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How to Board Your Pets for Cheap

sfgiantsfan8 profile picture
April 05, 2016 · 3.4k Views

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After months of careful planning and setting money aside, you finally have saved up enough to take that elusive vacation. You’ve booked the flight, hotel, transportation, and gotten the clear to take the days off from work. You’re all set for an incredible getaway, and then it dawns on you that you’ve forgotten something. Who’s going to watch your furry friends while you’re away?!

Unfortunately this is an all too common inconvenience for pet owners. This recently happened to me as well. I have two dogs, so as soon as I booked my last vacation my first order of business was finding a dog sitter. Months in advance I got confirmation and thought I was all set. Wrong. 5 days before I was supposed to fly out for vacation, my dog sitter canceled on me. So I frantically began considering other options.

While the most frugal way to handle this problem is to have a family member or friend watch your pets while you’re away, that’s not always an option, as my above situation shows.

Another popular option is to board your pets at Petsmart’s PetsHotel. This is certainly a viable option when you’re in a pinch. While I almost decided to go the Petsmart route since there is almost always space available and you know your pets will be getting care from experienced professionals, there were two main drawbacks for my situation. First, the cost was above my budget. For two dogs I was looking at a hefty cost of around $60/night for both dogs, especially considering I was going out of town for a week. Additionally, I was unsure of how much time my dogs would get to be together, how much exercise and playtime they would get, and how much attention they would receive.

After some more browsing, I came across Rover.com, which is a partner of Petco. The concept is simple. You download the Rover app, and it’s basically an AirBnb for pets. You put your location in and then dozens of listings pop up with different people offering their rates. The app offers five different services via the app:

  • Dog Boarding: your dog will be watched at the sitter’s residence overnight
  • House Sitting: your dog will be watched while at your own residence
  • Drop-in Visits: a sitter will visit your dog for 30 minutes of playtime
  • Doggy Day Care: a sitter will watch your dog during the day
  • Dog Walking: a sitter will take your dog on a 30 minute walk


Rover coupon

After searching through numerous listings and reading a fair share of reviews, I finally selected a dog sitter. Initially, I was nervous about the whole process. Was I really going to leave my dogs with some stranger I had never met? Despite my hesitations, I contacted the dog sitter and set up a meet and greet for the next day.

The meet and greet left me feeling much more pleased with the whole situation. It let me meet the dog sitter, let me see where my dogs would be staying and how much space they would have to play, and also let the dog sitter meet my dogs. It clearly showed me that the large majority of the dog sitters on Rover are simply dog lovers that are looking to make some additional side income.


Long story short, my first experience with Rover was an incredibly positive one for a variety of reasons:

  • Familiarity: My dogs got to stay at someone’s house, which is what they are used to, instead of being kept at the PetsHotel.
  • Space: They got plenty of space for exercise and playtime in the backyard, while getting to interact with other dogs that my Rover dog sitter was watching.
  • Attention: Rather than be in the PetsHotel with countless other pets, they were among a handful of dogs that my Rover sitter and his wife watched for the week. This meant much more attention for them.
  • Cost: Prices on Rover range anywhere from $10 and up, but for most sitters to watch your dog at their own house you’re looking at $25-45 per night. Sometimes this can add up to significant savings over other places that offer dog boarding, especially for multiple dogs and for long periods of time. I negotiated with my Rover sitter and we ended up settling on a $50 per night rate for them to watch both dogs.
  • Communication: Every day throughout my vacation, my Rover sitter sent pictures to me via text message of my dogs and let me know that they were doing well. This personalized touch was very appreciated on my end and gave me added peace of mind that my dogs were being well taken care of.
  • Consistency: Now that I’ve found a reliable Rover sitter close to where I live, I have a go-to option for boarding my dogs for future vacations.

Overall, using Rover was a very positive experience for me. While I was initially nervous, it worked out incredibly well and I will be using the app again in the future. Using lesser known apps and services such as Rover and DogVacay for dogs, or Catsitter.com and Care.com for cats, are a great way to find quality pet care in a more frugal manner. Give it a try, and save $25 off the first night you book with Rover!

Have you ever tried Rover or any of these lesser known pet sitting services and what was your impression of them?

sfgiantsfan8 profile picture
A lifelong Bay Area native, Matt Spillar graduated in 2013 from Fresno State with a Sports Marketing degree. He strives to combine his passion for sports marketing along with his interests in finance and budgeting. In his spare time, he writes for his personal blog, spillsspot.com

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