For travelers with pets, there is a significant additional cost, and no small amount of anxiety, associated with taking a vacation away from home. While many dog kennels have improved their facilities and services, they are still associated with sad pets locked in small spaces pining away for their master’s return. And they aren’t cheap! The sharing economy offers some good alternatives for pet owners including house sitters, house and dog swapping, and dog boarding.
If you are going to do a home exchange, it’s worth looking for a swap partner who also has pets and is willing to swap pet care. This is free and you are already entrusting these folks with your home so it’s not a big stretch to also trust they will care for your pets like their own.
If pet swapping isn’t an option you could look for a sitter. Often people find pet sitters through friends who have pets. Usually these sitters are full time dog walkers and very skilled and experienced with the animals. Expanding the options for pet owners, there are some new peer to peer websites to help you find a good sitter. Companies like Dogvacay.com, Borrowmydoggie.com and Holidog.com match dog owners with locals. They include reviews, match you with sitters based on criteria you specify, and allow payment online through the website. Some even provide pet insurance.
Lastly there is the option of finding a house sitter to stay with your pet in your home. Companies like trustedhousesitters.com, staydu.com and Ilidor.com which will match home owners with house sitters, allowing for searches that identify people who specialize in caring for pets while housesitting.
I want to give an honorable mention here to citydogshare.org, a non-profit dog sitting co-op. Non-pet owners can share dog-resources (i.e. bedding) or time spent with other people’s dogs. And those who own dogs can swap dog watching and take advantage of the resources and time donated by other dog lovers. This is true sharing of pets, and a great opportunity for people who love animals but can’t have pets in their homes.
For a complete list of sharing economy pet sitting resources, check out the Pets category in my spreadsheet.
disclosure: I’m not a pet owner so I don’t have any first hand experience with these services. I’d welcome input from anyone who has tried them.