7 Things You Need to Know Before Boarding Your Dog

Summer is coming quickly and this is the season when many people like to take some time off from work for family vacations and traveling. But the only downside to traveling is that you have to make plans for what to do you with your dog while you are gone.

Many “dog parents” are all too familiar with the dilemma over whether or not to board their beloved pet. Yes, in a perfect world a family member or friend would watch your dog but most of them may not be up to the task for an entire week.

For most dog owners, boarding ends up being either the only option or the best optional available. Thankfully, there are tons of great kennels out there who will take exceptional care of your dog. Ask for recommendations from people you trust and do your research before entrusting your pet to anyone.

Here are seven things you need to know before boarding your dog:

  1. You should ask for a tour of the kennel

The best way to give yourself peace of mind is to take a tour of the facility where you will be leaving your dog. If the staff members act funny about this request then you should seriously reconsider leaving your pet there.

“When you tour the kennel you want to be checking to see that the cages are not too small, that the facility is well-maintained, and that there is only one dog per cage,” says Sue Faust of Paws Playgrounds Dog Boarding in Toronto. “If the kennel will not allow you to tour the entire facility you should probably find someplace else to leave your pet.”

  1. Make your reservations early

As soon as you have settled on a location you should go ahead and make your reservations, especially if you are traveling over a holiday weekend. Kennels rely on reservations and booking yours as soon as possible will ensure that they save a spot for your dog.

  1. Make sure the kennel is clean

Okay, let’s just go ahead and point out the obvious which is that any facility that houses pets will probably not smell the best. But are there any strange odors that can’t be explained? Is there any visible dog poop that the staff members do not seem to be making an effort to clean up? And does the facility seem to be properly ventilated? These are all good things to check for during your tour.

  1. Find out if there is a play area at the kennel

Most kennels should provide an optional playtime for the dogs and you should be able to request to have your dog play with other dogs that are similar in size. Make sure you ask to see the play area and any toys they provide for the dogs. Don’t just assume the kennel gives the dogs time to play because some don’t.

  1. Find out the ratio of staff members to pets

Obviously, you want your dog to receive as much attention as possible so you should find out how many staff members are working during the day. And find out how staff members would intervene if a fight were to break out among the dogs. You should also find out how each dog is identified to prevent any possible mix-ups.

  1. Ask what the daily fee is to board your dog

Find out what the daily fee is for boarding your dog and what all is included in that fee. Does the facility charge extra for treats, playtime, and baths? Are they equipped to administer any medication your pet needs? Boarding fees can add up quickly so you want to make sure you understand what all you are paying for.

  1. Find out how the staff handles emergencies

Will the kennel contact you if your dog gets sick or seems overly agitated? Will they involve you in all of the treatment decisions? Emergencies do happen so you should make sure the kennel has an emergency phone number where they can reach you.

Your dog is a member of the family so it is normal to feel a certain amount of anxiety when it comes time to board them. The best thing you can do is trust your instincts. Does your dog seem to be happy in this facility or are they acting unusual or scared? Do the staff members seem open and friendly or do they give vague answers to most of your questions? You can also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if anyone has previously filed a complaint against that kennel.

If you do the work to properly research the kennel and spend time adequately preparing for your dog’s visit then you can be confident that your dog is well-cared for and safe. And best of all, you can enjoy your vacation worry-free.

Karen Acuna
Karen is a contributing author to Puppy Smarts. A full-time animal behavioral therapist, Karen has 20+ years dealing with specialty animals of all kinds. Karen lives in Dallas, TX with her husband and 3 pups.

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