11/18/2011 08:24 pm ET | Updated Jan 18, 2012

Where to Put Your Pooch for the Holidays

I recently became a dog person. My chiweenie -- that's a chihuahua/dachshund mix -- came into my life a little over a month ago when my boyfriend adopted him from PAWS. Since then, we've learned that being doggie dads requires more work than gentle petting and a few scoops of kibble.

Unlike cats, which are unnervingly self-sufficient, dogs cannot be left alone for extended periods of time. Dogs need regular affection and companionship. They have to be fed, given fresh water and taken outside to do their "business." And while abandoning your pooch for eight hours a day while you enter the rat race might be doable, leaving Fido home alone for a day or longer is neglectful. So, if you're like my boyfriend and me, you may wonder what to do with your pup as we approach holiday season.

Because Chicago is a major dog city with an abundance of dog-lovers per capita, there are a host of businesses that cater to taking care of your four-legged friend while you're away. This service is commonly referred to as "boarding," though many establishments use the more pleasant sounding euphemism "dog hotel."

The following are just some of the Chicago doggie hotel service providers that have received high user ratings:

  • Earth Pups Dog Care: Located in Roscoe Village on Belmont between Damen and Western, this boarding facility has a five-star rating on Yelp and 43 user reviews. Earth Pups specializes in boarding smaller breeds and special needs canines. Seven suites are available, though dogs are also welcome to spend the night on one of the beds in the playroom. And for the green-minded, Earth Pups focuses on using high-quality, earth-friendly products that are good for the environment and your pooch.
  • Stay Dog Hotel: Part of a large complex near Irving Park and Western, Stay is the Ritz Carlton of dog hotels. Receiving an average of 4.5 stars out of 59 Yelp reviews, the hotel boasts 110 rooms, which range from the modest standard size to the luxurious 160-square-foot suite. Want to keep an eye on your furry friend? The four high-end suites each come equipped with a webcam that owners can access through the hotel's site.
  • DoGone Fun!: For those that live closer to the South Side, there's DogOn Fun!, another top dog boarding facility as rated by Yelp reviewers. The kennel is located on the 1700 block of South State Street, making it easily accessible for those who live near the Loop. Dogs can tucker themselves out with 8.5 hours of supervised playtime six days a week (5 hours on Sunday), and then take a nap in the climate-controlled sleep area.
  • Remember, before you decide to board your dog, always take a tour of the dog hotel. Also, be sure to come prepared with a list of questions for the staff. If you dog has special needs, you'll definitely want to mention that to ensure the facility can accommodate.

    Also, most overnight kennels require that pets are spayed or neutered, are current on their vaccinations and possess a city license. Your pet may also be asked to undergo a temperament assessment to ensure it is comfortable in a social environment.

    So, dog-loving Huffington Post readers, what Chicago dog hotels can you recommend?