effective services.

With an average cost of $36.45 per night, Indianapolis is the cheapest city in the U.S. to hire a pet sitter. Then, Louisville ($36.60), Memphis ($38.25), Kansas City ($38.40), Virginia Beach ($38.45), Jacksonville ($38.70), and Richmond ($39.40). 

San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York hold the highest nightly costs for a pet sitter, with each averaging anywhere from $70-$80 per night. 

You could ask a friend to pet sit, but…

If you think you could share your dog-sitting duties with a friend, “Dear Amy” – syndicated advice columnist Amy Dickinson – says that there may be a price to pay there, too – the price of friendship.

“Friends ask us regularly to watch their dog, but never offer us any compensation. We are not asking for cash, but a gift card would be nice,” wrote Dog-Tired, one of Dear Amy’s readers.

“They ask us to do this every year for one week in the summer, and then other periods throughout the year, usually lasting for a few days, and sometimes for several days at Christmastime. We live very nearby. As former dog owners, we understand the work and time involved in managing dogs for a week, [but] reciprocity has been minimal at best (a 12-pack beer, for example). While we don’t mind dog-watching, it really bothers us that they don’t realize our time is valuable and that a cursory thank you is not enough.”

Amy didn’t mince words in her response, flat-out telling Dog-Tired that what they call “minimalist,” she calls “cheap.”

“The way to deal with this and also preserve the relationship is to be enthusiastic about your willingness to do this for them, and very straightforward about your terms. Given that you also pet sit for other friends (you’re obviously skilled, trustworthy and responsible), why don’t you go into [the pet sitting] business for yourself? [like at Rover or the DIY way],” Amy wrote. 

“Before the next time they come to you to schedule this ‘favor,’ put the word out with your Friday friend group that you’ve registered with a pet care site as a way to continue to do this thing that you enjoy – and to make some extra income. Offer to send them a link to your page on the site. You can offer them a 'Friend and Fido' discount if you’re inclined. If they decline to book you – no problem!”

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