For those of us who travel a lot, it’s important to have a good boarding kennel picked out for your dog long before you are ready to leave your dog in their care.
Although a lot of people like to leave their dogs at home and have friends or family come to care for and walk their dog, there are many factors about Belle that makes me prefer to leave her in the hands of an experienced, safe pet boarding kennel owner.
There are few people that can handle Belle, especially in cases where she is afraid, like during a thunderstorm. I would not ask someone to enter her pen at that time, for fear that she might react out of fear. Sometimes when I go to retrieve her before a storm, she won’t even come out of her dog house. I have to enter her pen and put her leash on in her house before she comes out. This is not something that people she does not spend a lot of time around should try to do.
We get a lot of thunderstorms in the summer. I prefer to know that Belle is indoors during these storms and that if any severe weather occurs, someone who can handle my dog is close by.
Although my parents are willing to feed and water Belle, they are not comfortable enough around dogs to be able to retrieve her from her pen if needed. The few friends that she is very familiar with are very busy, and I would not ask them to walk her or spend time with her. I just feel safer with her in qualified hands.
How to Pick a Good Dog Kennel
Get Recommendations from Friends
So how do you pick a good kennel? One of the first things to do is ask around for recommendations. If you have friends with dogs (and they probably are as picky as you are), ask for recommendations. Most people will be happy to share their good (and bad) experiences.
Ask Your Veterinarian
Your veterinarian is another good person to ask about boarding your dog. Although many veterinarians will board dogs, I do not like to use them as there is usually less space available for each animal than in a boarding kennel and dogs and cats are usually in close proximity. This would also add to the stress which Belle feels when I am departing on a trip as she already associates the vet with unpleasantness.
Tour the Facility
Next, it is a good idea to make an appointment to visit some of the kennels you are considering. Ask to see where they will keep your dog. Any boarding facility that won’t let you see the dog runs and dog cages is probably a place that you would like to avoid.
Look around carefully. Are the instructions/names/contact/vet information for each dog on the doors of each kennel? Are the kennels clean and does the area smell suitable? Is there enough ventilation and space for each dog? How do the other dogs act?
Ask Questions of the Kennel Owner
Ask a lot of questions.
- Do they require proof of vaccination for each animal?
- Including the vaccination for kennel cough?
- How often do they clean the cages?
- How long are the dogs allowed outside during the day?
- What vet do they use in case of emergencies?
- What time do they feed the dogs?
- Can you supply your own food?
- Is the kennel climate-controlled?
In hot climates, it is important that your dog have the option of finding a cooler spot in the heat of the day. Some kennels offer special dog houses with ventilation that maintain a cooler temperature. Some kennels have air-conditioned indoor and available outdoor facilities with a door that the dog can enter and leave by. Be sure to ask the kennel owners how often and how long the door is opened.
Talk to the Staff at the Kennel
Talk to the boarding staff about your dog. Can they provide accommodations to fit your dog’s needs? I always let boarders know about Belle’s personality – that she can be dog aggressive and fearful in new locations, that she is afraid of thunderstorms, and that she is a little older and probably needs some way to retreat from the stress of the other dogs. I also mention that she loves the outdoors.
If the employees at the boarding facility provide suggestions and are willing to accommodate these needs, then they are probably a good choice for boarding your dog.
I have found two boarding facilities that suit Belle’s needs. Although she shows a little signs of stress when I return to pick her up, she actually wags her tail in pleasure as we approach the one facility as the owner is very caring and treats her well. This business is my first choice for boarding Belle and we have established a relationship with the owner.
Get Your Dog Slowly Accustomed to Boarding
Many dog trainers recommend that you build your dog up to staying for long periods in a boarding kennel by taking them for a one night stay first. This allows the dog get accustomed to the facility and to know that you will return for him/her after a trip.