Airbnb for Dogs: An Alternative to Boarding Your Pup While You’re on the Road

DogVacay has a network of ~ 20,000 people in the U.S. and Canada that will take in your dog while you’re out of town. They’re new to me, although they’ve apparently booked a million nights of boarding in the past two years.

The average price is about $30 a night. Each person sets their own price, you search folks in your neighborhood and pick one that’s a good fit just like searching Airbnb for a home you might stay in yourself.

They aren’t just for dogs, although that’s the primary market. Apparently they’ve had other animals including cats, guinea pigs, ferrets and chickens.

I have a 12 year old yorkshire terrier named Eddie. Knowing that he’s well taken care of while I’m gone is probably the hardest part of travel for me. He loves the place that he goes, it’s cageless, and he thinks he runs the place — barking at other dogs when they get out of line. Still, I miss the little guy and feel guilty for leaving him, too.

Dogvacay is cheaper than where I board my dog, it seems. And you get to read reviews. But I’m not sure I’d pick someone sight unseen and leave him there for a trip. I’d want to meet the person, have Eddie meet them, spend a few hours at least and then try them out for a night before booking a longer-term stay. He’s eased into and gotten comfortable with the place he goes, and that’s made it far less stressful (on both of us).

The missing and guilt may be a bit assuaged by this service, though, as pet sitters are supposed to send you photos or videos every day while your dog boards.

  • A family makes extra money
  • Your dog stays in a house

They provide vet and liability insurance, although I haven’t dug into the terms and conditions of the coverage. Most boarding places I’m familiar with tell you they aren’t liable for anything.

I’ve not used this service, but I reached out to them because it seemed interesting to me. While the site offers referral credit, I’m not signed up for that and instead you can use promo code VFTW for $10 off your first try of the service through January 31.

Do you have a pet? How do you take care when you’re away?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. We used to find someone to watch our house and dog while were in Australia. We received a huge response to our posting and skyped with potential sitters. The site also gives references and the sitters will also provide their previous clients.

    The plus of this was our sitters did not charge us any fees. They took our poodle on road trips to the park and sent us pictures of her while we were away.

    While I realize letting someone stay in your house while away isn’t for everyone, we had a great experience and would use them again.

  2. There are several other peer to peer pet sitting websites, and a bunch of other really cool sharing economy travel services including home exchange (which can include pet swapping), house sitting, hospitality lodging, travel experiences, ridesharing, meal sharing, and more. All great ways to drastically cut travel costs and have some interesting local experiences. I’ve put together searchable tables of these services along with reviews and some interviews here: Hope this is useful to your readers!

  3. I take my poodle with me on vacation. If Missy can’t go I don’t go. Before I retired if I had to go out of town for work. My dogs went to Dee’s to be spoiled rotten. Her boy’s loved playing with my dog’s. The dog’s that live on her farm loved playing with my crew.

  4. Domestically, she rarely gets left behind. When we go on international trips, she stays with family 2 hours away… no worrying about strangers.

  5. A million years ago I worked as an at-home pet sitter while going through school. As a note to others, this is the most humane service for the animal. Your pet may be alone most of the day, but at least they are familiar with the surroundings and are at home. The company I worked for was licensed, bonded and insured (you REALLY want a service with this if you are looking for a sitter) and I can guarantee you we treated the animals like they were our own or better. We also would spend the night with the pet at their house, would walk animals while their “parents” worked, would take in mail/newspapers and water plants/mow lawns if needed. Ask at your vet for a reputable local at-home pet sitting service – they generally can guide you in the right direction.

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