Definitions of Dog Walking, Pet Sitting & Pet Boarding

Understand the differences so you know which service you need for your pet

Definitions of Dog Walking, Pet Sitting and Pet Boarding

I have noticed that it is the pet sitting definition that is most often misunderstood and is commonly confused with either dog walking or pet boarding. I am sometimes contacted by people looking for dog walking, but what they describe in their email falls under pet sitting. Other times new prospective clients will contact me about pet sitting but what they actually are looking for is pet boarding. So here are definitions for common pet services involving sitting, walking, and boarding.

First, let me cover the services that I will define and explain:

Dog Walking
Pet Sitting
Dog or Pet Boarding
In-Home Pet Sitting

The above services are all when someone else takes care of your pet(s) during times and days you are not able to do so.

Pet service companies may offer other services such as a pet taxi and “pooper scoopers” (yes, that’s a thing), but they are not services that I offer plus they are self-explanatory.

Another pet sitting type service is dog daycare. This is when you drop your dog off at a facility while you are at work. I also do not offer this service.


Dog Walking Definition

Dog walking is my main service. This service involves walks scheduled on the weekdays while you are at work, typically mid-day. Most people schedule walks Monday thru Friday and 11 am to 2 pm being the busiest times.

I do have clients who do not need walks every weekday but mostly it’s every weekday, 52 weeks a year. And the fact that it is every week is the reason why it is the majority of my income.

Of course, there are exceptions to the schedule such as holidays, vacations, sick days, etc. And over the years I have had clients who have needed walks late in the day around 3 pm or even as early as 10 am. I currently have a client who regularly works 12-hours a day so I do 2 walks per day.

And then there are puppies.

Puppies require two walks a day as they can not hold going to the bathroom for more than a few hours. The general rule for puppies is the age in the months plus 1 for the number of hours they can go without an accident (8 weeks old = 2 months, 2 + 1 = 3 hrs).

Keep the added expense in mind if you are thinking of getting a puppy and will need walks while you are at work.

Double walks per day may also apply to elderly dogs for the same reason of needing to be walked regularly. So dog walking specifically refers to one, maybe two, mid-day walk during the typical work week.


Pet Sitting Definition

This is the service people get confused with dog walking if they own a dog. Some people may call this service dog sitting, or cat sitting depending on what type of pet they have.

The terms pet sitting, dog sitting or cat sitting may also be used when pet owners actually need boarding or in-house sitting.

Pet sitting is for when you are away for a day or more. Most often this is when people go away for a vacation, usually over a weekend, but I’ve done pet sitting for clients that have lasted 2 or more weeks.

It involves the pet sitter going to your home to take care of your pets. The basic duties are feeding your pets, giving them fresh water, administering medicine or giving them treats if applicable and play time.

If the pets are cats, then cleaning the litter is a definite requirement.

If the pets are dogs then taking them for walks is necessary, typically three walks per day. And this last point is why some people confuse pet sitting for their dog with dog walking. Daily dog walks are involved but the service is pet sitting.

Other duties may be watering plants and collecting the mail.

Then there is pet sitting for fish, rabbits or any other type of pets people may have. But the basics are always the same: making sure they have water, food and are walked (dogs) or have a clean litter box (cats, rabbits, etc.)


Pet or Dog Boarding Definition

This is a service that also involves when you are away from your home, but your pet stays at your pet sitters home. This is most common with dog owners as cats do not like changes in their environment, although I have boarded cats at my place.

The duties are the same as for pet sitting: feeding, fresh water, walks, etc.

Since I own a dog and 2 cats, I require that new clients test their dog (or cat) with my pets. I often do not get dog boarding clients as a result of this, most likely because their dogs either DO NOT get along with cats or other dogs. I would make more money if I didn’t have pets, but then I wouldn’t have any pets!

I believe that this is the best option for dogs because they have a lot of contact with the pet sitter throughout the day. Pet sitting will only give them human contact three times a day.

Your other option is boarding your dog in a kennel, and I personally would never do that for my dog. I do not like the thought of my dog kept in a little room, where he would have to deal with other dogs barking throughout the night. That just seems too stressful, but I am not familiar with how kennels operate so you would need to do your own research on kennels in your area.


In-Home Pet Sitting Definition

Think of this service as a combination of pet sitting and boarding. In-home sitting is when your pet sitter stays in YOUR home. This is obviously the best for your pets because they are in familiar surroundings and they have a lot of human interaction throughout the day.

The duties are the same as for pet sitting: feeding, fresh water, walks or litter changes, medicine, treats, play time, watering plants, mail collection, etc.

An added benefit is the concern of your home being robbed while you are away as your sitter will be coming and going throughout the day.


Hopefully, I have explained the differences between these pet services. Please contact me if you have any questions or suggestions on how to improve my descriptions! Also, check out my Services and Rates page in you are in the Art Museum area of Philadelphia and need my services.

Jim Kernicky

I have been a dog walker and pet sitter for my business Fairmount Pet Service in the Art Museum area of Philadelphia since 2008.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Sarah Packer

    My kids just got a dog from their uncle so I wanted some maintenance tips and advice! I didn’t know dog boarding was a service that involves leaving your pet at a pet sitters’ home while you’re away from home. That’s good to know because my family and I travel a lot so knowing we don’t have to leave our new dog at home alone will make my kids more willing to go on vacation and not worry about him; I’ll have to look around and try some dog boarding companies to see if my dog would enjoy being there

  2. Jenna Hunter

    I like what you said about keeping your pet in a different place where they can be taken care of that isn’t a kennel. We are about to leave on vacation and need a place to leave our cat. None of the neighbors are about to take a cat, it would be really helpful if there was a company that could board my cat.

  3. Camille Devaux

    It was a friend of mine that brought up his interest in getting dog boarding services. She was trying to learn a little more about getting the right help for the situation. My friend would love knowing that you can get contacts to call whenever you need to check up on your puppy.

  4. Gillian Babcock

    My sister will be going on a long business trip and she wants to make sure that her pet will be taken cared for. It was explained here that dogs needed to be walked when she’s away. Moreover, it’s recommended to hire professionals when in need of quality pet boarding services.

  5. Millie Hue

    I like that you pointed out that pet boarding will let them have socialization with their pet sitter all throughout the day. I will choose this so that my dog will not feel lonely while I am gone for three days. It’s for the business trip that I am assigned to this coming April.

  6. Dave Anderson

    That would be good to have dog boarding services. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about someone coming to my home. I would want to have my dog stay somewhere else.

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