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Best Sites for Finding Qualified Pet Sitters

by on December 17, 2013
in Pets, Family and Parenting, Travel & Entertainment, Tips & How-Tos :: 10 comments

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When Airbnb launched five years ago, it revolutionized travel. Instead of paying upwards of $200 a night for a decent hotel room in places like New York, San Francisco or Miami, people could rent a spare bedroom or sofa for a fraction of the price from a local who may likely share insider advice on where to go and how to best get there.

Now several services exist that are designed for your dog. That’s right — tens of thousands of people around the country are opening up their homes or offering to sit for your pet at your home.

Here are three online services that provide a great alternative to a kennel stay for your precious pet while you're out of town.


RoverWith more than 25,000 approved sitters in 4,300 cities across the United States, Rover will likely generate a well-stocked list of dog sitters in your area. In fact, Rover says it has about 1,000 sitters in each of the 20 largest U.S. cities.

Rover shows people near you who either want your dog to stay at their house or would like to dog sit in your home. You can filter search results according to price range, whether you want your dog to stay in an apartment or house and whether you prefer sitters who have or don’t have pets of their own.

Profiles of dog sitters include self-descriptions and answers to questions such as “How long have you been a dog lover?” and “Do you have reliable transportation in the event of an emergency?” Profiles also include reviews from dog owners and how much sitters charge for services such as dog walking. They also include cancellation policies, which dog sitters set themselves and range from flexible (full refund if cancelled before stay) to strict (full refund only if cancelled more than seven days before a stay).

Once you decide on a dog sitter, it’s just a matter of sending him or her a reservation inquiry that tells the person when you need help, as well as information about your dog and any questions you have. If the dog sitter agrees to watch your pet, you pay for the reservation up front.

While you’re away, dog sitters can upload photos and videos of your dog to the Rover platform via the web or a Rover app for iOS and Android. All stays come with insurance that reimburses up to $2,000 of emergency vet care in excess of $200.

Rover, which has more than 150,000 pet owners enrolled on the site, says fewer than 20 percent of people who apply to be a sitter are approved.


DogVacayIf you can't find a host to your liking with Rover, your next stop should be DogVacay. Since the platform launched a little over a year ago, the company says it has already facilitated hundreds of thousands of overnight stays among its over 10,000 hosts.

Host profiles include a self-description, reviews, dog boarding rates, and descriptions of property type including whether or not the home has an outdoor area, 24/7 supervision and emergency transportation. It also includes the dog sitter’s cancellation policy, which can range from flexible (a full refund if cancelled at least three days before a stay) to strict (no refund after booking).

DogVacay hosts upload daily photo and video updates to the site so that dog owners can see how their dogs are doing. Every stay includes free insurance, which covers $2,000 of emergency vet care for guest dogs after the first $200. The platform also features a concierge service that puts you in touch with groomers, dog walkers and trainers as well as help with last-minute dog sitting needs.

DogVacay’s host vetting process includes an online application, a phone interview and onboarding call, verification of references, online video training and testing and unedited reviews of hosts posted to the site.

DogVacay sells gift certificates, as well.


SpotwagIf sending your dog off to stay with strangers isn’t something you’re comfortable doing, Spotwag might be for you. It uses your social networks to ask friends and followers if they can watch your dog while you’re away.

To help friends know what they’re getting into, you sign in to Spotwag with Facebook to create a profile for your dog where you can upload a photo and indicate your pet's breed, birthday, gender and size as well as whether she or he is spayed or neutered, housetrained and good with children and other pets. You can also write a bio for your dog, brag about any tricks he can do and outline his feeding schedule, special needs and emergency contact information.

Scheduling a request for help is only a matter of completing a simple form that tells friends when you need help and what you’ll give them in return (such as a bottle of wine, money or just your gratitude). The request then posts to your Facebook wall. You can also tweet a link about your request to Twitter.

Spotwag is free, and you can use it to find friends who will watch cats or other creatures, as well.

Discussion loading

Sitters have their place

From Charisse on December 17, 2013 :: 1:17 pm

Pet sitters have their place but especially during the holidays are not the best choice. They take on many extra folks during this time, and they can only be at one place at a time, even with help. If your dog needs to be let out by 7am, and so do others, it makes it difficult. They do not spend lengthy time with your pet and you pay a premium. Now, if you have someone that will stay at your home and house sit as well, that can be ideal, but also a bit pricey. At a kennel, and I mean a good one, you have secure places for the dog (no accidentally left open gates), regular schedules (dogs thrive on schedules) and someone on the premises 24/7. If you live in a risky weather environment, at least you know your pet will have its needs attended to. The absolute worst place to board a dog is at the vets, where most are left unattended at night, and are not always completely separated from the sick animals. Many kennels also provide play time.


RE: Sitters have their place

From Sharon Denison on December 17, 2013 :: 10:28 pm

Charisse, Pet Sitters ARE at their busiest during the Holidays; our busiest time of the year. Which is why we ask clients to book early,so that we can schedule our time to maximum advantage for the pets in our care. As you pointed out, people have a choice of day visits or overnight stays,whichever works best for your pet. I have no idea what you consider pricy. What you`re paying for is the convenience of being able to leave your pet in its familiar surroundings,with a professional who is well versed in pet care (multiple species), who is knowledgeable enough to recognize a problem with your pet,if one should develop, who often has vet tech skills and is trained in CPR/First Aid. Someone who is insured and bonded and workes with a contract and has taken the time to pre visit with you to meet you and the pets and go over care information, as well as emergency information. Someone who is responsible enough to care for home and pet while you`re away and deal with any unexpected situations that may develop (trust me, they do!) Not all pets do well in a kennel situation (many cats don`t),so this can be a good alternative.


Just for dogs

From Nora on December 17, 2013 :: 9:38 pm

Good article, but the title was misleading. All three sites are exclusively focused on dog sitters. I was hoping for more insight into pet sitters that also do cat sitting. My current cat sitter is very good, but it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan in case I have to go away on short notice and she’s not available to come take care of my kitties.

Would you please do a follow-up article featuring a more inclusive mix of pet sitting sites? Thanks!


RE:Just for dogs

From Sharon Denison on December 17, 2013 :: 10:48 pm

Nora, There are sitters that do specialize only in cats ( Google cat sitters), but most of us do sit for more than one species. Since you mention a cat sitter you already use,I assume she comes to your home and cares for your cat there. Have you ever discussed with her as to whether she has a backup sitter to cover for her in the case of an emergency? Most of us who are sole proprieters try to network with other sitters for emergency coverage. She may have someone she works with or can reccomend. Unless its an emergency (it happens to us all), I would hope that you would plan your away time with enough notice to allow her to schedule you. Trying to fit you into the schedule last minute means that she is likely to have to short your pets on visit time, which won`t make anybody happy.


I absolutely plan my vacations

From Nora on December 17, 2013 :: 11:05 pm

I absolutely plan my vacations well in advance so I’ll know if she’s available. So far I haven’t had to make alternate plans, so it’s working out. As you mentioned, cats don’t do well in boarding situations. I have three cats, so having a sitter come to my place is not terribly expensive when compared to what I would pay to board them.

I never thought to ask her if she has someone she can send if she’s unavailable, but I really need to ask. We all have emergencies. I do need to know if there’s a backup in case I have to travel on short notice.


Not just for dog

From Cori Collin on April 04, 2014 :: 1:08 pm

Nora, I am signed up with Rover and Dogvacay and I looked into SpotWag. Rover and Dogvacay are for pet sitters and owners alike. SpotWag is mainly for dog owners, not sitters from what it looks like. On you can find a dog and CAT SITTER! If you look at the pricing on each pet sitters page you will see “cat care” listed for daily visits, but you can also have overnight care for cats. Some charge the same as a dog or less when they book they can edit the pricing of each individual animal. The name Rover is misleading because it isn’t just for dog owners but all pet owners. I have pet sit cats and dogs both on this site and soon to pet sit chickens there as well. I’m not sure about Dogvacay as I haven’t had too much luck on that site but I would think they have a similar arrangement. If you ever need an overnight cat sitter, you can contact me.



Pet sitters that love animals

From Pearl on October 16, 2015 :: 5:22 am

I think its great that pet owners have so many options, Our pets are just like our children and owners obviously want the best people to take care of them while they are not around, Student Co now offers pet sitter services for all kinds of pets,  owners that need someone to play or take care of their pets when they are not in town or on vacation, for more details please visit our website


Thanks, these are really good

From Luke Smith on May 25, 2016 :: 8:49 pm

Thanks, these are really good site to find a place for a pet to stay. I didn’t know that Rover had over 25,000 sitters to choose from. That would be great to find a sitter or a boarding place to put your pets that are nearby.


Helpful Information

From Paul on July 29, 2016 :: 2:38 am

I had never heard of Spotwag.  I’ve seen some serious issues with one of the large companies listed above.  One particular company takes over online listings of small dog boarding facilities and changes their business name and phone number.  This can cause serious online data issues if a dog boarding facility chooses not to remain within their network.  That being said, this is an excellent article.  I will definitely checkout Spotwag when it goes back online.


Sitting for a Cause

From Ashley on January 28, 2017 :: 10:35 pm

There’s a new player on the market worth checking out called Sitting for a Cause. They function similar to DogVacay and Rover but charge lower service fees for their pet care professionals, NO service fees for pet parents who use the site, and they donate 50% of their profits from service fees to help animals in need. Maybe worth checking out?


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