Going on vacation is an exciting and relaxing experience. But for dog owners, it can be quite stressful when it comes time to board your furry friend. Your dog is part of the family and it’s very difficult and emotional to leave them behind. But the one thing that can make this experience an easier and smoother one for both you and your pooch is choosing the right boarding kennel. It’s important to find a facility that both you and your pet are comfortable with. There are certain characteristics to look for and consider before choosing a boarding kennel for your dog.
Tour the Facility
You need to see the space where your dog will be. Ask the kennel for a walk-through tour of the entire facility. There are some important factors to consider and take note of during your visit. Investigate the cleanliness of the facility. Do the individual pet areas appear well cared for or is there a powerful odor of urine and feces? How do the current animals appear? Do they seem content and well-cared for or are they dirty and skittish? All of these things are signs of how the staff is caring for the dogs and the grounds. It’s also important to investigate the kennel’s outdoor space. Make sure there’s ample room for dogs to play outside and make sure that the space is maintained and all equipment and materials are safe and not in need of repair.
Speak With the Staff
The boarding kennel staff are the ones who will be interacting and caring for your pet in your absence. You need to speak with them before making any decisions. Do they seem welcoming and open to your questions or are they defensive? You want a staff that is considerate, pleasant and shows a genuine interest in you and your pet. Take note of how they greet you and your dog when you arrive. Are they excited to see your pet and greet them with hugs, kisses, and lots of petting? This is a good indication of how affectionate the staff will be after you leave your pet in their care. But kennel staff should be equally warm and welcoming to you and your family. They should make every effort to make you feel comfortable about leaving your dog and open to answering any questions you have.
And you should ask lots of questions! Don’t feel bad about this part of the process. You should shop around for a boarding kennel the same way you would a veterinarian or a groomer. And the kennel staff should be prepared for this. It’s important to ask things like:
- How often are the dogs taken outside?
- How long are their walks?
- Are all pets screened for up to date vaccinations?
- What hours are the staff on site?
- How do the kennel staff handle disabilities or medical problems?
- How does the staff handle separation anxiety in pets?
- What is the cost of boarding?
You may feel overwhelmed when first touring the facility, so it’s recommended you compile a list of questions before visiting a prospective boarding kennel. Bring a small notepad and pen along so you can jot down any additional questions during your visit. And if additional questions arise following your visit, don’t hesitate to call the kennel and follow-up.
Read Reviews and Ask for Recommendations
One of your best insights into choosing the right boarding kennel for your dog is reading the reviews and experiences of other pet owners. Create a list of the kennels you’re considering and start researching them online. What is your first impression of the kennel’s website? This is another good indicator of how the facility is run. A well-built website shows organization, attention to detail, and lets you know that the kennel is likely up to date on new information and changing trends in the world of pet care. Online reviews give you a great jumping off point for what questions to ask or if you even want to schedule an initial visit. If a kennels reviews are all negative, you can quickly eliminate them from your list. If you find a kennel that sounds perfect for you and your dog, take note of some of the comments other pet owners made and bring these with you during your visit. You can say things like, “I saw someone mention you have emergency staff on call 24/7. Is this true?” The more specific information you can gather, the more comfortable you’ll feel about entrusting your beloved dog with the kennel staff. You can also ask fellow pet owners, friends, and family members for recommendations. Find out what boarding kennels they’ve used in the past and what the pros and cons of each facility were. Asking a trusted source is a great place to start.
Consider a Pet Sitter
If all else fails and you simply can’t bring yourself to drop your pooch off at a boarding kennel, you can consider a pet sitter. This avenue depends mostly on your dog’s demeanor. Some dogs need constant attention and companionship. This is especially true if there is always someone home with your dog. Leaving them alone for most of the day and only having a sitter come for feedings and walks may not work for your pet. This type of dog might require a pet sitter who spends the night at your home. You can also ask a friend or family member to take your dog to their house. But be sure that your pooch can handle this change in environment. Other dogs are more independent and unaffected by change. If this is the case with your dog, having someone come a few times a day to feed them, take them outside, and play with them may be enough.
If you’re preparing for vacation, long weekend, or business trip, you should be able to enjoy your time away without worry or concern over the happiness of your dog. And this means finding the right boarding kennel for your pup. Take your time making your decision and do plenty of research. This isn’t a decision you should rush or take lightly. But once you’ve made your decision it’s important to trust your instincts and know that your dog is in the right hands. This way, you can travel without worry and happily return to a wagging tail and wet kisses from your companion.