If you need to spend some time away from home and are unable to take your dog with you, you may have considered placing your pet in a boarding kennel to take care of him while you are gone. Understandably, leaving your pet for any length of time to be cared for by other people can be worrying for the caring dog owner, and so you will of course want to make sure that you make the right decision on where to board him to ensure that he is happy, well cared for and not distressed by the experience.If you’re on the lookout for a boarding kennel to care for your dog while you are on holiday or otherwise unable to keep him at home for a while, it’s a good idea to shop around and find the perfect place for him ahead of time. This gives you the breathing space to be able to make an informed decision, and make other arrangements for your dog’s care if you’re not feeling totally confident about your choice. With this in mind, here are our top tips to choosing a boarding kennel for your dog.
Boarding kennels generally advertise online and in telephone directories, as well as in places like pet shops and veterinary surgeries. Asking other pet owners about their experiences of using the local kennels is always a good recommendation, as is asking your vet if there is a specific kennel that they recommend. You may also find that small operations that have the facilities and insurance to board a dog or two within their homes will present themselves as well, which can be the perfect alternative to large commercial kennels for shy and nervous dogs.
When you’re in the process of contacting a few of the local establishments with a view to boarding your pet, first impressions are everything. If the person who takes your call is friendly, confident, knowledgeable and reassuring, and able to answer any of your questions and concerns on the process, this is a good start. If you don’t feel confident with the kennel in question on the basis of your initial enquiry, it’s probably not worth pursing it.
You should never consider boarding your dog at any establishment that won’t allow you to visit beforehand for a quick chat and a look around the facilities. Always arrange this in advance, and don’t just turn up on spec, as running a boarding kennel can be hectic and there may not be a staff member available to show you around and talk you through things.
If a kennel has state of the art, modern facilities and all of the latest gadgets and technology, it can be easy to take this at face value and place that establishment higher up your list of favourites. Great facilities are a bonus, but don’t discount smaller, less plush establishments just on face value alone. If the kennels are clean, draught-free, secure and warm enough, as well as being large enough for your dog to move around freely and have a space to retreat to, then this is all your dog really needs in terms of his accommodation provision, and he is unlikely to be wowed by expensive kit and colour coded bedding!Find out where your dog will be walked, as well as what the inside of the kennels look like.
You should be able to get a good feel for the kennel you are visiting on the basis of the atmosphere there, how happy and well cared for the dogs appear to be, and the attitudes of the staff. Ask how often the dogs are walked, and for how long; if they can make provision for nervous dogs and dogs that don’t mix well with others, and how much interaction your dog will receive from the people that are caring for him each day.
Most kennels will insist that all of their boarders are vaccinated in order to avoid transmitting diseases such as kennel cough to the other residents, and will ask to see proof of vaccination. This is important, and you should pass by any kennel that does not insist upon vaccination for all boarders. Find out what the kennel will do if your dog should become sick while boarding with them, and what provision they make for veterinary treatment in your absence. If your dog has any special health concerns, needs regular medication or a special diet, talk to them about this too.
All persons involved in the running of a commercial boarding kennel must have the appropriate level of insurance and public liability cover to protect the interests of the dogs in their care. Many kennels will have their insurance certification displayed prominently on the premises or in the office- ask to see evidence of their coverage if you are in any doubt.
Once you have found the perfect kennel for your dog ahead of time, this can take a weight off your mind in terms of knowing that you have a back up plan for holidays or times of need. But remember that the best kennels can get booked up well in advance, particularly at peak times such as Christmas and bank holidays, so you may need to make your booking well in advance to secure your spot.
If however hard you try, you just can’t reconcile the idea of boarding your dog in a commercial kennels, or can’t find a kennel that you are totally happy with, don’t despair- there are alternatives. Some veterinary surgeries will board dogs in special cases- it might be worth talking to your local practice to see if they might be able to help. Also, you may be able to hire a pet sitting service- where a professional pet carer moves into your home during the time that you are away and cares for your dog in-house as if they were their own.Whatever decision you make in the end, it is important to give yourself enough time to make the right choice without a last minute rush, and to make sure that both you and your dog will be happy with your choices.