When you’re on holiday this summer, who’s taking care of your dog?

KyleMe? How nice of you to ask. Unfortunately, I’m also looking for a dog-sitter for my sharp-dressed golden lab Kyle.

Maybe we should both try DogVacay, which looks and feels like a doggy version of the couch-surfing site, Airbnb.

DogVacay’s website says they will help you “find a real home to board your dog. It’s better than a kennel where Spot will be stuck in a cage all day. Home boarding gives your dog individual attention, fun with a small number of well-socialized dogs, and supervision from a responsible pet owner – at a price that doesn’t add up to more than your vacation.”

Here’s how it works: experienced dog lovers sign up on DogVacay to host other people’s dogs for “a small fee (starting at $15 per night).” Average price is $25-30 US a day.

Often the hosts own dogs themselves and have big yards for your Fido to bound around in. According to DogVacay’s publicist, Chrysta Olson, “Some couples on the site say that your dog can sleep in their bed, if that’s what your dog is used to at home. And the cutest part: You’ll get photos of your dog’s vacation!”

AarondogSimilar to Facebook and dating sites like Plenty of Fish or Misstravel.com, you can browse through hosts’ profiles to find just the right fit for your Rover. DogVacay’s website says “It’s like dropping them off at your favorite aunt’s house.”


Your dog will be insured to up to $25,000. DogVacay provides basic protection for your dog, and claims to have “hundreds of hosts with Premium Insurance.” They also offer emergency vet care via a partnership with VCA Animal Hospitals in the States. Plus DogVacay offers customer support by phone and email, in case of, say, last minute cancellations.

In an interview with the Associated Press, DogVacay CEO Aaron Hirschhorn said approximately “a third of the hosts are professional pet care providers” while “two-thirds are casual dog lovers who might be retired, unemployed, stay-at-home moms or veterans” and “nine out of 10 hosts have their own dogs.”

If you think your dog might be nervous about staying at a strange new home, no fear. DogVacay always recommends that dog owners meet in person with their potential dog host, before committing to the dog stay.

And if your dog is still nervous, get them to watch this short animated video that explains how DogVacay is “puppy paradise.”

coupledogDogVacay was founded by husband and wife team Aaron and Karine Hirschhorn of Santa Monica. After quitting their Wall Street and Hollywood career pursuits, they boarded 100+ dogs in their home along with their own dogs Rocky and Rambo. One year later, they launched their new business nationwide. They now have over 4,000 hosts across North America and 13 employees.

They received a ton of press when they launched in New York and L.A. a few months back. And now this week they’re empire is expanding into Canada and the rest of the USA…just in time for America’s 4th of July holiday weekend.

Unlike Craigslist which connects people for free, DogVacay is a for-profit business. It makes its revenue by charging hosts a 5-10% fee for every reservation, but that fee goes down if the host does more business on their site and accumulates positive reviews.

What do you think, Spot/Rover/Fido/Kyle? Want to have a doggy sleepover this summer?

— Ken Hegan

BING: how to teach your dog to get you a beer

Read all his MSN travel posts here and follow him to victory on Twitter