Over the past couple of years with many welcoming new fur members to the family, there is no denying there is a high number of dogs navigating social stress and separation anxiety. I personally have encountered several dog owners that have frankly stated that they could or would never put their pup into a boarding kennel. Though I am not sure where this exact train of thought comes from, I want to dispel two things: 1. Boarding kennels are not evil. 2. You are not a bad dog owner for arranging for your dog to visit a boarding kennel.
That being said, let’s cover how to find the ideal boarding kennel for your pup and how to prepare them for their stay.
Ask your friends, community and local dog-friendly Facebook groups if they have any recommendations for a boarding facility close to your home. Once you have collected some boarding facility locations; review the facility’s website, online reviews and social media presence.
If you find a few locations that have piqued your interest, ask to schedule a meeting to tour the facility. If the boarding kennel is not ok with giving you a full tour of the kennel, it should be a red flag.
While you are touring a boarding kennel take the time to evaluate the following:
Is the space clean, with good ventilation and lighting? Are outdoor areas fenced and secured well?
Is the temperature indoors comfortable?
Where will your pup potentially eat, sleep and play? Are these spaces large enough to accommodate your dog?
Is it easy to access and depart safely from the boarding facility?
Ask the staff questions while on-site and also observe how the staff interacts with the other dogs.
If your dog has special care needs, diet requirements or medication, how does the staff oversee that these needs are met?
What type of security systems is in place? Both to protect the property from intruders and to ensure your dog’s safety.
Ask if the boarding kennel is insured and if there are any members on staff that are pet first aid and CPR trained.
Are visiting dogs required to be current on their vaccinations, including the canine kennel cough (Bordetella) vaccine?
Ask for a pack list of items to send with your dog.
Inquire about the process the staff places when pairing dog groups together for turn out during the day.
A few additional key points as you research an ideal boarding kennel for your dog:
Smaller, more private kennels do exist. If your dog gets easily overwhelmed, is older or has lower energy this environment would likely be a better option.
There has been an increase in-home dog care providers over the past few years if you don’t believe that a boarding kennel (no matter the size) is an ideal fit for your dog.
Are other dog care services available such as grooming, training and socialization classes that your pup could benefit from?
Plan ahead. Take your time to find a place that will suit the needs of your dog and leave you with peace of mind.
You found a great boarding kennel…now what?
Work ahead to prepare them for a longer stay. Start with ensuring their vaccinations are up to date and schedule daycare visits to introduce your dog to the environment. Gauge how your dog responds to both arriving and leaving the facility and ask the staff how your dog managed during their daycare stay. Ideally, your pup should also have a good grasp of basic commands, socialization and handling. If they have a history of aggression they might not be an ideal candidate for boarding and this should be discussed with the staff at the kennel. If your dog has handled daycare visits well the next step would be to book a full weekend at the kennel. When you drop your dog off at the kennel, avoid long goodbyes
(I know it’s hard!) to reduce your dog’s stress levels.
All in all, start small and build up the experience for your dog over time. Go with your instincts if something feels off when interviewing and investigating a boarding facility and be a confident pack leader for your dog!