Are you going on a trip but can't take your pet with you? While there's a ton of dog-friendly hotels, sometimes it's just not possible to bring dogs on a trip. There are several dog boarding options available but you'll need to carefully look into them. A good or bad dog kennel will impact not only your pet, but also your vacation or business trip. If you made the right choice, then you won't have to worry about your dog's condition knowing he's in capable hands.
Here are eight tips to consider when choosing a kennel for your dog:
1. Get recommendations from your friends and vet
It's easy to do a simple “boarding kennel near me” search online since a lot of these businesses are registered online. However, by asking for recommendations from people you know and trust, you give yourself more assurance and peace of mind that this kennel your friend or vet told you about has a good reputation.
Once you have the recommendations, do your own research by further reading about these businesses online. Read comments from strangers on the kennel’s social media pages if they have one. Also, check for feedback from review sites like Google Reviews, Yelp, Facebook Reviews and the Better Business Bureau.
2. Ask for a tour of the kennel
Take the time to tour the kennel so that you can evaluate its condition and see if it's really suitable for your dog. If possible, visit the kennel without making an appointment. You'll be able to find out more from an unannounced visit.
While you're there, take note of the actual living space for the dogs. Are the kennels clean, dry and warm? Are there safety issues that you should be concerned about? Do the dogs get proper bedding? Are the food and water bowls clean and void of bacteria? Are the lawns and grasses well-trimmed?
If there are other animals during your visit, look at their condition too. Are they content or stressed? Also, consider if the kennel is too crowded with dogs. If so, it might not be a conducive environment to leave your pet for a few days as the business is likely prioritizing making money over the comfort of dogs.
3. Don't hesitate to ask questions from the staff
Since they are offering a service to take care of your dog, a good kennel worker will understand if you ask a million questions. It's even better if they willingly answer these questions to appease your worries.
Inquire about the ratio of kennel workers versus the dogs they have to look after. This will give you an idea if the staff members are not overworked. If they are not handling a lot of animals, then they can maintain their friendly, pleasant and respectful demeanor and enjoy taking care of your pooch.
The staff should also be able to detail things about the pets in their care. It's a mark of good customer or pet care service if they are aware of each of the pet's diet or medical needs. It means they genuinely care for your dog's welfare.
Some kennels also do not have a 24-hour facility so it's reasonable to ask about how they ensure the safety and security of the animals at night. The Humane Society has a checklist of questions you may ask from the kennel staff during your visit.
4. Find out if the kennel has play programs
Some kennels charge higher prices because they have play programs and several activities planned for the dogs. If your furry best friend requires more exercise, then it might be worth paying extra to meet the dog's needs.
5. Ask if your dog can bring personal items
Some kennels might not provide toys for your dogs, so ask if you can bring his favorites from home. Be sure to give instructions to the kennel staff if you are not comfortable having other dogs play with your pet's things. Be clear about what you want so there will be no problems later on.
Staying in a kennel can be a stressful experience for some dogs. Your pet may need a security blanket, or pillow, or some other item from home to help calm him down. Some kennels usually allow this but to be safe, ask about their policy of having personal items.
6. Vaccinate your dog
The number one place where canine distemper virus spreads the most is dog kennels. Before boarding your pet, you need to stop by the veterinarian for a check-up and immunization. The basics include vaccines against distemper, rabies, and parvovirus.
Some kennels may require additional vaccines against canine influenza or Bordetella, or they might also require preventive medications for flea and tick, as well as heartworm. If you have a kennel in mind, ask what type of immunizations they require.
7. Reconsider if your dog has a medical condition or severe separation anxiety
Your search for a good kennel might not be productive if your dog has a medical condition. This can easily limit your options. But if you find a kennel that can expertly handle pets with special needs, be sure to have a proper sit down with its operators and staff members to discuss the best ways your dog can be looked after while you're away.
Leave your veterinarian's number with the kennel in case of emergencies. Of course, let your vet know that the kennel will notify them if the need arises.
If you have a dog with serious separation anxiety, then it might be harder to leave him in the kennel. Boarding in a new place will only aggravate his stress because he has a hard time adjusting to a new environment. The dog might also have a problem getting along with other dogs.
8. Opt for a pet sitter instead
Your pooch might be better off with a pet sitter if a kennel isn't a good fit. Experts say pet-sitting allows the dog to remain in a normal and familiar environment so they suffer less stress. There's a number of dog boarding services, sites and apps available for you to search through. If you can’t find a pet sitter, talk to a friend or an extended family member who can check up on your house and your dog every day.
The last thing you need is to worry about your dog when you’re on your vacation or a business trip. Whether you’ve chosen a dog kennel, a sitter or a friend, it’s best to start making plans for this temporary care at least a month before you leave so that you can iron everything out properly.